The City of Regina is entertaining the idea of having an individual investigate and recommend possible disciplinary action for unethical behaviour of those on city council.
The Saskatchewan Government recently amended The Cities Act which requires municipalities to adopt a code of ethics bylaw. Not only is city administration recommending that, but additionally it’s urging the mayor and councillors to hire an integrity commissioner to look into such cases where ethics might come into question.
The amendment from the province was prompted by the Wall government’s removal of former RM of Sherwood Reeve Kevin Eberle after an inquiry into the proposed Wascana Village development found conflicts of interest and instances of public trust being violated.
The city’s executive committee recently approved the motion for both a code of ethics bylaw and integrity commissioner, which means the matter will now go on to city council where it’s likely to get final approval since council and the committee are comprised of the same people.
“We will have a commissioner that will be objective, a stand-alone person away from council,” explained Mayor Michael Fougere. “I think it’s important and I think members agree that we have a third party look at this and not have us investigate ourselves. It is also very difficult for councillors to police themselves.”
Administration indicated $50,000 would have to be set aside for the role in 2017 and also in subsequent years. However, Fougere isn’t sure yet how much could be earmarked moving forward or if the individual selected to serve as commissioner would even have enough work. He said he’s open to potentially sharing with another city, town or RM.
“If we have a person doing this full time then we have some problems on council….but I do think there’s an opportunity, we haven’t had discussion to my knowledge with any other municipality.”
The mayor said since 1997 and the time he’s been on council, he can’t think of a single example where there was an ethical issue related to the conduct of a member of council, whether they were disrespectful or somehow breached confidentiality. He said everyone that he’s ever worked with has done the job with honour.