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Kelowna council concerned over code of conduct

‘This came out so that we are as transparent as possible with regards to being a council’

Kelowna councillors have several concerns with a new code of conduct that applies to them.

The draft document, which is mandated by the provincial government, sets out rules council must follow in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.

There are also provisions in the code outlining how councillors are to interact with each other, city staff, the public and the media.

Several councillors felt it was too lengthy, duplicated the community charter, and that some of the wording could be open to interpretation.

“I’d like to see it tightened,” said Coun. Mohini Singh. “I’d like to see it direct, and I’d also want staff to recognize that we are grown adults and we know what our responsibility is.”

Coun. Loyal Wooldridge, who chairs the Regional District Central Okanagan Board, said the document feels punitive.

“When I reflect on the Regional Districts’ (code of conduct) it starts with values, it starts with why we work this way. This one seems like it’s a law we’re imposing because there’s all this terrible stuff going on, which I don’t believe is the case.”

Coun. Luke Stack said he didn’t feel the code, as currently drafted, would add to what council is already doing.

“I actually believe we already are accountable and transparent,” he said.

In agreeing with other councillors, Maxine DeHart added she felt the code also had to be reworked.

“I don’t think any of us around here are children,” she said. I think we all realize what we have to do.”

Coun. Charlie Hodge also took issue with what he called ambiguity in parts of the code.

“Let’s be absolutely clear about what we’re saying.”

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Mayor Tom Dyas commented that he was surprised that council spent nearly 90 minutes debating the issue.

“This came out so that we are as transparent as possible with regards to being a council,” said Dyas. “I don’t see anything in here that would cause any great concern for anyone because, at the end of the day, we truly police ourselves other than us going completely offside where it’s a criminal offence.”

The code also lays out complaint and resolution procedures which would include a preliminary assessment and, if a complaint is accepted for investigation, a referral to a third-party investigator.

“Any formal sanctions would be a decision of council,” said Laura Bentley, deputy city clerk.

Council voted to receive the report for information, with councillors Stack, DeHart, Hodge and Singh opposed.

Staff was requested to bring back a revised code of conduct based on council input.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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