Surrey city council voted Monday to recruit a new Surrey Ethics Commissioner.
Vancouver lawyer Reece Harding, whose term ended last July, was Surrey’s first ethics commissioner and also a first for B.C.
Council had two options before it: to re-establish the Surrey Ethics Commissioner Selection Committee to recruit a new commissioner, or re-appoint the former Surrey Ethics Commissioner.
Mayor Brenda Locke’s Surrey Connect majority on a 5-4 vote chose the first option, with Councillors Doug Elford, Mike Bose, Mandeep Nagra and Linda Annis opposed.
Harding in 2020 was chosen unanimously by city council over more than 30 other well-qualified candidates. Besides advising council on matters of ethical conduct, he also had the authority to investigate complaints and recommend disciplinary sanctions to its members, with the city’s Code of Conduct Bylaw serving as his guidebook.
Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s general manager of corporate services, noted in a corporate report before council on Monday that on June 27, 2022, a couple of weeks before Harding’s term expired, council in a closed meeting directed city staff not to appoint a new ethics commissioner following the end of his term.
The resolution deferred to the new council the decision what to do about the future of the Surrey Ethics Commissioner Office (SECO).