Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

Surrey Council Code of Conduct gets final nod on five-yes, four-no vote

The bylaw establishes expectations for ethical conduct for the politicians

Surrey council has given final approval to its new Council Code of Conduct bylaw – which establishes expectations for ethical conduct for the politicians – but on a five-to-four vote split.

Mayor Doug McCallum and Councillors Doug Elford, Mandeep Nagra, Allision Patton and Laurie Guerra – all of the Safe Surrey Coalition – voted in favour.

Councillors Linda Annis (Surrey First), Steven Pettigrew (Independent) and Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial (Surrey Connect) voted against the bylaw, at the May 4 council meeting.

The code of conduct sets out specific rules Surrey council members must abide by. These govern “appropriate interactions” in dealing with city staff, volunteers, and advisory body members; conduct at council and advisory board meetings; appropriate use of a council member’s influence; unpermitted election activities; avoiding conflicts of interest; conduct with respect to lobbyists; outside activities and business relations; the use of municipal assets and services; employment of council family members; accepting gifts; collecting and handling information; the use of social media; proper communication protocols; interactions with the public and the media; and council members’ attendance concerning orientation and training.

Guerra at the meeting asked city staff how many times the code can be amended once it’s passed, and was told that once the bylaw was adopted, its can be changed at council’s discretion. None of the other Safe Surrey Coalition members spoke to the bylaw at the May 4 meeting. McCallum noted he had earlier asked council members to put their comments in writing, and thanked them for doing so.

READ ALSO: Surrey senior slams new Council Code of Conduct bylaw for ‘age discrimination’

READ ALSO: Surrey council removes ‘age discrimination’ clause after Code of Conduct bylaw complaint

Hundial told his fellow council members he’s “not comfortable” that conflict that could arise with other legislation.

“It’s coming in without the necessary training and procedurals around it,” he said. “One of the risks of course also is that we shouldn’t have to wait until a situation arises to actually have some procedures around something and I see this as being one of those pieces of legislation where it’s going to be maybe going out to a lot of extra cost by getting legal opinions for this and for that… I think it’s very important that the public understands this is what the bar is and this is why the bar is.”

Locke said one of her “great concerns with this document” is that it incorporates language that “actually usurps the business that we’re supposed to be doing.

“I’ll give you an example, it says ‘unwelcome comments’ by a councillor. Well, sometimes that’s exactly our job,” Locke said. “It is not our job to make everybody’s job easier on council; it’s our job to represent the public.”

And where social media is concerned, she added, “We cannot control people in the community and what they say and what they do. We can monitor it, there’s no doubt, to some degree and we can put disclaimers.” She maintained some elements of the code “are stepping way out there in terms of the expectation that a city councillor has to all of a sudden be the social media police, that’s not reasonable.”

Pettigrew, who also spoke to why he would not vote in favour of the bylaw, said he believes the original idea that was proposed was a good one, but “unfortunately I no longer have confidence in this bylaw. I believe that the council determination and measures should be decided by a three-quarters vote and not a simple majority.”

Annis later told the Now-Leader she voted against final approval because council’s ability to censure one of it’s members, as the code now stands, “is fraught will political interests, and I really feel that we have to have not just a simple majority, that it should be 60 per cent or 70 per cent of the councillors and council that would support it, support the censure.”

Ensuring this, she said, would “take away any political motives – it’s done for all of the right reasons.”

City CouncilCity of Surreyethics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic in Surrey, at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre. (Photo: Fraser Health)
Surrey gets one of three post-COVID-19 recovery clinics

The Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre is located at 9750 140th Street

Isabella Skrypnyk, a Grade 11 student, and Kasonde Mulenga, a Grade 12 student, at Surrey Christian, work on some of the finishing touches of a shed on Thursday (Jan. 21, 2021). Their Grade 11/12 workplace math class has been working on since November. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey students build shed as part of math class project

Grade 11/12 class learning about budgeting, financing and construction

New Westminster-based musician Krystle Dos Santos in a promo photo.
Surrey’s ‘Digital Stage’ for Krystle Dos Santos’ Bloom/Burn songs starting Jan. 29

Black History Month-timed online concert focuses on musician’s album of R&B/soul songs

(Black Press Media files)
Snowfall expected for Lower Mainland on Saturday night, Sunday morning

2 to 5 cm of snow predicted Metro Vancouver, according to Environment Canada

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Competitors make their way through the course at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, which was hosted by Abbotsford in 2019. (File photo)
Abbotsford to host 2023 Canadian Cross Country Championships

Clearbrook Park last hosted the event in 2019, Ottawa hosting 2021 and 2022 races

Abbotsford Police officers investigate the scene after a pedestrian was struck and killed on Friday morning. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Male pedestrian, 37, killed in Abbotsford after being struck by vehicle

Collision took place in 31800 block of South Fraser Way on Friday morning

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

Fire on Yale Road north of the overpass Friday morning. (Progress file)
Early morning blaze guts Chilliwack restaurant

The fire erupted north of the overpass closing one lane of Yale Road

Most Read