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Surrey council to re-consider Code of Conduct Bylaw on Monday

One councillor says she will not support ‘outrageous’ attempt to bring back controversial proposed amendment
Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

A Surrey city councillor says she will not support an “outrageous” attempt to bring back a controversial proposed amendment under the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw that was abandoned earlier this year by Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum after it was criticized as authoritarian and draconian.

“How can we possibly support that?” Coun. Brenda Locke said Friday. “Good grief, eh.”

City staff is recommending in a corporate report to come before council on Monday night, April 11, that it adds this “new section” to the code:

“The Commissioner shall suspend processing a complaint received in the period from April 12 of the year of the general local election until the day after the general voting day, when the Commissioner may recommence processing the complaint in respect of a Council Member who has been re‐elected. Any deadlines applicable to the complaint will be extended by the number of days in which the processing was suspended.”

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum in January did an about-face on the expected introduction of a bylaw to amend the code after it was slammed by critics as authoritarian and draconian. If passed, that amended bylaw would have immediately blocked Surrey’s Ethics Commissioner from “processing and investigation of complaints” leading up to the Oct. 15 civic election. But it was yanked off the agenda on the same day it was set to be voted on.

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Coun. Doug Elford told the Now-Leader on Friday he expects the matter will be up for “rigorous debate” on Monday.

“All I can really comment and say is it’s not out of line with other cities in Canada at this time,” he said. “I’m sure there will be some debate on this on Monday, and how council decides to move on it will be up to council at that point in time.”

Surrey city council will also consider proposed amendments to the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw dealing with the legal fees policy at Monday night’s meeting, April 11.

The Surrey Ethics Commissioner Office proposes to “improve” the code by clarifying what the commissioner can or cannot do related to accepting complaints, obtaining city records and invoking an informal resolution process. The SECO also seeks to clarify rules concerning ethical conduct “with an eye towards simplification, consistency, and enforce-ability,” and improve some procedures.

This is according to a corporate report by Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s general manager of corporate services.

City staff is also recommending that council approve proposed amendments to Policy No. D-42, “Payment of Reasonable Legal Fees to Respond to Complaints Under Council Code of Conduct.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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