Saanich Council will reschedule their controversial code of conduct update for the second time. (Supplied/Teale Phelps Bondaroff)

Saanich revisits code of conduct with postponed agenda item

Absence of Coun. Susan Brice pushes the code update a second time

Saanich council shifted its proposed code of conduct update to its March 9 meeting. This is the second time the subject has been rescheduled.

The code update was originally scheduled to be presented at the Feb. 24 council meeting, but due to a time restraint over concerns around a potential review of policies for off-leash dogs on beaches, it was removed from the agenda.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says the second rescheduling of the code update was strictly administrative due to the absence of Coun. Susan Brice, chair of the finance committee responsible for the proposed updates.

ALSO READ: Review of off-leash dogs on Saanich beaches postponed until mid-July

Coun. Nathalie Chambers feels the proposed changes could stop her from holding council accountable.

Chambers says her concerns date back to the code’s creation in 2016 and she believes residents share the concern.

Haynes says he was unaware of Chambers concerns until contacted by Black Press Media. He feels the “code of conduct is designed to facilitate open and transparent communication.”

The proposed policy update is minor, according to Brice. The two most noteworthy changes to the code are in sect. 6.2 and 6.3 which focus on how council members conduct themselves on social media.

ALSO READ: Saanich councillor believes code of conduct changes inhibit civic engagement

Section 6.2 of the code outlines that councillors should provide a disclaimer stating that their opinions are their own and not a reflection of council. It also states that when expressing personal opinions on social platforms council members should add the verbiage, ‘in my opinion’. The update that Chambers seems to be most concerned about is section 6.3, where it outlines that council members are to refrain from generating or recirculating, “negative statements disparaging other members of council.” Chambers is concerned over who will determine which comments are disparaging, and that the changes to the code could suppress her ability to share her opinion with the public.

ALSO READ: ‘Give the beach a chance’: Biologist talks benefits of Saanich off-leash dog bylaw review

Brice says that in order for disciplinary action to take place from a disparaging comment, a complaint would have to be submitted for review, and in most cases be dealt with informally. She adds, if a complaint was escalated, it would be reviewed by a third party and not a member of council.

Chambers hopes to see a bylaw replace the code – one that would not bind councillors from informing the public.

Chambers believes a bylaw such as one in place for Victoria council, would better protect counsellors as it does not mention social media use among council members.

Brice believes that the purpose of the code is not to stifle the opinions of councillors, and that the adoptions of codes of conduct have become increasing popular which she suspects to be a result of the accelerated use of social media.

– With files from Devon Bidal.

sarah.schuchard@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook, or send a tweet to @sarah_schuchard
and follow us on Instagram

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

Just Posted

COVID-19: Saanich company joins nation-wide effort to produce 30,000 ventilators

StarFish Medical using a ‘purpose-driven design for rapid manufacturing,’ CEO says

Judge rejects pandemic as reason to grant bail to immunocompromised prisoner

Esquimalt man told there are more health risks for addicts on the street than there are in jail

Sidney senior welcomes outreach phone calls from charity

A long-time user of Sidney’s SHOAL Centre, praises Beacon Community Services

Canoe found in men’s public bathroom in Cadboro-Gyro Park

‘Please do not park your canoe in our bathrooms,’ say Saanich parks staff

VicPD asks for help finding owner of recovered camera

Camera contained images of a family celebrating a wedding

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Thieves steal $5,000 worth of cigarettes and candy from semi trailer in Nanaimo

Culprits hit truckload in shipping company storage yard on Old Victoria Road on Monday

Most Read