Municipal hall

See the new Squamish Code of Conduct Bylaw for the Municipal Hall

Voters should monitor candidates to see if they follow the rules set out in the bylaw, Mayor Karen Elliott says.

The District of Squamish has adopted a new code of conduct for council members and council appointees.

Squamish Council’s code of conduct by-law is one of the strongest codes of conduct in the province, according to district staff in a news release.

The code, which was adopted on July 19, outlines expected behavior in meetings, in the community, on social media — including on personal accounts — and during election campaigns.

It applies to all Board members and to those appointed by the Board to boards, committees, commissions, panels or task forces.

“In the absence of a provincial requirement for all local governments to adopt a code of conduct, the council is setting the bar high for the conduct of current and future councils,” the statement said.

The code and related bylaws and policies are intended to “ensure a fair, honest and respectful environment among board members, staff and committee members,” according to the statement.

“The responsible conduct of elected officials is not optional; it is essential to good governance, and I am confident that our bylaws and policies will help maintain a municipal environment where vigorous political debate and respectful dialogue coexist,” said outgoing Mayor Karen Elliott.

Elliott is not running for council in the upcoming Oct. 15 municipal election.

“These bylaws signal to staff and the community that our council chamber is a place of respect and acceptance of diversity of people and opinions. It is unfortunate that our province does not require local governments to adopt codes of conduct, as I believe they support elected officials in their work and are essential if we are to have regional councils and district councils reflect the diversity of the people they represent.

The policy also outlines informal and formal complaint and resolution processes.

The formal process involves a third-party investigator.

Salary may be deducted for each violation of the Bylaw, its Rules of Procedure, the District’s Respectful Workplace Policy, Community Charter Conflict of Interest Rules, and a new Oath of Office in course of development.

“Our code of conduct recognizes that we all have different ways of expressing ourselves, but that we can debate an issue by emphasizing current facts and policies without resorting to personal attacks. Having a common set of expectations for how we treat each other and a way to resolve issues is key to staying focused on the business and not being distracted by unnecessary drama,” Elliott added.

“As we enter the election period, incumbents will be held to the standards set out in the Code of Conduct throughout their campaigns. Our community needs to watch and listen carefully to see if all candidates and their campaign teams will do the same, because their team’s actions, words and those of their team reflect how they will behave in office.

Check out the district’s new Code of Conduct policy.