By Cole Parkinson
The Municipal District of Taber council has been heading towards a review of their Code of Conduct Bylaw.
Over the past several meetings, council has been discussing in closed sessions, and have made several motions out of closed session in regard to that. At their April 26 meeting, a motion was carried for council to direct administration to draft a response prior to May 4, 2022, to the ombudsman report sent to council accepting the findings and recommendations outlined in the report. And that council undertake measures to implement the recommendations prior to June 30, 2022. At their May 9, two motions were carried, the first being to engage with Caron and Partners Law Firm to help assist with the implementation of the recommendations of the Ombudsman Report dated April 4th, 2022. And that Coun. DeGroot be the first point of contact with the Law Firm. The second being for council to accept the offer from the ombudsman office to schedule a presentation about the administrative principles of the investigation to coincide with the consultations from Caron and Partners.
At council’s regular meeting on May 24, another motion was made: for all of council be provided with all the materials submitted to the ombudsman as well as all communications with the ombudsman’s office with regard to the investigation that led to the April 4, 2022 letter to the M.D. of Taber council, so that all members have equal information to make informed decisions regarding this matter. These materials are to be provided to all members of council prior to the meeting with Caron and Partners and/or prior to the presentation from the ombudsman’s office about the administration principles of the investigation, so that all council members have adequate time to review and understand the process and the reasoning behind the ombudsman’s findings and recommendations.
“I feel like I am in a position where I have not enough information to enter into knowledgeable debate on adjustments that need to be made to the Code of Conduct Bylaw that we’re required to review here before the end of June. We have that agenda item today as well for code of conduct and there is no materials that we have to this point in time,” explained Coun. Brian Hildebrand. “I would feel much more comfortable if I had some time to review the materials — so I could read them a number of times, let them soak in, think about it a little bit, and I think it’s also very important that all of us have equal information with regard to this matter. There are three members of council that were not at the table when these decisions were made. We were not at the table when the procedures and the process was put in place. We do not know what the code of conduct process was, we do not know what the allegations were, we don’t know exactly what the ombudsman was tasked to look into, and to make it even more concerning is we’re being prevented from even seeing this stuff. How can we make decisions, how can we meaningfully engage in debate on amending the bylaw and the procedures manual if we don’t have the context by which this report came from?”
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