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Didsbury councillor sanctioned for 'disparaging statements'

Town of Didsbury councillor Joyce McCoy has been removed from committees and boards effective immediately for making a "recent attack on staff and untrue statements made by them on social media” prompting a code of conduct review
MVT Joyce McCoy
Joyce McCoy holds a provincial Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award for her community contributions in 2021. The first-term councillor has been sanctioned by council. File photo/MVP Staff

DIDSBURY - First-term Town of Didsbury councillor Joyce McCoy has been officially sanctioned by council for recent statements she made on social media; sanctions that include her removal from all committees, boards and other external appointments until at least October.

McCoy told the Albertan she will be seeking legal advice on the matter.

Council carried a motion approving the sanctions at the March 14 council meeting. The motion came following an in-camera session, which was closed to the public and media.

According to the official letter of reprimand, McCoy made a “recent attack on staff and untrue statements made by them on social media” prompting a code of conduct review.

“Your statement on social medial that “council was not allowed to attend . . .” the pathways public engagement sessions and that you were “. . . not aware they were happening,” and that they were “. . . all done secretly . . .” and further, your assertion that administration was keeping council out of their important role of public engagement, were all misleading and disparaging statements and cast unfair aspersion on our CAO and town staff,” the letter of reprimand states.

“These statements serve to undermine public confidence in administration and council, and are therefore extremely harmful to the town and the community.

“We strongly reject your assertions and we reprimand you strongly for making them.”

The letter of reprimand was signed by Town of Didsbury Mayor Rhonda Hunter on behalf of council and carbon copied to chief administrative officer Ethan Gorner.

The letter states that council found McCoy was in breach of several parts of the town’s code of conduct:

• Act honestly and, in good faith, serve the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole.

• Conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny

• Members of council shall treat . . . employees of the municipality . . . with courtesy and respect.

• No member of council shall publicly criticize or make negative comments about any employee, contractor or agent. All concerns will be referred to the chief administrative officer.

“Council was fully aware of the public engagement process and were never told we could not attend,” the letter states. “Administration fully supports council in our roles as governors and assists us in whatever public engagement we would like to undertake.

“They are open with us throughout all of our processes, provide us options for accomplishing our objectives and priorities, and tirelessly serve the public and use. They deserve our gratitude and respect for that.”

The specific sanctions imposed on McCoy are as follows:

• You are hereby removed, effectively immediately, from all committees, boards and any other external appointments by council, including all further professional development opportunities or from attending any municipal conferences or functions.

• Further, due to the public nature of the offence, this letter of reprimand will be published on the town website.

“Please note that we would like to continue to offer you (McCoy) the support options that we have previously discussed,” the letter states. “Further, if your conduct improves over this year and you cease making critical and disparaging comments about staff, then you will be considered again for council assignments and professional development at the next organizational meeting held this year, in October.”

Contacted by the Albertan, McCoy declined to comment on the matter other than to say she plans to seek legal advice. She did say she plans to remain on council.

“I really enjoy my council work,” she said.

McCoy did provide a screenshot of the comments she said she made online, which read as follows: “Council was not allowed to attend. In fact, I was not aware that all this engagement was happening. It was all done secretly from my perspective. I first learned about it when I found it on the town site. First I ever heard of admin keeping council out of one of our most important roles . . . community engagement. I actually signed up for both virtual session and never received the link to participate.”


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