Mountain View County has given first and second reading to a proposed change to the Council Code of Conduct approved in June. The move came during the recent regularly scheduled council meeting.
When passed in June, the bylaw’s section 14.06 stated: “In the event that there is a complaint that a majority of members of council breached this bylaw, the complaint shall be submitted to the Alberta Ombudsman.”
In a briefing note to council, administration said upon further review, that section will not be workable.
“Since the passage of this bylaw, the role and responsibilities of the Alberta Ombudsman has been established and clarified to only include reviews of ‘administrative decision, recommendation, act or omission’.
“As the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw does not grant administration authority to make any decisions or recommendations, but instead leaves the final decision making authority in council, no decision nor act could be reviewed by the Alberta Ombudsman.”
Administration made two recommended options to clarify the situation:
Option 1 - Council could hire a third party to investigate the claim. Administration has reviewed this option but has determined that there are several potential issues, real and/or perceived, with the hiring of a third party. For instance, it would require council to formally hire an investigator, which would require a majority of council and to formally approve the results of that investigation, which would also require a majority of council, which may be difficult to achieve in the event that a majority of council members were accused to be in contravention of the terms.
Option 2 - Council could rely on Section 571 (1)(c) of the Municipal Government Act which allows for any electors, with a sufficient petition, to request a municipal inspection by the minister of Municipal Affairs. Administration would recommend that this option be utilized as it would be resident driven and ultimately lead to a binding solution.
Councillors passed a motion giving first and second reading to the proposed second option.
The matter is scheduled to come back before council on Nov. 28 for possible third reading.