Lake Cowichan councillors are discussing a code of ethics for themselves.
Mayor Ross Forrest, who brought up the subject, said, “it will make us better councillors” and that “codes of ethics are being discussed by municipalities all over the province. Any municipality that doesn’t have a good code of ethics in place is asking for trouble.”
The idea behind having such a code is that council will then possess a firm framework of guidelines on behaviour that can be used not only to solve problems that arise among councillors but also help them by providing standards for dealing with the public.
Coun. Bob Day said, “In nine years, I’ve had to learn the hard way. This might remind us of best practice, especially for new people coming in.”
He asked if there was such a document in existence and would everyone sign it.
Lake Cowichan does not have one but Forrest had pulled an example from another community so that his colleagues could examine it.
“I think it’s important that we have something like this as a reminder,” he said. “It’s a way of policing ourselves.”
Town CAO Joe Fernandez said the language used is not much different from that used for staff.
Coun. Tim McGonigle said, “We could endorse this here [at the committee meeting] and send it to a council meeting. I think it’s very important to remind not just us but our cohorts as well.”
Forrest agreed but wanted more.
“The roles and responsibilities of councillors are also important. We need to go over this line by line, to sit down and really look at it. It deserves that time to get it right.”
Council agreed to discuss it in more detail at a later meeting.