Local governments in British Columbia are required by legislation to consider implementing or upgrading a Code of Conduct within the first six months of the first regular council/board meeting following a general local election. The Working Group on Responsible Conduct (WGRC) has developed a set of resources to assist local governments with the development and updating of Codes of Conduct, including necessary considerations for dealing with complaints, resolving conduct issues informally and establishing enforcement procedures.
The conduct of local elected officials is central to governance and when conduct issues emerge, good governance can be impaired and public trust eroded. The guide Forging the Path to Responsible Conduct presents practical ways to help local governments prevent conduct issues and deal with them if they do arise. A local government can hold its elected officials accountable for their conduct through an enforcement process articulated within its code of conduct, so long as that process is fair. This guide includes a chapter on the general characteristics of conduct enforcement processes, and what to consider in their development.
Local governments that are considering a Code of Conduct for the first time will want to consider a model Code of Conduct and companion guide developed by the WGRC. Also, there are many excellent examples of recently developed Codes of Conduct for local governments to consider, including one from the District of Squamish which includes enforcement provisions linked to the District’s Remuneration Bylaw, Procedure Bylaw and Respectful Workplace policy.
To support newly forming Councils and Boards, the WGRC has recently released its first-ever online educational course for local elected officials. The course introduces the principles that guide responsible conduct through a series of scenarios that explore conduct choices. The course is available for free to all local elected officials in BC – please use the course code VV81-5TFM to access the course.
If you have questions on these or any other resources for responsible conduct, please contact Paul Taylor, UBCM Director of Communications.