Port Alberni city council is hoping to have a new code of conduct in place before the October election.
Council started to pursue a code of conduct in March of this year, a move that stemmed from the city’s handling of a bylaw violation at a pub owned by a city councillor. A public complaint in 2020 brought to light the fact that Coun. Helen Poon, who owns the Kingsway Pub and Hotel, had been undertaking some unpermitted renovations at the pub.
Poon has since apologized for her conduct, but concerned members of the public have called for greater accountability from both city staff and councillors.
City director of corporate services Twyla Slonski presented a number of documents at the May 9 council meeting to assist councillors in developing a code of conduct, including a model code of conduct that was recently put out by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM).
“To act as a starting point for councils that wish to establish a code of conduct,” Slonski explained.
Codes of conduct are not required by law, but many different municipalities in B.C. already have them. Port Alberni does not.
Mayor Sharie Minions said that although the current council’s term is “almost over,” she still wants to move forward on creating a code of conduct that can be reviewed and updated by the next council.
Council directed city staff on May 9 to begin the process of finding a facilitator, which will guide council through building a code of conduct.
Elected councillors who don’t follow the rules, said Coun. Cindy Solda, should have consequences even when it comes to private matters.
“Although you’re not doing anything representing council in a grocery store, you’re still representing council no matter what,” she said. “You’re elected.”