City Council approved a Code of Conduct to establish a common basis for the ethical behaviour of Members of Council and Local Boards and Committees. The standards serve to enhance public confidence in that the City’s elected and appointed representatives operate from a base of integrity, justice and courtesy.
City Council appointed an Integrity Commissioner to address the application of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and Local Boards and Committees. The City’s Integrity Commissioner has the power to deal with requests to investigate suspected contraventions of the Code of Conduct and recommend penalties.
Complaint Procedures – Informal & Formal
There are two complaint procedures:
Informal Complaint Procedure
The informal complaint procedure is for individuals (for example, municipal employees, members of the public, members of Council or local boards) or organizations, who have identified or witnessed behaviour or an activity by a member of Council, local board or advisory committee that they believe is in contravention of the Code of Conduct could address the prohibited behaviour or activity themselves as follows:
- Advise the member that their behaviour or activity appears to contravene the Code of Conduct;
- Encourage the member to stop the prohibited behaviour or activity;
- Keep a written record of the incidents including dates, times, locations, other persons present, and any other relevant information;
- If applicable, confirm to the member that you are satisfied with the response you received, or advise the member of your dissatisfaction with the response;
- Consider the need to pursue the matter in accordance with the formal complaint procedure, or in accordance with another applicable judicial or quasi-judicial process or complaint procedure.
Individuals and organizations are encouraged to initially pursue this informal complaint procedure as a means of stopping and remedying a behaviour or activity that is prohibited by the Code of Conduct. A person is not required to undertake the informal complaint procedure prior to pursuing the formal complaint procedure.
Formal Complaint Procedure
If the informal approach has not worked, or if you are uncomfortable with that approach, you may make a formal request for an investigation. The request for an investigation of a complaint that a member has contravened the Code of Conduct (the “complaint”) shall be in writing. The request must be in writing using the City’s Formal Complaint Procedure (Appendix A of the Code of Conduct / By-Law 139 of 2016).
All complaints shall be signed by an identifiable individual (which includes the authorized signing officer of an organization). Any commissioners for taking affidavits are authorized to take the supporting affidavit.
The request for an investigation shall be filed with the City Clerk, City of Sarnia, 255 Christina St. N., 2nd Floor, Sarnia, Ontario who shall forward the matter to the Integrity Commissioner, who will then determine if it’s within their jurisdiction. If it is a bona fide complaint within the context of the code of conduct, the commissioner will begin a formal investigation as outlined in the code.
If it is not under the jurisdiction of the commissioner, you will be advised that it falls under another jurisdiction or legislation and provided with other options for further review.
The commissioner may also determine the complaint is frivolous and/or vexatious, which means no investigation will be held.
Once the commissioner has completed their investigation, they will report to City Council on the outcome and if necessary, make recommendations regarding corrective action(s) in accordance with the Municipal Act.