Accountability and transparency

 

In 2007, the Municipal Act (the ‘Act’) was amended to provide municipalities with greater autonomy but also to mandate the implementation of various accountability and transparency measures. In response:

  • we established the Accountability and Transparency Special Committee to review the legislative changes related to Accountability and Transparency, develop a Code of Conduct for Council andLocal Boards and make various recommendations to Council regarding the appointment of integrity officers.
  • subject matter related to the governance of the City, including monitoring and providing guidance for the effective governance of the organization, will be discussed every two months during the Committee of the Whole meeting.

We are committed to conducting business in an open, transparent and accountable manner, and have embedded these principles within our various policies, practices and procedures.  We make every effort to provide you and the community with as much information as possible through this website. If you cannot find what you are looking for, contact the appropriate department or the City Clerk’s Office.

Municipal Act Policies

Section 270 of the Municipal Act provides that municipalities must develop and maintain various policies regarding the accountability and transparency of municipal government and its operations. The following have been adopted by Council and are regularly reviewed to ensure compliance:

Procedural By-law

Procedural Bylaw was adopted by Council to establish the rules of order for Council and Committee meetings. The rules ensure a fair and consistent approach with respect to the consideration of City business. The Procedural Bylaw also establishes standards in relation to notice provisions, agendas and minutes, resolutions and voting, Council-Committee structure and membership appointments.

Closed Meeting Protocol

The Closed Meeting Protocol was adopted by Council to provide best practices for Council and/or Committee to follow when considering confidential information in a closed meeting. This protocol is in addition to the closed meeting provisions of the Municipal Act and outlines practices which go beyond the Act’s requirements to ensure that City business is conducted in the most open and transparent manner possible.

Closed Meeting Investigations

Council has appointed Local Authority Services (LAS) Ltd. as our Closed Meeting Investigator. LAS is authorized to conduct investigations upon receipt of a complaint about a closed meeting or part of a closed meeting. The Investigator will determine compliance with the Act and/or the City’s Procedural Bylaw.

Complaint Procedure

Individuals may submit complaints relating to compliance with the Municipal Act and/or the Procedural Bylaw during a closed meeting or part of a closed meeting. Section 239 of the Act outlines the instances in which a closed meeting can be held.

Complaints must be submitted in writing to the City Clerk and must contain the following information. Electronic submissions are not accepted.

  • Complainant’s name, mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address
  • Date of Closed Meeting in question
  • Nature and Background of the particular occurrence
  • Any activities undertaken (if any) to resolve the concern
  • Any other relevant information
  • Original signature

Complaints shall be submitted in a sealed envelope marked “Closed Meeting Investigation Complaint” and either delivered in person to the City Clerk’s Department on the 4th floor of City Hall, or mailed to:

City Clerk
City Clerk’s Office
City Hall, 1 Carden Street
Guelph, ON N1H 3A1

The Clerk will forward the complaint to LAS who will conduct an assessment and, if deemed to be warranted, appoint an Investigator. The Act states that when the investigation is complete and the Investigator is of the opinion that the closed meeting should not have been closed to the public as per the Act and/or Procedural Bylaw, the Investigator must submit a report, with or without recommendations, to City Council at an open meeting.

Council Code of Conduct / Integrity Commissioner

The Code of Conduct was adopted by Council to:

  • establish a common basis for the ethical behaviour of Members of Council and Local Boards, and
  • increase public confidence by making a commitment to operate with integrity, justice and courtesy.

Council appointed an Integrity Commissioner to address the application of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council and Local Boards. The Integrity Commissioner has the power to deal with requests to investigate suspected contraventions of the Code of Conduct and recommend the following penalties:

  • A reprimand; or
  • Suspension of the remuneration of the Council or Local Board member for a period of up to 90 days.

In addition to conducting formal Code of Conduct investigations, the Integrity Commissioner also serves as an advisor on appropriate conduct to individual Members of Council or Council as a whole.

The Integrity Commissioner delivers an annual report to Council providing a summary of activity throughout the year and information related to best practices and the potential development and/or revision of policies and procedures which emphasize the importance of ethical conduct.

Complaint Procedure

Complaint forms shall be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office (City Hall, 4th Floor, 1 Carden Street, Guelph) and sworn before a Commissioner of Oaths. All complaints must clearly state:

  • The Member to whom the complaint relates
  • The nature of the alleged contravention
  • The specific provision(s) of the Code allegedly contravened
  • Names of any witnesses to the alleged contravention
  • And include written material in support of the alleged contravention

The Integrity Commissioner will conduct all enquiries in a manner which will ensure that the individual to whom the complaint relates is treated fairly. All complaints shall be treated as confidential as much as possible and in accordance with legislation.

The Clerk will forward complaints to the Integrity Commissioner who will conduct assessments and, where determined necessary, conduct an investigation into the alleged contravention(s). The Integrity Commissioner will deliver a preliminary information report to an open meeting of Council and then promptly conduct the investigation aiming to have it complete within 30 days. The results of the investigation along with recommendations for potential penalties, if warranted, will be reported to Council at an open meeting.

User Guide to Local Government

The User Guide to Local Government was developed to ensure that Members of Council, City staff and the community at large have an understanding of the City’s governance model and related processes. The User Guide to Local Government:

  • pulls together various policies and procedures to assist Council in identifying and maintaining good governance practices
  • sets out the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the governance process, and
  • identifies principles to ensure that duties and obligations are discharged in a way that best maximizes results.

The User Guide to Local Government is updated regularly to incorporate new governance policies and procedures.

For more information

For more information about accountability and transparency measures, contact the Clerk’s Department at 519-837-5603 (TTY 519-826-9771) or at clerks@guelph.ca.