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 and Local 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. 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:
- Council Staff Relations Policy
- Sale and Disposition of Land
- Hiring of Employees
- Procurement of Goods and Services
- Public Notice
- Purchasing Bylaw
- Accountability and Transparency
- Delegation of Authority
- Delegation Of Authority Bylaw (Office Consolidation)
A 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.
Code of Conduct for members of Council and Local Boards and the Integrity Commissioner
The Code of Conduct for Members of Council and Local Boards 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.
Code of Conduct Complaint Procedure
Complaint forms shall be submitted directly to the Integrity Commissioner. Contact information for the Integrity Commissioner, including e-mail and phone numbers, is available on the complaint form. All complaints must include the following:
- 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
- written material in support of the alleged contravention.
Upon receipt of a complaint or request for enquiry, the Integrity Commissioner shall first determine if it is within their jurisdiction and whether there is a procedure under other legislation or City policy to deal with the complaint. If it is determined that other procedures apply, the Integrity Commissioner shall refer the complainant to the appropriate person or agency to follow that process.
Where it has been determined that a complaint should be dealt with under another process, it will no longer be considered or dealt with by the Integrity Commissioner and the time limits described in the other processes will apply accordingly.
Upon receipt of a complaint or request to conduct an enquiry within their jurisdiction, and if the Integrity Commissioner deems the complaint or request to have merit, the Integrity Commissioner may deliver a preliminary report to an open meeting of Council which may include the following:
- The opinion of the Integrity Commissioner as to whether the enquiry is appropriate and whether it can be conducted within the law applicable to such an enquiry;
- An indication as to whether it is the Integrity Commissioner’s intention to conduct the enquiry under the Public Inquiries Act;
- A preliminary indication of the members of staff and/or consultants needed to assist the Integrity Commissioner;
- An estimated cost of the enquiry;
- The estimated time required to complete the enquiry and prepare a final report; and
- Where appropriate, the Integrity Commissioner may recommend that the alleged infraction be reported to the police and that the enquiry be suspended until the police investigation is completed.
If the Integrity Commissioner is of the opinion that a complaint or request to conduct an enquiry is frivolous, vexatious, not made in good faith or that there are insufficient grounds for an enquiry, the Integrity Commissioner shall not prepare a preliminary report to Council and shall not conduct an enquiry.
Conflict of Interest Registry
Changes to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act require that municipalities create and maintain a public registry of all declarations of pecuniary interest made by members of Council. The City of Guelph conflict of interest registry also includes any declarations of pecuniary interest made by members of the Guelph Police Services Board. Other local boards in the City of Guelph maintain their own conflict of interest registries. For access to those registries, please visit the website for that local board or contact the local board administrator.
City Council and Local Boards Gift Disclosures
Members of City Council and local boards may not accept a fee, advance, gift or personal benefit that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of their duties unless permitted by one of the exceptions noted in Section 5 of the City of Guelph Code of Conduct for Council and Local Boards. For the specific exemptions noted below, members of Council and local boards must declare gifts they receive where the value of the gift is over $300.Gift exemptions requiring disclosure where the value of the gift exceeds $300:
- such gifts or benefits that normally accompany the responsibilities of office and are received as an incident of protocol or social obligation.
- a suitable memento of a function honouring the member.
- food, lodging, transportation and entertainment provided by provincial, regional or local governments, or political subdivisions of them, by the federal government or a foreign country.
- food and beverages consumed at banquets, receptions or similar events, if:
- attendance serves a legitimate business purpose;
- the person extending the invitation or a representative of the organization is in attendance; and
- the value is reasonable and attendance at events sponsored by the same entity is infrequent.
- communication to the offices of a member, including subscriptions to newspapers and periodicals.
A registry of all reported gifts is available. Please note that, to date, no gift disclosures have been received.
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
Section 239 of the Municipal Act lays out specific requirements which must be met to allow City Council to meet in a closed/confidential setting. All City Council meetings which don’t meet these requirements must be held in public.
Section 239.1 of the Municipal Act gives the public the ability to request an investigation into whether the municipality has complied with the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act.
City Council has appointed Local Authority Services Ltd. as Guelph’s closed meeting investigator. Local Authority Services Ltd. has appointed Aird and Berlis LLP to conduct closed meeting investigations on its behalf. Aird and Berlis LLP is authorized to conduct investigations about a closed meeting or part of a closed meeting that is alleged to have been conducted in violation of the Municipal Act.
Closed Meeting Investigation Requests
Individuals may submit closed meeting complaints electronically using the online closed meeting investigation request form.
The City Clerk will forward all investigation requests to Aird and Berlis LLP, the City’s closed meeting investigator. Once received, Aird and Berlis LLP will investigate the circumstances of the closed meetings referenced and report publicly on the results of that investigation.
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 [email protected].