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Editorial: West Vancouver council owes residents a code of conduct

Virtually every organization has now created a code of conduct without a fuss. Why is West Vancouver different?
Election signs fill the boulevard along Taylor Way, at the entrance to the British Properties, in West Vancouver, prior to the municipal election, Oct. 15, 2022. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News files

Sometimes, municipal councils are faced with difficult decisions. The decision on whether to adopt a code of conduct governing council members’ behaviour isn’t one of them – or at least it shouldn't be.

Yet the proposed code in West Vancouver may be destined for defeat. Mayor Mark Sager has warned that the document proposed by staff, which addresses things like harassment, conflict of interest and abuse of office, likely won’t pass, as-is. Coun. Sharon Thompson argued West Van’s council should essentially be given the benefit of the doubt and, therefore, there’s no need to have written rules.

This doesn't make sense. At a time when trust in government is flagging and the bar for behaviour among political leaders seems to be going ever lower, having an agreed upon set of standards is a must. Virtually every organization has one now. It’s a basic tool of accountability that every citizen deserves to have in their government.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has given every council until May 7 to either adopt a code of conduct or put into writing for the province and their own constituents why it’s beneath them. When the code comes back to West Vancouver council on April 24, we expect an extremely short debate followed by a unanimous vote in favour.

Anything less would be a disservice to the residents of West Vancouver and every other municipality where councils did the right thing and adopted a code of conduct without a fuss.

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