Thunder Bay Needs to Follow Sault Ste Marie
THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – The news over the past several days from the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition offers an opportunity for City Council. The situation should have City Council direct City Administration to prepare a Code of Conduct for City Councillors, City Administration and for individuals on City of Thunder Bay Boards.
That City Councillors could be put in the position of being seen, potentially as a part of any situation that would involve the kinds of liabilities that could put the city at risk.
Thunder Bay would not be set in place groundbreaking moves in enacting a Code of Conduct. Many other cities have such policies in place. Toronto, Waterloo, Edmonton, Hamilton and Sault Ste Marie all have led the way. The process is fairly similar in each of those communities.
Such a Code of Conduct, for Thunder Bay, could be a little more effective if done right. In Toronto, for example, despite numerous apparent violations by some members of the council, there has been little in terms of effective “teeth” in the document. Putting in place strong ramifications would make a difference.
CLE and Free Alcohol for Directors
The allegations over the situation at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition and the consumption of alcohol after meetings by directors have come forward recently. The issue seems to have been diverted a little.
The concern isn’t that directors might want to have a drink after a board meeting.
The issue is that directors seem to feel they are entitled to full access whenever they want, to a private bar. The CLE has been, and to a degree, the City of Thunder Bay, exposed to a huge potential liability issue.
The real issue is why do directors need access to free alcohol at all.
Sources have relayed to NNL that the practice is decades old, and there have been instances of individuals accessing the free bar after hours to get bottles of alcohol to continue parties after other licenced establishments have closed. The image of public funds from the CLE going to fuel drinking parties is simply wrong.
The real issue in 2013 is that liability and getting insurance to run the CLE could be placed at risk.
The problem is one that the City of Thunder Bay should be closely examining, and if the board isn’t willing to act, the City should be moving to act.
Other boards do not reportedly have similar facilities offered to their directors.
A far more responsible policy would be for directors who choose to socialize after a meeting to head to one of the nearby licenced establishments and partake on their own costs.
Code of Conduct
Thunder Bay currently doesn’t have a Code of Conduct for the Council, the Boards that Council sits upon, and for other Boards that use revenues supplied by taxpayers.
Putting in place such a code will protect Councillors, protect the city and in the end, protect taxpayers too.