Thunder Bay City Council Votes for Professional Development Sessions to Enhance Governance

500 Donald Street East - Thunder Bay City Hall
500 Donald Street East - Thunder Bay City Hall

City council and integrity commissioner to collaborate on training aimed at fostering teamwork, emotional intelligence, and resolving disputes

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Thunder Bay’s civic leadership is on the brink of a significant step toward strengthening its governance through enhanced professional development. In a unanimous decision on Monday, the city council agreed to collaborate with the integrity commissioner to identify and implement training sessions aimed at promoting collaborative relationships, emotional intelligence, and effective conflict resolution among elected officials.

The initiative, pending final approval at a forthcoming meeting, was proposed following amendments to a recommendation by the integrity commissioner, Principle’s Integrity. The amendment shifted focus from removing Coun. Agarwal from the Fort William Business Improvement Area board to seeking comprehensive training solutions for all council members.

City Clerk Krista Power emphasized the dual focus of the initiative: improving how council members interact within boards and committees and enhancing their collective capacity to manage disagreements constructively.

The proposed half-day training session, funded through the city manager’s budget, is seen as an investment in reducing the frequency and cost of integrity commissioner investigations by proactively addressing the root causes of conflicts.

Power outlined the potential cost benefits, suggesting that the training could reduce the number of complaints, investigations, and reports filed by the integrity commissioner, ultimately saving the city money. The annual budget allocated for Principles Integrity’s services is $20,000.

This move comes in the wake of a complaint initiated in October 2023 against Coun. Agarwal, accusing her of disruptive behavior and habitual tardiness at meetings.

Agarwal has already faced sanctions from the integrity commissioner, including a 30-day pay deduction for a separate violation of the council’s code of conduct over the summer.

Coun. Agarwal expressed strong support for the training initiative, highlighting the universal benefits of education and professional development.

Echoing her sentiments, Westfort Ward Coun. Kristen Oliver voiced concerns about recent issues with decorum in council meetings. Oliver stressed the importance of respect and proper conduct in council chambers and the potential of the training to improve council functionality and credibility.

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