HALIFAX: The province is currently working on a new code of conduct for elected municipal officials and municipal staff.
Susan Mader Zinck, communications officer with the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing, told The Reporter the department consulted with “municipal stakeholders” across Nova Scotia, including elected officials, municipal staff, the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities, and the Association of Municipal Administrators.
“We asked them for feedback on ways to strengthen the current code of conduct framework for municipalities,” she explained.
Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter told other media it is important to him that issues of conduct are dealt with consistently and appropriately.
The province made municipal codes of conduct mandatory in 2017.
In recent years, local municipal councils have been mired in conflict. In Guysborough, the current Chief Administrative Officer was forced to apologize after social media posts he made were deemed inappropriate.
In Inverness County, council twice forced votes for the position of warden because some councillors were unsatisfied with the performance of the current warden. Then council was forced to take action against one councillor who was involved in the drafting of a letter making serious allegations against the current CAO.
Richmond County has had more than its share of dysfunction with five CAOs in the past four years, including one who was forced to resign after residents and some councillors took to social media with serious allegations of financial misconduct. Then a former CAO was terminated during a council meeting last year, which resulted in another lawsuit against the municipality.
In Port Hawkesbury, town council has also been divided over aspects of the Destination Reeves Street project, and was recently unable to agree whether to hold a special election after the departure of the former deputy mayor and town councillor.
Media reports indicate that the new rules could be updated as early as this fall but Mader Zinck added that no dates have been set.
“… We are still working through the specifics of what the code may address based on the feedback received during our consultations,” she added. “We do not have a fixed date yet for when the code will be in place, however, this issue is a priority for both the province and municipal stakeholders.”