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City of Yellowknife considering new hire to investigate future complaints against officials

'I don't see it as a reflection of the political environment necessarily, but it's simply best practice,' says mayor about integrity commissioner.

Mayor says integrity commissioner position not the result of allegations against Doug Gillard

The city has been in the spotlight after a dispute between Mayor Mark Heyck and Coun. Niels Konge, and following public allegations about inappropriate behaviour by municipal enforcement manager Doug Gillard. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

The mayor of Yellowknife says a possible new hire within the city, which would be in charge of complaints in the future regarding the mayor or council members, isn't the result of the rocky political climate at the municipal office. 

The city has been in the spotlight in the last year, for things like the dispute between Mayor Heyck and Coun. Niels Konge in which Konge filed a code of conduct complaint against Heyck.

The inquiry into Yellowknife's municipal enforcement division and alleged inappropriate behaviour by municipal enforcement manager Doug Gillard is also underway. 

But Mark Heyck says he doesn't feel those issues have played a role in the need for what's called an integrity commissioner.

"I don't see it as a reflection of the political environment necessarily, but it's simply best practice we should have in place here in Yellowknife."

Code of conduct review

Hiring an integrity commissioner is just one of the recommendations that came out of a review of the city's code of conduct. 

Heyck says the code is outdated and vague.

"I think what the [proposed] new code does is it makes it clear what the expectations are for mayor and councillors, and sets out a very clear process," he said.

Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck says the city's code of conduct is being reviewed because the current one is outdated and vague. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

The review was conducted by Rob DeRooy, the vice president of governance and strategy for Governance Solutions Incorporated, a consulting company based in Halton Hills, Ont.  

DeRooy's recommendations to council include:

  • Increasing the term of office for council from three years to four years with voter approval; 
  • adopting the city's respectful workplace and anti‐harassment policy and; 
  • hiring an integrity commissioner, who would receive and investigate all complaints about the mayor or a member of council.

Other municipalities across the country, including Orangeville, Ont. — which has a similar population size as Yellowknife — are considering hiring an integrity commissioner.

Heyck says based on Yellowknife's population, the commissioner wouldn't be a full-time position.

"So likely we would be looking at putting a lawyer on a retainer and then using them on an as-and-when-needed basis," he said.

"Might be a few thousand dollars in a given year."

Heyck says the proposed code of conduct will be discussed at next Monday's city council meeting.

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