Moosomin town council has passed a bylaw to extend the deadline to implement a council procedures bylaw by 90 days.
Under provincial legislation, the town would have had to have a bylaw in place by Jan. 17 unless it passed a bylaw to extend the deadline. The town now has until April 17 to pass a bylaw.
A draft bylaw has been prepared.
The extension will give councillors time to review the draft bylaw and make changes.
The new bylaw is required under provincial legislation intended to improve conflict of interest rules for municipal governments.
“These legislative changes will not only provide clearer direction and guidance for elected officials but will strengthen measures to deter and deal with conflicts of interest at the local level,” Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter said.
“By working closely with our municipal partners, we are establishing a new era of transparency, accountability and openness for our municipal elected officials.”
The proposed amendments are based on the recommendations of Justice Ronald Barclay’s inquiry into the Rural Municipality of Sherwood No. 159 in his final report, issued on December 30, 2014, regarding the proposed Wascana Village development near Regina.
The proposed changes address the key areas identified by the Barclay report to improve conflict of interest and ethical standards for municipal governments including:
• The new legislation will require more information from a member of council when declaring a conflict of interest situation.
• Mandatory public disclosure statements for all elected officials on council detailing their financial interests and any employment and other involvement that may be seen to affect the member’s impartiality.
• Mandatory adoption by all municipal councils of a code of ethics that includes a model code of ethics that will be developed in consultation with municipal partners.
• Clearer definitions of what constitutes a conflict of interest, a private interest and the inappropriate use of office and influence consistent with provisions in place for Members of the Legislative Assembly.
• The provincial ombudsman will be able to investigate alleged conflict of interest or code of ethics breaches at the municipal level including any breaches of council procedure/administration.
Under the draft bylaw, councillors will have to declare details of any conflict of interest
Councillors will be required to file a public disclosure statement detailing their and their family members’ employers, land holdings, and business interests.
The intent is to have a public record of council members’ interests to determine potential conflicts of interest. Until now, it has been up to council members to declare a conflict of interest.
Under the new legislation, the town must have an employee code of conduct, and councillors will have to swear a revised oath of office.
During discussion at the Dec. 16 council meeting, councillors discussed the potential impact of the strict new conflict-of-interest and disclosure rules.
“If a person decides they want to run for council shouldn’t they be aware of all this,” Councillor Terry Lynd asked.
“I can see there being a lot less people want to run for council once they understand all of this, what they have to disclose,” said Mayor Larry Tomlinson.