Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Reader asks: Is the Code of Conduct Counter-productive?

Posted by auroracitizen on May 28, 2010

I had the opportunity this past Tuesday May 25th to watch the Aurora Council on Rogers TV in particular the debate and subsequent vote on the property development at Yonge & Centre streets. This issue consumed Tuesday evening’s council meeting and produced some heated debate from both sides as to whether the development should be delayed pending the release of the Promenade report.

I have also followed the reporting in the Banner and its web version as well as the opinions in some of the Aurora based blogs including this one. It now strikes me that Aurora’s Code of Conduct may be working against any freedom of expression or was there actually a breach of the code committed in trying to sway the opinion of the Banner readers. It did strike me as odd that the chairperson of the town’s economic development advisory committee was critical of the councillors and the process.

Please read the excerpt from the below article and then the appropriate section from the Code of Conduct. What’s your opinion on this matter? Is the Code counter-productive, should it be applied to the letter of the law or simply a waste of space? 

1.    From–aurora-project-baffles-development-chairperson

 (I believe this article was also published in print in Tuesday May 25th edition of the Banner.)

Aurora project baffles development chairperson              by Sean Pearce

The chairperson of the town’s economic development advisory committee says he is scratching his head after council paved the way for a multi-storey residential building planned for Yonge and Centre streets last week.

The steering committee for the downtown study is working to release a draft version of its plan next month so it’s curious why councillors would vote to greenlight a six-to-seven-storey mixed-use development at this point, EDAC chairperson and downtown steering committee member Chris Ballard said.

It’s concerning councillors would approve official plan and bylaw amendments to permit the proposal, eyed for the northeast corner of Yonge and Centre, without knowing what the downtown study has to say, as it may set a poor long-term precedent, he said.

He’s also perplexed why it’s being waved through despite having about 25 fewer parking spaces than current policies permit.

“Why spend all of that time and effort on a plan with new rules and regulations and then just sneak this in under the wire?” he said. “I’m pretty miffed certain councillors would vote for this when they know we have a draft of the (Aurora) promenade study coming out in June.”

2.    From the Town of Aurora’s website “By-Law Number 5037-08.C Being a By-Law to Adopt a Code of Conduct for Members of Advisory & Statutory Committees”

Section 3 Communications and Media Relations

Committee Members will accurately and adequately communicate the attitudes and decisions of the Committee and Council, even if they disagree with the majority decision of Committee or Council.

Members shall show respect for the decision-making process of the Committee and Council.

Official information related to decisions and resolutions made by the Committee or Council will normally be communicated to the community and the media in an official capacity by the Mayor or designated staff member or through a Press Release issued by the Corporation.

Information concerning adopted policies, procedures and decisions of the committee shall be conveyed openly and accurately.

Confidential information will be communicated only when and after determined by Council.

When a committee member chooses to communicate through the media which may include or involve interviews, editorials, writing of a regular column in the newspaper of magazine, hosting/co-hosting a regular televised program, where they are identified as a “member of a committee of the Town of Aurora” which is a recognized entity of the Municipality as a Corporation, the committee member shall be expected to feature an appropriate acceptable disclaimer stating “the opinions reflected by the member are their own personal comments and are not endorsed nor representative of the committee or the Town of Aurora Council”.

5 Responses to “Reader asks: Is the Code of Conduct Counter-productive?”

  1. Something Fishy in Aurora..... said

    Here we go again…–integrity-commish-reviewing-new-complaints

  2. Richard Johnson said

    QUOTE: “I’m pretty miffed certain councillors would vote for this when they know we have a draft of the (Aurora) promenade study coming out in June.”

    This quote sounds a lot like council passing a lengthy resolution opposing local generation THE NIGHT BEFORE the public open house that was intended to inform the public and council about the actual details of what was being proposed. The fact that council demonstrated an extremely poor understanding of the power supply issue and the viable alternatives available to us seemed to escape a whole lot of people.

    I also think it is rather obvious that the Chair of EDAC in the above noted Banner story is not speaking on behalf of Council when he is criticising its actions, which begs the question as to when the code of conduct disclaimer noted above, may be required.

    I guess the real question in this case is how Council and staff responded to this article. Did the town’s lawyers give Mr. Ballard a call or did the Mayor just give Mr. Ballard (and maybe even Ken Whitehurst) a free pass this time around ? This example does raise some interesting questions from a code of conduct perspective.

    You can’t legislate common sense and I think you have to give the public and committee members some credit even if you are left scratching your head at Council more often than a reasonable person should expect to. Mr. Ballard should be permitted to offer his opinion freely and keeping the lawyers out of the debate is in everyone’s best interest.

    As far as the specific issues pertaining to the Yonge & wellington development are concerned, I have agree with some of Mr. Ballard’s concerns, however at the same time I also have to question the logic of stalling all development until the fall or next spring because of a review that will have taken over a year to be prepared. Hasn’t EDAC and the downtown core steering committee been sharing its views all along ? (I would hope so). Sometimes making decisions and moving forward is actually a good thing, but one should be forgiven for expecting any decision to be a well informed one. This is yet another case that is as clear as mud, but the underlying tones remain what we have come to expect, which may be why 65% of eligible votes will likely take a pass on October 25th.

  3. Junius said

    Some facts to put this in perspective:

    1) Chris Ballard is the Chair of the Economic Development Committee. Councilor MacEachern is Vice-Chair. (Councilor Wilson was Chair but he got muscled out). If I am not mistaken, this is one of the few, (the only other one I can think of is the Committee of Adjustments, which is Chaired by MacEachern’s buddy) committees of the Town that is Chaired by a non-elected (or appointed – Mr. Gallo) Offical.

    2) Chris Ballard is the President of CSB Communications, an Aurora based company that states “Our strategic management and business advisory services facilitate strategic planning, public affairs, joint venture development, organizational reviews and financial sourcing. For 20 years, companies, not-for-profit organizations, governments and First Nations businesses and Councils have relied on our expertise to help build sustainable futures.”

    3) CSB Communications lists the Town of Aurora as one of its clients.

    4)Morris actually was on the losing side of the vote on this particular issue at the May 18th GC meeting (and she did not like that).

    5) This story appeared right after the vote was lost.

    Do I need to continue connecting the dots?

    • Thanks Will Be Given Come October said

      How about this scenario?

      Councillors Granger and Wilson read this and other blogs and have finally realized that being welded at the hip to MorMac just might be a liability come October.

      Nah, that would suggest freedom of thought.

    • someone who loves this town more than politics said

      It would also suggest both an ability to read and an ability to recognize liabilities. Neither the Lone Granger or Bobble-head flip-flopping used car salesman Wilson have exhibited evidence of such mental fortitude.

      Regardless, any actions in the final months can’t possibly make up for the previous 3 years.

      They made their bed in a pile of manure, they can lie in it.

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