In March 2015, our organization presented a deputation to York Region Council calling for the implementation of a Code of Conduct bylaw. At that time, our advice was ignored. York Regional Councillors clearly didn’t care to adopt one.
A year later, in February of 2016, representatives of the York Region Taxpayer Coalition made a presentation before an all party committee at the Ontario Legislature. Among our recommendations for ways to reform the municipal government of York Region, we asked that the Ontario Government mandate York Region Council to adopt a Council Code of Conduct bylaw. We made this recommendation in response to demands from our members that elected officials be more accountable to the public.
And we were heard.
Earlier today, the Ontario Government announced changes to reform municipal governments in the Province. Among the changes is a requirement that all municipal governments must adopt a Council Code of Conduct.
With this news, we will be advocating that York Region Council accept the Council Code of Conduct modeled after the City of Toronto’s Code. This would include a lobbyist registry, something that is sorely missed in many municipal codes of conducts in place already. Our organization is aware of at least one York Region council member who is a government lobbyist.
The new York Region Council Code of Conduct would be the first to apply to this level of government. Our attempts at York Region Council to raise attention to the necessity of this important accountability measure fell mostly upon deaf ears. We are very pleased that the cross-party Members of Provincial Parliament acknowledged the need and have taken steps to remedy this issue and we thank them for working together.