Like a good road trip, developing a code of conduct* is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.  

The journey of developing a code of conduct creates the space for important conversations about expectations related to appropriate communications and behaviour. These conversations (and the outcomes captured in the code of conduct) help establish the clarity and trust needed for a team to be successful. And the dialogue creates an open and honest tone from the outset – not only for the planning process itself, but well into the team’s time together. Questions we ask include:  

  • How do you want to be treated? What should you expect of each other?  
  • How do you want your term to be characterized?  
  • What kind of working environment and minimum expectations will make the term most effective and enjoyable?  

The UBCM Working Group on Responsible Conduct has identified four foundational principles that can be used as a starting point for a council code of conduct as follows:  

  • Integrity 
  • Respect 
  • Accountability 
  • Leadership and Collaboration  

In addition to the four foundational principles, some other principles to consider are:   

  • Fiscal responsibility 
  • Open and responsive  
  • Community interest and well-being  
  • Evidence-based decision making  
  • Meaningful engagement 
  • Transparency  
  • Good governance    
  • Upholding the will of Council  

Once shared principles are identified, the next step is to articulate specific standards of behaviour related to each principle. For detailed guidance on developing codes of conduct, check out the UBCM Working Group guide. It can help you avoid bumps in your code of conduct journey by ensuring you have the processes in place for compliance and enforcement.  

BC communities: Remember to budget and plan for strategic planning for your new Council (and senior staff) after municipal elections this fall – and ask us how we can help design and facilitate your process, along with the development of your code of conduct. Contact Shannon[AT]

*Legislative amendments made recently to the Community Charter, Vancouver Charter and Local Government Act require local governments to consider adopting or updating a Code of Conduct within 6 months after their first regular council or regional district board meeting.