During the in-camera (non-public) portion of the Feb. 8, 2021 Regular Council Meeting, Innisfail Town Council heard a presentation from SAGE Analytics Inc. regarding council code of conduct matters. As a result of the presentation, council wishes to provide the following update to the community:
Council accepted the SAGE Investigation Report C-03-2021 and related recommendations regarding code of conduct matters involving Councillor Donnie Hill.
The report findings conclude that Councillor Hill breached section 4.1(d) of the Code of Conduct Bylaw 1612-2018. His private affairs involving recent and past criminal charges, though unproven, have had a negative impact on the reputation of council and the community.
Bylaw section 4.1(d) reads as follows:
4. Representing the Town
4.1 Members shall:
(d) Arrange their private affairs and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny.
Additionally, the report findings conclude that Councillor Hill did not breach section 7.1 regarding upholding the law. He has no criminal convictions and current charges against him have not been proven in a court of law. Councillor Hill remains qualified to serve as a municipal councillor in accordance with the Municipal Government Act, section 174(1)(e) and the code of conduct bylaw.
Bylaw section 7.1 reads as follows:
7. Adherence to Policies, Procedures and Bylaws
7.1. Members shall uphold the law established by the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of Alberta and the bylaws, policies and procedures adopted by Council.
Council passed the following resolution after a council discussion and opportunity to hear comments from Councillor Donnie Hill regarding the investigation report:
That upon reviewing the SAGE Investigation report, hearing comments from Councillor Hill, and accepting the investigation recommendations, Innisfail Town Council sanction Councillor Hill for breaching section 4.1(d) of the Town of Innisfail Council Code of Conduct Bylaw 1612-2018; and that the sanctions include suspending his appointment from all council committees in accordance with Bylaw 1612-2018 section 19.4(g) until the legal proceedings involving his private affairs are concluded.
This resolution imposes a sanction on Councillor Hill for a breach of the council code of conduct bylaw. These sanctions are not intended to imply any judgement or pre-judgement on current charges that Councillor Hill is facing. Rather, these sanctions are a temporary suspension from committee involvement in an effort to create some professional distance between the community and Councillor Hill in his capacity as an elected official for the Town of Innisfail.
Council received an update from SAGE Analytics Inc. on other council code of conduct matters. SAGE President Shari-Anne Doolaege informed council that a SAGE Investigation Report C-02-2021 was being prepared and that this report involved allegations made against former councillor Glen Carritt. SAGE anticipates that this investigation will be completed by the end of February.
SAGE began the council code of conduct investigation process after a Nov. 23, 2020 council appointment. The total project budget is approximately $25,000, including both investigations. SAGE commented on the high level of cooperation and input from officials and community members during the project.
Council understands the heightened public interest in council code of conduct matters. Council remains committed to transparency, accountability, and responsible leadership. The Town will receive advice from legal counsel prior to disclosing any part of the code of conduct investigation reports. These actions are demonstrating that council is actively upholding the requirements of Code of Conduct Bylaw 1612-2018.
A copy of the council code of conduct bylaw may be viewed at www.innisfail.ca/codeofconduct.