Mayor Mike Morden trying to set a respectful tone at council. (THE NEWS/Files)

New mayor wants to set a new tone at Maple Ridge city hall

Proposes a Council Code of Conduct for politicians

It’s often a forum for heated debate and democratic discussion, but Maple Ridge’s new mayor is trying to keep the proceedings as pleasant as possible.

Council, at its first meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, is to vote on a Council Code of Conduct, as noted in incoming Mayor Mike Morden’s inaugural speech.

Morden included the code in Tuesday’s agenda, seeking council’s endorsement.

“All of us have recognized the importance of creating an environment of respect, professionalism, and open-mindedness as we deliberate important issues facing the community,” the mayor writes.

He also suggests that council review the code every year “to ensure we maintain a safe and welcoming atmosphere for our colleagues, city staff and the community as a whole.”

The code spells out the expectations of councillors and says “conducting oneself with honesty, integrity and in a way that furthers the city’s ability to provide good governance to the community.”

The code says that councillors will demonstrate respect for each other by “fostering a safe and welcoming space for debate and decision-making.”

It also says councillors will demonstrate respect through “professional and respectful verbal and body language”; asking questions rather than making assumptions; arriving prepared for council meetings; approaching issues with an open mind; criticizing issues and not individuals … and “being sensitive to others’ emotions when they are feeling very passionate about an issue.”

Standards are also included for council when it interacts with the public.

The Council Code of Conduct also says that ensuring a fair and professional process at council will “support a welcoming environment in which all members of the community feel safe to share their views with council.”

Councillors are also committing to “respectful verbal and body language, making few interjections”; … avoiding repetition or re-stating what was just said; … “acknowledging how speakers are feeling and recognizing the vulnerability that speakers may feel when presenting their issues to council …”

In order to foster public confidence, councillors are also asked to lead by example, treat everyone equally, and ensure the public feels heard by “avoiding inflammatory comments.”

In addition, councillors are also asked to speak clearly and “at a moderate volume” so people in the council chambers and watching online can hear.

City staff will also help out by ensuring that high-quality presentations are brought to council and by asking members of the public to sign up to speak before any meeting begins.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to set the tone for this council term, and I look forward to working with you, to serve the citizens of Maple Ridge,” Morden said.

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