Surrey Ethics Commissioner Office
The Ethics Commissioner is a neutral, independent officer who oversees the conduct of elected officials at the City of Surrey.
Council Code of Conduct Bylaw Amendment
Effective April 25, 2022, the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw 2020, no. 20020 was amended to include provisions suspending the processing of complaints submitted between April 12, 2022 and October 16, 2022. Any complaints submitted to SECO during this time will be acknowledged and received by the City but will not be processed or adjudicated by SECO until after October 16, 2022.
The 6-month limitation period for the submission of complaints (Council Code of Conduct Section 69) is not suspended. If you witness or experience a breach to the Council Code of Conduct and wish to submit a complaint, you must submit your complaint within 6 months of the alleged breach.
Surrey Ethics Commissioner Office
The position of Surrey Ethics Commissioner Office (SECO) was established by the Ethics Commissioner Establishment Bylaw, 2020, No. 20018. The Ethics Commissioner is a neutral, independent officer who oversees the conduct of elected officials at the City of Surrey, and operates independently of City Council and City Administration.
The Ethics Commissioner is appointed by Council for a term of up to two years, and their term may be renewed for a maximum of three 1-year terms. Council appointed Reece Harding as the Ethics Commissioner for a term of two years, beginning July 13, 2020.
There is no legislation in British Columbia mandating a specific type of ethical framework for municipalities. The standards of conduct expected of elected officials are outlined in legislation and other binding documents, the most important of which is the Consolidated Council Code of Conduct Bylaw, 2020, No. 20020.
Provide advice to Council Members on behaviour that would be consistent with the Council Members' ethical obligations under the Code of Conduct;
Deliver training, as part of orientation or on an annual basis, on any aspects of ethical conduct that the Commissioner determines may be valuable for Council Members, which includes the ability to compel attendance of the Council Members;
Receive, review, investigate and adjudicate complaints related to the conduct of a Council Member and violations of the Code of Conduct;
Decide whether the matter is within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner;
Adopt procedures, policies and protocols designed to ensure that Formal Complaints are fully and fairly investigated;
Determine whether to proceed to investigate a Formal Complaint or dispose of the Formal Complaint in a summary manner;
Subject to the requirements of the Code of Conduct respecting procedural fairness, identify records and documentation received and reviewed during an investigation as confidential; and
Provide advice and recommendations to Council regarding amendments to the Code of Conduct and any other policies, procedures or protocols governing Council Members' ethical behaviour.
- Policy No. 2020-01: The Complaint Intake Policy. This Policy describes the intake process for complaints made to the Ethics Commissioner and provides guidelines for the review and processing of complaints, and for the notification to Council Members of allegations made against them
- Policy No. 2020-02: The Formal Review Policy and the associated guidance document. This Policy provides guidelines for how the Ethics Commissioner will review, process and investigate a formal complaint.
- Policy No. 2020-03: Records and Information Policy. This Policy describes how the Commissioner's Office manages the records it compiles and creates while doing its work, and what happens to those records when the Commissioner's term ends.
- Policy No. 2020-04: Confidentiality and Anonymity Policy. This Policy establishes the Ethics Commissioner's policy on confidentiality and anonymity in the review and processing of complaints.
SECO Complaint Status/Overview
As of January 5, 2023:
- Total Number of Complaints Received by SECO: 71
- Complaints Resolved and Closed by SECO: 71
Investigation Report Summaries
- Corporate Report 2020-R013: Ethics Commissioner Establishment Bylaw, 2020, No. 20018
- Appointment of Ethics Selection Committee Members
- Corporate Report 2021-R023: Payment of Reasonable Legal Fees to Respond to Complaints
Under Council Code of Conduct
- Corporate Report 2021-R059: Council Procedures for Ethics Commissioner Investigation Reports
- Corporate Report 2022-R072: Proposed Amendments to Council Code of Conduct Bylaw, 2020, No. 20020