The Municipal Act, 2001 (the Act) provides that the City may establish a Council Code of Conduct (the “Code”) which outlines ethical standards of behaviour for Members of Council. The Act also provides that a Municipality may appoint an Integrity Commissioner who, among other duties, may investigate potential breaches of the Code and recommend penalties to Council where he or she has found the Member of Council to have contravened the Code. A process to establish an Integrity Commissioner for the City of Niagara Falls is underway. Until a formal appointment is made, the City Solicitor will seek out qualified individuals to conduct such investigations.
The City of Niagara Falls adopted a new Code of Conduct for Members of Council on July 11, 2017. The Code sets out and identifies the City expectations for its Members and establishes rules for appropriate conduct. The Code addresses Council Member conduct relative to access to information and confidentiality, staff relations, gifts, political activity, participation in community groups and organizations, and use of social media among others.
Under the Code, the Integrity Commissioner has authority to determine whether or not they will investigate any complaints received. Complaints about matters that are outside their jurisdictions, are frivolous, not made in good faith, or that the Integrity Commissioner determines has no grounds or insufficient grounds for conducting an investigation, may be dismissed.
On conclusion of a complaint investigation, the Integrity Commissioner will issue a report to Council on their findings, which will contain any recommended sanctions if applicable. At a public meeting Council will, where the Integrity Commissioner has determined there was a violation of the Code:
- Issue a reprimand; or
- Impose a suspension of remuneration paid to the Member for up to ninety (90) days.
Filing a Complaint
A complaint that a member has contravened the Code may be initiated by any person, any Member of Council, or by Council as a whole. The complainant must be an identifiable individual (complaints may not be submitted by any group, organization, or corporation). The alleged violation must have taken place within sixty (60) days of filing the complaint with the Integrity Commissioner. As of September 15, 2020, City Council has impossed an administrative fee of $200 for a resident to file a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner under Council's Code of Conduct and that the fee be refundable if found to be valid.
- Complete the Code Complaint Form.
A complaint must be made by completing the Code Complaint Form and the form must be signed and dated by the complainant. The complaint must include:
- An explanation, with specific reference to sections of the Code, as to why the issue raised is alleged to be a contravention of the Code; and
- Any witnesses in support of the allegation must be identified; and
- $200 filing fee.
- Attach any evidence.
- Send in the complaint and filing fee, care of the City Solicitor.
The Complaint package is to be sent to the Integrity Commissioner, c/o the City Solicitor, by mail, e-mail, fax, or courier.
Contacting the Integrity Commissioner
Integrity Commissioner, c/o The City Solicitor
City of Niagara Falls, 4310 Queen Street, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6X5
Phone: 905-356-7521 ext. 4242