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.
The City of Niagara Falls adopted a new Code of Conduct for Members of Council on July 11, 2017, which was further amended by Council on June 22, 2021. 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 six (6) weeks of filing the complaint with the Integrity Commissioner. As of June 22, 2021, City Council has imposed an administrative fee of $500 for a resident to file a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner under Council's Code of Conduct and that 50% of the fee be refundable if found to be valid. In the event that the Integrity Commissioner determines that a complaint is frivolous, vexatious or contains insufficient grounds to support an investigation under the Code of Conduct, the complainant shall forfeit the fee of $500.
- 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
- $500 filing fee.
- Attach any evidence.
- Send in the complaint and filing fee, care of the City Clerk.
The Complaint package is to be sent to the Integrity Commissioner, c/o the City Clerk, by mail, e-mail, fax, or courier.
Contacting the Integrity Commissioner
Integrity Commissioner, c/o The City Clerk
City of Niagara Falls, 4310 Queen Street, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6X5
Phone: 905-356-7521 ext. 4342