The townships of Alberton, Dawson, La Vallee, Lake of the Woods, and Morley jointly appointed their municipal clerks to be the Integrity Commissioners for the other municipalities in a novel joint service agreement bylaw.
The bylaw is a practical solution to the impractically of Ontario’s Municipal Act requiring every municipality to retain an Integrity Commissioner at the municipality’s expense.
The cost of retaining former Hamilton City Solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski’s firm as Integrity Commissioner is $1250 per year, but another $1750 charge to provide training.
The population of Alberton is 954, Dawson 399, La Valle 788, Lake of the Woods 308, Morley 493.
$3000 is just the beginning. IC investigations can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
This joint services agreement addresses that problem.
The joint services agreement envisions some of the challenges of having an Integrity Commissioner who is an employee of a neighbouring municipality. They are provisions for one clerk to hand-off a complaint to another clerk if there is a conflict of interest.
Ultimately, the perception of a conflict of interest will exist because everyone knows each other in smaller communities.
What happens in the event of a severe violation, which requires filing a court application?
No matter how well-meaning and hard-working they are, small township clerks are not best qualified to do integrity work.
The solution to the ongoing shortcomings of how Ontario’s implemented municipal integrity commissioners is creating an independent provincial office to provide the service.