ELK POINT - Two Town of Elk Point councillors made public apologies toward the municipality's contracted bylaw enforcement officer on Aug. 9. And the entire council, along with some administration, will soon be getting some refresher training regarding meeting protocol and the Code of Conduct.
Town of Elk Point Mayor Lorne Young confirmed that “A Code of Conduct complaint was received by the Town of Elk point on July 1, 2021." In his statement to Lakeland Today, he noted that the Town of Elk Point and council take "compliance with the Code of Conduct very seriously, and for this reason the Town has arranged for a refresher Code of Conduct and meeting protocol training for council and senior administration to occur shortly."
The mayor stated that the complaint was processed in accordance with the Code of Conduct Bylaw, and discussions regarding complaints and sanctions, if any, are matters that are addressed in closed session, as per provisions in the Municipal Government Act.
"As a result of the complaint, councillors (Terri) Hampson and (Debra) McQuinn each determined it was appropriate to make a public apology," and those apologies were included in the record during the public portion of the Aug. 9 meeting.
Coun. Hampson spoke first during the Aug. 9 council meeting, stating, "As an elected official, we are held to a higher account, and I take that very seriously... on June 28, 2021, during the Town of Elk Point's regular council meeting, my emotions got the best of me, and I made remarks about a Town employee. This action was stepping outside of my governance role as a councillor. A personal letter of apology has been issued to said employee."
She noted she is committed to correcting her language and ensuring concerns are raised in appropriate time, place and manners. She noted that as a community leader it's important for her to correct any misconceptions and learn from them.
Coun. McQuinn also offered a verbal apology on Monday evening.
On Feb. 8 and June 28 during Town council meetings, McQuinn said she stated the Town enforcement bylaw officer was ignoring or failing to respond adequately to resident complaints and had delivered enforcement documents in an unprofessional manner. McQuinn said she would possibly attend a residence personally regarding enforcement matters, which she admits was inappropriate.
"I made these statements with a limited understanding of the facts and based on incomplete information. My comments were unwarranted and inappropriate... Our bylaw officer works very hard to be consistent and reliable in their duties and I want to thank and commend them for that."
She added, "I sincerely regret and apologize to the bylaw enforcement officer for any inconvenience or damage to their reputation... I realize that in the future I need to take more care to ensure that I have all the relevant information before commenting on matters and raise any concerns that I may have at the appropriate time and place."
She added, "I plan to do better and will take steps to educate myself so something like this never happens again... please accept my sincere apologies."
A motion to receive the apologies as information was carried. Council then approved a motion that council and the CAO attend Code of Conduct training by the end of September.
While Coun. Hampson did not specifically refer anyone in her apology, Tammy Goddu, the Town's contracted part-time bylaw enforcement officer, confirmed that both apologies delivered on Monday evening were directed to her.
According to Goddu, on Feb. 8, 2021, during a live council meeting Coun. McQuinn made untrue allegations toward and against Goddu's professionalism and her character.
Then, on June 28, again during a live council meeting Coun. McQuinn and Coun. Hampson made untrue allegations toward and against Goddu's professionalism and character.
On July 21, a motion acknowledging that there had been a breach of Section 11 of the Code of Conduct Bylaw was approved by council. That same meeting, council approved a motion requesting Coun. Hampson and Coun. McQuinn provide a written apology to the impacted individual, which was Goddu.
Speaking to Lakeland Today on Aug. 10, Goddu says she wants her reputation restored, and feels she can't even go out in her own community due to the damage that has been caused by the councillors' comments. "It's been a terrible experience."
Goddu confirmed that she has "engaged lawyers to pursue a defamation claim." The apologies were requested by Goddu as part of a Cease and Desist letter sent to the Town on July 1.