Business Items    Item #   11. b.            
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 03/13/2017  
Title: Policy 6,039 - Use of Municipal Resources for Election Campaigns - Goodwin
Department: Corporate Services

Request for Decision Summary
The purpose of this report is to bring draft Policy 6,039 - Use of Municipal Resources for Election Campaigns forward for Council's consideration. The proposed policy will instill public confidence in the City of Spruce Grove electoral process by setting parameters for the use of municipal resources in campaigns. These parameters will ensure that all candidates have access to the same information and that the City of Spruce Grove and its employees remain neutral throughout the election process.  

Proposed Motion
 That Policy 6,039 - Use of Municipal Resources for Election Campaigns be approved as presented. 

City of Spruce Grove election processes are governed by the Local Authorities Election Act and our Elections Bylaw. Although these crucial pieces of legislation include some provisions that regulate the conduct of candidates and administration, there is opportunity for a municipality through its policy framework to further ensure that its election practices reflect fairness, accountability and transparency.

The proposed policy has been established with an intent to ensure that all candidates are treated the same throughout the election process, that City employees remain neutral while being compensated by the City, and that the City of Spruce Grove conducts its election without influence. This policy introduces new concepts, reinforces established city practices, and replaces administrative Policy 6,028CM – City Staff Participation in Municipal Election Campaigns.

Candidate Accessibility
The proposed policy supports candidate accessibility by ensuring that there is a level playing field among candidates. To ensure all candidates are receiving the same information from Administration, provisions with respect to information requests have been introduced under Section 6. If a question is asked by a candidate and the information requested is not readily available to the public, all candidates who have provided the municipality with an email address will receive the response to the inquiry. Any questions where the information is readily available to the public will be simply released to the candidate.

Candidates, which include sitting members of council who are also candidates, are prohibited from using city resources for the purposes of campaigning. This includes city technology, city facilities without a proper rental contract, city employees during regular hours of work, city funds, and city logos, crests or slogans. One exception to this provision are Council devices issued in accordance with Policy 5,018CM – Council Device.

Employee Neutrality
While being compensated for work by the City of Spruce Grove, city employees may not participate in or conduct any work in support of a candidate or campaign.
City employees may participate in campaigns on their own time, but are prohibited from identifying themselves as a city employee. General managers, managers, supervisors, city clerk office employees and election workers are the exception. These positions require an impartial relationship with the elected council. 

Elections free from Influence
An election free from influence refers to election processes that are not influenced by candidates and that the election results are not influenced by City administration. While this has not been an issue in the past for the City of Spruce Grove, it is proactive for our municipality to ensure that our election practices remain impartial. This is addressed through a number of provisions in this policy, including the new process for handling candidate information requests, the prohibition of campaigning to city employees while at work and the prohibition of campaigning by City employees at work. To further ensure there is no perception of bias, a member of council who is also a candidate will not be scheduled to attend ceremonial events as a representative of the City between nomination day and election day, a period of 4 weeks. 

This policy applies to elections and by-elections in all orders of government, as well as votes on a municipal bylaw or question. 
Council may refer this policy back to administration for further consideration.  
This policy introduces a number of concepts that are new to the City of Spruce Grove, but necessary to ensure that elections are conducted in a free and transparent manner. As these concepts are new, Administration looked to examples set by municipalities across Canada in the development of this policy. The draft policy was circulated to senior leadership for review and discussion. 

If approved, a copy of this policy will be placed on the City of Spruce Grove webpage and will be featured in the candidate handbook. This policy will also be circulated to all members of City of Spruce Grove administration. 
Implementation of this policy will further instill public confidence in the municipal democratic process and the City of Spruce Grove as an organization. By setting clear guidelines for candidates, City employees, and the organization, it is anticipated that the risk of influence and inappropriate use of municipal resources will be mitigated. 

Draft Policy 6,039
Policy 6,028CM