Council votes in favour of a Public Conduct Policy

Saugeen Shores Town Council voted on Monday to put in place an official ‘Public Conduct Policy’.

The Policy is directed toward members of the public whose behaviours and actions are deemed unreasonable, frivolous and/or vexatious but is not intended to deal with generally difficult individuals.

“Determining whether particular behaviours or actions are unreasonable, frivolous and/or
vexatious can be a flexible balancing exercise that requires all circumstances of a
particular case to be taken into account. In many cases, the key question is whether the
behaviours or actions are likely to cause distress, disruption, or irritation, without proper
or justified cause.”

The Policy states that “the Town of Saugeen Shores aims to provide exemplary services to all members of the public and to address service requests and complaints equitably, comprehensively and in a timely manner, while promoting a respectful, tolerant and harassment-free workplace between Town representatives and the public. In order to achieve the Town’s objectives, unreasonable behaviour and/or frivolous and vexatious complaints or requests from members of the public may need to be limited in a manner that is clear, consistent, reasonable, and proportional to the individual(s) action(s).”

If the decision is made to “… classify someone’s behaviour as unreasonable, or to classify a request as frivolous, it could have serious consequences for the individual, including restricting their access to Members of Council, Municipal Staff, services and/or property.”

“The decision may be as a result of a repeated pattern of conduct when, on several
occasions, a person engages in one or more behaviours or actions identified as
unreasonable, frivolous and/or vexatious, or it may be a single significant incident that
requires this policy to be enforced.”

As such, the attached policy provides clear examples of behaviours and actions, as well
as sets out clear steps for Staff to follow.

In the event that an issue cannot be resolved through this policy, the individual may
submit a complaint to the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman however, the Ombudsman’s office encourages municipalities to adopt a policy such as attached so that the municipality undertakes fair and consistent reviews that are well documented and communicated to the individual.

** Excerpts in quotations (” “) are directly from the new Policy.