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City of Red Deer

Councillor Buck Buchanan facing sanctions after Mayor Veer submits complaint

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Code of Conduct investigation closes with sanctions for Councillor Buchanan

Following an independent investigation stemming from a complaint received by City Council on April 15, 2021, Councillor Buck Buchanan faces sanctions for breaching Red Deer City Council’s Code of Conduct Bylaw. By a majority vote on July 26, 2021, Council accepted the findings in the investigator’s report, which conclude that Councillor Buchanan breached three sections of the Code of Conduct Bylaw.

All municipalities in Alberta are required by the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to have a Code of Conduct Bylaw that sets shared expectations for conduct or behaviour. The bylaw outlines how members should conduct themselves while carrying out their responsibilities and establishes a review and investigation process when a complaint is received. The City of Red Deer passed its Code of Conduct Bylaw (2608-2018) on July 23, 2018.

The formal Code of Conduct complaint (C-01-2021), submitted by Mayor Tara Veer in response to public and staff complaints, alleges that Councillor Buchanan breached the bylaw through his social media activity in January 2021 and prior actions, causing City Council to lose leadership credibility and frustrating The City’s pandemic response efforts.

After a review committee of three Council members initially reviewed the complaint, and by majority vote determined that it should proceed to formal investigation, SAGE Analytics Inc. was hired to investigate and report back to City Council.

SAGE is a municipal consulting firm with expertise in governance evaluation, dispute resolution, and council code of conduct complaint investigations. SAGE utilized a process that included interviews and follow-up with both parties, witness interviews, a review of related correspondence received by The City, document review, analysis and report writing.

With the investigation complete, the findings conclude that Councillor Buchanan breached three sections in the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw:

  • 7.1, which states “members shall uphold the law established by the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of Alberta and the bylaws, policies and procedures adopted by Council.”
  • 7.2, which states “members shall respect the Municipality as an institution, its bylaws, policies and procedures and shall encourage public respect for the Municipality, its bylaws, policies and procedures” and
  • 4.1(d), which states, City Council must “arrange their private affairs and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence.”

According to the findings, a social media post made by Councillor Buchanan in January 2021, combined with his prior actions, amounted to a breach of the bylaw. SAGE determined these actions were disrespectful to the local pandemic response efforts and increased a division in the community between individuals in favour of and opposed to health restrictions. SAGE’s report finds that through Councillor Buchanan’s actions, The City’s reputation was damaged, and The City’s pandemic response efforts were negatively impacted. They also determined he demonstrated a pattern of conduct where he made negative comments that did not promote public confidence in The City’s pandemic response efforts.

Having accepted that Councillor Buchanan contravened three sections of the Bylaw, Council considered the sanctions recommended by SAGE and ultimately resolved by majority vote to require that Councillor Buchanan:

  • Issue a public apology to Red Deer residents, businesses, staff, and Council for his actions and social media post on January 27, 2021, which caused increased confusion and division in the community during a time of crisis; and that this apology be provided to the satisfaction of Council, during a public portion of a Council meeting.
  • Arrange an in-person meeting with the AHS Central Zone Medical Director, or designate to offer a personal apology to Alberta Health Services for any harm caused by his public comments during the pandemic response.
  • Be suspended from all Council committees and all Deputy Mayor rotation duties until sincere apologies are provided.
  • Complete social media training hired and paid for by The City of Red Deer that aligns with typical media training for City staff.

The investigation is considered complete. Councillor Buchanan continues to serve as Red Deer City Councillor.

This is the first formal Code of Conduct complaint received by The City of Red Deer.

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City of Red Deer

Current COVID-19 situation in Red Deer leads to emergency order for temporary shelter

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The Emergency Operations Centre has signed an Emergency Order to allow the temporary emergency shelter at Cannery Row to continue operating for the duration of the State of Local Emergency, including any renewals, or until this order is revoked.

“Our healthcare system is overloaded and cases are surging in our community. The decision to put the emergency order in place to allow the operations of the temporary shelter at the Cannery Row site did not come easy, we took into consideration the current outbreak status among our vulnerable population, the pressures on our emergency response services and the ability to support community-based outbreak protocols. We want to make sure our vulnerable population have access to care and resources, with the intent of diverting non-emergent issues from the hospital,” said Ken McMullen, Director of Emergency Management. “The site will allow us to monitor, test and mitigate any further community-based spread and increased dependency on our already strained health supports.

A third party organization will continue to operate the shelter, with the Provincial Government to continue funding the operations. Mitigation strategies implemented in May will continue in the area while the temporary shelter is operational.

“We have extended the mitigation tactics in place to mirror the timeframe of the order, tactics such as security, cleanup, area liaison and fencing will continue for the time being to help minimize issues faced by surrounding residents and businesses,” said McMullen. “Our number one goal here is to keep our community safe and minimize the spread while protecting our healthcare system. We are in a situation where hard decisions need to be made to protect all Red Deerians, and we believe that this order will help meet our goal.”

The ability to implement the order comes following the State of Local Emergency (SOLE) being enacted on September 17 for up to 60 days by the Emergency Advisory Committee. The SOLE gives The City access to additional resources and special powers under the Emergency Management Act, including personnel, from other orders of government if required.

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More on provincial update to vaccine passports and restrictions at recreation and cultural centres.

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COVID update: Restrictions Exemption Program and mandatory masking

Following the announcement of new public health guidelines on September 15, 2021, The City will implement the Restrictions Exemption Program requiring proof of vaccination, medical exemption or negative rapid test result for visitors and participants at City recreation and culture facilities.

  1. What is the Restrictions Exemption Program?

    On September 15, 2021, the Government of Alberta declared a State of Public Health Emergency due to the rising hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19. As a result, they are implementing province-wide restrictions in an effort to reduce the impact of the pandemic.

    The Restrictions Exemption Program allows businesses to operate as usual as long as patrons aged 12 and older provide proof of vaccination, medical exemption or a negative rapid test result. In order to continue providing recreation and culture opportunities in a safe and responsible way, The City has decided to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program for all City owned and operated recreation and culture facilities.

  2. How does the Restrictions Exemption Program affect facilities?

Two exceptions to the REP include; volunteers performing sport-related responsibilities, and youth aged 12-17 participating in activities will not be required to show proof of vaccination, medical exemption or negative COVID-19 rapid test results.

Starting September 20, the following applies at City owned and operated recreation and culture facilities*:

• Anyone ages 18 or older will require will require proof of vaccination, medical exemption or a negative rapid test result within 72 hours of a visit to facilities.

o From September 20 to October 25, proof of a single dose is considered acceptable as long as the dose was given more than two weeks before visiting a facility.  After October 25, proof of double vaccination is required.

• Volunteers for organized sport groups can enter to perform their sport-related responsibilities without proof of vaccination, exemption, or negative COVID-19 test

• Youth sport, fitness and performance participants can participate in their activities without proof of vaccination, exemption or negative COVID-19 test.

*On Friday, September 17, The City announced that all vaccine-eligible individuals over the age of 12 be required to meet the requirements of the Restriction Exemptions Program.

After further clarity was provided by the Government of Alberta, revisions were made to exclude youth participants ages 12-17 and volunteers from the program.

Facilities include:

  • Collicutt Centre
  • G.H. Dawe Community Centre
  • Servus Arena – Walking track is open for use through Activity Reservations
  • Kinex Arena
  • Kinsmen Community Arenas
  • Michener Aquatic Centre and Gymnasium
  • Recreation Centre
  • Setters Place at Great Chief Park (applies to use of indoor spaces only)
  • Intermediate School

    Outdoor activities are not included in the Restrictions Exemption Program.

    The Restrictions Exemption Program also applies to all leaseholder spaces within City facilities. Lease holders will be responsible for sharing these new requirements with their customers. Third-party operators (e.g., River Bend, Bower Ponds, Heritage Ranch, Neighbourhood Activity Centres, etc.) will make their own decisions regarding their operations. Rental permit holders for City operated recreation and culture facilities will be responsible for sharing recreation facility requirements with their memberships and visiting teams. For organized sports, please check with your sport organization for more information about specific requirements.

  1. Why are you implementing the Restrictions Exemption Program?

    The safety and well-being of customers, visitors and staff continues to be the driving force in our decisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are adopting the Restrictions Exemption Program in an effort to continue providing safe and accessible recreation opportunities for the community. If we did not adopt the program, our programs and services would be subject to further operating restrictions, which would significantly decrease access to our facilities.

    For example, without the Restrictions Exemption Program, all adult group fitness classes and activities would be cancelled, and all facilities would be reduced to 1/3 capacity.

  2. How do I show proof of vaccination, medical exemption or negative rapid test?

    Acknowledging that not all Red Deerians may not be able to access their proof of vaccination immediately, The City will allow access to facilities from Monday, September 20 to Monday, September 27 with verbal confirmation of vaccination.

    As of September 28, one of the following is required*:

Proof of vaccination

  • Valid photo identification that matches the vaccine record (only required for adults 18 and over)
  • Valid paper or digital vaccine record that shows name, vaccine type and date of administration:
  • From September 20 to October 25: proof of partial vaccination (one dose) is considered acceptable as long as the dose was given more than 2 weeks before the time of service.
  • After October 25:proof of full vaccination (two doses) is required.

Find out how to access your records

Proof of negative test

• Tests must be privately-paid, Health Canada approved rapid antigen, rapid PCR or lab-based PCR test completed within the previous 72 hours.

o Valid test results should be a written or printed copy that clearly outlines the type of test, time of sample collection, clear indication of a negative result, and laboratory that completed the test, if applicable.

o Photos of a rapid test result taken offsite is not sufficient.

o Do not bring completed self-tests or rapid tests to businesses due to communicable disease risk.

• Tests must not be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories.

Proof of medical exemption

• A valid medical exemption is the original signed letter from a physician or nurse practitioner that includes:

o Person’s name that matches their identification.

o Physician’s or nurse practitioner’s complete information, including:

 name, phone number, contact information, professional registration number and signature

 statement that there is a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19

 duration that the exemption is valid

*This information is take from the Government of Alberta COVID-19 website. Please visit their website for the most up to date information.

  1. Are masks still required?

    As mandated by the Government of Alberta, masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces. Therefore, all visitors are required to wear a mask in City facilities, unless actively participating in activities.

    Effective September 20, anyone unable to wear a mask will be required to provide medical exception letter from an authorized health professional. More information about mask exemptions is available at alberta.ca/masks.

  2. I would like to cancel a booking/registration/monthly pass because of the new guidelines. Will I get a refund?
    Yes, refunds are available. Please contact [email protected] or 403-309-8411 to request a refund for programs and passes. Email [email protected] to request a refund for facility rentals.
  3. Can individuals from different households still participate in activities together?

    Limitations are dependent on the type of activity. Indoor private social gatherings, which includes bookings for birthday parties, are limited to two households with a maximum of 10 vaccine-eligible, vaccinated people. There are no limitations on children under 12.

    Physical activities, such as swimming, are not considered social gatherings and are not limited by capacity or household designation under the Restrictions Exemption Program.

  4. Do I have to show proof of vaccination when booking?

    Proof of vaccination will be requested at the entrance to the facility. Please be prepared to show your proof of vaccination, medical exemption or negative test result every time you visit a facility.

  5. How long will these new rules be in place?

    We do not have an end date for restrictions at this time. We will continue to follow public health guidelines as set by the Government of Alberta.

10.  Are City Staff required to be vaccinated?

For businesses that participate in the Restrictions Exemption Program, vaccinations for staff are not required. At this time, The City does not have a mandatory vaccine policy, but we are reviewing our approach on requiring vaccination for City employees and contractors.

11. Can a parent who is unvaccinated drop their child off for a program or activity?

Yes, if the child is 8 years or older and the parent does not enter the facility.

For children under 8, existing facility requirements remain in place; all visitors under 8 must be accompanied by an adult or someone 16 years or older. This person would need to show proof of vaccination, medical exemption or negative test result. The requirements of the provincial Restriction Exemption Program require all individuals over the age of 12 to be vaccinated in order to access a facility.

For preschool and childminding participants, please contact the program lead for further information.

12. Do I need to be vaccinated to enter a city facility to vote in the upcoming federal election?

The only City-owned polling station is the G.H. Dawe Community Centre. Elections Canada has an exemption from AHS allowing voters to enter polling stations without proof of vaccination. Masks will be required with proof of medical exemption for anyone not able to wear a mask.

13. With the Restrictions Exemption Program temporarily in place at City recreation and culture facilities, will I get a refund on my 2021 taxes or a tax break in 2022?

Programs, facility rentals and services offered at the recreation facilities are accessible with a fee. If you are currently registered or have a booking, you can contact us for a refund. Please contact [email protected] or 403-309-8411 to request a refund for programs and passes. Email [email protected] to request a refund for facility rentals.

Property taxes are collected for provision of services to the entire community, the main portion of your property taxes goes towards emergency services, outdoor amenities, police and road maintenance. With the funding that is put towards outdoor amenities every year, we are able to maintain our parks, trails, outdoor courts and rinks that are accessible to anyone for free.

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