Fort Saskatchewan City Council received the results from their governance review.
Strengths were found such as comprehensive legislative and policy tools, visible strategic direction and strong levels of staff competence.
Where council lacked, however, was in the leadership and teamwork department.
A major concern was bullying.
Disagreements have increased between councillors and have escalated to heated encounters. This type of behavior was identified in the report as something holding council back from concentrating solely on their governance role.
It was quoted in the report as "...spending a lot of time on meeting procedures, code of conduct, sanctions when we could be doing other things."
An annual retreat went sideways after controversy erupted. "Challenges by council members about others being bullies," reportedly shut down the retreat. The report called the behaviour a "toxic anathema to good governance and bullying, however it is perceived, needs to stop."
As far as the Code of Conduct is concerned, the review noted that the people interviewed said the current version doesn't allow for appropriate levels or types of action to be taken in response to breaches of the bylaw.
Several possible violations of municipal and provincial law have taken place, according to the review. Numerous breaches of the code include the heated confrontation between councillors Arjun Randhawa and Frank Garritsen and when Councillor Sheldon Bossert received, then forwarded a referral check from Sherwood Kia for the purchase of the library's vehicle. Garritsen's request of a copy of the cheque from the dealership ad was also something the governance review called inappropriate and breached the code.
Other issues, such as discussing in-camera items with the public and communicating with the gallery, or audience, during meetings was brought up in the report.
The report urged respect between councillors, saying council is made up of "seven people with seven different points of view."
Voting patterns were a potential issue, possibly placing the community a distant second to achieving a voting "win." Two distinct groups were identified in the report, with mayor Gale Katchur aligned with councillors Birgit Blizzard and Garritsen. Councillors Bossert, Randhawa and Ed Sperling formed the other group.
"Council needs to worry more about what's in their own backyard," said Bossert. "Rather than looking for gotcha moments, seeing what everybody else might be doing wrong, [we need to] worry more about ourselves and what we're doing."
Councillor Stew Hennig appeared to be the swing vote, not aligning himself with either group. Though individuals who have similar views voting the same didn't come as a shock, the report urged councillors to vote on their own values, principles and beliefs on what will be the best decision for the city.
"Teamwork was the major theme of all of that and who leads that team? We all have one seat on council, but we have one seat that's the leadership role for the city," commented Sperling. "Somebody's got to step up."
The report concluded the mayor should spearhead a team environment to ensure council is a cohesive unit. The report did praise Katchur for her commitment to the community.
Council directed administration to comb through the 24 recommendations and come back to council by the first quarter of 2018 with an implementation plan.
Overall, leadership of council received a score of 76/120 (63 per cent) and professionalism in meetings was scored at 80/120 (67 per cent). City service delivery received a fairly high score at 88/120 (73 per cent). The grand score was 68 per cent, meaning the city is doing good, but there is room for improvement.