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Westlock County continues quest to clean up policies and bylaws

CAO says they’re roughly 80 per cent through the process

WESTLOCK – Since late 2022, Westlock County councillors have passed scores of new and revised policies and bylaws, while in the past month alone, more than a dozen, including the emergency management bylaw, flags at half-staff policy and a slate of updated agricultural services bylaws and polices have been enacted.

Meanwhile, at the May 16 committee of the whole meeting, councillors got a first look at the revised 1200-001 personnel policy, an edict that refers county employees to a recently-developed handbook for all human resources administrative policies, procedures, and guidelines. As part of the review, policies 3.05, recognition of service, 3.13, code of conduct for municipal employees, and 3.19, training and development policy, are slated to be rescinded and replaced with re-drafted administrative policies in the new employee handbook — ultimately the new policy, along with the handbook, are slated to be back for review and approval at an upcoming regular meeting.

Of note, the employee code of conduct policy passed in September 2015 and was undersigned by then-CAO Peter Kelly and reeve Bud Massey — Kelly left the municipality in 2016 under a cloud of failed land dealings among other issues well-documented in the 2017 municipal inspection report, while Massey resigned as reeve in 2016 and did not run for office in 2017.

“From my perspective, this policy is paramount to the running of the organization. I think it’s absolutely fantastic that we’re here rescinding all we’re rescinding today … I won’t go into the reasons why it’s fantastic, but it’s fantastic,” said Coun. Stuart Fox-Robinson. “Great job getting us to this point.”

CAO Tony Kulbisky said the revisions and tweaks across the board were long overdue, citing a policy that outlined how mail should be opened and noted that “council is really happy” with the amount of work staff have been doing to bring the documents up to date.

“As we’ve gone through our policy review, we’ve found a lot of them have been hanging around that no one bothered to get rid of. We’re doing some really good work and I think we’re over three quarters of the way through all the policies that need to be reviewed,” said Kulbisky in a follow-up interview. “I mean, there was a policy that governed us on how to open mail, just to give an example … really, did we need a policy on that?”

Kulbisky said the exhaustive review has been a “bit of blur” and he’s “kind of lost track” on the volume as they’ve systematically gone from department to department looking for outdated and antiquated legislation. In addition to dropping old policies, new ones, like the flags at half-staff policy unanimously approved by councillors May 9, defines when, why and for how long the flags in front Westlock County-owned buildings are lowered — Kulbisky previous said that having this policy should alleviate “ … any deer in the headlight looks when we say how come no one is taking care of this.”

“If it was just simply the rescinding of a policy, then it was easy in that we just needed to get it off the books. For others, we’ve had to bring forward some new policies that were needed, while others we collapsed into one document and others were moved into bylaw form,” he explained.

“We’re getting kind of to the end and we’re moving into the protective services department ones which is about defining a level of service that we provide and then that ties easily to budget prep. But when all of this is done it’ll be time for a marching band parade,” he added with a chuckle.

George Blais,

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