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District of Squamish councillor faces penalties over allegations of disclosure of confidential info

Council sanctioned Coun. Eric Andersen after it was deemed he violated a section of the Community Charter and Code of Conduct.
Eric Andersencouncildeclarationphoto
Eric Andersen.

A Squamish councillor is being sanctioned by his fellow council members after accusations of disclosing confidential information.

According to a news release from the District of Squamish sent out Oct. 27, Coun. Eric Andersen faces four penalties over the next 12 months after it was deemed he breached a section of the Community Charter and a portion of council’s Code of Conduct by disclosing confidential information. 

No other information about the specific disclosure was released. This is the first time in corporate memory a councillor has been sanctioned, according to the District.

Council members reportedly issued a motion of censure against Andersen on Oct. 24. 

Andersen’s pay will be reduced, his appointments to external and internal committees and boards will be revoked, he will be removed from the acting mayor rotation, and he will have to pledge to recommit to the Code of Conduct.

According to the code, a first breach results in a 10% reduction in remuneration for 12 months from when council considered the investigator's report. Assuming Andersen makes a similar amount to his 2022 salary of approximately $44,500, he will lose over $4,000.

“Council took the matter very seriously and would not have taken such actions over a minor concern. Council assures the community that due process and procedural fairness were followed,” reads the news release. 

“In particular, the allegations were carefully and thoroughly investigated as per the process set out in the District’s Code of Conduct Bylaw. Councillor Andersen was provided with a fair opportunity to participate in the process and to respond to the allegations prior to council’s consideration of the censure motion.”

Reached by The Squamish Chief Friday, Andersen said that he was “not able to speak to these matters.”

The sections of the Code of Conduct in question were 3.5.1(a) and (b), which relate to the collection and handling of information.

Those sections in full read: “A Member must: (a) comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the policies and guidelines as established by the District; (b) comply with section 117 of the Community Charter, including by protecting, and not disclosing publicly, Confidential Information.”

Section 117 of the Community Charter relates to confidentiality and reads: 

“(1) A council member or former council member must, unless specifically authorized otherwise by council,

a. keep in confidence any record held in confidence by the municipality, until the record is released to the public as lawfully authorized or required, and

b. keep in confidence information considered in any part of a council meeting or council committee meeting that was lawfully closed to the public, until the council or committee discusses the information at a meeting that is open to the public or releases the information to the public.

(2) If the municipality suffers loss or damage because a person contravenes subsection (1) and the contravention was not inadvertent, the municipality may recover damages from the person for the loss or damage.”

Penalizing a municipal councillor for a code of conduct violation is not unheard of, though the violations have often varied. 

In recent weeks, a City of Vancouver councillor, Christine Boyle, successfully defended a code of conduct complaint filed against her by Mayor Ken Sim when she revealed how she voted during an in-camera meeting that ended the city’s living wage policy.

However, a second complaint was lodged against her for public comments she made about Sim’s communications director, which was ultimately upheld. Boyle will undergo sanctioning on Oct. 31 via a council vote.

Note: This story has been updated to reflect additional information on Oct. 31.







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