Grey Highlands council has adopted a business casual dress code for future council and committee of the whole meetings.
At its meeting on July 20, council passed a resolution brought forward by Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai to implement a dress code for meetings. The resolution passed in a narrow 4-3 vote with Desai, Mayor Paul McQueen and councillors Tom Allwood and Dane Nielsen in favour.
Desai explained that his resolution was meant to codify the understanding that members of council present themselves in a professional manner at meetings.
“We’re expected to maintain a certain level of decorum,” he said.
The resolution generated a lot of discussion about debate around the council table.
Coun. Danielle Valiquette said heading into an election she was concerned a formal dress code could stifle potential candidates who might have different styles.
“I don’t feel like we should be telling people how to dress,” she said.
Coun. Paul Allen wondered about enforcement of the policy.
“The last thing I want is to start reprimanding, or have the responsibility to reprimand fellow council members,” said Allen.
Desai said the dress code would be enforced based on complaints.
“It would be a point of order,” he said. “If someone comes to a council meeting in shorts, a tank top and Birkenstocks and no one complains, that’s fair,” he said.
McQueen said he felt members of council have a responsibility to attire themselves appropriately.
“It’s the respect for the position. Respect for the office, to me that’s so important to reflect that,” he said.
Nielsen asked if members of municipal staff are required to adhere to a dress code.
“If they do, would it be up to council to show the same respect?” he said.
CAO Karen Govan said all members of staff sign an employment contract with the municipality in which they agree to adhere to a requirement to dress professionally at the office.
Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca