Edmonton councillor drops idea of 2nd office in Ward 3 to meet constituents

Councillor Jon Dziadyk has abandoned his idea of opening a secondary constituency office in northeast Edmonton over security concerns — the city’s; not his.

“I wasn’t expecting so much red tape,” he said Thursday in an interview, after a report to the Council Services Committee was released. “What I had was a reasonable solution for an office in my ward. I was ready to sign a lease.”

The report raises the issue of security, ranging from a card access and intrusion alarm system, all the way up to security guards.

“In the event that security guard services were required, there would be hourly charges as per the current security guard contract administered through Corporate Security,” the report said. “Current 2019 rates are approximately $25 per hour for static guards, $20.54 per alarm response and $10.27 per mobile patrol of the facility.”

“I’m sure the arrangement that I came up with would not be to the comfort level of all councillors but we need to be able to contemplate one-off situations.”

“I would be comfortable in a place without security.”

“Right now, I meet with constituents all the time in coffee shops, and I’m out at public events often, constantly in the public eye. There is inherent risk of being an elected official, but if I’m going to have a Ward 3 office, I don’t see why I would need additional protection there when I don’t have protection elsewhere.”

Dziadyk said a second office would mean people from northeast Edmonton wouldn’t have to come all the way downtown to meet him at City Hall.

The report, which will be debated Monday, also has notes from Brent Rathgeber, who serves as city council’s ethics advisor. Among his points: a public and a potential personal benefit to obtaining constituency office space at below fair market value.

“If it is established that there is a personal benefit to the councillor, then the transaction constitutes a gift.”

“I’m not going to dispute his findings but the ward office that I contemplated having was not below market value,” Dziadyk said.

“It was a negotiated lease in a strip mall that’s currently vacant.”

He intended to vacate it if the landlord found a more long-term tenant.

“It wasn’t a gift, but the cost was reasonable.”

The ethics report also warned that councillors would “need to be vigilant in guaranteeing that only constituency work and not re-election or political activities occur in the office.”

Members of city council in Toronto and Winnipeg are allowed to have second offices, the report said. It’s never been contemplated in Calgary.

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