City councillors shelved the idea of creatng a new set of rules to police themselves following a razor-thin vote at Monday night's meeting.
With Coun. Denis Carr absent, council voted 5-5 on a motion that would have seen a code of conduct created to rein in behaviour among elected officials.
Those in favour of the code said it's time for council to adopt a set of rules to live by when it comes to things like dealing with the public, conflicts of interest and addressing their fellow members.
But critics say the code of conduct will add another level of bureaucracy the city doesn't need. And others suggested council is suffering more from bad press than systemic conduct problems.
"It's been a tough year and a half around council, but this makes it look really negative," said Coun. Maurice Dupelle, who was joined in his disapproval of a code of conduct.
"We're saying there's a problem, in my estimation," said Coun. Glen Grant. "This is a little bit proactive, but it's also reactive in some respects, and I don't believe we have a problem."
Those who voted against the code said councillors have been governed by provincial and municipal legislation for years.
And Coun. David Murphy suggested increased costs could be incurred by taxpayers should the services of a commissioner be used to hear complaints - a practice that would have beeen introduced had a code of conduct been approved.
"This would really become a redundancy," said Murphy.
But those who supported the creation of a code of conduct said now is the time for council to increase transparency.
"We need to have a document of some type that says this is what you should expect from your elected official," said Coun. Denis Thibault. "I don't like bureaucracy any more than anybody else, but if we're going to be transparent, if we're going to be accountable, we need a document."
He found support from Coun. Bernadette Clement.
"This really speaks to our behaviour amongst oursevles, with city staff," she said. "It's all about governance."
Coun. Andre Rivette suggested that the code could create an environment where councillors would have to present a united front on issues - even when they disagreed with a particular vote or policy decision.
Then I wouldn't be sitting here," he said. "I would have been thrown out two years ago."