Court to hear claim that Saanich silenced speaker

Court to hear claim that Saanich silenced speaker

The fight over a controversial bylaw designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) has left the political arena and entered the courtroom after a Saanich woman asked the Supreme Court of B.C. to intervene.

Council voted 5-4 on Nov. 6 to rescind the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw, but a judicial review filed by Lynn Husted last week said this motion is “invalid” because Saanich violated her freedom of expression, when Mayor Richard Atwell denied Husted “unreasonably and without justification, her right to speak at the Nov. 6 meeting.”

A judicial review asks the Supreme Court of B.C. to review a decision that an administrative tribunal or administrative decision maker has made.

The judicial review also accuses Saanich of breaching “its duty of procedural fairness” towards Husted when Atwell “unreasonably and without justification” denied Husted her right to speak at the Nov. 6 meeting.

“I want them to rethink rescinding [the EDPA],” said Husted in an interview, when asked about her goals. However, she stressed that this was not her main goal. “My main concern is really an issue with being heard,” she said.

Mayor Richard Atwell said in an interview that Saanich is currently reviewing the legal challenge in putting together a response to the claim that Saanich denied Husted her freedom of speech.

The specific claim centres on Husted’s appearance before council on Nov. 6, when she spoke on behalf of Saanich Action for the Environment (SAFE) to present a submission that asked council to delay its pending decision to solicit meaningful input and await the resolution of a disciplinary citation against Ted Lea dated Oct. 24, 2017. Husted said during the presentation the citation against Lea is public knowledge as per the college and the media and that SAFE is not pre-judging the outcome of the hearing.

This commentary prompted a caution from Atwell, who warned Husted against disclosing personal information.

Following some back-and-forth between Husted and Atwell that also included a point of order from Coun. Fred Haynes, Husted received instructions from Atwell to stop speaking, noting that her presentation had gone off topic, while “trying to drag” Lea’s disciplinary hearing into an inappropriate forum.

“I have read some rules [against disclosing third party information] at the beginning – you ignored those,” said Atwell. “We have had a point of order from a councillor – you have ignored those. I asked you a question [about whether Husted filed the complaint against Lea] – I didn’t get a straight answer on that. Further, we are here tonight to talk about this agenda item, and you have gone so far off the agenda item, I’m now cutting off your time to speak, so we can hear the next speaker.”

The entire incident – including the various exchanges and interjections from the audience – lasted five minutes. Council procedures permits each speaker three minutes.

The filing, however, states Atwell’s decision to cut off Husted and “deny her the right to speak within her allotted speaking time was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”

Husted said the experience left her intimidated. “I was basically questioned, interrupted and cut-off,” she said.

Atwell said Saanich offers the public lots of opportunities for input through regular council meetings, committee-of-the-whole meetings and town halls, adding Husted’s appearance before council was neither her first nor likely her last. This said, Atwell said it is his job to make sure meetings unfold properly and orderly according to Saanich’s council procedure bylaw.

Council formally rescinded the EDPA after an informal committee-of-the-whole meeting on Oct. 28.

Saanich, according to the filing, had advertised the October meeting as an opportunity for the public to comment on a report recommending various improvements to the EDPA.

“However, at the Oct. 28 meeting, the [committee-of-the-whole] did more than the advertised purpose of receiving public input into the report,” it read.

It passed a motion to rescind the EDPA, with ratification scheduled for Nov. 6. This timing, however, did not give the public “meaningful opportunity” to prepare, a point Husted made during her presentation.

According to the filing, the disciplinary hearing against Lea bears significance to the fate of the EDPA because the College of Applied Biology of B.C. “had concluded that a discipline panel should conduct a hearing into Mr. Lea’s conduct in relation to the EDPA.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read