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City of Port Alberni shuts down ‘relentless’ commenting on social media

Negative comments target one staff member in particular, city too shortstaffed to moderate pages

The City of Port Alberni made the controversial decision last week to disable comments on its social media platforms.

The city said in a social media post that the decision was made “to maintain a respectful dialogue and to better inform residents on community matters.”

According to the post, some of the comments on the city’s social media pages lately have been violating city policies. Under the current social media policy, city staff have the right to remove comments containing language that is considered harassment, bullying, racism, hate speech or containing violent threats towards staff and council members; however, with current staffing issues, the city says it cannot adequately monitor these sites effectively.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions explained in a later interview that the decision to disable comments on social media was sparked by some “very negative comments” directed at one city staff member in particular.

“Kind of relentlessly a staff member was being criticized on social media, and our staff were having to monitor and delete the comments that were not appropriate,” she said. “It’s not the first time we’ve had negative comments about a staff person, but how frequent they were becoming was very inappropriate.”

It was an administrative decision, but council “gave full support” to the decision, said Minions. It could be changed in the future, but she expects the new policy to stay in place for a while.

“I know that people feel they have a right to comment online, and they absolutely do, but just like I personally moderate my [Facebook] page, the city does the same,” she said. “No member of our staff should have to come to work, do their job and then worry about their reputation being slandered online. It’s just not appropriate.”

The city says it will continue to post information on its social media accounts to keep residents informed about events, operations and city matters, but comments will be disabled.

For those who want to provide feedback, the city offered a list of ways people can get in touch. Residents can attend live or online council meetings, reach out to the mayor and council through email, use the city’s website at, call the city at 250-723-2146 or visit the city’s facilities for general inquiries.

Communications-related inquiries:

For general inquiries:

Service-related inquiries:

Contact council members:

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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