A marathon Colwood council meeting that ended just after midnight Thursday resulted in the censure of Coun. Cynthia Day in relation to events surrounding a December dispute that led to her arrest.
Censure is a formal council resolution to reprimand one of its members for a violation of a law or city policy. Six particular incidents were highlighted at the hearing and council resolved the incidents demonstrated a breach of Colwood’s Code of Ethics by Day.
Thursday night’s hearing also resulted in two sanctions — Day must write a formal letter of apology to City staff and cannot serve as acting mayor for one year starting on June 6, 2019.
In early December 2018, Day was arrested in an ongoing dispute with the City over the boulevard in front of her house.
Day’s husband, Tim, built rock walls on the boulevard in front of their home on Charnley Place in 1995. After conducting an engineer’s report, the City said the walls were a safety and liability issue, but Day and her husband disputed the claim.
The City says it was advised that trees planted near the rock wall had fallen on a nearby home in 2017.
In December, the City went to take the rock walls down but Day refused to move from the area so work could not begin.
Day was arrested for mischief but released without charges, based on her giving her word that she wouldn’t obstruct work any further.
The first hour of the meeting, which started at 7 p.m., addressed Day’s request to postpone the hearing. Day said she had requested documentation surrounding the boulevard issue through the Freedom of Information Act. On Monday — three days before the hearing — Day received 275 documents from the City.
Day said documents she received earlier in the year were redacted and incomplete. She said she felt she did not have enough time or the adequate materials to prepare for the censure hearing.
After discussion in which Day also brought up feelings of being bullied and harassed by council, all councillors except Day voted to continue with the hearing.
Concerns highlighted by council in which Day possibly broke the Code of Ethics involved her refusing to move off the work site on the boulevard — impairing the ability of city staff to implement policy decisions — as well as comments Day made to local news outlets during interviews.
Some of the comments in particular involved Day saying actions taken by the city in December were due to a “personal vendetta.” She said she had been “targeted” and that the City was abusing its power against her.
Day, who was being represented by former naval officer and City of Victoria councillor Bill McElroy, argued that when the December incidents took place she was acting as a private citizen, not a councillor.
She said no public process took place before the trees and rock walls were removed from the boulevard. Day also said she declared a conflict of interest regarding the issue and did not participate in any discussion or vote surrounding it.
Coun. Doug Kobayashi and Coun. Gordie Logan, however, argued that as councillors they should be held to higher standards than an average citizen.
“Once you wear that councillor hat…your actions are judged as if you’re a member of council,” Logan said. “We hold ourselves accountable and to that high standard.”
Around 11:30 p.m., council resolved to censure Day and moved on to discussing sanctions.
While sanctions can include limiting a council member’s appointments to committees, Day must write a letter of apology to city staff and cannot serve as acting mayor for one year.
Martin said the one year will be a “cooling off period” after which council and Day can move forward from the incident.