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

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

Black Press Media took to the streets of Colwood to find houses decorated for Halloween. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Check out these Colwood homes ready for Halloween

Halloween takes place on Saturday, Oct. 31

Thousands filled Centennial Square in June for the peace rally for Black lives, sparked by outrage over the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
Survey seeks input on racism in Greater Victoria

Confidential answers to inform work with immigrants and marginalized people

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read