The Saanich council meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (Supplied/Teale Phelps Bondaroff)

Sparks fly at Saanich council meeting when chair threatens to throw fellow councillor out

Monday night’s discussion on local area plan updates became heated

A disruption in Monday’s Saanich council meeting resulted in the meeting’s chair, Coun. Zac de Vries, threatening to throw fellow Coun. Nathalie Chambers out of the meeting.

READ ALSO: Saanich councillor accuses colleagues of working outside the ‘public eye’

De Vries said “some councillors were emotionally charged” and “seemed to lack an understanding” of the Saanich council procedure bylaw. “As chair, I enforced the rules that council has adopted, and restored order,” de Vries said.

Chambers said the disruptions started after speakers from the heads of community associations voiced their support for continuing with the local area plan (LAP) updates. Updates to the LAPs were passed in the most recent Strategic Plan, but paused as of Monday night’s meeting.

“They were ignored – even accused [of being] a minority group when representing neighbourhoods,” Chambers said. “They were ignored and undermined. I felt it was a breach of public trust and good governance. It was embarrassing.”

De Vries said one member of council consistently didn’t follow council procedure bylaw and the Roberts Rules of Order. “There has therefore been a trend as of late to continue to correct that behaviour by more proactive enforcement of the rules — this is done by point of order and/or the ruling of the chair,” de Vries said.

“We are elected officials, as council we make group decisions by way of majority rule. The best way to facilitate group discussions is by following the rules to ensure that everyone has the chance to speak and that proceedings are both respectful and fair. I am committed to civil discourse and expect my colleagues to do the same.”

De Vries said disruption during council meetings is “not a problem” because it is being managed by the enforcement of the council procedure bylaw, which set out rules for our proceedings and debates.

Debates should be focused on the issues and matters at hand, de Vries said.

“Each meeting is getting worse for me standing for the principles and platforms I was elected on and I do not want to be associated with bad public optics. I will not stand for the public defending this home-sweet-home Saanich to be treated that way,” Chambers said. “Judging from the many conversations I have with Saanich residents, not feeling listened to may be a trend. Unruly council meetings seem to be the new norm. I hope it increases civic engagement and member participation.”

Saanich resident, researcher and council meeting frequenter Teale Phelps Bondaroff said he thinks a number of tense moments in council have been caused by misunderstandings of procedure.

“This is something that happens in meetings, and it’s important that people not take procedural rulings personally, but as part of the process,” Phelps Bondaroff said.

READ ALSO: Saanich council approves rural subdivision despite staff and public opposition

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow @yrlocaljourno

city councilDistrict of SaanichSaanich

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

Just Posted

Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Victoria new mom group navigates challenges of motherhood in a pandemic

Monarch Moms meet once a week for physically-distanced connection

The Takaya inspired sculpture currently in Kent Laforme’s outdoor studio. The 25,000-pound piece of Vancouver Island marble could be installed on Cattle Point. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

Joanne Smith has been visiting Goldstream Provincial Park since she moved to Langford two years ago. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Tree-pruning community gathers in Oak Bay after tragic death

Crews met in solidarity at site of Tuesday incident

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

The Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017 yet received just three seats

Local candidates Pam Alexis, Abbotsford-Mission, and Preet Rai, Abbotsford-West, look on as NDP Leader John Horgan main streets in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the election was unnecessary and irresponsible during the pandemic

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, B.C., on October 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Liberal Leader maintains confidence as campaign tests party identity

Liberal campaign has been disrupted by controversy

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Most Read