Former White Rock councillor Margaret Woods addresses council at Monday's public meeting.

Parties reflect on standoff at White Rock City Hall

No regrets from either side after mayor calls police to council chambers.

Both parties in a tense standoff – that resulted in RCMP officers being summoned to White Rock council chambers this week – are standing firm in their positions.

The call to police Monday evening came at Mayor Wayne Baldwin’s request, after resident and former councillor Margaret Woods did not heed Baldwin’s order to leave council chambers.

Baldwin’s order came after Woods exhibited what the mayor described as “disrespectful behaviour” during a public meeting towards a developer requesting a height variance for his property.

Though the RCMP officers left without intervening, Baldwin told Peace Arch News Wednesday that a section in the Community Charter gives officers the authority to remove someone who is “acting improperly.”

“They said they had not seen it first-hand, and were not prepared to act on what we had told them, they weren’t sure they had the authority,” Baldwin said, noting that he and the city clerk pointed out the relevant section under the charter to the officers.

“I hope that it never happens again, but I guess if it has to happen, (the RCMP) will be aware of their powers under the Community Charter.”

Calls to the White Rock RCMP for comment were not returned by PAN press time.

Woods, however, said her behaviour was not disrespectful “under any circumstances.” She said she was simply discussing her concerns about the proposed project and that public meetings such as the one Monday evening are the “one and only opportunity that the public has to make their opinions known to council.”

“They’ve taken away the question period at council meetings,” she said. “They couldn’t afford 15 minutes to give to the public to hear their opinions?”

According to municipal lawyer Jonathan Baker, a former Vancouver councillor, situations escalating in chambers to the point of RCMP presence being requested are rare, but not unheard of.

Baker recalled a few instances during his time on council in the late 1980s when proceedings were disrupted by protestors.

“These things do come up from time to time,” Baker said. “It happens everywhere. It’s not something that happens often, but it happens.”

Baker said a mayor is well within his rights to call in the RCMP to expel someone if it is felt that person is out of order.

“They have a duty to maintain order,” he said. “If he considers that the person is acting improperly, he may order them expelled. It is a matter of law and order, and it’s an important matter.”

Woods, however, said calling the RCMP to council chambers– is “never appropriate.”

(On Sept. 14, an officer was present when residents rallied on the lawn of city hall, and on April 10 Baldwin asked for an officer to attend a waste-collection vote after he said a councillor expressed concern.)

“It’s all about intimidation,” Woods said. “The people in White Rock don’t deserve to live in a police state.”

Baldwin said his actions aren’t meant to discourage debate, but he insisted respect be maintained:

“It’s one of the mayor’s roles to uphold governance in the chambers, and I believe I did that on Monday. I sincerely hope I never have the occasion to observe such disrespectful behaviour again.”

Just Posted

Homelessness group puts pressure on White Rock council

Peninsula Homeless to Housing task force brought forward three action steps for council

Stabbing at Surrey banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

South Surrey parking ticket perplexes, frustrates

Theresa Delaney predicts more people will be wrongly ticketed

55-year-old man taken to hospital after fire at Surrey RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read

l -->