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

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

Just Posted

The orange parcel was bought by the CRD for $1.1 million to add to Mount Work Regional Park. (CRD map)
Capital Regional District expands Mount Work land for $1.1 million

Privately-owned 13.8 hectares in the Highlands is ecologcically valuable

North Saanich has received a report from the Urban Development Institute calling on the municipality to expand and densify its housing options in the face of demographic and environmental changes as the municipality continues its Official Community Plan review. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich asked to create more affordable, diverse housing

Urban Development Institute says community faces demographic, environmental challenges

One woman has been arrested in connection with a drug trafficking investigation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria woman arrested, car and drugs seized during trafficking investigation

Multiple units combine forces for investigation, arrest

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Royal Bay pride crosswalk restored following graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Colwood high school

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Emergency service workers at the collision scene along Highway 4 in Hilliers on Sunday, May 16. A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital by BC Air Ambulance and later died. (Collin C photo)
UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies from injuries sustained in Mid-Island highway collision

BC Highway Patrol says impairment not a contributing factor in crash

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read