A gathering at Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau’s office on Jan. 8 led to a complaint to the City of Duncan about blocked entrances on Station Street. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Role of Duncan commissionaire questioned after photos taken at protest

City of Duncan employee took pictures of people gathered at MLA’s office

Eden Haythornthwaite has taken exception to the role of the City of Duncan’s commissionaires.

Haythornthwaite, a former chairwoman of the Cowichan Valley school district, was part of a gathering of approximately 50 people that took place in front of the office of Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau on Station Street in Duncan on Jan. 8.

The gathering was one of many held across B.C. on that day in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en pipeline blockades in northern B.C. after arrests were made to enforce an injunction issued in December that would allow the TransCanada-owned Coastal GasLink access to the area as part of its pipeline project.

RELATED STORY: RCMP START TO CLEAR INDIGENOUS PIPELINE PROTEST CAMPS IN NORTHERN B.C.

Haythornthwaite said the gathering, which assembled at Furstenau’s office to meet with her to voice their concerns, was “respectful, quiet and thoughtful”.

She said a commissionaire from the City of Duncan arrived and, after asking that the people move away from the front of the office, proceeded to take pictures of those assembled.

“Whether you agree with the objections held by those who stood downtown that day, it should be a matter of disquiet that a parking officer took it upon himself on behalf of his employer, the City of Duncan, to record the faces of the people who turned out to engage with their elected representative,” Haythornthwaite said.

“I think that Duncan’s city council should either rein in their employee or establish openly that his mandate includes riding over our freedom to participate, however slightly, in the manner in which we are governed. That way we all know where we stand.”

RELATED STORY: COMMISSIONAIRES CAREER IS LIFE-CHANGING FOR ISLANDER

Haythornthwaite asked if the group was violating any bylaws and what the city intends to do with the pictures that were taken by the commissionaire.

Peter de Verteuil, the City of Duncan’s CAO, said the city received a complaint that the protesters were blocking access to an office next door, probably unknowingly.

“Our commissionaire attended, identified himself, and politely asked them to move over a bit to allow entry into the neighbouring office,” he said.

“The group complied, and there were no further issues. The commissionaire did take photographs as a matter of common practice with most complaints they attend to. The photographs are not shared, and simply filed in the city’s records with the complaint.”

Furstenau said she met with the people gathered in front of her office, and they were peaceful and respectful.

She acknowledged that they moved out of the way of other businesses after the commissionaire asked them to.

“These people wanted to be engaged with the pipeline issue in a positive way, and they were happy to comply with the requests of the commissionaire,” Furstenau said.

“I really appreciated the friendly nature of the commissionaire. I always encourage people to come to my office, but I remind everyone to respect the other businesses and entrances on the street.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ladysmith couple prepares for 2019 Cycle of Life Tour

Brian and Karen Hartley will be riding to raise money for hospice care across Vancouver Island

Music performances highlight July and August in Chemainus

Concert series, festivals pack the schedule at Waterwheel Park

North Cowichan projecting a possible 5.92 tax increase in 2020

But finance director says numbers will likely change

Crofton Road upgrades begin this fall: Routley

Upgrading Crofton Road has been one of my top priorities as MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan

Participation the key in community

Courier publisher shares some of her ideals to Chemainus business leaders

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read