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

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

Just Posted

Void of summer events going to be felt in Chemainus

CBIA cancels Classics Car Show and Canada Day celebrations

Paid sick leave a must going forward

The chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak, on this issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Courier continues through home work

Willow Street office in Chemainus no longer being utilized

Ladysmith A&W plans community Rod Run for June 4

Cruisin’ the Dub will look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

Most Read