City administration moves into a defensive mode; using police and security people to maintain order

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2024



The occasion that is being described took place the day the city administration took steps to bar an individual from attending a Council meeting.  It was more than a month ago.

The decision to prevent the individual from attending a Council meeting was justified.  The person’s behaviour had over time become less than polite.  On at least one occasion he shouted out while someone else was delegating. There is no record of how the person was advised that he could no longer take part in a live council meeting.  He was told that he could take part virtually and has done so for the past month.

He was never a threat – he did need some help.

What people who were attending began to notice was the presence of police and a significant number of private security people in and around city hall.

Stairway to Council Chamber.

They were in the lobby, they were in the foyer outside the Council Chamber and they were outside the building.

One person who was travelling to city hall to attend the meeting told the Gazette that he is not certain but at one point as he was driving from his home in the eastern side of the city he noticed there were two police cruisers that he thought were following.

“They were behind me all the way to city hall and they stayed at City hall.”

The citizen walked up the stairway to the Council Chamber level and entered.  As he was doing so he passed City Manager Tim Commisso.

“If looks could kill – I was dead” was the way the citizen described what took place. “The glare from Commisso was profound as well as unsettling.”

The person the city wanted to keep out of the Council Chamber, justifiably so we thought, based on what we saw on the web casts.  What wasn’t justified was the way the city administration ramped up a reaction that was  out of proportion to what needed to be done.

Mayor Meed Ward with a graphic that she approved.

Since that event the Council member Chairing a meeting now reads out statements that are far from welcoming.  The Mayor has been doing this for some time.

Councillor Shawna Stolte

Councillor Stolte read out this Statement before the start of a Statutory meeting:

All public attendees must maintain order and not engage in any behavior that may be considered disruptive.  No person will use indecent offensive or insulting language or speak disrespectfully to anyone in council chambers.


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3 comments to City administration moves into a defensive mode; using police and security people to maintain order

  • Lynn Crosby

    A classic case of “do as I say, not as I do.” As Caren said, if council treated citizens and delegates who dare to criticize them with respect, they’d be far more likely to have a harmonious council chambers.

    Criticize this council and you’re “calling their integrity into question,”. Yes perhaps and so what? Why can’t we if that’s how we see it? They work harder shutting down the people they don’t want to hear than they would if they just listened to them and showed THEM respect. How about some compassion to someone who is deeply upset rather than this nasty heavy-handedness. The mayor’s “punching bag” comment was rich. I remember well how she used to accuse, rightly, the pre-2018 council of treating citizens – and each other – badly. It is far far worse now. Total leadership failure and a bunch of enablers of bad behaviour. Let’s not forget the treatment of fellow councillor Stolte by the mayor and Rory especially which many saw as a new low. What hypocrisy. We see through it – this council will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

  • Caren

    Respect is a two way street!!
    City Council needs to start treating both citizens and delegates the same way our City Council wants to be treated – with respect! Beginning immediately.

  • Anne and Dave Marsden

    If you read the by-law that is the authority for trespass notices those who have been issued such notices are allowed to attend meetings personally in Chambers starting five minutes before and lasting the full meeting.

    The person you are talking about who we have taken a keen interest in, in terms of our Pro Bono Health, Safety and ACCESS Advocay Ministry over the last 30 years or so, has never been issued a trespass notice that would allow appeal. Appeal is more than you and others were permitted before the city approved the necessary by-law to issue you and others such notices which you certainly abided by in the past.

    Further the day in particular he was barred from entering Chambers, he had written notice he would be delegating from inside Chambers. We witnessed him being denied access to Chambers and being surrounded by staff and security at the doorblocking his way.

    We certainly do not approve of any disruptive behaviour inside our Chambers or from the lectern, but neither do we approve of behaviours that see our Council set aside their own procedure by-laws or legislation and proclaim when no one can question them that they are “public punching bags” rather than the subject of appropriate well evidenced criticism they fail to accept.

    The person who is the subject of this article failed repeatedly to have Council abide by its own procedure bylaws and became tremendously frustrated that there is no way to hold those making significant decisions that affect us financially in hard economic times on our behalf, accountable.