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Council watcher threatened with ban over behaviour

Councillor Charlie Fox calls for audience member to receive a written warning or outright ban from attending council meetings

Members of the public who attended Township council’s evening session on Monday witnessed an eventful night.

Three delegations regarding the sale of Township owned land in Glen Valley stirred up a bit of a brouhaha between members of council and the audience.

One audience member may be banned from attending future council meetings.

The tension started after Glen Valley resident Stuart Bucholtz went over his five-minute time limit during his presentation to council on the land sale.

When he was about one and a half minutes over the time limit, Councillor Steve Ferguson interrupted him, saying, “Excuse me sir, we have order in this particular chamber.”

At that moment Langley City resident Jacob de Raadt, who regularly attends council meetings in both the City and the Township, began to clap loudly, and was joined by a couple other audience members.

Mayor Jack Froese called for order in the room, and all audience members stopped clapping, except de Raadt. Froese asked de Raadt to leave the council chambers, at which point he said, “I applaud this realtor to speak out for his neighbourhood.”

He eventually stopped clapping.

At the end of the evening meeting, Councillor Charlie Fox suggested that de Raadt be warned about his behaviour or possibly be banned from attending future council meetings.

Not naming the individual, Fox said he has “gone beyond on too many occasions.”

Fox asked that letter to be sent requesting that he either retains decorum or further action will be taken.

“Quite frankly, I’ve sat in this chamber for seven years now. I’ve sat through three mayors, and all three mayors have had the same challenge. This is not new to this council,” Fox said.

“I was previously the principal of an 1,100 student school. I could hold a session in the auditorium, and I never, ever, in all my years, experienced what we are experiencing with that individual. And I think it’s time that we communicated that message.”

Councillor David Davis had a more old-school response in mind.

“My first gut impression is why don’t we deal with this out back?” he said, as the chamber burst into laughter.

The issue will be discussed with staff, who will report back to council with a course of action, if one is needed.

According to Township administrator Mark Bakken, two people are currently banned from attending council meetings.

One has a court-ordered ban and the other has a verbal agreement not to attend. Both have been abiding by those actions, he said. Another person was banned by court order but has since died.

From a legal perspective, when a member of the public is causing a disturbance, the mayor has the ability to adjourn the meeting and take it somewhere else or ask the person to leave and reconvene. If there is a physical threat of harm then it becomes a criminal matter and police may be called.

“These are the processes that can take place. We aren’t suggesting this is for this particular case,” said Bakken.