The Union Bay Improvement District board has voted to suspend trustee Susanna Kaljur for an indefinite period of time.
Board chair Ted Haraldson — whose motion for her suspension was supported by trustees Glenn Loxam, Rick Bitten and Peter Jacques — says Kaljur has been disrespectful, and has not followed agendas or subjects at hand at meetings. He notes she has criticized the board for not following Robert’s Rules of Order — of which Haraldson claims Kaljur is guilty.
“Your actions are deliberate and planned, and several landowners in the audience get involved and support this behaviour,” Haraldson states in a letter to Kaljur. He could not be reached for comment. “These actions can be seen very clearly on our video tapes of our last two public meetings.”
Kaljur, however, says she’s the one being bullied and harassed. Last fall, she claims she was twice removed from board meetings for trying to ask a question or making a correction.
“At both of those meetings, I am given permission to speak by the chair, yet as soon as I begin to state my question or concern I am pounced upon by multiple trustees,” she said, noting multiple interruptions should be ruled ‘out of order’. “This is a blatant violation of Robert’s Rules of Order. The chair’s role is to ensure that every trustee has a chance to speak without interruption by other trustees.”
Haraldson also criticizes Kaljur and a small group of landowners for creating a hostile environment that could lead to violence.
He also accuses her of cyber bullying, saying Kaljur created a blog to openly discuss UBID actions without authorization from the chair. Haraldson says a Dec. 18 blog attacks public works superintendent Dan McGill, questioning his competency about past turbidity readings and unreported boil water notices.
“These unfounded accusations can create a liability and public safety concern to UBID, and is unacceptable treatment of our employees,” Haraldson writes.
Kaljur said she initiated her blog to bring forward matters of public interest — notably water quality and treatment plant financing — to ensure landowners have information to make informed decisions.
“I have made it very clear on my blog that I am not speaking on behalf of the board, nor have I disparaged any staff person or board member at any time,” Kaljur said. “My focus has always been about policy, decisions and actions which appear contrary to the best interest of the public and landowners.”
She notes board meetings are not open to the public until the April 11 AGM.
“This is unacceptable in my opinion and contrary to local government procedure,” Kaljur said.
The UBID website notes an increasing number of hecklers had been disrupting meetings.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which oversees local governing bodies in B.C., says legislation covering improvement districts does not include specific provisions regarding suspensions of trustees.
A ministry statement reads: “Any situation involving the rights and responsibilities of individuals needs to be handled with careful attention to fairness to all sides; for example, a local body seeking to publicly rebuke and sanction an elected official for inappropriate behaviour would be encouraged to seek legal advice regarding its process.”
The ministry said it continues to support UBID staff with “information regarding best practices for the conduct of board meetings and other procedural matters.”