Summerland Town Hall staff have experienced abusive behavior from some people during phone calls and face-to-face discussions.
“There have been several instances of verbally abusive behavior and intimidation by certain members of the public in the main district office building,” Graham Statt, executive director of Summerland, said in his report to the March 8 board meeting.
He described the confrontations as “an escalation of verbal abuse” in recent weeks. Some of them come from people who have often become abusive in their tone.
The encounters have included loud voices and name calling, but so far they have not escalated into violence or threats against staff.
Part of the anger has come from discussions about utility rate changes and the municipality’s 1.65 percent tax rate hike.
Statt said some in the community wanted the municipality to have no tax or rate increases, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
âThe frustrations are exteriorized in a way that would not have been done in the past,â Statt said.
However, while the rate hikes have led to overflows, two recent controversial city council decisions have not prompted the same reaction from town hall.
A five-story, 60-unit apartment building project on Jubilee Road East and the municipality’s decision to reaffirm its commitment to the solar and storage project drew reactions from some members of the public, but none did not lead to a tone of anger towards the municipalities. Staff.
Statt said the public process for commenting on decisions of this nature works and people follow that process.
To counter the aggressive and abusive tone, Statt said the municipality will put up signs advising the public of its zero-tolerance policy for abusive behavior or bullying. In addition, a future issue of the municipal newsletter will contain a similar message.
Those who persist may be denied the opportunity to have in-person service at the Summerland Town Hall.
âIn-person service is a privilege that can be revoked for a client when their behavior creates an atmosphere of danger or disrespect for our public servants,â Statt told the board.
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