When Joel Gregg sent a recent email to members of municipal council, he did not expect it would become part of the public record and quoted in news coverage.
“All I was trying to do was share my opinion with my elected officials,” he said.
His message was sent to each council member’s personal email address, not to the addresses issued to each one by the municipality.
In his email, sent on Aug. 12, Gregg disagreed with the decision to paint two Summerland crosswalks with rainbow colours.
The crosswalks are based on the design of the rainbow pride flag, used since the late 1970s by those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Members of council have said the crosswalks are intended to show inclusion.
“We value each person as a unique individual with a right to be respected and accepted,” Mayor Peter Waterman stated earlier.
A portion of Gregg’s response, which included references from the Bible, was later quoted in a Penticton Herald news story.
Gregg said his concern about the rainbow crosswalks has been misinterpreted as bigotry or hatred directed towards a specific group.
“No hatred or offence was intended by my message to council and that I am sorry for causing any such feelings of ill-will,” he said. “I fully support and respect each and every citizen of our wonderful town, regardless of their diversity.”
While Gregg had expected the email to go no further than the members of council, Waterman said emails sent to council members should not be considered private and can be forwarded.
“I see no privacy issue at all,” he said.
He added that if an email includes a request for confidentiality, he will respect that request.
Katie Karn, deputy corporate officer for the municipality, said any correspondence addressed to members of council about council business is in the public record.
“The Supreme Court of Canada says records such as these emails are still under the public body’s control if the content of the records are related to business matters and the public body could reasonably expect to obtain a copy of the records upon request,” she said.
Emails and other correspondence sent to elected officials or municipal staff about complaints such as bylaw infractions would be kept in confidence, Karn added.