Kelowna’s mayor is calling for civility and civil discourse in light of an online threat made against him following a controversial planning decision made by city council Monday.
Flanked by his wife, mother, two young children and two city councillors, Colin Basran read a short prepared statement at city hall Wednesday afternoon, saying the online comments against him that threatened violence were unacceptable.
“Simply put, it is sad that I have to stand here and make a plea for civility and talk about why bullying and harassment is intolerable,” he said.
The online post, which called for Basran to be shot, was reported to police and, as a result, led to 52-year-old Kelowna man being arrested. Police said the suspect was released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.
The post on InfoNews.ca, was removed shortly after it appeared and other posters on the same conversation board complained about it.
The threat was made after Basran used his mayoral executive privilege to bring back a failed development proposal for the south Pandosy area of the city.
The proposal, for a 20-unit, six-storey residential building on Groves Avenue, was defeated in a 4-4 tied vote last month after a lengthy public hearing.
Some area residents were upset Basran brought the issue back for a second time after it was defeated. On Monday, with a full council on hand, the proposal was approved 5-4.
That sparked online complaints about Basran’s re-introduction of the proposed development.
“It’s unacceptable to me, it’s unacceptable to my family and I am sure it’s unacceptable to the majority of society,” said Basran of the threatening post.
“Democracy is sometimes messy, and controversial issues sometimes generate strong feelings. But that’s what makes our community strong—exercising an open mind, humility and mutual respect and especially with those with whom we disagree.
“The bigger issue here is about civility and a collective commitment to civil discourse. More than ever, it’s vital to challenge those who use personal attacks, online bullying, or vulgar language to stifle opposing points of view.”
He said criticism of council decisions and debating issues facing the community is nothing new, and it often helps lead to better outcomes.
“But online comments made by one of our residents yesterday, encouraging violence, is where I draw the line,” said Basran. “By ignoring the comment and not saying anything, to me, would just be condoning this type of behaviour.”
Following the brief statement—it took Basran just three minutes and 29 seconds to read it—he declined to answer any questions and quickly left the council chambers.
During his remarks, he said as upsetting as the incident was for him and his family, he saw it as an opportunity for the community to grow.
“It’s a reminder that we can disagree with one another, but we can do so respectfully. We all see the world a little differently and that’s a good thing.”
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