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Councillor calls for respect at City of Powell River meetings

George Doubt, in reviewing correspondence, says letters address bullying, harassment and intimidation tactics at meetings
SAFE FORUMS: City of Powell River councillor George Doubt, referring to correspondence received regarding conduct in city meetings, expressed concerns about disruptions coming from the gallery in council chambers.

A City of Powell River councillor has called for decorum in city council and committee of the whole meetings.

At the May 2 city council meeting, councillor George Doubt said four pieces of correspondence received by council all had some similarities and he wanted to address them together because they were important concerns for the community.

“I share the concerns of the writers and I feel they deserve a reply,” said Doubt. “All the letters address bullying, harassment and intimidation tactics that I believe are being used by an organized group to disrupt council meetings and to deny others a safe forum for discussion at city council meetings.

“I’ve seen fear in the eyes of people who have come to speak to city council when they know how they will be treated by that group, and I’ve watched as they’ve tried to calm themselves and build the courage to make a presentation. That should never happen.”

Doubt said tactics he has observed are used by members of fear-based communities.

Doubt alluded to a book he has been reading authored by Diane Kalen-Sukra called Save Your City, which talks about civil and uncivil societies He said the author talks about the requirement to have a social contract, which is an agreement between members of an organized society or between a community and its form of government that defines the limits, rights and duties of each. He said these include freedom of speech, religion and association. He said respecting the rights and freedoms of others is part of the agreement.

“What I would like to see is a deep community – the kind of community that cares not only about its rights, but on its duties to all the members of the community,” said Doubt.

He said he makes comments at the beginning of meetings that he chairs, recognizing people’s right to speak to city council and calling for all present to listen respectfully and quietly to others who also have that right.

“Everyone has those rights and should be able to express themselves without interruption, harassment or intimidation,” said Doubt.

Doubt said qathet Regional District decided to change its name in 2018 before he was elected to office. He said the provincial government obviously decided there was sufficient proof of community acceptance because it made an order in council to change the name. He said nothing secret or underhanded took place.

He added that qathet Regional Hospital District decided to change its name in 2022 before the last election, before he was chair of the hospital district.

“Again, the provincial government made an order in council to make that change,” said Doubt. “They must have believed that there was sufficient proof of community acceptance. I’m proud of those decisions, I’m proud they were made and I stand by them.”

He also supports the renaming of the hospital to qathet General Hospital by Vancouver Coastal Health and it goes some small way toward reconciliation, which he stated is a goal of his, in common with the federal and provincial governments.

“Those were not City of Powell River decisions and if anyone wants to question the process, they should take that up with the responsible bodies,” said Doubt.

Doubt said Tla’amin Nation requested, and did not demand, that the city change its name and pointed out its reasons for doing so in an open community-to-community-to-community (C3) meeting. He said the pain and suffering that continues to traumatize those affected by the residential school system is real and he believes it to be part of the reason for the request.

“The press was present at that open public meeting and again, there was nothing secret or underhanded about the request or the reply from the city, which is still in progress,” said Doubt.

Doubt said a delegation at the April 30 committee of the whole meeting requested a vote on a potential name change and that is going to happen.

“We voted on February 15 to have an opinion poll at the 2026 municipal election,” said Doubt. “That’s as close to a vote as you are going to get. The provincial government doesn’t allow us to have a referendum on a name change because referenda are based on money-spending decisions.”

Doubt said he was asking everybody to get back to a respectful path forward, one of respect and caring for everyone in the community.

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