A Colwood city councillor says she needs more time to prepare for a censure hearing that is set to address concerns that she violated the city’s code of ethics.
Four-term city councillor Cynthia Day was arrested in early December after refusing to allow city staff to carry out removal work on a hedge and rock wall. At the time, she said she hoped her protest would stop the city from cutting down several trees and removing rock wall structures she and her husband put in place twenty-five-years ago under a highway-use permit. After a tree fell on the neighbour’s house last year, the city insisted all of them had to go.
The work was finished at the site and Day was later released without charge.
On Wednesday, the City of Colwood announced it would be scheduling a censure hearing following concerns that her actions related to the work undertaken on the city property outside her home may have violated the City of Colwood’s code of ethics.
The city said in a statement that the concerns are related to the requirement that council members respect decisions made by council and refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attack upon the character or motives of other members of council, staff or public.
A censure is a formal council resolution to reprimand one of its own members for a serious violation of law or city policy. It can result in sanctions that limit the council member’s appointments to committees and other opportunities to represent the municipality.
A censure does not carry a fine or dismissal.
The city said it would work with Day to arrange the censure hearing date and will give her all related information.
On Thursday, Day said she has not been given sufficient time to prepare as the notice of the in-camera meeting was sent to her after-hours on a Friday night “with nothing more than generalized statements as to what they believe I have done wrong.”
“I asked for more time to prepare but was denied. This is procedurally unfair. Censure hearings are generally used to address the most serious issues. If I had had more time to prepare, the damage to my reputation might have been avoided,” Day said in her statement.
Day also stated that the city’s policy on bullying and harassment does not seem to have a process to protect a member of council or the public.
“I believe that an independent investigation should be allowed to happen before council moves forward so that we can all have a better understanding of the facts. I asked council for more time to allow an independent investigation to complete before moving to consider censure and was denied,” Day said.
Day said she is disappointed in the process that led to the present situation.
“In a democratic system, there must be a way for those affected by decisions to have a fair venue to be heard, especially those who are affected most. As a member of Council, I am no different, in fact, I have had less opportunity to defend myself,” Day said.
In the statement, Day said she has always tried to “appropriately excuse” herself from in-camera meetings that have taken place regarding issues on the boulevard where her house is. She also listed the committees she has been on, including the Victoria Family Court and Youth Justice Committee and the Intermunicipal Advisory Committee on Disability.
” I would like to continue to serve the people who have come to rely on my active participation,” Day said.