Union Bay is about 20 kilometres south of Courtenay.
UBID board suspends trustee
Kaljur feeling bullied, harassed
The Union Bay Improvement District board has voted to suspend trustee Susanna Kaljur for an indefinite period of time.
Board chair Ted Haraldson — whose motion for her suspension was supported by trustees Glenn Loxam, Rick Bitten and Peter Jacques — says Kaljur has been disrespectful, and has not followed agendas or subjects at hand at meetings. He notes she has criticized the board for not following Robert’s Rules of Order — of which Haraldson claims Kaljur is guilty.
“Your actions are deliberate and planned, and several landowners in the audience get involved and support this behaviour,” Haraldson states in a letter to Kaljur. He could not be reached for comment. “These actions can be seen very clearly on our video tapes of our last two public meetings.”
Kaljur, however, says she’s the one being bullied and harassed. Last fall, she claims she was twice removed from board meetings for trying to ask a question or making a correction.
“At both of those meetings, I am given permission to speak by the chair, yet as soon as I begin to state my question or concern I am pounced upon by multiple trustees,” she said, noting multiple interruptions should be ruled ‘out of order’. “This is a blatant violation of Robert’s Rules of Order. The chair’s role is to ensure that every trustee has a chance to speak without interruption by other trustees.”
Haraldson also criticizes Kaljur and a small group of landowners for creating a hostile environment that could lead to violence.
He also accuses her of cyber bullying, saying Kaljur created a blog to openly discuss UBID actions without authorization from the chair. Haraldson says a Dec. 18 blog attacks public works superintendent Dan McGill, questioning his competency about past turbidity readings and unreported boil water notices.
“These unfounded accusations can create a liability and public safety concern to UBID, and is unacceptable treatment of our employees,” Haraldson writes.
Kaljur said she initiated her blog to bring forward matters of public interest — notably water quality and treatment plant financing — to ensure landowners have information to make informed decisions.
“I have made it very clear on my blog that I am not speaking on behalf of the board, nor have I disparaged any staff person or board member at any time,” Kaljur said. “My focus has always been about policy, decisions and actions which appear contrary to the best interest of the public and landowners.”
She notes board meetings are not open to the public until the April 11 AGM.
“This is unacceptable in my opinion and contrary to local government procedure,” Kaljur said.
The UBID website notes an increasing number of hecklers had been disrupting meetings.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which oversees local governing bodies in B.C., says legislation covering improvement districts does not include specific provisions regarding suspensions of trustees.
A ministry statement reads: “Any situation involving the rights and responsibilities of individuals needs to be handled with careful attention to fairness to all sides; for example, a local body seeking to publicly rebuke and sanction an elected official for inappropriate behaviour would be encouraged to seek legal advice regarding its process.”
The ministry said it continues to support UBID staff with “information regarding best practices for the conduct of board meetings and other procedural matters.”
Note the last line in the article: “The ministry also stated they were not consulted by UBID prior to Kaljur’s suspension.”
UNION BAY SUSPENDS TRUSTEE SUSANNA KALJUR INDEFINITELY
UNION BAY, B.C- Union Bay is down an elected official.
According to a letter sent by Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) board chair Ted Haraldson to trustee Susanna Kaljur on January 14th, Kaljur has been indefinitely suspended from her position as a trustee.
Kaljur has often been in conflict with the trustee board, with multiple requests for reports on the district’s water system turbidity during recent public meetings. Those requests end up sparking arguments, which ended in Kaljur being ejected from the last UBID meeting in November and threats to call the police.
Included in the letter is a paragraph that states all UBID staff has declined to attend the board’s public meetings, due to an “uncontrolled and hostile” environment, which could lead to violence.
Haraldson’s letter blames Kaljur and a small group of landowners that support her for that environment.
The letter also takes issue with a blog Kaljur launched that comments on Union Bay affairs, including decisions taken by the board, which go against the trustee code of conduct.
Haraldson wrote that the information on the blog is not sanctioned by him, and that the blog was created to “bypass the information stream” of the district.
Haraldson also takes issue with a post made on December 18th of last year on turbidity readings and the district’s past practices, stating that it attacks the district’s Public Works superintendent.
“As a trustee making these statements in a public blog about our employee is certainly Cyber bullying,” wrote Haraldson.
“These unfounded allegations can create a liability and public safety concerns to UBID, and is unacceptable treatment of our employees.”
The letter ends by stating Haraldson called for a vote during the January 10th Committee of the Whole meeting of the UBID board, asking for the “immediate and indefinite suspension” of Kaljur.
Trustee’s Peter Jacques, Rod Bitten, and Glenn Loxam voted in support of the move, without opposition.
In a written statement to the MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom, Kaljur indicated that she was not aware of the meeting where the motion was passed.
“I have not posted anything defamatory or disparaging of staff on my blog, only the facts,” wrote Kaljur.
“I also have not been sent the board meeting minutes, reports etc. in preparation for the Jan. 17th meeting as per procedure. These are false accusations for political reasons, they just want to shut me up.”
Citing the provincial handbook for improvement district trustees, Kaljur also stated she hadn’t been speaking on behalf of the board in her blog, with a focus on drinking water and finances.
“I am voicing my own opinion based on my personal experience of working with this Board using facts and evidence,” wrote Kaljur.
“Given that I am unable to speak at board meetings (as you have witnessed) therefore, in the public interest, I started my blog. Only in Union Bay (and North Korea) can you be condemned in absentia without facts or evidence. I will be forwarding this to the ministry (Municipal Affairs) and ombuds (Ombudsman) office but I do not have any hope that something will be done.”
Reached for comment, Haraldson re-stated that the move was made due to Kaljur’s actions with her blog, and also touched on the safety concerns mentioned in the letter.
“When she (Kaljur) turns around and puts out false accusations, on a blog or whatever, and brings up turbidity and tells people to boil their water when it’s not necessary and all the rest of it, that is an issue that goes against the engineer, who has the only ability and the credentials to test water and determine that there is a boil water need, or not,” said Haraldson.
“She’s endangering the public by doing something like that, that’s terrible.”
Haraldson also said records had been released that dealt with Kaljur’s request for a turbidity report, while stating that there hadn’t been issues with turbidity in Union Bay prior to August of 2018.
The board passed a motion asking for a report on past turbidity practices back on June 21st, 2018.
That motion can be seen via the following link, halfway through the meeting.
That motion does not appear to be recorded in the UBID minutes from that meeting.
“There wasn’t an issue when it was above one (NTU) before August because it was on the old system,” said Haraldson.
“It was when Vancouver Island Health changed the rules for Vancouver Island, and dropped the NTU’s from three to one, that the new testing had to come out, and that’s what made the change. That’s one of the reasons we’re on a notice right now, is because the turbidity is above one.”
As for how the disagreement could be resolved between Kaljur and the board, he said he hoped it could be changed in the future, but it couldn’t be changed now.
“What I would like her to do is to turn around, and follow the agenda of a meeting,” said Haraldson.
“And to turn around and be part of the trustees, and work out the jobs that we need to work on, as a trustee, not to turn around and create a blog, and do cyber-bullying, and cause problems that are unwarranted.”
He would have to talk to the rest of the trustees to see what would could be done, and stated that removing the blog “might only be part of it”, and that the decision to suspend her was not solely his.
“I’m just following through,” said Haraldson.
“I can’t turn around, without the board’s approval, to the reason for her to come back and when. But at this moment, she is suspended, and that’s gone off to Victoria to the ministry as well. It’s rare that this happens, and I wish that it wouldn’t happen, I really do. I would wish her to be with us, and to work with us, to get the jobs done that are necessary.”
He did not state who had made the original motion to suspend Kaljur, due to the meeting being closed to the public. He also believed that trustees had a right to question the board.
“She can state whatever she likes, but if she wishes to be on the board, then she has to follow the rules of all trustees, including myself,” said Haraldson.
As for how comfortable he was with the suspension of a trustee behind closed doors, Haraldson replied by saying Union Bay had had issues for a long time.
“Union Bay has had it’s problems, with it’s boards, for a number of years,” said Haraldson.
“The only way that you’re going to rectify this, straighten it out, is turn around and you have to start using the bylaws, using the rules, and following them. If the rules aren’t followed, then that’s what you have, you have a problem.”
He stated that Kaljur would not be participating in any meetings while suspended, and indicated that the Annual General Meeting in April will be the next meeting where the public will be allowed to attend.
Elections for new trustees will be coming at that same time, and Haraldson said the absence of Kaljur will not cause any quorum issues before those elections.
“It is what it is,” said Haraldson.
“It is something I definitely did not want to do, but I was put back into a corner where I had no choice. I had no choice but to suspend her.”
He ended by mentioning vandalism of a Boil Water notice on Friday in Union Bay as an example of a divisive mentality in the community, though he did not blame Kaljur for the vandalism.
“This type of mentality, this is what it creates,” said Haraldson.
“All of a sudden, you have someone, whoever that may be, deciding they’re going to go an destroy a piece of public property, that’s there for the safety of the public. That’s how bad it has got. You can quote me on that, I think that is very disappointing.”
He also indicated that the agenda for the public board meeting on January 17th, 2019, which is barred to the public, will not be made available on the UBID website, because the public is not allowed to attend.
“If you think I wanted to do this (suspend Kaljur), the answer is no, I absolutely did not want to have to do this,” said Haraldson.
A request for comment was sent to the province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The response has been included below in full.
“As elected officials, Union Bay Improvement District’s trustees are accountable to their community for their collective decisions and individual conduct while in office.
While elected officials may at times disagree, maintaining a safe and healthy workplace with a collegial atmosphere that encourages respectful debate is crucial to the success and well-being of any public body and its staff. Any situation involving the rights and responsibilities of individuals needs to be handled with careful attention to fairness to all sides — for example, a local body seeking to publically rebuke and sanction an elected official for inappropriate behaviour would be encouraged to seek legal advice regarding its process.
Legislation covering improvement districts does not include specific provisions regarding suspensions of Improvement District trustees.
The ministry recognizes the authority and responsibilities of the Union Bay Improvement District as a directly elected local body and continues to support UBID staff with information regarding best practices for the conduct of board meetings and other procedural matters.”
The ministry also stated they were not consulted by UBID prior to Kaljur’s suspension.
Cc: “UBID Admin” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Mueller, Brent CSCD:EX” <email@example.com>, “Peter Jacques” <islandcashservices@”James Wood” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Scott Stanfield” <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:05:35 PM
Subject: Fwd: UBID Account and/or Billing Information/ Trustee suspension
Re: “Immediate and indefinite suspension of trustee Kaljur” letter dated Jan. 14, 2019
This is not the first time the UBID Board has made false allegations against me. For the record I have not, at any time, engaged in ” ongoing harassment, bullying, cyber bullying, and disrespectful behaviour of UBID employees and trustees. These unproven accusations made against me are utterly false.
A review of all the videos of UBID Board meetings will demonstrate that the bullying and harassment is conducted by the other trustees and enabled by chair Haraldson and is directed towards me. It is obvious that the Board does not wish me to speak even when I have been given the floor by the Chair.
My blog https://unionbay.news.blog/ contains factual information as well as my personal opinion regarding my three years as trustee. I am not speaking on behalf of the UBID Board on my blog, I am speaking on behalf of myself as both landowner and trustee on matters which are of the public interest; such as our communities drinking water, the recent and ongoing historic Boil Water Notices and the massive financial burden Union Bay faces in getting our much needed water treatment plant built. These are serious concerns which landowners have many questions about which are not being answered by the board even when landowners write their questions to the board in advance. This is unacceptable in my opinion.
The UBID Board’s recent January 2019 decision to close all public board meetings to the public is contrary to our own meeting bylaws and the Local Government Act. The decision to remove the date of the UBID election day of April 13, 2019 from Union Bay’s website is highly questionable and suspicious. All information regarding our water and financial costs of borrowing for the water treatment plant has beenremoved from UBID’s website. I believe this is a glaring example of a systemic lack of transparency and accountability.
These decisions made by the Board against myself and other landowners are grounds for legal action. I request that the Ministry intervene in this extraordinary miscarriage of justice and democracy.
Susanna Kaljur Union Bay Landowner and trustee
The following pdf was sent to all Trustees and staff by a landowner. I have only posted the first three pages showing the contents so you have an idea of what it contains.
No regard for the public whose money they are lavishly spending, no accountability, no transparency and a blatant disrespect for the concerns of the public, who are entitled by law, to have input regarding the management of the water we drink and the taxes we pay.
“The next UBID Board meeting will be held on January 17, 2019. This meeting will not be open to the Public. There is an increasing number of hecklers attending the UBID Public meetings. The public are guests at the Board meetings and are not to participate in any way. There is no several Landowners that feel they can control the meeting by shouting comments from the audience. Our Chair has asked for these comments to stop but there is no respect for the chair or the trustees, and it makes it very difficult for the UBID Board to make business decisions and have discussions regarding agenda items. This behaviour is disrespectful to our trustees and the other landowners in the audience. Our trustees do not have to be subjected to this harassment.
UNION BAY BARRING THE PUBLIC FROM PUBLIC MEETING
UBID chair Ted Haraldson is pictured during the UBID trustee meeting of November 16th, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio
UNION BAY, B.C- Residents of Union Bay aren’t allowed to go to their local government meeting this month.
According to an announcement from the Union Bay Improvement District (UBID), which serves as the municipal government for the area around Union Bay, the next public board meeting set for January 17th, 2019, will be closed to the public.
“There is an increasing number of hecklers attending the UBID Public meetings,” read the announcement.
“The public are guests at the Board meetings and are not to participate in any way. There is now several Landowners that feel they can control the meeting by shouting comments from the audience. Our Chair has asked for these comments to stop but there is no respect for the chair or the trustees, and it makes it very difficult for the UBID Board to make business decisions and have discussions regarding agenda items. This behaviour is disrespectful to our trustees and the other landowners in the audience. Our trustees do not have to be subjected to this harassment.”
The announcement asked for questions to be emailed to the district five days in advance of the meeting, which will be summarized, approved by chair Ted Haraldson, and answered by staff at the next public meeting.
“This change was made to make sure questions can be answered with accurate information,” read the announcement.
“The meeting will be taped and put onto the Website.”
Reached for comment, Haraldson stated he did not like having public meetings where there is disruption.
“I would prefer to have the public there to participate, but that hasn’t been the case unfortunately,” said Haraldson.
UBID’s public meetings have been chaotic at times.
In November’s meeting, trustee Susanna Kaljur left the board table after a vocal disagreement with the rest of the board, and Haraldson adjourned, then resumed the meeting. At one point, he had threatened to call the police to deal with disruptions.
Asked if the barring of the public was a solution to the disruptions, Haraldson said he didn’t feel comfortable with it, but that it was a necessity at “this particular time”.
“’I’m hoping that it doesn’t last for any length of time,” said Haraldson.
He also stated January’s meeting would be the last one before the UBID annual general meeting (AGM), which he said would be open to the public.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Haraldson.
There are two more scheduled regular board meetings before the AGM, which is set for April.
As for what happens if there are hecklers at the AGM, Haraldson was vague.
“That’s a concern, but it is what it is,” said Haraldson.
“There’s an election coming up for replacing trustees, and it’s an open public meeting, after that election is done, to announce new people and all the rest. Of course, as I say, it is what it is.”
He also said that there had been consultation with other levels of government for the decision.
“They haven’t got a problem with it,” said Haraldson.
“That is our decision, not their decision. There is bylaws, and so and so on, and the operation of meetings and so on, and different things that can be done. There are many improvement districts that have board meetings that don’t have public attendance at all, period.”
According to the “Active Policies” section of the UBID website, all meetings of the board are public, except where the board passes a resolution to close the meeting, or a portion of it, to the public.
The handbook for trustees listed on the district’s website also touched on meetings.
“The general public will likely be interested to hear about issues affecting the service(s) being managed by the improvement district, and how well their trustees are dealing with those issues,” states the handbook.
“If the trustees allow all meetings to be open to the public, then the public interest can be served. However, there can be circumstances in which the board of trustees believes that it is in the public interest to close a meeting, or portion of a meeting, to persons other than trustees and employees. A meeting that is closed to the discussing issues related to the purchase or sale of land, legal issues, or personnel matters.”
The UBID has moved to hold “executive meetings” in recent months, which are themselves closed to the public. However, all their public meetings are recorded, and placed on their website after the meeting is held.
“This is strictly a board meeting and it will be recorded, and put out on the website as well,” said Haraldson.
“So, during that board meeting, they (the public) can know what exactly went on during that board meeting.”
An amendment to the district’s meeting’s procedure bylaw in 2017 also states that meetings that are closed to the press/and or public may not be filmed or recorded.
Haraldson indicated there are no plans to live-stream the meetings at the moment.
“This is a board meeting, and as far as the public attending it, that is a privilege,” said Haraldson.
“Because of what I’ve gone through in the last couple of meetings, we have employees that don’t want to come to these board meetings and make their reports. I don’t like that either. They don’t want to be harassed.”
As for whether or not residents of Union Bay had a right to attend the meetings of their local government, Haraldson said they had a right to go to the AGM.
“No doubt about that,” said Haraldson.
“As far as board meetings are concerned, the ones that come are the same ones, and unfortunately, they come there prepared, to turn the meeting upside down. And it’s very unfortunate.”
After mentioning the mandate of the UBID board to get a water treatment plant built, and his view that landowners want to get it finished, Haraldson said that many landowners in Union Bay don’t want to come to the meetings.
“We have a lot of wonderful landowners, and really, I would like to see them all attend, but under the circumstances, with what’s gone on in these meetings, a lot of them will not attend,” said Haraldson.
“And I don’t blame them. There’s a lot of good people that could be trustees, but they’re not going to throw their hat in the ring if they’re going to be abused, period.”
He also believed that residents had a right to question the UBID, in a “civilised manner”.
“When it comes to the board of trustees, and coming to the Union Bay Improvement employees, we have to protect our employees,” said Haraldson.
“When people come out and make false statements, and turn around and harass our employees, now you’re getting into a WorkBC situation, where it’s not good. I won’t stand for harassment or bullying, or I will not stand for a board meeting where the public turns around and gets out of control. Sorry, I won’t do it.”
The barring of the public may revised after April’s AGM.
Reached for comment on the UBID decision, the province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing supplied the following statement.
“Improvement District trustees are accountable to their community for conducting their business in an open, transparent and respectful manner,” read the statement.
Trustees can make a decision to close a meeting to the public to manage conduct at meetings. While it is rare, trustees may take such a step to ensure a secure and productive environment for both their staff and the public. Improvement districts are encouraged to establish clear policies and procedures to guide their decision-making, including having processes for receiving public input and reporting on decisions affecting the community. Ministry staff continue to be available to provide Union Bay Improvement District staff with information regarding best practices for the conduct of board meetings.”
We paid for it and as stakeholders which should have had input on it as well as access to the report. It should be handed out at the January Board meeting and posted on the website.
The UBID majority are irresponsible by not making Sonja’s UBID’s watershed protection plan public. Ever since October 2016 election there has not been one single committee meeting event though we have a ‘public works committee’ chaired by Loxam and the fire committee chaired by Bitten.
What a sad state of affairs, but no surprise.
Water Women Consulting was hired to provide the Water Portection Plan. Where is it? Pages from Sept. 2018 approved minutes.
From Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act:
NOTE: (2) The head of a public body must not refuse to disclose under subsection (1)
Policy advice or recommendations
13 (1) The head of a public body may refuse to disclose to an applicant information that would reveal advice or recommendations developed by or for a public body or a minister.
(2) The head of a public body must not refuse to disclose under subsection (1)
(a)any factual material,
(b)a public opinion poll,
(c)a statistical survey,
(e)an economic forecast,
(f)an environmental impact statement or similar information,
(g)a final report or final audit on the performance or efficiency of a public body or on any of its policies or its programs or activities,
(h)a consumer test report or a report of a test carried out on a product to test equipment of the public body,
(i)a feasibility or technical study, including a cost estimate, relating to a policy or project of the public body,
(j)a report on the results of field research undertaken before a policy proposal is formulated,
(k)a report of a task force, committee, council or similar body that has been established to consider any matter and make reports or recommendations to a public body,
(l)a plan or proposal to establish a new program or activity or to change a program or activity, if the plan or proposal has been approved or rejected by the head of the public body,
(m)information that the head of the public body has cited publicly as the basis for making a decision or formulating a policy, or
(n)a decision, including reasons, that is made in the exercise of a discretionary power or an adjudicative function and that affects the rights of the applicant.
(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to information in a record that has been in existence for 10 or more years.
Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Union Bay:
1. Regain the majority of the Union Bay Water Board (UBID) on Saturday April 13, 2019 with election of two Trustees who will make decisions regarding the cost of our water treatment plant and water infrastructure which are based on facts and are of financial benefit to landowners. (Advance vote: Tuesday April 2, 2019)
2. Landowners must be told by current UBID Board what the estimated cost of borrowing is for the New Water Treatment Plant. Union Bay has not given landowners updated costs since March 2018.
How much will Union Bay (600 households roughly) landowners have to pay in interest costs alone??
The actual cost of borrowing has never been fully disclosed to landowners, last spring the Administration said $54,000 in interest costs but this figure was proven incorrect and removed from UBID’s website.
To date no interest costs have been given. Why not? The interest alone on a loan of $4 million is around $2 million over 25 years. This is a ridiculous amount of money for 600 households to bear.
3. Immediately send the letter to the CVRD to examine the pros and cons of joining the CVRD, as was pointed out to us by our MLA Scott Fraser this process can be expedited.
The biggest pro is: Union Bay would become eligible for Infrastructure Grants (free money) and Municipal Financing (which is 2% below prime). We are clearly on the path to building the Treatment Plant (land cleared, plans done, equipment bought) and the municipal election has passed. There is nothing stopping Union Bay from sending that letter now. Except they won’t?! (remember a motion was passed Nov. 2017 to send the letter but UBID Board stalled it for bogus reasons)!
4. Notification of landowners regarding the ‘historic’ Boil Water Notice which began on December 15, 2018 was haphazard, incomplete and ineffective in conveying health related water quality issues to the general public as well as landowners.
Tenants and the traveling public drink our water as well? Petro Can at Buckley Bay had no sign up (other than a tiny white letter on outside bulletin board) until I asked management to put up a clearer sign on December 20, 2019. This is five full days after the BWN!
5. Your Name Here!! and Your Name Here!! Thank you for being willing to run as Trustee, Union Bay needs you!
You are one of the two lucky landowner’s who have decided to rescue our water system and new treatment plant because you understand that Union Bay would be financially better off if we were with CVRD plus benefit from all the technical expertise on staff.
It is really that simple. With your help it can be done. Union Bay will not have this opportunity again for many years.
Since elected as trustee in October 2016 the UBID Board has met on several (2 – 3) times with Island Health (aka VIHA) where discussions regarding the 2013 Turbidity Tree, what it is and why it is important, took place at each of these meetings. The trustees, administration and water works superintendent were present at these meetings. (2016, 2017 and 2018) The turbidity protocol was developed by the Ministry of Health in April 2013, and it applies to all who hold a water license in BC (that includes UBID, CVRD etc.).
There was never any mention at any meetings with Island Health that UBID was exempt from the protocol!
Over the past 10 months I have attempted at several Board Meetings to discuss the Turbidity Tree and to receive a report from the Water Superintendent regarding past practice regarding the multiple times the NTU’s have been greater than 1.0 NTU’s every winter for the past 5 years at least. In June 21, 2018 the board unanimously voted to have this report.
To date no report has been received explaining why and on what basis did Union Bay chose to ignore the 2013 Turbidity Tree Protocol and not issue a boil water notices for the past five years!
Instead I have been shut down, interrupted, talked-over, silenced, insulted, harassed, ejected and ruled (without procedural basis) ‘Out of Order’! Chair Haraldson has even threatened to call the police.
I will not be silenced, our water is our everything. It is up to each of us to protect it.