Kaslo Village Council says it can’t do anything about hate speech displayed inside a business’s window. Photo: Greg Nesteroff

Kaslo Village Council says it can’t do anything about hate speech displayed inside a business’s window. Photo: Greg Nesteroff

Kaslo council takes no action on ‘hateful’ downtown signage

Village says its hands are tied when it comes to a sign in the window of 423 Front St.

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative, The Valley Voice

The Village of Kaslo says it can’t do anything about offensive speech on display downtown — and municipal leaders dodged an opportunity to condemn such displays.

The issue came up after a citizen complained that a sign posted in the window at 423 Front St. constituted “hate speech” against the LGBTQ community and people of colour.

“It’s a problem,” wrote Dave Collier to council. “Those signs will not come down if there’s no intervention. Fun to see them for Christmas Light Up and Maydays next spring? It’s a headache for you and it’s a headache for all of us living here.”

Staff wrote back to Collier, saying there’s not much they can do.

“As matters stand, the Village of Kaslo is not empowered to take action against violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” wrote CAO Ian Dunlop. “The authority to enforce this or any other federal law lies with the federal government alone (the authority is not shared with either municipal or provincial governments).”

Dunlop suggested Collier and another complainant could contact the RCMP about the signage to see if there are actions that they can take. He noted village bylaws only cover signs on the outside of buildings, and has no jurisdiction inside.

“If unauthorized signs appear on the outside of a building, please let me know because that is a matter that could be addressed by the village,” he said.

Council passed a motion to receive the correspondence as information. At the public question period, Mayor Suzan Hewat and councillors declined to say what they think about such signs being displayed in the community.

“It’s inside a private business, and we can’t tell them what to do,” said Hewat after a long pause.

“And we don’t need to fish for more division,” added councillor Kellie Knoll.