Kaslo’s council will consider a code of conduct after a councillor’s exchange with a member of the public. File photo

Kaslo councillor admits to ‘baiting’ member of public in email exchange

Kaslo Village Council to consider adopting code of conduct

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Kaslo Village council is looking into adopting a code of conduct at the request of a woman who said a councillor adopted an “unprofessional, condescending and arrogant tone” in an email exchange with her.

Susan Chamberlain wrote to council in August to air her concerns about the Village changing the words in an anti-racism proclamation. She also suggested Councillor Henry Van Mill resign for a number of comments he made on the issue.

After her letter was posted to Facebook, an email exchange began between Chamberlain, who lives in Area D just outside of Kaslo, and Councillor Kellie Knoll.

“Excuse me, who are you and what do you want?” Knoll asked Chamberlain in a brief email. “I think you need to move on because we have.”

Chamberlain responded, saying as a person worried about human rights and issues of justice, she could not “move on.” And she took issue to Knoll’s curt reply.

“Lastly, I am surprised and shocked by the unprofessional, condescending, arrogant tone in your response to my letter,” she said. “I request that future correspondence with me be more respectful and show the same consideration that I have given you.”

That’s not what happened. In a response that defended Councillor Van Mill and questioned her reasons for calling for his resignation, Knoll called her criticism “an insult.”

“I’m sorry if I offended you but honestly I found your whole email an insult to the municipality,” he said. “You can’t even come as a delegation to council to voice your concerns, you hide behind an email then have the gaul [sic] to comment and post [it] on Facebook. … I usually don’t comment or reply to these kind of emails but this pissed me off. Again sorry if I offend you, but I’m feeling no love from you with these blind requests.”

Chamberlain came to the Sept. 15 council meeting to voice her concerns about the exchange in person.

“I was dismayed by the unprofessional tone of the emails I received from Councillor Knoll and became curious about the code of conduct that the Village of Kaslo council may use in correspondence and in personal conversations with the public,” she said.

Finding council doesn’t have a code of conduct, she called on Kaslo council to look into adopting one.

In questioning after her presentation, Knoll twice apologized for his comments to her – but qualified his statement both times.

“I do apologize for my comments, but [your comments] did trigger me in a way, just because one person on council doesn’t agree with your ideology, you think the rest of us don’t. Yet we moved these wonderful things in the community – most likely we’ll soon be acknowledging [Indigenous land recognition], so I’m not so certain why you want to be pushing this piece of resignation of certain council members.”

A second apology a few moments later repeated the theme. Then Knoll said he had purposely provoked the response from Chamberlain.

“That was one of the reasons why I baited you with those little words whence to bring this stuff up, of what we put out there to the community and what reflection that shows in a greater sense.”

“So you baited me? asked Chamberlain.

“A couple of words,” said Knoll. “To throw you into this. I would say that’s a bait, wouldn’t it?”

Chamberlain was taken aback, but thanked the council for discussing the matter. Mayor Suzan Hewat then said the council would consider the code of conduct.

“And an apology with no ‘buts’: I am sorry for those rude and curt words I used. Honestly,” said Knoll, ending Chamberlain’s delegation.

Chamberlain thanked Knoll for the apology.

When the recommendation came forward directing the administration to look into a code of conduct, Knoll moved the initial motion. It was seconded by Councillor Rob Lang.

But the decision didn’t end some citizens’ concerns.

In the public question period, another member of the Kaslo anti-racism group questioned why Knoll would bait a member of the public.

“Kellie Knoll, I’ve known you for most of my life, I think you are a wonderful member of our community,” said Margaret Smith. “But I was surprised and shocked by the letters that were received by a member of our community from a council member, and also by the comment at this meeting that you were trying to bait somebody. I guess I still don’t understand that and would like some clarification on that.”

“I was trying to get a point across about the misuse of Facebook and the general effect it can have on the community,” he replied. “So I knew a couple of words could create this conversation that we’re having here today, that created a code of conduct out of it … so where are you going with this?”

“Where I am going with this is to ask why, in a council meeting, you say you are baiting a member of the public,” said Smith. “I don’t think that’s appropriate. I guess we’ll have to leave this for discussion for another time.”

Hewat put an end to the discussion, saying it was straying into personal issues, and not council business.

The administration will report back on how a code of conduct might be applied to council.

– Valley Voice

Municipal Government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Photo: Submitted
LeRoi foundation donates to Kootenay Boundary COVID relief

The community foundation gave $19,370 for the cause

The house is located near two schools. Photo: Connor Trembley
Dog attack seriously injures young boy in Castlegar

Despite investigating the incident, city staff aren’t confirming if the dog has been put down

Former B.V. Nitehawk Craig Martin inked a deal with the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL earlier this week.  Photo: Jim Bailey.
Trail product, Craig Martin, re-signs with ECHL Jacksonville Icemen

Martin returns to the Icemen after collecting eight goals and 23 points during his rookie season

Telephone operators at the Trail exchange in the early 1900s. Photo: Trail Historical Society
Trail Blazers: Early communication began with 30 telephones

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Most Read