Salmon Arm  

District of Sicamous releases statement following claims council members were threatened over rail trail decision

Threatened over rail trail

Sicamous Mayor Colleen Anderson read aloud a press release during a Wednesday meeting, expressing concern for members of council and the community who have been threatened or bullied for voicing their opinions about the Shuswap Okanagan Rail Trail.

A rezoning amendment bylaw necessary to make way for the Sicamous portion of the rail trail was narrowly defeated at a Feb. 14 council meeting, but Anderson ordered a reconsideration of council's decision after being presented with a substantial petition from members of the public.

A public hearing will be held about the matter on April 10 at 5 p.m. at the Sicamous and District Seniors Centre.

Speaking at the March 27 committee of the whole meeting, Anderson said members of the council have contacted the Sicamous RCMP Detachment to express their concerns about threats and bullying.

“I’d like to express concern from members of council and the community who have been threatened or bullied for voicing their views about the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail,” Anderson said.

“As with council, there are different opinions in the community about the rezoning decision, the project itself and the potential impact on Sicamous.”

She said being able to debate freely is important in society.

“We are fortunate to live in a society where we can express those different views freely,” Anderson said. “Being able to debate with others about the issues that are very important to us is part of what makes us, us.

“Causing harm to those whose views don't align with ours is not acceptable”

Anderson noted an earlier presentation from Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil, who appeared at the meeting after being invited by members of council.

“Today, Sicamous RCMP Sergeant Murray McNeil gave a presentation to council about complaints of cyberbullying, harassment and threats related to the Rail Trail decision, and polarization and divisiveness in the community,” Anderson said. “No one deserves to be intimidated or threatened for their personal views.

“We can be passionate, and we can disagree, but please, let’s be respectful of our neighbours and fellow community members.”

Anderson encouraged anyone experiencing threats or harassment to contact police. She also encouraged members of the public to speak to council if they have any questions or concerns.

“We serve the public, and always welcome hearing from you," Anderson said.

“Our meetings include a 15 minute public hearing period to address council and committee members, and we welcome correspondence and presentations from the public.”

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