Be warned, the nearly non-existent trouble makers in the District of West Vancouver.
District of West Vancouver is refining its policy on how to deal with disrespectful people who are verbally and physically aggressive towards staff—even though there haven’t been a lot of these agent provocateurs.
According to the district’s communications director Donna Powers, there have been just a few instances of individuals being verbally or physically aggressive towards other citizens, staff, or volunteers.
In fact over the past five years, there has been an average of only two people banned per year from the district but the government.
That, however, hasn’t stopped the district from spending time and energy on a new bylaw that goes to great length to addresses the almost non-existent problem of citizen aggression.
One way it does so is by clearly defining inappropriate behaviour, which includes vandalism, violence, harrasment, possession of weapon, theft and contravention of the posted notices.
If a person does end up being aggressive, staff will first tell that person how unacceptable their behaviour is, and then may ask them to leave. If that doesn’t happen, the cops will be called. Staff will then create an incident report and send it to their immediate supervisor who will then send a report to the manager and the insurance risk manager.
If the manager and the insurance risk manager concur that the bylaw has been broken, they may issue a warning letter to the person or recommended that the person meet the director, or the director may impose a suspension. If a suspension is issued, the person will have a right to appeal this suspension.
But if the past is any indication, this bureaucratic machine will keep idle because most people, and in this case, an average of two in the past five years, will simply listen to the district staff.
Very few people can’t abide by the rules, but the district is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for all the other people who use our facilities, says the communication manager, Donna Powers.
The Respectful behaviour bylaw was passed by the council with some chuckles and no discussion, perhaps because councillors have no control of the decision making that may lead to barring of citizens from district facilities.
Re-elected Councillor Peter Lambur says he agrees that council should have a say in this process. Lambur says he appreciate the attempts to provide a clear and transparent process for reporting, adjudicating and appeal of incidents of inappropriate behaviour, but the buck shouldn’t stop at the desk of the CAO.
“Unless there is some compelling legal reason for this, council should be able to access incident reports issued by staff, review correspondence regarding proposed suspensions and hear appeals,” he says.
“The next council should consider repealing the current bylaw and remove district officials from the role of judge and jury on these discretionary matters.”
Former Mayor Michael Smith said the intent of the bylaw is to ensure that our citizens and staff are treated respectful, and the appeal process is fair and thorough. Smith said while it gives the CAO the power of the final decision, anyone is free to contact the Mayor and council.
Re-elected councillor Craig Cameron said the council’s role is to set policy and oversee how it is implemented at a high level, not to intervene in particular situations. He said it would also be costly and time-intensive to get Council involved in each case, and the council will be briefed on an individual case basis in a closed meeting.
“If I was approached individually by someone excluded, I would look into it and have a conversion with staff. But I respect their role in conducting operations. We will review, probably on an annual basis, how the policy is being implemented. The cases are likely to be rare,” he said.