Pedestrian Bridge yay, Behnsen issue unclear
I attended North Cowichan’s citizen-packed Nov. 27 meeting in council chambers and applaud councillors for rejecting the proposed $1.8-million York Road Pedestrian Bridge and Somenos Creek Project.
This wise decision saved us a huge amount of money, potential environmental damage, and possible issues dealing with homeless folks in the York Road area.
However, my applause didn’t apply when Mayor Jon Lefebure read, at the meeting’s outset, a sobering public statement concerning corrective measures taken against Coun. Joyce Behnsen for bullying and harassment of a municipal employee. The mayor told residents these allegations were apparently confirmed during a probe by an investigator. Sadly, privacy policies prevented the mayor from explaining the nature of said bullying and harassment.
I fully understand the staffer’s name must be withheld. However, council should and must concentrate on everything it can legally tell citizens about such serious issues. Basic facts missing include which municipal department was involved during the May to April bullying and harassment; what action, if any, was taken by council during that time; what corrective measures are now being taken against Coun. Behnsen; and why Behnsen did not apparently respond to the investigator’s findings. Without such context and background, it’s most difficult for citizens to fully understand what really happened and why. The cost of the investigation is also unknown.
To be clear, as a taxpayer I expect North Cowichan councillors to constantly ask staff, politely, for information about budgets, municipal project costs, and many other issues — and to bring residents’ concerns forward concerning how they are treated by municipal staff. Indeed, staff and councillors should welcome such communication. Councillors and staff who are not diligently cooperative, and receptive to taxpayer concerns, are seemingly not doing their job.
By citizen applause for Behnsen after the mayor read the municipality’s statement, it appeared Behnsen’s approach is welcome among taxpayers.
Peter W. Rusland