(Left to right) Coun. Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff, Coun. Maria McFadden, Coun. Florio Vassilikakis, CAO Chris Barlow, mayor Bruno Tassone, corporate services Tracy Butler, Coun. Cherryl Macleod, Coun. Dan Rye, Coun. Bergen Price.

Castlegar councillor issues apology over unchecked public comments at council meeting

“Please accept my apology. I need to do better. We need to do better.”

A Castlegar councilor has issued a public apology after what she deemed as “inappropriate and homophobic” comments by an audience member went unchecked at a recent council meeting.

Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff issued the following statement:

At the Monday, April 1 council meeting a gentleman stood up and made some very inappropriate homophobic comments, along with comments about the homelessness in our community.

When I got home, I could not sleep as it really bothered me that not one of us on council or our staff intervened to tell him to sit down and be quiet — and for that I sincerely apologize. I should have said something — we should have all said something.

Question period is just for that – for community members to ask questions and not to provide comments or opinions. This was my very first encounter of such speech. I heard and recognized that inappropriate comments were being made, and was actually struggling in my head how to handle and address the person in this situation. I now know that to prevent these inappropriate statements from happening in the future, it has to be addressed head-on.

So, that behaviour will not be tolerated by me ever again. We say we are an inclusive and safe community for all – but this tells me that there are still some in our community that will never be inclusive and/or provide a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community or for our homeless and for that I feel very sad.There is no room in our community or in our council chambers for this behavior.

So on Tuesday, May 21 – my dear friend Joan Alexander will be attending our council meeting and providing council and senior staff with an LGBTQ+ educational presentation. I encourage you all to attend as we all need to educate ourselves on how to be a truly inclusive and safe community.

So please accept my apology. I need to do better. We need to do better. And that is my promise to everyone.

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