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Harrison Hot Springs officials enlist legal help for cease and desist against resident

Council calls on province, lawyers to address ‘defamatory posts’ on social media
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During a closed meeting on Feb. 21, the council resolved to enlist Vancouver-based law firm Lidstone and Company to write a cease and desist against a resident posting “slanderous and defamatory” posts on at least one local social media page. (Screenshot/Village of Harrison Hot Springs)

Harrison Hot Springs officials have requested a cease and desist letter against a resident who has been “posting derogatory comments against council and staff” on social media.

In the March 20 regular council meeting agenda, council released a number of resolutions decided in closed meetings on Feb. 21 and March 6. Among the resolutions was a request to Vancouver-based local government law firm Lidstone and Company to prepare a cease and desist against a resident posting “derogatory comments against Council and staff” on an unnamed Facebook page. The council will further request another resident to permanently ban the person making posts against council.

The names of all residents involved, like the name of the Facebook page in question, have been redacted.

Village officials retained Lidstone and Company to conduct a third-party investigation into allegations of bullying and harassment in the workplace contrary to village and provincial regulations. There was a motion to appoint former mayor and current councillor Leo Facio as the council’s sole liaison between the village and Lidstone and Company, but this motion was rescinded.

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The council also seeks to enlist the help of the B.C. Privacy Inspector to investigate a Facebook page for slanderous and defamatory posts against council members and staff.

Local social media groups in Agassiz-Harrison have been particularly active with Harrison council discourse since before the 2022 election. The current administration has encountered controversy from the start, including allegations of secret meetings, the departure of three village managers and a 4-0 vote of no confidence against Mayor Ed Wood.

The Feb. 21 resolutions are listed under “reports from staff,” along with items from the March 6 closed meeting. While in some cases reports from staff may lead to discussion, motions and a vote from council, some are received only for information – as is the case with the Feb. 21 resolutions. As such, village officials may or may not address the points during this portion of the meeting or the question period to follow.

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The March 6 resolutions being reviewed for information include appointing interim CAO Kelly Ridley to her position, appointing Tyson Koch as acting deputy CAO and hiring an independent facilitator to “assist in improving Council relations to support them working together efficiently for better governance of the village.”

Council meets on Monday, March 20, at Memorial Hall (290 Esplanade Avenue). The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be available live online via Zoom.

More to come.



adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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