UNION BAY, B.C- The provincial government won’t be taking any action in Union Bay.
In recent days, four trustees of the district’s elected board have apologized to their fifth board member, Susanna Kaljur, who was “suspended” earlier in 2019. Kaljur had threatened legal action earlier this week over her suspension, and other actions taken by the board.
In a letter, the four trustees have said they were told by the province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that there are no provisions under the Local Government Act allowing the board to suspend an elected trustee from office.
“We acknowledge that the decision to suspend Trustee Kaljur is of no force or effect,” read the letter.
“We sincerely apologize to Trustee Kaljur for our actions in this manner and regret any inconvenience our decision may have caused her. We hope that as a Board, moving forward, we can work collectively and cooperatively to serve the interests of our residents.”
Kaljur had also threatened legal action against Haraldson specifically, due to what Gratl described as defamatory statements by Haraldson published by MyComoxValleyNow.com in an interview after Kaljur’s suspension.
In the wake of Kaljur’s first letter, the newsroom reached out to the municipal affairs ministry to get clarity what the board can do and what they can’t do.
Asked if the board had any legal authourity to remove or suspend another trustee board member, Municipal Affairs said the Local Government Act did not include specific provisions regarding the suspension of improvement district trustees.
They also said the province couldn’t provide legal advice to an improvement district, when asked if they planned to instruct the board to take different action or allow Kaljur to return.
They were unaware of any previous instances of improvement district trustees taking legal action against their fellow trustees.
In the wake of the apology, Kaljur has indicated that it was only one of the things she was looking for.
“There are a number of issues which the board has not addressed adequately, which may result in further legal action,” she said, in a written statement.
“Both the apology for suspension letter and the apology letter from Ted Haraldson for defamation against myself (which has not yet been received) must be sent by mail to every landowner as Union Bay has a large number of seniors who do not use computers.”
Kaljur is also questioning the validity of any decisions that were made at UBID board meetings during her suspension.
“The board meetings of January and February 2019 occurred without my knowledge or public notice, due to my being illegally suspended,” she said. “Now that the board has agreed this was illegal, this decision renders those meetings null and void which includes the highly irregular alteration of Union Bay’s election days and AGM.
“The simplest, fairest remedy is for the original election dates, open/close of nominations and the AGM revert back to the original dates voted on and passed at the 2018 AGM April 19, 2018.”
Asked about the validity of actions taken by the district board in the last two months, during Kaljur’s suspension, the ministry supplied the following.
“In regards to decisions that were made by the UBID in the last two months, this is under the realm of legal advice and the province cannot provide this,” read the statement.
“The Ministry continues to be available to the improvement district to assist, where appropriate, as it works through its challenges.”
Asked to clarify what they meant, the ministry again stated that they or any other ministry cannot provide legal advice to improvement districts or local governments.
“Further, the ministry cannot comment on decisions that may be subject to legal action.”
Today was the deadline for the other demands in Kaljur’s letter, which included an apology from board chair Ted Haraldson.
“Until all these conditions are met I will not be accepting any apology and I will have no other recourse but proceed with my lawsuit,” said Kaljur.
The newsroom reached out to Haraldson for comment today but did not hear back. However, he did speak to the Comox Valley Record, saying that the board had complied with all the demands it deems reasonable.
The same apology letter from the board will not be sent to landowners in Union Bay by mail, according to Haraldson’s comments.
“The apology has gone out on our website, [which] goes to all the landowners,” said Haroldson, speaking to the paper.
“It has not been mailed out – it’s gone out on the website to all the landowners.”
Haraldson also told the paper that the change of dates for the election and nomination period was a “strictly administrational” change, in order to fix an error in the original posting and comply with Elections BC.
“Those election dates were set wrong the previous election, and that’s why we are [changing them],” he said, to the paper.
“The change didn’t [require] her to be there, or myself.”
The upcoming election and annual general meeting are the following.
March 5 – Call for nominations
April 2 – Nomination window closes
April 9 – Advance poll
April 20 – Election
April 25 – Annual general meeting
Haraldson also saw no reason for an apology, saying there was no defamation of character.
The next Union Bay board meeting will be held on Thursday, February 21st, at the Union Bay Hall.