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News, Politics

BC Attorney General postpones Point Grey town hall due to security concerns

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Eric Zimmer May 01, 2018 12:38 pm 576

Citing security and safety concerns, BC Attorney General David Eby announced in a Facebook statement that he has decided to pull the plug on a town hall meeting that was scheduled for tonight in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood.

The topic of the meeting was to be, among other things, an increase in the school tax that will impact those with homes valued over $3 million in Eby’s constituency.

In the statement, Eby said hearing from his constituents is “critically important… regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative.”

He added that he “thought it would be beneficial to have a discussion about the school tax, including accurate information about the policy, while giving people a chance to provide feedback directly to government.”

When tickets sold out, “we considered a telephone town hall, but settled on a live streaming of the event.”

Eby said that in response, ads were run by two separate real estate agencies encouraging non-constituents and people without tickets to attend the event. He added that the leader of the BC Liberals personally wrote a letter and distributed it, encouraging individuals to attend whether they had a ticket or not.

“We pressed on, knowing the importance of the event to many community members, but the tactics of the opponent groups ramped up,” said Eby.

“The final straw was the rescheduling of the protest for “angry” people to “march on in” to the event an hour and a half before the event itself, making it impossible for us to secure the venue in advance.”

Eby said at that point, “we were no longer able to ensure only those with tickets could attend, which meant we could not ensure safety.”

As a result, Eby explained, “I have decided to postpone the town hall until we can ensure we can hold it safely.”

Eby’s full statement is below:

Thank you to all of the volunteers and registered attendees for our scheduled Town Hall for tonight. I have some difficult news.

As you know, my job is to represent my constituents. I can only do that if I can hear from constituents. Hearing from community members is critically important to me, regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative.

I have been meeting with constituents and I have heard the opposition and the concerns associated with an increase in the school tax that will impact those with homes valued over $3M in my constituency of Vancouver Point Grey.

I have also heard from many others in our community about their appreciation for government funding the seismic upgrade at Bayview Elementary, increasing funding for chronically understaffed schools, and for helping them to reduce overwhelming childcare costs and MSP premiums.

I thought it would be beneficial to have a community discussion about the school tax, including accurate information about the policy, while giving people a chance to provide feedback directly to government. When tickets sold out, we considered a telephone town hall, but settled on a live streaming of the event.

In response, ads were run by two separate real estate agencies encouraging non-constituents and people without tickets to attend the event. The leader of the BC Liberals personally wrote a letter and distributed it, encouraging individuals to attend “whether you have a ticket or not.”

We pressed on, knowing the importance of the event to many community members. But the tactics of the opponent groups ramped up.

The final straw was the rescheduling of the protest for “angry” people to “march on in” to the event an hour and a half before the event itself, making it impossible for us to secure the venue in advance.

We were no longer able to ensure only those with tickets could attend, which meant we could not ensure safety. We had, as we always do, scheduled high school students and seniors to help us staff the event as volunteers – not as security guards to hold the line against people trying to “march on in” without a ticket, or to escort guests with tickets through crowds of angry people to get them to the front door.

If that wasn’t difficult enough, my constituency staff, as well as those identified as supporters of the tax, have now become a personal target of some individuals.

For the first time in my career of hosting literally hundreds of community events on difficult topics of all kinds, I have decided to postpone the town hall until we can ensure we can hold it safely. We have a proud five-year tradition of community events in Vancouver Point Grey without incident, and I will find a way to continue this tradition.

In the meantime, I will continue to engage and meet with constituents on this and many other matters, and find a way to hear from constituents in a group while assuring that this can be done in a welcoming way for everyone.

See also

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Eric Zimmer
Staff Writer at Daily Hive.

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