Hooterville issue back at QC council

  • Feb. 18, 2009 6:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Queen Charlotte council denied delegate status to a local resident who was requesting support for Hooterville residents. David Schroeder submitted two written requests, dated Jan. 30 and Feb. 5, asking to speak at the next Council meeting. “I would like to ask the council to help the residents of the Hooterville/Frog Flats area stay in their homes,” he wrote in his first letter. He requested that council actively prevent the provincial Crown from evicting these people. In his Feb. 5 letter, he wrote that the Crown has threatened to hire agents to destroy the homes of Queen Charlotte citizens – what he calls violent action. “I want to suggest to council that citizens and their representatives can and should object when they feel a government threatens to wrongly use violence. We and you can speak against it. In other regimes that would not be safe or wise. Surely the village council does not believe that it is dangerous to raise objections to what our government does?” he writes. Mr. Schroeder’s letters were part of the “For Information” section of the agenda package at the Feb. 16 council meeting. When the Observer asked why Mr. Schroeder, who was present at the meeting, was not a delegate as he requested, Mayor Carol Kulesha said that he had made his points at a previous meeting and at the village’s Brown Bag lunch on Feb. 6. “We give delegate space to whoever asks, but we don’t give it again and again. If the person has put the information out so the public can see it, then we move on,” she said. She added that Mr. Schroeder and Kevin Gibson, who also spoke at the Brown Bag lunch, are asking for things that are outside of the jurisdiction of council. She recounted their positions: “Mr. Gibson made himself clear at the Brown Bag lunch. He is asking for a form of tenure for himself and the other Bearskin Bay squatters that does not exist for anyone else – the land divided evenly amongst the inhabitants of Bearskin Bay today and tenure that is to be extended to these inhabitants and their immediate families with the ability to inherit. Mr. Schroeder believes that those in trespass will have violent action taken against them. He requests that Council pass a motion against eviction. These evictions are under the Land Act as an action against illegal occupancy. Notices of trespass were issued in October and though due in November, the only structures removed have been derelict or abandoned. Both of these issues, special inheritable tenure and no eviction, are beyond our authority and jurisdiction.” Mayor Kulesha said she forwarded the information to the Integrated Land and Management Bureau, and therefore suggested the letters be “received and filed.” Mr. Schroeder spoke at the end of the meeting and said he accepted that explanation from the council as to why he could not be a delegate, but his opinions, as stated in the letters remain the same. After the meeting, the Observer found out that Mr. Schroeder knew he would not be a delegate but he came anyway, to see how his letter was discussed at council. Mr. Gibson said he did not agree with the mayor’s synthesis of his position, but said he was looking for different avenues to discuss this in, like the upcoming CHN public hearing (scheduled for May). Later, Mr. Schroeder said he still has the same questions and doesn’t feel any of them have been answered. “If council does nothing, doing nothing makes a statement,” he said. Some of his questions are as follows: In response to the mayor’s report of Feb. 2, where she says the village is committed to supporting the next level of government, he asks: “Is your lawyer telling you that council cannot legally voice an objection to the Crown evicting the Hooterville citizens?” And he wonders about the unison of support, that Mayor Kulesha also wrote about. “Is your lawyer saying that council cannot legally hold a vote on this matter and individual council members cannot indicate whether they are for or against the eviction?” he wrote. The Observer asked councillors for their individual opinions on the whether of voicing support or non-support for Hooterville residents was beyond their control and was quickly shut down by Mayor Kulesha. She said the Observer reporter already had an opinion on the whole matter and would write anything she wanted anyway. When the Observer reporter asked once again if she could hear individual council member’s thoughts on the matter, each of them silently shook their heads. “We gave the council’s position,” said Mayor Kulesha and quickly called the meeting to a close.Mr. Schroeder later commented on the final moments of the meeting. “It was rude to shut down a reporter like that. It’s your job to ask questions,” he said.