New Policy to Manage Individuals with Unacceptable Behaviour

Council has acted to approve a Policy that defines what should be done about individuals on Municipal Property who have “unacceptable behaviour”. On Tuesday February 6, the Strategic Priorities and Policy Standing Committee reviewed a Policy written by staff – Keith Hearst and approved by Director Larmer and CAO Vaughan. “The purpose of the policy is to ensure an equitable and respectful environment in municipal facilities for staff and members of the public.” It was in response to “the increase in unacceptable behaviour at Town facilities and directed towards Town staff. There have been an increasing number of instances where Town staff are being harassed while doing their work, and upon entering and exiting municipal facilities.” Since all council members voted to approve it, it’s sure to be approved at the Regular Council Meeting on 28 February.

There are no examples given of this behaviour or where they occur but the most likely locations affected would be Victoria Hall and the Community Centre.

The Draft Policy provides a definition of unacceptable behaviour and specifies what can be done to counter it – primarily banning access to Municipal property but also limiting interactions with Town staff.

Unacceptable Behaviours

  • Unpleasant, disrespectful, or demeaning comments made towards Town staff or other patrons.
  • Treating other patrons, Town staff, or Members of Council in a threatening, intimidating, abusive, or violent manner.
  • Engaging in a physical altercation with any other individual on Town property.
  • Engaging in activities on Town property that are considered a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada
  • Possessing a weapon or prohibited substance while on Town property.
  • Engaging in sexual activity on Town property.
  • Soliciting the sale of goods or services on Town property without permission.
  • Violating other Town policies and Codes of Conduct that establish rules for expected behaviour at specific Town facilities and spaces.
  • Non-peaceful protest that is disruptive to the common good administration of Town services including, but not limited to, disrupting, harassing, threatening, or intimidating other patrons or Town staff.
  • Submitting inquiries or requests for service that are frivolous or vexatious in nature.
  • Deliberately making false statements or submitting falsified documents when addressing a matter with the Town.
  • Continually refusing to accept or acknowledge the decision of staff with respect to a matter under the Town’s jurisdiction.
  • Knowingly violating the explicit or inferred privacy of other users, Town staff, Members of Council, or the conduct of a meeting that is properly closed to the public.

This is not an exhaustive list. Other activities and behaviours may be considered unacceptable at the discretion of the CAO or Division Directors.

Banning by the Town comes in 5 levels ranging from 7 days to a year.

Enforcement is primarily verbal and possibly by issuing a Notice of Trespass to Property. The Policy states that: “Should an individual refuse to cease unacceptable behavior or abide by any restrictions applied, CPS may be requested to assist where appropriate.”

The Policy includes a provision for appeal to a senior staff panel.

But there is an exception:

“Individuals that have been restricted from attending Town properties are permitted to attend public meetings, subject to the rules of participation for such public meetings and any conditions or restrictions assigned to the individual when attending Town property.”

This policy appears reasonable and no doubt all Staff will be briefed (trained) on how to apply it.

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Just a thought
20 days ago
  • Continually refusing to accept or acknowledge the decision of staff with respect to a matter under the Town’s jurisdiction.

So – what the town staff says, goes? Many staff members are not properly equipped to make the decisions they have the power to make.

In my experience, ignorance, anger, and immaturity seem to reign. It’s not about logic, or truth, or reality or rules or even their own bylaws. This new statement seems to give them the ability to ban someone from speaking to them, from being heard and from entering the town hall if they don’t agree with the decision (even if it is not grounded in anything factual). It is what we say it is or we will kick you out? It’s a wonder why people get angry.

This policy reads like competent people may or may not work at the town. When they make a decision (whether it is correct or not), that decision is final and to be respected. If you don’t like it – get out. There are people holding staff positions that have no business holding them. They aren’t held accountable, they aren’t properly equipped, many have no ties to the town outside of their paycheck, and the power in their positions is regularly abused. Let’s make sure no one can question that or have an effective avenue for pushback. Sounds like a great plan.

Let’s give staff a tool they can use to escalate and then silence a problem without ever having to actually deal with it. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Paul
Reply to  Just a thought
17 days ago

This set of rules is too one sided. There needs to be an ability to grieve a situation and have a committee look at both sides of the story and settle on who is correct. This en staff are not always correct in behaviour or process.

Concerned Taxpayer
22 days ago

Illegal drug use is a Public Health issue. Let’s get HKPR more involved.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
22 days ago

“Illegal” says it all….It is a CRIME and should be treated as such.
.Drug dealers are criminals ..This whole illegal drug culture is just that , but interpreted by some that they all are the innocent.victims.
How many were actually forced into the habit ?

Sandpiper
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
22 days ago

HKPR useless just another local Govt Group with a guarded pay cheque
suckiing off the Tax Payer T

Doug Weldon
22 days ago

I would think that all of this is another spin off of the whole homeless issue. We need ‘some’ form of government to step up to this issue. The vagabond group of homeless people is growing and growing. And our society is declining and declining. There are now HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of HOMELESS PEOPLE in CANADA !

Two days ago our,Condo neighbour, found a large container in her Hall Storage compartment that had obviously been used as a washroom by the homeless lady we had just put out of the hall. Disgusting !

Our politicians do Nothing, our police do nothing, our town has just released an embarrassment the only concerns themselves. We did not bother to call the police. A waste of time.

WE NEED a collective societal response – immediately. Homelessness is a provincial issue !!!
Doug Ford needs to open his eyes wide enough so that he can see beyond the faces of his millionaire friends and then actually do something that will benefit ALL of Ontario.
The Police simply need to enforce any number of laws that are already there. Drug addicts should be subject to the law just like everyone else. Being drugged and out of it does not mean that criminal charges do not apply !

Our Provincial and Federal governments need to immediately get together on this issue all across Canada. A new set of Charges – as apposed to Criminal Convictions should be put in place. Pick up the drug addicted homeless people and confine them to a semi- jail for a month or two. That would be a great assist to solving this problem. And a very great assist to every druggy who gets dried out during their incarceration.

Where could these people be held ? Well open ! – and shut ! – the doors at the empty Brookside facility. There is also another abandoned jail at Millbrook. There are probably lots of other empty facilities across Canada as ‘WE’ no longer enforce many of our drug or theft charges and currently people are simply set free even when arrested for significant crimes.

Do Something Now ! Where Is Our Country Headed ? Oh Canada !!!!

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Doug Weldon
22 days ago

Possibly if Trudeau as PM was to concentrate on this disastrous national issue as he legalized marijuana ,he would be dealing with it as a national Priority instead of jetting around the world trying to save it ,this country may stand a chance.
Surprisingly it doesn’t appear be in the forefront.

Last edited 22 days ago by Bill Thompson
Doug Weldon
Reply to  Bill Thompson
22 days ago

Bill Thanks for your reply. I have exactly those thoughts. If Justin wanted to make any impression on Canadians he could jump out now and hold open meetings across Canada with every political group – Provincial, County, Community – towns and cities. Just discuss: What to do. Get all opinions together then sort things out to work towards a meaningful solution. Right now All politicians look at the homeless issues and run in the other direction. I’m not a Polievre supporter but JT is finished as he stands now. PP will not address homelessness either and Doug Ford is not even aware of the issue.
Homelessness will only get much worse if we continue to do nothing.

Doug Weldon
Reply to  Doug Weldon
22 days ago

If 32 people gave me a thumbs down (So Far), perhaps one or two of you could explain why you did so. I would like to see our fading society improve. If my suggestion is that bad then please lay out a better alternative. I don’t know how to just sit back and watch the decency of our country and community fade away. I think anyone with a strong negative vote should always explain why. That is what I think Mr Draper has set this wonderful spot up for.
I worked with Developmentally Challenged Adults and taught Young Offenders – a good analysis of the problems we had always led to improvements. I believe that is what politics and Mr Drapers blog should be all about.

Beachwalker
Reply to  Doug Weldon
22 days ago

Lack of compassion will always garner a thumbs down from me. You asked.

Michael
Reply to  Beachwalker
21 days ago

Compassion = sympathetic pity

Compassion is often used by virtue signallers who don’t accomplish anything. People of substance who make a difference don’t value compassion as a trait.

Doug Weldon
Reply to  Beachwalker
21 days ago

Beachwalker & Michael and others. I have lots of compassion for almost anyone. My father was born with less than 2% vision. He achieved lots in his life. Some very good compassionate people made a big difference in his life when he was young. AND he became the 1st Blind Person in Canada to get a University degree! He led a good productive life because of the hand up he got from others when he was young.
My work days took me to working with Developmentally Challenged Adults and then to teach school for many years. I know I helped a lot of kids and adults along in their lives. I’m proud of that.

If either of you or anyone else can explain why helping others is wrong then please reply. I would say don’t click a Thumbs Down, unless you are Human enough to explain why you are doing that.

Our sympathy and compassion goes a long way to creating a better society and a better world. A better world for everyone including OURSELVES !!!!!

Michael
Reply to  Doug Weldon
19 days ago

Lots of empathic people in your father’s life. Compassion is a rather useless trait. Empathy leads to action, compassion is for virtue signallers. Helping others in a discreet way does indeed make for a better world! “Compassionate people” are often loud and accomplish little.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Bill Thompson
22 days ago

Trudeau is to busy fill ing his person pockets have you not noticed how much his personal wealth has grown since he took office and spends most of his time out of the country giving away our Tax $$$$ You haven’t seen any increases in your CPP or OAS since he became P M

Ben
Reply to  Sandpiper
19 days ago

That is a total lie and one to be expected from the Justin haters. Did you check your CPP this month and your OAS last year, of course it went up.

I hope to see a retraction of this lie, but won’t hold my breath!

NAI
Reply to  Ben
18 days ago

Perhaps the CPP and OAS aspect is incorrect, but the amount of money JT has provided to other nations is something I want to see reduced. Also, his personal wealth has indeed skyrocketed. Sure, we can all invest, but when one already has deep pockets AND access to the info a politician has – they have an advantage. So while there are inaccuracies in the prior comment, it isn’t completely wrong.

Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Doug Weldon
22 days ago

Asking the government to help fix a problem they helped to create with them inflating the money supply, is like asking a criminal who robbed you to come help make it right. This will never happen and if you think the goverent is here to help, you will certainly be let down on that one. Read up on “Hegelian Dialectics”.

The only help for homelessness is to to help – then see how quickly their lives turn around.

Leslie M.
Reply to  Concerned Cobourg Resident
22 days ago

The only help for homelessness is to help”.

We do not have a Homelessness problem in Cobourg. We have a drug & naturally a drug-fueled crime problem. The addicted are empowered by “Social Justice Warriors” to carry on with the use of lethal drugs, while making a warped ‘activist’ demand for Tiny homes. Nothing has changed.

You can lead a student to college, but you cannot make him think.

Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Leslie M.
21 days ago

Auto correct messed that sentence up. I meant “The only help for homelessness is NOT to help”.

Jennifer Darrell
22 days ago

Many on this blog complain constantly that Council takes no action on our “problems” and, then when they do attempt to take some action, the constant complainers complain again. No way to satisfy them I guess.
How encompassing is “municipal property”?? Sidewalks, roads and parking lots are all municipal (or County or Provincial) property. Does the policy cover these or just in buildings and other structures?

small town Ontario
Reply to  Jennifer Darrell
22 days ago

Please do your homework, don’t come to this blog of “constant complainers” for answers to your questions.

Bryan
Reply to  Jennifer Darrell
22 days ago

Jennifer Darrell,

The policy says “municipal property”. The meaning is very clear: any property owned by the Town.

As to the Town “taking action”: why is this policy a priority now?
Staff claim the policy is needed due to “the increase in unacceptable behavior at Town facilities and directed towards Town staff. No metrics are provided. Who determines if behavior is “unacceptable”.
Was developing this policy the top priority on staffs do list?

I would have thought work on KPIs or infrastructure funding grants would have been a more productive use of Keith Hearst’s time

That said, the unacceptable behavior policy is poorly written.
It is ambiguous and absurd in many areas.
Words like “infer” should not be used. Such words are “weasel” words that avoid specifics and allow a whole range of unspecified activities/actions.
Who determines if something is “frivolous or vexatious”?
“Other activities and behaviors may be considered unacceptable at the discretion of the CAO or Division Directors”….. Really?
“Possessing a weapon or prohibited substance while on Town property.” The cops carry guns and other weapons. Parks and Works staff “carry” a variety of tools (knives) that could be weapons. Both are clearly violations.
“Engaging in sexual activity on Town property.” So no sex for campers in their trailers/tents at the VPC or boaters in the harbour.

Will the Town proactively seek out these infractions?
Who determines if a penalty applies and what the penalty is?

All in all, a toothless tiger. All hat and no cattle. A waste of staffs’ and council’s time

Hopefully Council apply some common sense and send this back to staff for revision with a low priority.

Last edited 22 days ago by Bryan
Gerry
Reply to  Bryan
22 days ago

Thank you! I wanted to ask these same questions but couldn’t find the appropriate words.

Last edited 22 days ago by Gerry
Michael
Reply to  Bryan
21 days ago

Lol – best belly chuckle post I have read in ages. No sex on vacation at the Victoria beach trailer park or on your boat in the Cobourg marina – as both are municipal property ! So much for Ontario’s feel good town……. How do we police this? Thanks Bryan for a really good giggle.

Bryan
Reply to  Michael
21 days ago

Michael,

Thanks for the nod.

That you and others got a laugh from my comment is both good and sad.
Good that you can see the humour in the absurd.
Sad that Town staff put forth this absurd, poorly written policy and that it will probably be approved.

But why pay attention to my ranting? I’m just a lowly Cobourg resident.
Staff are the subject matter experts

Last edited 21 days ago by Bryan
Doug Weldon
Reply to  Jennifer Darrell
22 days ago

Jennifer The towns action is an avoidance of the real homeless issue. They are only looking inside at their own problems when there are bigger problems all over our town. That should be the 1st problem for the town to address.

Concerned Cobourg Resident
22 days ago

Who gets to define what these behaviors ultimately mean?

As we see with our current federal leaders, these policies ultimately give all the power of interpretation to those who pen the policies, leading to a totalitarian attitude.

What’s next? The town will freeze my bank account if they deem my nature unpleasant.

Council has far better things to worry about than this frivolous bill.

Last edited 22 days ago by Concerned Cobourg Resident
Small Town Lover
22 days ago

Just Municipal Property? This happens everywhere . Health Clinic, Hospital, retail outlets, banks etc. Why is the Town just protecting their own. Are they more important ?

ciw
Reply to  Small Town Lover
22 days ago

You forgot schools.

mcpissed
22 days ago

Violence, threat’s, intimidation, are unacceptable behaviors which anyone who has a job should ever have to deal with I agree 100%. A few month’s back I read the town by-laws and could not find anything regarding illegal drug use at all. The above info leans toward addressing the rampant open consumption and whacked out drug addled people that have grown considerably in number the past few years. if I’m reading this wrong please enlighten me! I think we should be privy to the training manual/procedures that the town employee’s will be given to deal with situations that arise with this policy? I’m also unclear to me where the line is drawn between bad behavior and speaking my mind?….Maybe I should look further into this to be better informed and perhaps not get my hair up but…. Something just seems to be missing here and a feeling of censorship/dictatorish vibe tingles my senses.

Cobourg taxpayer
23 days ago

Who knew that some of these activities were even occurring “sexual activity on town property”, “possessing a weapon” ( does this include a hatchet as purchased by Jenni Frenke for the squatters), “soliciting the sale of goods and services “ (how about drug deals). There must be a lot more nefarious behaviour going on municipal property then I was aware of. Now if some bylaws could be passed and enforced that apply to the lawful taxpaying citizens of Cobourg such as no trespassing, enforcement of petty theft, no begging and harassing and no open illegal drug use to name a few, I’d feel a lot better about the not so feel good town.

Ben
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
22 days ago

does this include a hatchet as purchased by Jenni Frenke for the squatters”

Please provide a source for this scurrilous statement!

Cindi
Reply to  Ben
22 days ago

Read her page, hachets are for cutting wood, are part of the equipment purchased through fundraising,

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Ben
22 days ago

Happy to, if you go to Jenni Frenke’s go fund me page and look at comments from her from January 7 2024 where it says “the purchase of hatchets”. If you then check the assault at Woodys January 30th as reported by Cobourg Police you will read a hatchet was used.

Ben
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
22 days ago

So do you have a connection between the perpetrator and the event, just another jump to sad conclusions.

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Ben
22 days ago

20 years I’ve lived in Cobourg until 2024 some left wing enabler purchases hatchets for squatters who are out of control at the best of times, unable to act in a socially acceptable manner. Then a crime occurs shortly after involving a hatchet. One does not have to be very intelligent to see the connection here. But hey believe what you want. I am not happy living in a town where this behaviour occurs. Apparently you are. You must have some space at your property for a tent or two and you can share this disruption and disfunction that has become a regular occurrence in Cobourg.

Ben
Reply to  Gerry
22 days ago

Blah blah blah (old news in the article and no linkage between the person and the donor), do you know if he got the hatchet from the donors or just supposing it because it fits the narrative?

Cindi
Reply to  Ben
22 days ago

Why do you try to deny what is happening and continually whitewash a worsening situation? Open your eyes.

Kevin
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
22 days ago

It might depend on intent. A hatchet could be used as a weapon but if their is no intention to do so then it is a tool. Once upon a time I purchased a bread knife, $0.25, from Beyond the Blue Box. As the knife was too large to put in a pocket I carried it by hand as I continued to do my errands on foot. A Lakefront employee was a little nervous when she saw it but quickly realized I had no intention of harming her. At the YMCA pool I saw a guy with a hunting knife on his belt. Strange but the knife remained in its sheath. A bread knife, hunting knife or hatched in the hands of someone with a mental illness or on drugs could be a very different situation. Many things, including rocks and sticks, can be used as weapons.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
22 days ago

Sexual Activity in the Town Hall ?
What about the Parks, Marina and Waterfront . ?
Hope these rules apply to staff as well towards the Public

Gerry
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
22 days ago

“sexual activity on town property.” I have had the misfortune of walking into this situation twice while walking in the open air. I don’t know who was embarrassed more, the participants or me.

NAI
23 days ago

Hmmm. Wonder how this looks against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Not that it has much value these days.

Before you reply in anger – know that I agree that EVERYONE must be treated with respect and dignity. However, rudeness is not the same as harassment. For example, it would be rude of me to say to a town clerk “Have you even read your own bylaws?” That in my opinion is not unacceptable behaviour. However, if I were to say “You’re so effing stupid, you don’t even know your own rules – you moron.” That is verbal harassment and demeaning.

Point of my pointless post is – has there been enough to define the differences, or will this now mean if I, as a town staffer, have had a crappy day getting to work and I am overly sensitive, can now invoke this policy should someone say something that I am offended by more because of my emotional state of the day, versus what was truly said.

Imagine if we just treated one another with respect.

Oh to dream…..the impossible dream…to fight, the unbeatable foe…. (ear worm planted…you’re welcome 🙂 )

Bryan
Reply to  NAI
23 days ago

NAI,

Good points.

There is no indication that this policy applies in both directions.

There have been several comments on this blog regarding what some regard as “rude” and “unacceptable” behavior at council meetings by the Mayor, particularly in regard to delegation presenters.
Similarly, does this policy apply to Council members who “abuse” other Council members and delegation presenters with denigrating and disparaging “questions” and comments?
Shoot the messenger tactics.

Other concerns:
“Engaging in sexual activity on Town property”….
No more skinny dipping at Victoria Beach or beach sex?
What about the marina and VPC?
Shower sex at the marina or CCC?
Will the Town be proactively ferreting out these offenses?

“Non-peaceful protest that is disruptive to the common good administration of Town services including, but not limited to, disrupting, harassing, threatening, or intimidating other patrons or Town staff.”
Who determines what is “disruptive”?
Don’t “they” have a conflict of interest?

“Deliberately making false statements or submitting falsified documents when addressing a matter with the Town.”
Some would say staff (and Council??) do this.
Look at the recent budget documentation.

“Continually refusing to accept or acknowledge the decision of staff with respect to a matter under the Town’s jurisdiction”.
Council passed a motion almost 2 years ago to rezone “Daintry park” to parkland. Hasn’t happened.
Council passed a motion to cap the 2024 levy increase at 5%. Didn’t happen…..Staff came back at 10%

“Knowingly violating the explicit or inferred privacy of other users, Town staff, Members of Council, or the conduct of a meeting that is properly closed to the public”.
“Inferred” is a weasel word used to allow just about anything.
Who determines if a meeting is “properly closed”?
Council seems to have a lot of “closed” meetings. Who is monitoring this?

Last edited 23 days ago by Bryan
NAI
Reply to  Bryan
22 days ago

Bryan, thanks for eloquently and succintly providing great examples of what I had going through my mind as well. Sincerely appreciated!

Dave
23 days ago

A step in the right direction. Making it official that behaviour that is not acceptable whether it be threatening, insulting disrespectful will draw consequences and enable action against the offender. I hope it will also be strongly applied to thef defense of any member of the public subjected to this. There are too many incidents where members of the public have been assaulted or sworn at when they are merely going about their days business creating unsafe and unpleasant actions against them by those that feel they can do whatever they want in Cobourg without regard for anyone but themselves knowing they can get away with it.

It is past time for this kind of policy – I hope it will not get watered down in practice.

Old Sailor
23 days ago

If the “punishment” for the “misbehaviour” is just banning the guilty party access to municipal property and limiting their interactions with Town staff, do we actually think that will be a deterrent? What is the punishment for a second, third and fourth offence?

Andre
23 days ago

Addressing result rather than cause?

Last edited 23 days ago by Andre
Nestor
Reply to  Andre
23 days ago

What are the causes Andre ?