By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The site of City Hall being occupied by protesters likely won’t be a repeated sight.

Earlier last month around 50 people walked inside the first floor of the municipal government building — that contained Service BC and city staff — carrying signs and staged a quiet occupation of the office, forcing management to close Service BC to the public and city staff to cancel appointments.

On Tuesday night city council enacted the terms of the Trespass Act, authorizing the city manager to enforce the powers under the act, allowing the banning or suspension of members of the public from entering into City Hall. 

After the Nov. 3 incident legal counsel advised that a city staff member be authorized by council in order to enforce the Trespass Act “if such individuals return to City Hall.”

There have been a small number of isolated incidents at City Hall where a member of the public harassed staff, noted the staff report to council on the matter. 

“As a result, these members of the public have been banned from City Hall and the police were notified,” the report noted. 

Coun. Jesse Woodward said the issue was just about protecting people working in the building.

Rally outside, rally inside

A rally outside Nelson City Hall Nov. 3 against government COVID-19 restrictions attracted approximately 100 people as part of Worldwide Walkouts campaign.

Around one half of the people moved inside with their signs and quietly occupied the government offices — including Service BC — forcing closure of the provincial office and municipal offices.

At the time, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said in an email statement that “(t)he government recognizes the public’s right to engage in peaceful protests and lawful assembly, and we want to ensure all British Columbians can have access to the services they need, when they need them.” 

Nelson Police attended the scene and escorted protesters outside the building.

From the Trespass Act

Trespassing, as it relates to City Hall, uses the following sections:

2 (1) Subject to section three, a person who does any of the following commits an offence:

(c) engages in activity on or in premises after the person has had notice from an occupier of the premises or an authorized person that the activity is prohibited.

(3) Subject to section 3, a person who has been directed, either orally or in writing, by an occupier of premises or an authorized person to

(a) leave the premises, or

(b) stop engaging in an activity on or in the premises

commits an offence if the person

(c) does not leave the premises or stop the activity, as applicable, as soon as practicable after receiving the direction, or

(d) re-enters the premises or resumes the activity on or in the premises, as applicable.


This item is reprinted with permission from The Nelson Daily. See article HERE.

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