It was a full house at the Joel Steele Community Centre on Aug. 24, as North Dundas residents attended a special council meeting regarding comments made by Coun. Hoy. Morin photo

WINCHESTER – The recent North Dundas community reaction to comments made on Facebook by North Dundas Coun. Tyler Hoy continues to simmer.

An Aug. 24, Monday evening emergency council meeting featured what may be the shortest council meeting in recent memory, along with what may be a record number of residents watching.

This was only the second meeting held upstairs at the Joel Steele Community Centre in Winchester that was open to the public. There was room for only 50 people and when that limit was reached more congregated outside.

The meeting was the result of a complaint about Coun. Hoy’s comment on Facebook about Black Lives Matter being a terrorist movement. After a negative reaction from the Facebook community, he posted a message that his comments had been misinterpreted and misunderstood; he was not willing to take them back.

The council chose to respond to the complaint made by Chris Clapp by voting on a resolution making it clear where the council stood regarding racism and Hoy’s Facebook comments.

The resolution as read by Mayor Tony Fraser stated: “That the council is aware of comments made by Coun. Hoy on Facebook which disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement. Council does not condone such behaviour and supports the struggle of people of colour to realize equal treatment. His statement does not reflect the view of council or the corporation of the township of North Dundas.

Council formally reprimands Coun. Hoy for his statements.”

The resolution passed with a four to one vote with Coun. Hoy voting against it.

Prior to the vote councillors did not engage in making any statements regarding their position on the issue, but instead let the wording of the resolution speak for them.

However, Coun. Hoy gave a brief statement before the vote.

“First, let me say thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak for myself. I’m entitled to my own personal opinions and beliefs which I expressed. I voiced my opinion of a group of people, what while in theory are trying to help race issues they bring to their demonstrations violence, robbery and crime. That is my opinion. Not the councils nor the mayor’s. It was not directed at an entire race or to anyone in particular. The US government also has this opinion or some members of it anyway. The argument that followed this comment is someone else’s opinion. This has nothing to do with council or diversity training. Some of the actions followed by this particular group’s protests are atrocious and I stand by my beliefs. I will not condone violence, crime or harm coming to bystanders from any movement, not just Black Lives Matter.

While I had no idea my comments would cause such attention to me as a person, father, farmer, business owner and councilman, I am happy that a community dialogue has opened and brought to light the many issues that we as a township face. All of us need to work together to make change happen and this can only be done working toward the same goal. Racism is still a very real problem even in our community but my comment wasn’t about colour or culture, it was about one particular group. My own great, great grandfather was a black person and suffered because of it.

While I don’t think I am the problem, I plan on being the centerpiece of the solution on council.”

Mayor Fraser said after the vote that the council would be pursuing workplace violence and harassment prevention including diversity training.

Chris Clapp attended the meeting and had mixed feelings about the result.

She said while the council did the right thing and took the issue as far as they did, the resolution might not have completely resolved the issue.

“It does not feel far enough,” she said.

Clapp said the meeting was the direct result of the clear community reaction to Hoy’s comments. The lesson learned here she felt was that it pays to listen to what your community is telling you.

The issue began last week when Coun. Hoy commented on a fellow Facebook ‘What’s Up Winchester’ member Thomas Sproule, who had recounted his unpleasant encounter with workers in his backyard. An argument followed after Sproule asked the workers who, were working in a neighbour’s yard, what they were doing as they were walking across his property.

After arguing with him, one worker allegedly told Sproule to go back to the country he came from.

Coun. Hoy on reading the Facebook post commented that Black Lives Matter was a terrorist movement.

The resulting reaction from the Facebook community, who were shocked at Hoy’s comments, created the need for North Dundas council to call the Monday evening meeting to clear the air.

Each councillor expressed their own reaction to Hoy’s comments, but as individuals on Facebook, not as the council.

Mayor Fraser said he wanted the council to make a formal statement regarding Coun. Hoy’s statement.