(Left to right) Coun. Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff, Coun. Maria McFadden, Coun. Florio Vassilikakis, CAO Chris Barlow, mayor Bruno Tassone, corporate services Tracy Butler, Coun. Cherryl Macleod, Coun. Dan Rye, Coun. Bergen Price.

Castlegar councillor apologizes for man’s anti-gay comments at public meeting

A resident had asked council not to repaint the rainbow crosswalk when repainting a major road

A city councillor in Castlegar issued a public apology last week after a man made homophobic comments during a recent council meeting.

“At the Monday, April 1, council meeting, a gentleman stood up and made some very inappropriate homophobic comments, along with comments about the homelessness in our community,” Coun. Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff wrote in a statements to Black Press Media. She also posted about it on her Facebook page.

READ MORE: B.C. trustee’s anti-LGBTQ comments got him barred from schools

“When I got home, I could not sleep as it really bothered me that not one of us on council or our staff intervened to tell him to sit down and be quiet – and for that I sincerely apologize. I should have said something – we should have all said something.”

At the end of the meeting, when people can ask questions about any topic, Richard Switzer approached the microphone and asked that the city not repaint the rainbow crosswalk when crews repaint one of the main roads.

“We don’t need it. The Christiain comunity in Castlegar does not want that in the city on the streets,” Switzer said, adding that city staff did not consult with the church when planning the project.

“Don’t patronize the homosexual community. They don’t need it. They don’t deserve it.”

He also made unrelated inappropriate comments about homeless people during the same period of the meeting.

Heaton-Sherstobitoff said she struggled with how to handle the comments at the time.

“I now know that to prevent these inappropriate statements from happening in the future, it has to be addressed head-on.”

She added she plans to bring a friend to the May 21 council meeting to provide a presentation to councillors and staff on how to be an inclusive and safe community.

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