Mayoral candidate ignites ruckus at St. John's meeting
Geoff Chaulk raises sign to protest recent planning decisions
Geoff Chaulk, one of the three declared candidates for the St. John's mayoralty, raised the volume level at Monday evening's council meeting when he rose with a homemade placard.
Chaulk stood in the public gallery holding a sign that said "Planning Shame?" at the beginning of the meeting, as Mayor Dennis O'Keefe entered council chambers.
As demonstrations in the gallery are not allowed, O'Keefe — who is facing off against Chaulk and Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary — asked security to remove him.
"Isn't this a democracy?" Chaulk called out to councillors. "I have a right to ask questions."
As a matter of fact, people sitting in the public gallery do not have the right to address council directly.
When O'Keefe explained the rules, Chaulk raised his voice.
"You can't stand the heat, Dennis — get out of the kitchen."
Chaulk wasn't removed, but a security guard did take his sign. And he got a warning from the mayor.
"Your point is well taken, and there will be zero tolerance for any disturbances that take place in this chamber," O'Keefe said. "And that's the end of that."
Message irritated council: Chaulk
Chaulk, who had alerted the media that he would be attending the meeting, said he believed O'Keefe was angered by his message, regardless of the rules.
"I just don't think they liked what I had to say," Chaulk told CBC News after the meeting.
Chaulk said he is concerned about recent revelations, particularly a rezoning decision for the enormous Glencrest development near Southlands.
"I've been coming to council meetings now regularly for the past couple of months and there've been four planning missteps, and last week's leaked documents about a planning decision concerned me greatly," said Chaulk, referring to a CBC News report that showed how city staff had had concerns about the proposed rezoning of Glencrest.