City council voted against hearing a presentation Monday night, and some are calling that a freedom of speech issue.

Alex Szczebonski, from the Tax Payers Association, wanted to talk about a provincial report that looks at long term seniors homes.

The majority of council was against the presentation, but Councillor Rick Dubeau says we should be encouraging people to present.

“We have a responsibility to hear them out,” says Dubeau. “The principle of free speech is one of our most important core values. To inhibit this, would be wrong.”

Councillor Joe Campbell echoed that sentiment.

“I think if we get in the habit of saying ‘no, we’re not allowing tax payers to come and make presentations’, I’m not comfortable with that as a councillor,” says Campbell. “To me, we’re transparent and accountable.”

However, Mayor Black says they made their request to present prior to Monday’s meeting, and they were told to get a review and comment from the Golden Manor’s board first.

“The CEO felt it was fair to give that board a chance to review the presentation, and come up with it’s own response as to where it stands,” says Black. “Then, get back to the Tax Payers Association from there, and see what the next steps would be.”

He says he also told the Tax Payers Association he would be willing to meet with them on a semi-annual basis to discuss ideas. That is the same format used by the BIA and the Chamber.

Photo: Logan McMeekin and Todd Lever present to a packed city council about the Golden Manor issue, at a previous budget meeting.