Mayor Peter Waterman said he is concerned with the angry, hateful tone of opposition he has been receiving since the summer.
On the morning of Aug. 15, Waterman found a dead rat, stuffed inside a cracker box, on the doorstep of his home.
The next day, some time between 9 a.m. and noon, a second rat was left on his doorstep.
“It was done in broad daylight,” he said. “It was pretty brazen.”
There were no notes accompanying the dead rodents, but Waterman believes they were left because he chose to reopen the discussion on a proposed regional compost facility for the community.
The compost facility, which had been rejected in late October in a 6-1 vote was back on the Summerland municipal council agenda at the Nov. 14 council meeting.
Waterman reintroduced the discussion using Section 131(1) of the Community Charter, since he believed council had not given the matter adequate consideration and needed more information.
The compost issue was defeated a second time.
While Waterman accepts the decision of council, he said the reactions he has received from the public are disturbing.
In addition to the two dead rats, Waterman said graffiti naming him has also been left on a concrete barrier along the road near the Summerland landfill.
Municipal crews quickly painted over the graffiti, but within an hour, the message was left again.
A few weeks later, another graffiti message was left, again naming Waterman. This time, municipal crews used black paint to cover the message.
Waterman has also received emails with severe messages and had been told by one person of a threat against him.
Police have been contacted and have been investigating the incidents.
He said he and others on council have been subjected to bullying and verbal abuse because of their positions on controversial issues.
“It worries me,” he said. “Is this the way we’re going to respond to issues?”
Waterman said the aggressive tone in Summerland politics is something he has noticed since the election of 2008.
That year, in what has been described as a polarizing election campaign, Waterman lost his mayoral bid to Janice Perrino by 500 votes.
At the time and later, Waterman said the opposition to his campaign took on a personal tone and included character attacks.
“The difference now is the severity of the opposition,” he said.
Despite the recent incidents, Waterman believes most in the community are more moderate and do not support the bullying, intimidation or threats.
“I think this is limited to very few people,” he said. “There are individuals who are now standing up and saying this is not acceptable.