I must confess to a little disappointment that the Town Hall on April 14, 2012, contained so little constructive or useful suggestions for council.
Former members of council and their supporters pushed Plan A and disparaged Plan Z – that much was expected.
What I feel compelled to comment on was the effort to lay the mistakes of the former council at the feet of this one. Certainly this council does have to deal with those mistakes. For starters, we rescinded the unpopular Steep Slopes and Environmentally Sensitive Bylaws (to be re-written) and reduced the budget we were handed from a requirement for a 10% tax increase to a 3% increase.
We were asked questions about Seymour Park and, when the member of council most qualified to answer started to speak, we heard outraged cries that answering would be a conflict of interest. (Interesting Catch 22 there). Any ‘investigation’ of the ‘facts’ surrounding Seymour Park will show that the work done to date was to comply with the requirements of a development permit issued by the municipality, under the supervision of the municipality, with some of the work requested by, and paid for by the municipality – and all within the term of the former council. As I understand it, the work is not yet complete.
We were asked why we settled the OCP lawsuit.
“The issue of legal costs of a particular matter and legal advice that is received is protected by solicitor client privilege and is not to be released. Similarly the substance of discussions at closed council meetings is required under the Community Charter to be kept confidential.
What I can confirm is that the litigation involving a challenge to the OCP has been concluded with a consent order dismissing the second petition without costs. No other information is publicly available.” (Kathy Lalonde, Interim CAO)
The previous council chose to engage in a lawsuit rather than correct a procedural error, presumably because they anticipated winning the suit – although it’s unclear what value a win would have considering that win or lose, taxpayers money was spent needlessly.
Let’s look back three years. It’s my understanding that members of the former council and others relied on a legal opinion that a subdivision could not proceed at Cape Roger Curtis. That certainty led to a fifty-nine 10-acre lots at The Cape instead of 300 plus acres of waterfront park. The legal opinion was wrong. Council gambled and we all lost.
We were asked questions about the dock applications at The Cape. These applications are approved by the Province, not by the municipality. Should they be approved, I expect we’ll hear former members of council and their supporters screaming in righteous indignation in spite of the knowledge that if 80% of the waterfront were parkland there would be no dock applications.
So let’s be clear about the legacy left us by the former council. The former council chose a lawsuit and the attendant costs rather than correct a procedural error; and the former council created the conditions at The Cape that have resulted in dock applications.
To end on a positive note, we did get many encouraging comments about moving forward with a process to determine a broad base of community support for a ferry marshaling concept. More about this later.