Province releases list of issues raised during Bala Falls appeal

May 31: Ontario's Environmental Approvals Branch has released a table of issues regarding Bala Falls raised by people requesting an additional environmental assessment on the North Bala Falls site known as Option Two. On request of Muskoka News Watch today, the branch provided the table of issues raised by those requesters.

TABLE OF ISSUES RAISED: To see a summary of what was asked and answered, please click here.

NOTE: MNW has decided to not summarize the issues itself in this post as to avoid any perceived negative or positive bias toward the picking andthe Minister's response.

Officials add letters rejecting requests to appeal the Ministry's approval of the North Bala Falls environmental screening by Swift River have gone out to all 75 requesters. A copy of the 'generic' letter to requesters was also provided although some requesters received personalized letters. To view a copy of the letters to "Concerned Citizens", please click here.

Protestors request Moon River be made a heritage site

MNW was not at the District of Muskoka public meeting on the District Official Plan on Monday, May 28, 2012, but those who were on hand said that two people made presentations asking that the Bala Falls and the entire Moon River be designated as a heritage site as part of the District's Official Plan considerations.

 

Bala Fire Dept Welcomes Cottage Cravings: now open

It was a rough spring last year for Henny and Randy Brown when their Cottage Cravings store was destroyed by fire on the main street of Gravenhurst. A year and almost a month later, there was a very different fire brigade type scene in Bala tonight (May 30). To make sure their Grand Opening is even more terrific today (May 31), the good men and women of the Bala Fire Department turned out to cheer Henny and Randy on and take their hoses to the parking lot last night. The helping hands stopped some traffic as people slowed to ensure that all was well at the new Bala location, but the only thing on fire here was good will!

RIBBON CUTTING TOMORROW: Be there to welcome Randy and Henny when Mayor Alice Murphy cuts the ribbon at 11 am, Today, Thursday, May 31.

Shown in this photo: Cottage Cravings Owner Brown giving the thumbs up beside Bala firefighter Chad Arney. Cottage Cravings is right beside the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce office in Bala.

 

 

 

 

Swift River To File Change of Plan for Bala Falls with Province: gives public notice today

It's Round Two of Swift River's Environmental filings to the Ministry of Environment which could eventually result in a hydro plant being built on the south side of the Bala North Falls and Dam.

Now that the province has upheld its decision that the environmental screening report was complete enough for the proposed hydro plant at Bala Falls in the “Option 2” position, the applicant of record is filing an amendment to build on the original planned site known as “Option 1”.  It issued a Notice of Filing today (May 30). In an attached press release, Swift River Energy Limited says the amendment will address the potential differences in environmental impacts from moving back to the original site released for waterpower development. In its first round of seeking environmental approvals, the company had submitted information about the "Option 2" location about 100 feet away from the falls. The original site is on Ministry of Natural resources lands directly beside the falls.

According to the following press release and attached notice of the filing that Swift River issued today, the public will have a chance to comment on this addendum. Ministry of Environment officials have said the public input process will be the same as the process used regarding environmental reports for the Option 2 location.

To view the press release and notice (in PDF), please click here.

 

 

 

Restricted Waterbodies bylaw ‘punishes majority for sins of few’ says public

About 70 people gathered today at Township of Muskoka Lakes Council (which moved the public portion of the meeting to the Port Carling Community Centre) to have their say on a proposed restricted waterbody bylaw. The bylaw would restrict development further on bodies of water such as Dark Lake near Torrance and Indian River and Mirror Lake in Port Carling. Many asked what the purpose of the bylaw was and Mayor Murphy explained it was to close a perceived gap between the Official Plan and actual bylaws that can be enforced. She also said it was an attempt to consider 'neighborliness'. When MNW editor asked the crowd (and note some people had left by the end of the almost two hour meeting) if anyone supported the proposed bylaw, only one hand went up. Your editor (that's me) then asked if the reason for the focus on Mirror Lake as it is identified in the bylaw had anything to do with attempts to make good on campaign promises to thwart the Hanna's Landing development. The Mayor answered she didn't think it did. Others in the audience had asked for more specific property identifications to stop a majority of Muskoka waterfront owners from being "punished for the sins of a few." The Mayor thanked everyone for their feedback and also asked for the public to provide to help guide Council in clarifying the existing bylaws to give Council the tools they need to stop the types of developments that prompt complaints. Planner Marg Walton suggested Council avail themselves of professional planners and seek help from government agencies. When pressed early in the meeting for why this issue had come up now, Councillor Brad Burgess spoke of a problem in Dark Lake where an 80 foot dock had been built apparently in compliance with present bylaws. He also noted a complaint about a lack of view from a cottager who bought in Bala Bay. The cottager had told Burgess part of his buying decision was prompted by an advertising promise that he could enjoy a view of Lake Muskoka and then a boathouse was built to disrupt that view. Murphy was also asked how many applications presently in progress the new bylaw could affect and she indicated it could be many. At the start of the meeting Mayor Murphy appeased many in the audience by saying Council would not move on the issue today — some written submissions requested deferral or postponement and the Muskoka Ratepayers asked for a public meeting when more waterfront ratepayers would be available to provide their two cents. No details yet on the next steps for this proposed bylaw.  The general consensus for those in attendance today? A one size fits all bylaw can not work in the unique waterfront area of Muskoka Lakes. But there was one strong acknowledgment from Anne McCauley of the Muskoka Lakes Association that more consistent bylaws would be welcomed by her association's membership which she says also supports the stopping of further development of two storey boathouses.

Body recovered from Little Long Lake in Muskoka Lakes

Police divers have recovered the body of a man who was reportedly kayaking on Little Long Lake (formerly known as Rutter Lake) in the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Twenty-year-old Douglas James VICKERY of Whitby was pronounced dead at the scene today (May 27).

Ontario Provincial Police started a search for a man just after 5 pm on Saturday (May 26) after being told about a man being separated from his kayak on the water near Fish Hatchery Road.

Officers searched the waterway and surrounding forest but did not find any trace of the missing man. Today, the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (USRU) was called in to conduct a search of the lake. Police divers found Vickery just before noon.

Police say the man was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident, and police are investigating the factors that led up to his death

Ministry of Environment Decision on Bala Falls: What does it mean?

Bala Falls Breaking News: Environmental appeals denied. What now?

Background and analysis by Norah Fountain

Those who disagreed with the Ministry of Environment's (Environmental Approvals Branch) approval of the environmental screening for the proposed Bala green energy project are beginning to receive notice today (May 25, 2012) that their calls for an Individual Environmental Assessment have been denied. That means the Ministry stands by its original decision that the environmental screening completed was good enough by its standards. If Option 2 was still on the table, and municipal lands approved for use, work on that plan could proceed now. But Option 2, the plan that would have moved the hydro plant further away from the falls, was abandoned due to pushback. Now the original site plan, directly beside the falls, must get the environmental green light from the province.

For clarity, let's call Option 1 — now that there are no more options on the table — simply Plan 1. Or the First Site Plan.

Swift River expected to act swiftly on North Bala Falls Original Site    It has been reported previously that the Applicant of Record, Swift River Energy Limited, plans to proceed quickly with an amendment to its environmental screening report to reflect the move back to the first site plan — on the site directly beside the North Bala Falls — that was released by its owner, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), for development about nine years ago.

After feedback from the public, Swift River proceeded to develop a proposal for an Optional site (that became known as Option 2) that would need space on municipal lands as well as provincial lands, but would move the proposed plant about 100 feet away from the falls. The company then had to seek approval for its required environmental screening report from the Ministry of Environment. The Ministry approved the screening with some conditions and the public was given time to request that the first approved Environmental Assessment (EA) be increased, or 'bumped up', to what is known as a full Individual Environmental Assessment. The province was to respond in 30 days after the April deadline for bump up requests.

One year ago today, on May 25, 2011, your MNW Editor was informed by provincial officials that it was close to sending out responses to those requests. But since then, both those protesting and supporting the Option 2 proposal have been in limbo, waiting for a final green light — or a decision for a fuller environmental assessment — from the province. During that time, Swift River decided to give up on proceeding with the Option 2 site because of what it considered ongoing tactics by the newly elected Municipal and District Councils to block development on municipally controlled lands that might be needed for the project.

What happens now? As Swift River will be attempting to proceed with its project on the original site right beside the falls, the company will be required under the applicable provincial act to file an amendment to its environmental screening that focused on the Option 2 environment as well as the MNR released land portion. The public will then again be given the opportunity to comment again and request an Individual EA be done on the amended report. The Ministry of Environment will then again decide if this is warranted. If the public disagrees with that decision, they can then again request that the decision be changed by the Minister. And then they would wait for a final decision on the environmental screening process for the original site.

Editor's Commentary: There may be people who try and declare this a victory of some sort. It is not. MInd you, Swift River can rightfully state this proves their environmental work met all provincial requirements. But beyond that, there's no win here. This is a purely cart after horse decision now because it only approves an Option 2 environmental report — and Option 2 is something protesters and our new politicians wanted to make sure would never happen (Despite it being a much preferred location as voiced by many in Muskoka Lakes.). Had politicians and others at least tried to collaborate, even a bit, the project could have gone ahead on lands that need rehabilitation, and give the town the look out it asked for in its 2002 development plan, and the placement of a snowmobile bridge, etc, etc. Yes, town businesses would have had to put up with some definite inconvenience — and a  longer period than that with Site 1 development — but, in my opinion, would have realized a better long term result. Now those who fight the project have to hope that somehow a site right next to the falls, 100 feet closer, will be significantly different environmentally than the Option 2 site. The people of Muskoka Lakes do not want to lose ANY access to the falls. When all is said and done, should this plant be built, we will lose access. Calmer heads knew better. But that's truly water under the bridge now.

 

Bala Falls Decision Letter from Minister Jim Bradley

Everyone who requested an Individual Environmental Assessment of the North Bala Falls Hydro Project, as well as Swift River Energy Limited and Hatch Energy, will receive a copy of the letter below, according to Ministry of Environment officials. That may include those who requested a copy of the decision. It is dated May 24, 2012.

Link to Minister Jim Bradley's decision: http://tinyurl.com/7lzoll6

Breaking News: Province upholds enviro screening decision on Bala Falls

After a year of no word, the province has now spoken on its decision regarding environmental screening for the proposed North Bala Falls hydro project. The province has again denied requests for an Individual Environmental Assessment of the proposed Bala Falls hydro project. The only catch? This decision is based on the now dead Option 2. This move opens the way for an environmental screening amendment to consider the plan for the original Site 1, right beside the North Bala Falls.

Below are excerpts of the decision in a letter released today by Jim Bradley, Ontario Minister of the Environment. More to come on Muskoka News Watch.

"I am in receipt of 75 requests, asking that the Minister of the Environment review the decision of the Director of the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch (Director) that an individual environmental assessment is not warranted for the North Bala Small Hydro Project (Project) in the Township of Muskoka Lakes."

"I am taking this opportunity to inform you that I have decided to confirm the Director's decision."

"My decision is final."

"This decision is made with the understanding that Swift River Energy Limited recognizes the importance and value of the Act and that these commitments will be fulfilled."

Muskoka News Watch has been informed by the Environmental Approvals Branch that they are working on getting letters with this decision today.

Update June 8: Township owns Milford Bay golf course; buys Bala parking lot

UPDATE: It's official. Bala Parking Lot sold to Township of Muskoka Lakes. And Milford Bay situation resolved. Unconfirmed reports put sale at $180-thousand for the Bala parking lot bought to preserve spots. Also, Milford Bay Manor resolved. Township now owns the golf course with plans to reconfigure to keep nine holes and the Township will run it. The waterfront goes to the developer with whom which the Township has tussled with legally for years. See Moose FM for their story – click here.

Previous story posted May 23:

According to sources, it appears congratulations are in order for the owners of Bala's Portage Parking lot. There's word the Davidson family of Bala has been successful — finally — in selling a long-for-sale portion of the Portage Landing lot across from Don's Bakery in Bala. While not confirmed, several sources say the Township of Muskoka Lakes has sealed the deal. Details of any deal will likely not be released until placed on the agenda for a next public council meeting (municipal property matter decisions such as property buys are made in closed meeting sessions). However, Township did include money for parking lots and parkland in the approved budget, and there has been speculation that some of that money would go to gain or preserve parking spots in Bala. Reaction from citizens seems to be split down the middle based on a very small survey by MNW. About half of random citizens asked were very pleased to hear the Township may have bought the lot as they hope it means nothing might be built on the space as parking can be at a premium in summer. Others were concerned about taxpayer dollars being spent on a parking lot that is already used as a parking lot. 100 per cent expressed support and happiness for the Davidson family who have been trying to sell that property for quite a while. Just a point of interest — family patriarch Paul Davidson was himself a long-time treasurer for council back in the day and he knows how to make a deal! Kudos, to the Davidsons!

This isn't the first time the family has tried to get council interested in buying the lot. And one Bala resident points out businesses have taken a hard look at the possibilities over the years. She recalls an ice cream store — perhaps even a Baskin Robbins if her memory serves correct — might have once expressed interest in the corner of the lot nearest the Bala Falls. She's happy with the yet-to-be confirmed council decision and hopes the parking space will be preserved for all visitors — especially for United Church members on Sunday mornings. Between getting scones from Don's and saying prayers before lunch, it's a busy place!

As for the lot on the other side of the falls (the Shield Parking Lot), there's been no word publicly from the provincial Conservation Review Board on whether they will rubber stamp Council's ask to designate the lot and Precambrian Shield rockface as part of the proposed Bala heritage district. At last check, the Review Board had requested clarification on what part of the lot was owned by whom as the railway and province had objected to the designation. Council members say further information has been forwarded to the Review Board for consideration. Perhaps the purchase of the Portage lot will give some council members a reason to re-consider supporting the designation of the Shield lot.

Opinion Note: It has been the stated opinion of MNW Editor Norah Fountain (by public delegation to council) that designating a parking lot that just happens to have one of several shining examples of precambrian rock as a heritage site is questionable at best (frivolous or manipulative at worst. Or just plain silly. Then again, all publicity is good publicity, even if we're laughed at for designating a parking lot, so maybe I should retract my opposition…). Stay tuned.

Boaters: You must carry the actual Operators Card, not copies

Last week was Boat Awareness Week (May 14-18) and boy, did I become aware of something. As I sometimes operate different boats, I had made copies of my Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), encased it in plastic, and put it in each of the boats. Just in case I'm without my wallet. Here's a tip thanks to the OPP. That's not good enough. I'm so glad I asked!

Failure to present an actual PCOC can result in a minimum fine of $250. So get the card if you don't have one. In my case, I'm ordering more at just under 12 bucks a card.

You must carry an actual copy of the card. If you need more than one, you can buy multiple copies just by clicking here: http://www.boatsmartexam.com/en/lostCards/

About 100 Canadians die in accidents on the water every year, with another 6,000 suffering non-fatal injuries – with most of those accidents being preventable.  As the country’s leader in boating safety, BOATsmart!, is urging families to get their boat licences now. Note: You'll find kiosks across the summer where you can write your test in person – for example, they're often in front of Canadian Tire stores or in Bala, across from Don's Bakery, for example.

“We believe all members of the family should get their Pleasure Craft Operator Card because safe boating is important at every age and for all passengers,” says Cameron Taylor, President of BOATsmart! “By certifying the entire family, you can ensure the watercraft is always under the control of a certified boater.”

BOATsmart! recommends the following to families planning to head out on the water this boating season:

  • Make safe boating part of your cottage routine – review safety rules together
  • Wear a personal floatation device (PFD) at all times
  • Never mix drinking with boating
  • Get certified—it’s the law. The PCOC is good for life.

BOATsmart! provides the Pleasure Craft Operator Card at a discount for families, available at www.boatsmartexam.com. The official Study Guide is available at participating Canadian Tire stores and is a valuable resource to refresh the entire family’s boating knowledge prior to each season.

To learn more or to speak with a BOATsmart! representative please contact:

Jessica Renaud, 647.202.3243 or email jessica.renaud@mosaic.com

Long weekend boating charges add up to 100+

The Bracebridge OPP report nearly 100 charges were laid against dozens of boaters this weekend in the Muskoka areas the Bracebridge marine units patrol.

Says Bracebridge OPP Inspector Ed Medved: "We had three marine units working in the Bracebridge detachment area this past weekend (two Regional S.A.V.E. units and one local detachment unit). Their focus was the smaller lakes, rivers and remote camping areas only accessible by water [with a focus on the townships of Georgian Bay and Muskoka Lakes]."  

He adds one of the S.A.V.E. units was teamed up with conservation enforcement officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources. They camped overnight in the far reaches of Georgian Bay where they discovered numerous individuals allegedly engaged in illegal activities related to liquor, drugs and boating safety.

Between the three teams, Medved says they encountered dozens of vessels and laid nearly 100 charges under various statutes.
 

And in Huntsville…over 100 boats checked
It was a busy weekend for the Huntsville OPP Marine Unit as well. The unit stopped over a hundred vessels on the waterways of Huntsville alone. After all the education and media over the years, members of the unit expressed surprise that boaters aren’t more aware of the safety equipment that is required for their boats.

There weren't as many charges laid by the Huntsville unit compared to the Bracebridge detachment's numbers. Charges laid for boaters on Huntsville waters related to not having safety equipment like bailers, bouyant heaving lines, and sound signalling devices and warnings were issued to boaters who'd forgotten to put batteries into flashlights. Police say many boaters are also forgetting to carry their Operator Cards.
 
Police remind boaters that before you head out on the waters this year, check and make sure all the safety equipment is on board. You can find a list of what is required legally — and most importantly for your boating safety — by visiting www.boatingsafety.gc.ca <http://www.boatingsafety.gc.ca/> . Remember to carry a boat operator’s competency card with you when out on your motorized pleasure craft.
NOTE to BOAT OWNERS: You must have the actual card – photocopies are not considered acceptable and extra cards can be ordered if you want to keep them in your boat(s).
 

New buildings-by-water bylaw up for public debate May 28

Alert below posted verbatim as received by the Muskoka Ratepayers. MNW has requested the Muskoka Ratepayers address their position on this issue.

If you have a cottage property on a Category I Lake, including Joseph River,
Indian River, Mirror Lake and Dark Lake, you will be interested in a new
proposed Bylaw which will, under certain circumstances, restrict the location
of docks, boathouses and boat ports in the future.

 

The proposed Bylaw will be discussed at a Public Meeting at 11:00 am on
Monday, May 28th.

 

The MRA (Muskoka Ratepayers) believes that this proposed Bylaw could have a detrimental effect on a significant number of Muskoka properties and their respective values.
 

Further, the MRA believes that the proposed legislation, if not withdrawn,
should, at the very least, be the subject of a detailed mapping study and
sensitivity analysis to determine the number of properties affected before
any definitive measurement conclusions are reached and decisions made.
There has not been a ground swell of objections related to current regulation
and practice over the years. Recently, there have been two complaints to the
township which have ‘pushed the envelope’ of reasonableness and appear
to have been the genesis of this proposal.

 

You should be aware of the potential impact on your own property. Please
phone Steve Fahner, Director of Planning for the Township at 1-705-745-3156 to
determine whether your property is affected or not.

 

Absolutely, contact your Ward Councillor by email to register your concern
or position. Better still, attend and speak at Council on May 28th so that your
views can be known, and you can become part of the conversation.

 

Township of Muskoka Lakes
Restricted Waterbody Proposed Bylaw

Here is a list of the Mayor and Councillors, and their email addresses. Please be in touch with them.
Mayor:
Alice Murphy              amurphy@muskokalakes.ca

Ward A:
Ruth-Ellen Nishikawa rnishikawa@muskokalakes.ca
Brad Burgess             bburgess@muskokalakes.ca
Donelda Kruckel        dkruckel@muskokalakes.ca
Ward B:
Allen Edwards           aedwards@muskokalakes.ca
Donald Furniss          dfurniss@muskokalakes.ca
Gault McTaggart        gmctaggart@muskokalakes.ca
Ward C:
Phil Harding               pharding@muskokalakes.ca
Jean-Ann Baranik      jbaranik@muskokalakes.ca
W. Ron Brent             wrbrent@muskokalakes.ca
 

Keep going green — energy costs explained, sensibly for once

For those who want a clear explanation on how green energy may or may not affect energy prices, I highly recommend you take 3 minutes of your time to watch this Ontario News Watch 'thought provoker' by Green Party leader Mike Schreiner who calls for an end to 'polluted rhetoric' and honest, transparent discussion. Green energy is not the enemy people! Here's the video link:

http://www.ontarionewswatch.com/onw-news.html?id=331

Mayor Murphy’s Quarter Mea Culpa: only a gavel gap

Commentary update to Mayor's Half Mea Culpa posted May 9. As a follow up to this earlier post, MNW would like to point readers to The Bracebridge Weekender, May 11th Edition, p. 35, in which Mayor Alice Murphy is quoted as saying that she had apologized for not using her gavel properly. Glad it was just a case of gavel gap. So Bang Bang, Murphy's wooden gavel didn't come down upon her head. Bang, bang, Murphy chose to use her out loud voice instead. Which, in retrospect, was probably better anyway for the target of the reported reprimand.

Furthermore, several sources now say there was no closed sidebar meeting of council members during that April 16th public council meeting. Earlier newspaper reports suggested council members 'went behind closed doors'. In fact, the Mayor reportedly announced at the break that no closed session was occurring. One source claims there were only three council members who went into a room with the door closed for a few minutes before the public session resumed. No quorum: no closed session. it still makes MNW — and many of our readers — wonder if the reprimands didn't end in public session. Again to clarify: no municipal act broken; only a question of power potentially abused.

Original post follows.

“I thought I was wrong once, but I found out later I was mistaken.” (E. Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang).

Having had some experience with mea culpas, I can feel empathy for Township of Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy who reportedly kicked this week’s council meeting off with an apology. Yet I wonder if my modicum of empathy will evaporate if, and when, I ever find out what single incident (or incidents) for which she was apologizing. Perhaps this was a blanket apology for any or all past mistakes? Chopping down a cherry tree or dumping sand in a river or…?

Confused? Prepare to be more so. Had I been at the meeting myself I could have asked her worship directly what transgression had her feeling so apologetic. I truly regret having missed this opportunity. I’m sorry. I’ll try and be there for the next one. Fortunately, my sources are sound and here is what they say happened at the Township Council meeting on Monday, May 7.

A courteous yet confusing apology

At the start of meeting, Mayor Alice Murphy reportedly made a statement about making mistakes and issued an apology for no specific mistake and to no one person or group in particular. In a nutshell, according to all sources, she commented that when people make mistakes, they should say so, and they should apologize, and so she did.

Not specific enough for you? Can’t say I disagree. Here’s how one source retold it to me:

“After the Mayor introduced four children who were ‘mayors for a day’, she proceeded to confuse many in attendance. Her opening comments were to state that when someone does something wrong, it is courteous to offer an apology. The source says this was offered up in a voice that might be compared to a teacher giving a life lesson, perhaps to the four young mayors of the day. “She said that the job she does is very demanding and if she makes a mistake she apologizes for it (it being the mistake, not for her demanding job),” the source recalled.

According to this source, the Mayor proceeded to say: "Therefore, I offer my apologies. Likewise, if someone makes a mistake that affects me I would expect an apology. So I offer my apology.

Note: MNW apologizes in advance to the Mayor if the sources quoted here may have missed a word or misheard the apology. Is everybody sorry so far? Good. Let’s move on.

At this point, sources say that some members of the audience asked their immediate neighbours to explain what was going on. Some of those who called me after the meeting said they believed the apology could have been related to the April 16 Council meeting in which Council and the public were informed of some agreement being reached, allegedly independently by some member or members of council, with the Adams Bay cottagers to block contractors from use of the public docks (your MNW editor doesn’t even know where to start with that action, which in my opinion is a BIG mistake. HUGE. An action that a little research would shown had already been tested and found wanting. But it could score high marks for pandering. This story is developing and I need a bit of time to peel back the layers and history on it myself. See any of our local media for initial coverage on the Adams Bay launch issue (or read Battle on the Docks) and Wayne Judge’s follow up letters to the editor in the Bracebridge Examiner to gauge the level of anger this issue has ignited). 

Fortunately, in commentary, one can comment on what is heard from sources and put for theories of one's own (and ethically you need three sources for pure reportage and there were more than three people present). But I’d still rather hear it from the horse’s mouth. Wouldn’t you? Maybe the media that were at Monday’s meeting will have the story in the Wednesday weeklies. Surely someone has asked Mayor Murphy to detail the transgression for which she felt compelled to apologize? (Note to self: Send Tweet question to Mayor ASAP).

Was it an apology to Council? To Contractors? To Herself?

Until we get clarification, your guess is as good as mine. From reading recent headlines, it appears likely the Mayor may have already apologized for unpaid water bills while complaining about the way such notices of overdue payment are delivered (See Draconian Water Problems). Certainly, the contractors who drive our local economy probably feel they deserve an apology for the additional risk being placed on the upcoming construction season that is already often too short for all jobs to be completed. And, if the stories told are true, it seems to me that maybe the entire Council deserves an apology for separate discussions being called in the middle of meetings as apparently was the case on April 16 (and has reportedly happened before when one or two members of council express opposing opinions). While one source told me today that the Mayor announced ‘this is not a closed meeting’ before Council left the council chamber, other sources claim the Council left the April 16 meeting en masse and had a discussion and then returned to the public meeting without ever declaring a reason for a Closed session or admitting a separate meeting ever took place. The Bracebridge Examiner reported Council went behind closed doors. If reported accurately, that action deserves more than an apology. It deserves an investigation into whether Closed Meeting rules were potentially violated.

Forgiveness can be earned and granted. A mea culpa is a good start. Much progress could be made if those who voted for the Mayor could see a true example of the accountability she promised would be forthcoming on the campaign trail. We’ll forgive her for the ‘no more closed meetings’ promise. She just didn’t know the ropes then. She does now.

So Mayor, you’ve got our attention. ’Fess up in full and you might earn some respect, too.

Comment by Norah Fountain

 

 

Register now for Muskoka Summit, June 6-7, Bracebridge

If you want to know more about the state of our local biodiversity and issues that relate to our environment, save the date for the Muskoka Summit on the Environment.

Event Details:
Theme: Perspectives on Biodiversity Loss: From Science to Policy
When: June 6-7 (begins 9 am Wed, ending 1230 pm on Thursday – can pick and choose what you attend – see Program page at www.muskokasummit.org)
Where: Rene Caisse Theatre, Bracebridge ON
Details and Registration: www.muskokasummit.org

INCLUDES
Six hour-long talks culminating in a panel discussion that will form the basis of the Summit communiqué. The following speakers will provide you with a solid foundation for discussing how to reduce the loss of our biodiversity.
Speakers:
Andrew Gonzalez:
Associate Professor, Department of Biology at McGill University
Steve Hounsell: President, Board of Trustees, Trees Ontario
Jeremy Kerr: Associate Professor, Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa
Tom Lovejoy: Biodiversity Chair, Heinz Center for Science, Economics, & the Environment
Stephen Monet: Manager, Environmental Planning Initiatives, City of Greater Sudbury
Justina Ray: Executive Director & Senior Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Karen Kraft Sloan: Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Pollination Initiative
Special Guests 
 John Smol: Queen’s University
 Paul Kennedy:  CBC Radio
 Gord Miller: Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

This is a don't miss event. To learn more visit, www.muskokasummit.org