Letter to Council on parklands vote

To The Mayor and Councillors
Mississippi Mills

I am writing to express my deep disappointment with Council following the Committee of the Whole meeting held on October 18, 2016 regarding Don Maynard Park/Block 42. The following are my main concerns.

  1. I found it incredible that Council did not learn anything about providing an appropriate venue for its citizens following the Public Meeting held on August 9, 2016 regarding Don Maynard Park/Block 42. Hundreds of residents attended that meeting in opposition to the proposed sale of these two properties. Did you seriously not expect that a very large number of residents would want to attend this week’s meeting to hear the Committee’s review of the other options in the staff report? With the seating gallery full, people were sitting in every available seat in the lobby; and many other people were standing (including many seniors, some with walkers), crowded into the remaining lobby area, for well over an hour, straining to hear the Committee’s discussions! Inexcusably poor consideration for your taxpayers!
  2. Equally inexcusable, in my view, is the fact that no public copies of the staff report were available at the meeting. Individual citizens were forced to search your website late last week in order to find this report. Not every citizen has a computer and the understanding of searching the web! I did have a copy that I made from the website and was able to share it with several other people in the lobby so that they had some idea of the options being considered.
  3. The Staff Report. The Staff Report identified four options. However, we were informed that Option 1, a proposed land exchange with the Catholic School Board, was removed because the Board rejected the idea. Option 2 was not really an option, it was the original proposal so this should not have even been in the report. Option 3 was a confusing description of selling part of Don Maynard Park, and part of Block 42, but retaining a “park footprint” which might or might not be close in size to the existing park. Option 4 was titled “Do nothing”, but actually had some innovative ideas about alternate means of funding the proposed enhancements to Gemmill Park.
  4. COW Review. This was the most frustrating part of my evening, mostly because it was difficult to hear the discussion and know who was speaking, given my position in the lobby near the front door. It appeared to me that very little discussion was held on the innovative ideas in Option 4. Instead there seemed to be pressure within the Committee to endorse Option 3, the mutilation of the existing Don Maynard Park, and no real idea of what type of development could be squeezed into the remaining land composed of part of Don Maynard Park and part of Block 42. I was pleased to hear Councillor Alex Gillis strongly refuse to endorse this vague proposal. I also commend the other three councillors who voted against it. However, I left shortly after the Committee voted 7-4 to recommend this option at the next Council meeting.

I continue to oppose Council’s plan to sell any portion of Don Maynard Park and indeed any developed park within the municipality. By your actions, you have reneged on an implicit promise made by previous councils that neighbour parks, once they have been developed, should be expected to remain as such, be properly maintained, and only subject to enhancements that can be prudently funded within the municipal budgets.

Yours truly,

Paul Cliffen
69 Harold St.
Almonte, ON