Reader concerned about Town’s dealings with residents

Dear Editor:

Where has the Compassion and Empathy Gone with Mississippi Mills’ Mayor, Council and Senior Staff?

It is sad to see that Mississippi Mills has become a community where its elected officials and senior staff have seemingly lost their sense of humanity for the people who not only have elected them and pay their salaries, but who also live them in the community.  In the 48 years that I lived in the former Town and now Ward of Almonte, we never had this kind of disconnect between the Town Hall and residents.

A resident has suffered a catastrophic medical incident that has left him almost completely paralyzed. A group of friends constructed a ramp to allow him easy access to and from his house.  It seems that the ramp was built using “rough” lumber and it lacked handrails that conformed to the Building Code. Rather than allow the existing ramp to stay and give some time to allow a replacement to be built, the Municipality forced the family to remove the ramp. Now entering and exiting the house requires lifting and carrying the man and his wheelchair up and down stairs.  Obviously his wife cannot do this alone, so the couple must remain inside until help from family and friends can be arranged.  Thankfully the wonderful residents of Mississippi Mills care and family, friends, trades people and business are getting involved to help this family, despite the best efforts of those in power to make sure a simple ramp becomes an administrative nightmare.

Another couple believed that the two houses that have been in the family for years were on separate lots. When they sold one of the houses it was discovered that in fact both houses are on the same lot and a severance had to be obtained. Over the past year, the couple has spent thousands of dollars to comply with planning requirements only to be told now that the Municipality will not grant the severance because back taxes are owed. The house is sold and the sale is only waiting on the severance to be granted. The Municipality has been guaranteed by a lawyer that all taxes will be paid once the sell closes but they refuse to grant the severance because of “policy”.  They won’t even accept the word of a lawyer and allow an exception to “policy”.  The Municipality is willing to incur legal fees to register liens and is prepared to ultimately sell the house for tax arrears and leave this couple homeless.

And the Mayor, Councillors and senior staff are showing complete disrespect for the disabled residents of Mississippi Mills.  The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) at Section 80.19 (1) states that the Municipality “must consult with the public and persons with disabilities” when “constructing new or redeveloping existing outdoor play spaces”. None of the current park projects, including Gemmill Park, have included consultation with people, especially disabled children and their caregivers.  If these projects continue as planned, they will not be accessible to everybody.  I have tried many times to get the Municipality into compliance with the AODA, which is law, and they continually refuse to do what is legally required of them.

Since when is it acceptable to ignore and take advantage of people in unfortunate situations?

Tell Mayor McLaughlin and Councillors that you won’t accept this outrageous conduct.

Steve Maynard

 

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Do I need to start writing letters to The Millstone praising Town Council? Because if we only listen to you, Steve, we will think the town is run by total jerks. I believe that the Mayor and Town Councillors, as well as their staff, put a lot of effort into their work, and they care a lot about the town and its people, and I am sick to death of you badmouthing them. If you want to rant about council, do it on Facebook or to your friends, as god intended — not in the local paper. To be clear, it is YOUR outrageous conduct I will not accept.

  2. I was very surprised that they published this, no facts at all. People need to realize that there is 2 sides to every story. I have been working pretty hard on my Facebook page to get people to try and be nicer to town staff and council. The other day I e-mailed a town employee to ask a question. She answered me within a couple of hours. You know why she answered me so fast, I did something very sneaky……I was nice. Although I do not see eye to eye with many on town council, there is no reason to be mean to anyone as we are the friendly town! If a fat, old hick like me can change and learn that lesson, we all can

  3. Steve, lately I have come to realize there is two sides to every story. Did you ask for clarification from the town regarding the 2 stories you told? Can you imagine what would happen if the town just took peoples word that they would pay their back taxes after the sale of their home. They would get shorted several times. You always quote laws and following procedures yet in this case you want the town to bend the rules? Make up your mind. I’m sure that if the ramp that was built collapsed, you would be the first person to blame the town for not taking action sooner. Lastly, what is up with your personal mission regarding the Ontario disability act. I think you are just trying to throw a wrench in the works to stop Gemmil park upgrade. Do you know for 100 percent certainty that the consultation did not occur or will you just issue an apology like you have in the past when proven wrong. In my opinion, you are poison for this town

  4. Again, as a man that loves to crucify council over rules, what do the rules say about granting severances when taxes are owed? If you want the town to strictly follow the ODA, shouldn’t they have to follow all rules as strictly? To summarize, you say that council should be ashamed for breaking the rules with the Ontario Disabilities Act yet should also be ashamed for not bending the rules when it comes to severances and building permits? Kind of a double standard, isn’t it?

  5. I’m sure if these 2 issues were brought up on social media like either one of our Facebook pages, the people of this town would rally together to help them. Not sure what the purpose of your letter was than to continue your well publicized bashing of the town council. What did you accomplish? What corrective actions have you suggested to fix these problems? It’s easy to complain, a lot harder to come up with solutions

  6. Again, what did you hope to accomplish with this letter except to stir the pot with council? FYI, I can choose what to read and what to post on thank you very much

  7. Also, as an FYI,Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005 does not contain a section 80.19. I believe you are referring to Regulation 191, Integrated accessibility Standards. Even then, it does not state “must consult with the public and persons with disabilities” in those exact words. please see below for the exact section: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/33223857a33b03ab65dc42a3b531a502883a8ed7c7e82ba5b9a609ac5a94cb41.jpg

  8. Agreed, but does it specify when the consultation must take place? They have just approved 50+K for the design of Gemmil Park. Could this not occur when the final design is being done? Currently all that has been done is the preliminary stuff for budgeting purposes. I am sure any design person would know that they must comply with the AODA. Not sure how you can claim “If these projects continue as planned, they will not be accessible to everybody”, as you have stated above.

  9. I have faith that all of the requirements are being addressed. I am sure the town designer will consider all of this when designing the park. I am sure there will be consultation.

  10. Yes, it is my job. Doesn’t matter what the intent is, as long as you follow the law to the letter you are in compliance. I do not believe that anything you have written above letter is considered “outrageous behavior” by council.

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