by Edith Cody-Rice
Before a packed gallery, Mississippi Mills Council tonight voted 3-2 in a recorded vote to revoke the bylaw permitting the sale and development of a portion of Don Maynard Park. The proposed sell-off has been the focus of heated debate since the town first proposed the scheme in 2016 in order to release funds for the improvement of Gemmill Park. Mayor Christa Lowry pointed out that allowing a vote on the matter this evening contravened procedural rules but that a vote was necessary to allow other levels of government to pass resolutions revoking the bylaw if such were to be the outcome, before the hearing date of the appeal that is currently before the Ontario Municipal Board. A resolution was passed permitting a bypass of procedural rules before a vote was held.
Council permitted ample time for public presentations and a number of individuals came forward to passionately support a revocation of the previous council’s decision. One Pakenham resident dissented from that support stating that normally she did not feel she had a right to comment on a discussion of a park in Almonte, but pointed out that, faced with a similar decision in Pakenham concerning parkland which bordered her property, the community decided to proceed with the sale and the proceeds were used to benefit the larger community. Councillor Denzil Ferguson pointed out that only a portion of the park would be slated for development and that the proceeds of development could be applied to approve two tired parks: Don Maynard and Gemmill.
In the event, Councillors Dalgity, Holmes and Guerard voted to revoke the bylaw, while Councillor Ferguson and Mayor Lowry voted against the resolution. Councillor Jan Maydan was absent.
As a result of the death of Councillor John Levi, council also voted to declare the position of deputy mayor vacant. Councillor Denzil Ferguson was chosen by council to be interim county representative until a successor to Mr. Levi is chosen. Council will discuss the method of replacing Mr. Levi before the next council meeting. The choices are appointment of a replacement or a by-election.
This story has been corrected. The article initially stated that Councillor Ferguson had been chosen interim Deputy Mayor. He was, in fact, chosen interim country representative. Thanks to MM acting clerk Jeanne Harfield for bringing this error to our attention,