Dear Editor:

I have read the posting of Councillor John Edwards providing his view of the meeting on March 6th . Council met as a Committee of the Whole to try to reach some consensus on amendments to our Community Official Plan (COP). We hoped for at least an informal list of ideas that our planner could use for the basis of a public meeting. There was a wonderful turnout of concerned citizens who both before and after the meeting expressed a variety of views. There was a motion for two public meetings to be held within a few weeks. Councillor Edwards brought forward an amendment to the motion that would require a report on the fiscal impact of any amendments to the COP before the public meetings. This was based on his view of the Hemson Report which was prepared for the city of Ottawa. Councillor Edwards had sent this 80 page document by email to the councillors four hours before the meeting. At the meeting Councillor Edwards undertook to explain how the report showed that developments like ours in Almonte produce an overall surplus in taxes of $1,124 per household per year and severances and rural development result in a deficit of $625 per year. He repeatedly cited the $1,750 per unit per year gap that would occur on any rural development.

I have read the document and that is not what it says. The report explains that the surplus occurs in the centre of Ottawa and is based on high rise condos and apartments. The units that are comparable to Almonte’s new developments are in Ottawa’s suburbs. In the Ottawa suburban developments the fiscal status is worse than the rural developments and much worse than low density rural village developments.

The document never mentions severances specifically but it does say at page iii “…the city should make use of existing facilities to accommodate growth … to reduce upfront costs and replacement provisions.” Severances do just this

Councillor Edwards incorrectly stated the position that Mayor Levi and I took in supporting a relaxation of some of the severance rules that date back to 1974. No one wants or expects 1,300 new severances. We do support some relaxation in the severance rules that would permit some new owner built- homes particularly in parts of Ramsay and Pakenham where our urban developments in Almonte can’t meet the rural needs.

Duncan Abbott
Councillor for Pakenham Ward