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Letters to the EditorSteve Maynard letter to Council

Steve Maynard letter to Council

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Maynard has shared this letter he sent to Council members in respect of the plan to move Don Maynard Park.


Good Afternoon Everybody:

I am writing to ask that the necessary steps are taken to bring the Town into compliance with Section 3.7.9 of the Community Official Plan adopted by Council on December 13, 2005 and approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on August 29, 2006.  Section 3.7.9 outlines the process that the Town MUST follow.  The word “shall” in this type of document means “must”.  There can be no interpretation other than what is written.  Had the residents and former Town Council intended  Section 3.7.9 (1) to be just a guideline or a recommendation, words like “should” and “may” would have been used as they are used elsewhere in the Community Official Plan.  Section 3.7.9 (1)  states (I have changed the spacing for easier reading):

3.7.9 Development Standards for Parks

  1. The development of new parks or significant changes to existing parks shall be carried out through a three-stage process.

The first stage shall involve public consultation on the function of the park, needs of the anticipated uses and specific features or characteristics valued by the residents.

The second phase shall include the development of a general concept plan and cost estimate, prepared by a recreation planner or landscape architect, in conjunction with interested members of the public.

The final stage shall include a detailed site development plan and the implementation and phasing of the park plan.

My numerous requests to see documents that would confirm the Town’s compliance with the Community Official Plan in the development of Riverfront and Gemmill Park have not been satisfied.  In fact, correspondence indicates that there has not been compliance with the Community Official Plan.  From the information and lack of information provided to me, I believe the Town has contravened Section 3.7.9 (1) of the Community Official Plan in its entirety in the development of Riverfront Park and with the proposed significant changes to Gemmill Park because:

The first stage was not completed for either project.  The Town provided its determination of how the park should be developed in concept plans created without “public consultation on the function of the park, needs of the anticipated uses and specific features or characteristics valued by the residents.”

The second stage was not completed for either project because the cost estimate requirement was not met at the time nor was the concept plan or any later cost estimate prepared “in conjunction with interested members of the public.”

The third stage was not completed for either project since there are no detailed site plans.

I am of the opinion that the Town must remove the equipment installed at Riverfront Park and begin the planning process over again with the proper consultation and input from residents of Riverfront Estates and surrounding residents.  There is no other way to comply.

I am also of the opinion that the Town must restart the process with Gemmill Park and involve the entire Town of Mississippi Mills since it is a Community Park.  Again there is no other option to comply with the Community Official Plan.

The Community Official Plan is very clear on its intent and authority  as shown in these excerpts:

1.1   PURPOSE OF THE COMMUNITY OFFICIAL PLAN

The Mississippi Mills Community Official Plan is a legal document containing the goals, objectives and policies which guide the development, growth and change of the Town of Mississippi Mills. This Plan is intended to assist Town Council and its various committees, municipal staff, developers, government agencies and the public in their efforts to maintain and strengthen the environmental, economic, physical and social fabric of the Town of Mississippi Mills.

The creation of the Town of Mississippi Mills in 1998 brought together the former Town of Almonte and the Townships of Ramsay and Pakenham into one local government structure, responsible for providing services to a diverse small town and rural population of approximately 12,000 people.

The Mississippi Mills Community Official Plan has been developed through extensive community consultation and reflects the collective views and values of the community. There has also been consultation with government agencies in order that the Plan may reflect the policies and practices of the various public bodies involved in the management of growth and development.

As growth and development takes place, change will occur. This Plan sets out a clear public statement on how the community, through Council, intends to manage future growth and development. It provides a consistent policy framework to guide public and private sector decisions and investment within the Town. It presents a commitment to managed growth, sustainable development, sound resource management and environmental protection.

The Mississippi Mills Community Official Plan applies to all of the lands within the corporate limits of the Town of Mississippi Mills (approximately 525 square kilometres) and is intended to guide the growth and development of the Town until the year 2025. It is a comprehensive community policy document under the jurisdiction of the Council of the Town of Mississippi Mills.

1.2   AUTHORITY

In addition to expressing community values, the Community Official Plan is a legal document that addresses matters of provincial interest, as expressed in the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005 (Appendix B). The Provincial Policy Statement provides policy direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The Provincial Policy Statement provides for appropriate development while protecting resources of provincial interest, public health and safety, and the quality of the natural environment. The Provincial Policy Statement supports improved land use planning and management, which contributes to a more effective and efficient land use planning system.

The Mississippi Mills Community Official Plan was prepared under the authority of Section 16 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, which states that:

“An official plan shall contain goals, objectives and policies established primarily to manage and direct physical change and the effects on the social, economic and natural environment of the municipality … and may contain a description of the measures and procedures proposed to attain the objectives of the plan and a description of the measures and procedures for informing and obtaining the views of the public in respect of a proposed amendment to the official plan or proposed revision of the plan or in respect of a proposed zoning by-law.”

Once this Plan has been adopted by the Council of the Town of Mississippi Mills and approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, it shall be deemed to be consistent with Provincial policy. In a number of instances, the policies of this Plan exceed the minimum policies set out by the Province. Where there are differences between the policies of this Plan and Provincial policies, the policies contained herein shall be the land use policies to be implemented.

Being a Mayor or Councillor of a municipality requires compliance with Official Plans and By-Laws (i.e. not disregarding legal documents).  Also:

“Occupying the office of a Councillor gives rise to three ethical duties: the duty of diligence, the fiduciary duty of good faith, and the duty to act fairly, free from any conflicts of interests.” (Ethics in Municipal Government Kevin Feehan, Q.C., LL.B., of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP).

“Examples of good due diligence practice include: making sure all decisions are informed decisions, educating yourself in governing legislation and municipal policies, seeking reliable professional advice when appropriate, attending all meetings having reviewed all materials beforehand, and lastly, asking questions and taking notes during meetings.” (J.E. Ingram, Directors and Officers Duties and Obligations, 1988).

And very importantly, you the Mayor and Councillors have to factor what is morally right into your decision making.

I look forward to a prompt response with the steps that the Town will be taking to comply with the Community Official Plan Section 3.7.9 (1).

Please be advised that there should not be any expectation of privacy or confidentiality with any responses to this email.  I will be posting this email on social media and I will share it and all responses in any manner that I see fit.

Respectfully,

Steve Maynard

 

 

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