Following a closed session meeting on June 12, Council met a second time last week for a busy regularly scheduled Council meeting on June 14. Absent from the meeting was Deputy Mayor John Barclay who was attending the MyView Youth Film Festival which he helped to found.
The meeting began with a presentation that served as an introduction to a later public meeting on the zoning by-law amendment requested for the proposed new development at the intersection of County Road 43 and Pinehill Road. Following this introduction, the land acknowledgement was read and the meeting proceeded as per the agenda.
Next, Mayor Arie Hoogenboom from the Township of Rideau Lakes presented an update on the Maple View Landings Redevelopment Project. The object of Mayor Hoogenboom’s presentation was to ask for a donation from the Municipality to put toward the facility. In addition to encouraging the Municipality to run a fundraising event in the months ahead, Mayor Hoogenboom also respectfully asked for a direct donation of $1 per North Grenville resident for each of the next three years. This works out to a total donation of about $51,000. The presentation was well received, and Mayor Nancy Peckford thanked Mayor Hoogenboom for taking the time to present.
Following the Maple View Landings presentation, the public meeting regarding the requested zoning by-law amendment took place. Much discussion took place between members of Council, an agent of the developer, and Deputy Director of Building & Planning, Philip Mosher. One of the important discussions was regarding affordable units. The Municipality’s plan suggests that 25% of new housing built locally should be “affordable”. However, due to the nature of the 150 proposed seniors’ residential units, lower affordable housing figures of 10%-15% have been debated for this development.
In a very unusual situation, when Mayor Peckford called the question to move the motion and approve the zoning by-law amendment, and following Councillor Doreen O’Sullivan raising her hand to be the mover of the motion, no other member of Council agreed to second the motion. Mayor Peckford asked if any Councillor would be willing to explain what they would like to see prior to moving the motion forward. Councillor Kristin Strackerjan spoke up and asserted that she believes that the parking situation needs to be figured out first. “We continue to do this throughout the Municipality where we set ourselves up for failure when it comes to parking,” said Councillor Strackerjan. She further noted that she does not want the motion defeated as she believes it is a “great project”, but that more information is needed. A motion to defer the decision until (tentatively) July, pending more information on the parking situation, was passed unanimously.
The final major agenda item discussed was a motion from Councillor O’Sullivan to include cats in the Municipality’s by-law to control domestic animals at large. Mayor Peckford noted the controversy that this issue has created with strongly opposing opinions, to the point that it gained relatively rare local coverage by the CBC.
“I am not looking for a cat fight here,” Councillor O’Sullivan joked in the meeting. “I am not proposing that we round up and kill all cats that are running at large.” The Councillor further explained the detailed reasoning for her position. Councillor Strackerjan provided an opposing opinion based on her conversations with many residents and with the SPCA. She stated that the proposed motion would not be easily enforceable and would put undue pressure on animal welfare organizations. She also questioned whether cats that are rounded up and not claimed would be caged long term or euthanized. Further, she relayed a local veterinarian’s comments about the necessity for some cats to be allowed to go outside for exercise. A local resident also addressed Council regarding her previous experience with a similar by-law from when she lived in Nepean in the 1990’s. She warned that the Nepean by-law resulted in cats being euthanized and neighbours being pitted against each other. Interestingly, this resident revealed that she moved to North Grenville to leave “that kind of environment” behind. Another resident spoke to Council to voice support for Councillor O’Sullivan’s motion.
Ultimately, Councillor O’Sullivan’s motion was defeated by a vote. Mayor Peckford invited Councillor O’Sullivan, or any other Council member, to bring back a modified motion in the future. Councillor Deb Wilson thanked Councillor O’Sullivan for bringing awareness of the issue to the public; however, Councillor O’Sullivan seemed unhappy, saying “but that’s what the motion was – you defeated it.” Mayor Peckford interjected and asked that informal discussion be reserved for after the meeting, before ending the meeting after just over 2.5 hours.