Three Council meetings have taken place since the last update – one on October 3, one on October 11, and one on October 17. The October 3 meeting was very short by Council meeting standards, lasting about 45 minutes. It began with a welcome for new Clerk Chloe Preston, followed by the usual land acknowledgement, and a brief recap of the Municipality’s recent 25th anniversary celebration provided by Mayor Nancy Peckford. The new Chain of Office was placed on Mayor Peckford, which was celebrated with applause.
Next, the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers was presented to local resident Jay Tousaw. After the presentation, Council moved on to the next order of business – October 17 was declared as the 23rd annual Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day in the Municipality. Mayor Peckford added a note about the need for increased child care in the local area, since it is a critical service without which many parents cannot seek or keep employment.
A presentation followed regarding International Day of the Girl, which was officially marked in the Municipality on October 11. Yet another presentation was given – this time by Fire Chief John Okum – regarding Fire Prevention Week which was observed earlier this month. After a few items of routine business were taken care of, the relatively brief meeting concluded.
On October 11, the municipal calendar was packed with items including not one, but two Council meetings. The first was a closed session meeting dealing with committee appointments and land negotiations. Council then jumped right into a public meeting, with Amy Martin, Director of Planning and Development for the Municipality, providing the opening presentation for the consideration of some zoning by-law amendment requests. After some back and forth discussion between the Mayor, Deputy Mayor John Barclay, and Director Martin, the amendments were passed. No members of the public chose to speak at the public meeting before it was adjourned.
A few short minutes later, another public meeting began, this one for the consideration of a zoning by-law amendment request for a property on McGovern Road. Phillip Mosher, Deputy Director of Building and Planning, provided the introduction for this meeting. Unlike for the previous matter, a member of the public – a resident of McGovern Road – did address Council this time, the first of many on this matter as it would happen. The first resident’s concern was the condition of McGovern Road, and his apprehension about a trucking business setting up on the road, since in avoiding potholes, traffic on the road sometimes has to move over into the path of oncoming traffic. Large, frequent traffic may therefore cause safety issues.
The Mayor took the opportunity to point out that any resident of the Municipality is free to request safety reviews of municipal roads, including sight line tests. The owner of the subject property took the opportunity to speak at the meeting as well, clarifying that he runs a truck rental business, not a “trucking company”. He also pointed out that he has worked hard to beautify the property out of respect for nearby residential neighbours, and that he also ensures that disruptive noise is minimal by insisting that drivers be respectful as well.
A rebuttal followed from another resident of McGovern Road, who seemed to disagree entirely with the property owner’s contention that he minimizes noise. The resident complained that noise in the area is “24/7” sometimes. Deputy Director Mosher advised that a noise by-law complaint would be the best course of action.
Another resident took the opportunity to speak. He pointed out that residents previously fought and lost a battle regarding the addition of two quarries in the area. Concessions were made, according to the resident, preventing truck traffic on McGovern Road at the time. Deputy Director Mosher was unaware of this rule, so the Council endeavoured to learn more. The owner of the property up for the by-law amendment request argued that McGovern Road is not a “no truck route”. Yet another resident spoke afterward, mirroring noise concerns of those who spoke previously.
Councillor Kristin Strackerjan asked a few questions of Deputy Director Mosher on behalf of some concerned residents who had reached out to her. A back and forth discussion ensued to explore some suggested options. The owner of the subject property added some further comments as well, pointing out that some of what is happening on his property is for his own personal use (clearing a snowmobile path for his children, for example), and arguing firmly that complaints about 24/7 noise on his property are not true and that the noise must be coming from somewhere else.
Yet another resident then spoke, having concerns both with the Municipality’s notification process when a public meeting is to be held, and with the amount of traffic on McGovern Road. A letter supporting the proposed zoning by-law amendment was then read out loud in the meeting. The matter was ultimately deferred by vote, and Councillor Deb Wilson asked for a recorded vote on the matter.
One final public meeting was held regarding a proposed zoning by-law amendment in the final minutes of the meeting, this one with far less discussion. The October 11 open session meeting was unique in that it focused largely on one issue, with an enormous amount of back and forth discussion and disagreement.
The meeting adjourned on a lighthearted note after two hours. The October 17 meeting was held after the Times deadline and will be covered in the next issue.