Official Plan raises concerns


by Deron Johnston

There were two highlights to this past week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, which lasted nearly two hours. One was a lengthy discussion around whether apostrophes should be used in the North Grenville Draft Official Plan (OP) and other official documents. The other was a discussion around giving some local business people extra time to consult with the Planning Department about their concerns regarding the OP.

The first recommendation by Planning Department staff regarding the OP is to no longer use apostrophes in place names like Burritt’s Rapids and Bishop’s Mills. According to Director of Planning and Development, Phil Gerrard, some residents had spoken about making sure that apostrophes get used in the OP for the names of the two hamlets. Phil noted that, when using the website for the Canadian Geographical Place Names Index, which is overseen by the National Resources Canada, who are the “authority on place names in Canada”, when you search both names with an apostrophe, the search returns no result. Based on that information, Planning Staff chose to recommend to Council to adopt the protocol of not using apostrophes in the OP.

Councillor Jim Bertram asked whether the wishes of the residents of the hamlets had been factored into staff’s recommendation. According to Planner, Phil Mosher, it had been considered and staff had made a recommendation, but the Committee could change it. At this point, Councillor Bertram asked for a resolution that the local usage (with apostrophe) be adopted. Deputy Clerk, Katie Valentin, added to the discussion by stating that she had spoken to Clerk Cahl Pominville (who was not at the meeting), and he advised her that the Municipality of North Grenville has not used an apostrophe in any official documents since it was decided during amalgamation not to do so in naming the hamlets. Eventually, after some discussion and wording changes, the resolution was defeated, as there was no one to second it. However, there was a request from Council to have Municipal Staff report back to Committee of the Whole on the legal implications of adding apostrophes to all future official documents and what exactly the process would be to do that.

Interestingly, the road signs entering the two hamlets in question, have apostrophes in them. These communities have also written their names with apostrophes into their histories, other texts, and documents.

The second highlight was a discussion initiated by Councillor Bertram on his preference for having the vote on the OP delayed until concerns brought to his attention by local business owners could be addressed. Phil Mosher explained that, even if the recommendation to adopt the OP happened at that meeting, there would still be an opportunity to appeal the OP during the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville’s approval process, because they are the OP’s approval authority. It was also added that, despite the fact that the Committee might vote to approve the OP, it had still to be brought to a Council Meeting for final approval. That Council Meeting might be several weeks down the road before the OP is brought forward for a final vote. Regardless, Councillor Bertram requested a deferral for two weeks, and the deferral was defeated by a vote of 4 to 1. The Mayor actually seconded the deferral, but then changed his mind and voted against the deferral.

When the vote took place on the original recommendation that the OP be brought to a Council Meeting for final approval, Councillor Bertram requested a recorded vote, in which he was the only member of Council to vote against.


  1. Here’s a couple of verses from the Bishops Mills song which support and explain the universally accepted rules about not polluting place names with apostrophes:

    In Bishops Mills we’re beset by apostrophes
    Infesting our name from some ancient invoice.
    Let us stand up for the rules of toponomy:
    call for what’s right with a unified voice.

    How many Bishops were meant by possessives?
    How many mills did the Middle Creek host?
    Let’s not go back through notions regressive,
    confused by past accidents ’til we are lost.


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