Representatives from the Ukrainian Embassy visited North Grenville’s Council at the North Grenville Municipal Centre on July 12, participating first in a small gathering, and then presenting a proposed twinning agreement for Council’s consideration. 

“Even after 500 days of the Russian war in Ukraine, you still have enthusiasm and energy to support Ukraine and show your support,” said Roman Stashevskyy, First Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada. “On behalf of all Ukrainians in this room, I thank you.”

The representatives spoke at length at the regularly scheduled Council meeting, relaying information about other twinning agreements and proposing that North Grenville twin with a city called Sokal in western Ukraine. The question was called and the motion for the twinning was passed with the Ukrainian representatives still sitting, eliciting much applause from those in the room. 

Housing debate drama ensues later in Council meeting

The Council meeting proceeded as regularly scheduled following the presentation. Much business was covered during the meeting which lasted well over four hours, including an update regarding the Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex (EOCC), and lengthy discussions regarding zoning by-law amendments related to the Jack/Joseph Subdivision, and the proposed Pine Hill Road development. 

The presentation regarding the EOCC was given by anti-prison advocates Victor Lachance and Kirk Albert. They explained their worry that six historically significant buildings will be destroyed if the Province proceeds with jail construction during the judicial review process. This led to a request for Council to pursue an injunction to preserve the buildings in the meantime.

A further request was made for Council to match the $20,000 in funds raised by members of the public to support the judicial review process. Council has heard these requests but has not yet deliberated them, pending further information and consultation with staff. 

Mayor Nancy Peckford was able to confirm that she has not yet heard back regarding the Province covering policing costs related to the prison. She also confirmed that a strong desire has been communicated by the Municipality to the Province for the purchase of any surplus lands in the area of the proposed EOCC. Acting CAO Karen Dunlop confirmed that there is not yet a written agreement in place for the Province to pick up the tab for its portion of the required water and sewer upgrades to support the project. 

The bulk of the remainder of the meeting was dedicated to discussion of the zoning amendments required for new developments. A comment from a member of the public criticized the plan to allow an exception to the recommended proportion of affordable housing for the development. A healthy exchange of ideas (and disagreements) took place between the resident and Mayor Peckford. 

Much later in the meeting, resident Jesse Stewart expressed an urgent desire to speak and was invited to do so. He opened with a comment, “Sorry, I started getting the feeling that a vote was about to take place, and I thought the public was going to have a chance to say something before that took place.” Jesse was clearly frustrated with and critical of Council during his presentation. “We want to see honest debate!” he said. “Tonight, we will be able to do so before you take a vote… Questions must be answered before any decisions can be made. To do otherwise… would be an absolute desertion of representation [of your] constituents… are you planning on green lighting everything?” The resident strongly suggested that developments in North Grenville are being pushed through consistently in favour of developers. 

“If you’re searching for reasons why I’m supporting this, I’ll keep it very simple,” answered Deputy Mayor John Barclay. “There is an old adage – ‘they’re not making land anymore’ – and even though we’ve got a very large municipality, preserving farmland, agricultural land is an imperative, so we’re looking to intensify residential development within settlement areas.” The Deputy Mayor expressed the various other reasons for his position in detail. 

Councillors O’Sullivan and Strackerjan discussed the reasons for their positions as well. Jesse repeatedly interrupted Council members from the audience after his time to speak was over, eliciting a request from the Mayor for him to stop. 

The vote for the zoning by-law changes resulted in a tie, with Deputy Mayor Barclay and Councillor O’Sullivan supporting it, and Councillors Strackerjan and Wilson voting for a defeat of the motion. As a result of the tie, Mayor Peckford was required to vote to break the tie, and voted to defeat the motion. A spokesperson for the Municipality confirmed that a concurrent Plan of Subdivision and Plan of Condominium application was not considered at the meeting. The United Counties makes decisions regarding these plans, but the Municipality has not provided a recommendation. The developer is likely to appeal the defeat of the zoning by-law amendment. 

In a bit of mild drama in the late hours of a long evening, several of the residents who had shown up for the meeting were firmly asked by the Mayor to leave quietly, as they were holding a personal conversation while exiting that was disruptive to the already complicated meeting. 

The final item of major business was the passing of a rezoning application for the proposed Pine Hill Road development project. 


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