The Town Of Midland continues to bleed talented staff and volunteers under the watchful eye of this Council. Following yesterday’s revelation that two more staff are fleeing what appears to be a floundering “good ship Midland”, we’ve learned of yet more human resources that no longer feel appreciated or respected. With the new CAO in place, we’d expected some change in human resource policies but we had not expected it to change for the worse… after all, how could it get worse after the slew of firings and “retirements” over the past two years of this Council’s mandate. We’ve paid out at least $500,000 dollars and counting on golden parachutes and severance payments only to replace those staffers with new hires.
Now we’ve learned that the Committee Of Adjustment has lost two valued members out of five after Council undermined their authority and reversed a “sound” decision out of “fear” of potential litigation to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board). Too bad that Council didn’t have such a fear in the OMB appeal of the wildly unpopular decision to rezone and give away Edgehill Park / The Grove when faced with thousands of local ratepayer’s signatures on the largest petition ever mounted.
Two members of Midland’s Committee of Adjustment (CoA) resigned earlier this month after council opted to intervene and negotiate with a resident whose application was rejected at an August meeting. Council was worried that the applicant would appeal the decision to the OMB (he had until Sept. 1 to appeal so council acted prematurely).
Council’s action also sets a very dangerous precedent since traditionally CoAs are not undermined by the municipality in which they serve.
Terry Gibbons and Andrew Philips have resigned. That leaves three people on the committee (unless one of the others also quit).
Pat File was the only council member who voted against negotiating with the landowner preferring to accept the findings of the CoA and let the resident exercise his right to appeal should he decide to go that route. She also cited the environmental protection issues that lead to the denial in the first place.
For those of you who don’t know what the committee of adjustment is, the Town of Midland’s website has the following to say:
“The Committee is made up of five members, appointed by Council, to review and make decisions on applications pertaining to the severance of land (Provisional Consent) and minor variances to the regulations of the Zoning By-law. Staff from the Planning and Building Services Department are technical resources for the Committee.
The Committee holds hearings once per month on the second Thursday of each month at 4:30pm in the Town of Midland Council Chambers. The Committee considers a Report from Town Staff on each application together with the public input in response to the Notice of Public Hearing distributed either 10 or 14 days in advance of the hearing.”
We have acquired a copy of one of the member’s letter of resignation and have published it with permission. It seems to show the continued dysfunction at Town Hall that should not come as any surprise to anyone who follows the news we publish.
September 4, 2016
Mayor McKay, Deputy Mayor Ross and fellow councillors,
This letter is to inform you of my resignation as vice-chair of Midland’s Committee of Adjustment, effective immediately.
The decision to resign from the CoA was made after learning staff and council have opted to negotiate a settlement with a property owner after our committee rendered a decision to refuse that person’s application on the grounds it would negatively impact the environment.
During your August 22nd meeting, you opted to direct staff to negotiate with the property owner even though the deadline for him to appeal our decision to the Ontario Municipal Board wasn’t until the next month.
We discussed our decision at length and contrary to the applicant’s suggestion in his letter to council, it was not done in private. We addressed our concerns aloud regarding the applicant’s hope to build a large structure (a three-car garage) on a piece of environmentally-protected land.
This was the first time we had refused an application in my nearly five years on this committee.
It makes me wonder why the town even has a Committee of Adjustment if our decisions can be quickly overturned by council and staff.
Are we merely there to rubber stamp everything and give citizens the illusion that everything is being done above board?
And in another letter of resignation:
To Wes Crown and members of council, Please accept my letter of resignation from the committee effective immediately. I cannot condone the actions of this council and staff at the Aug. 22 council meeting overruling the C of A. We are not there to rubber stamp everything put in front of us and we felt the decision was the correct one for this property but council sees it differently.
Application & Decision Document