At this week’s Midland Town Council meeting the topic of the OMB hearing came up on the agenda. Up for debate were two issues critical to moving the challenge forward.
First, Council needed to discuss the retention of legal representation to defend their zoning changes (that pave the way for commercial development on Edgehill Park) and the second matter was to re-affirm their collective commitment to continue to fight the appeal.
Councillor Main asked Mayor Mackay about splitting the two items into separate votes. Mackay dismissed this and told Council that this was simply procedural and since the decision to rezone the parkland had been made in a 6-3 vote in an earlier meeting (which is now the subject of an OMB appeal to overturn) that Council was expected to vote to approve the retention of legal counsel and to affirm the rezoning vote.
Accordingly, Councillors Main, File and Contin voted NO to the item, but the motion to retain HGR Lawyers was carried along with the implied consent to continue to fight against the 1800+ opponents to their wildly unpopular decision to rezone our heritage parkland for a new Health Hub.
Councillor Contin asked twice why Council needed to retain a lawyer this early in the process and incur retainers and other costs when Council was not even sure whether an appeal would be granted by the OMB. He was overruled. One can only conclude that legal expenses and other costs are of no concern to the Town if used for issues supporting their agendas. Councillor Contin’s point seemed lost on Wes Crown (town planner) as well as the rest of the supporting councillors and he gave up after trying to get the point across twice.
The sad reality is that, once again, Council had the opportunity to repeal this decision and revisit the whole concept of giving away our parkland to commercial interests, without any net financial benefit for the Town and without regard for what has been the largest public outcry of displeasure in decades.
Most, if not all of Council promised to listen to their constituents when they campaigned for public office and now it seems those were hollow promises when faced with such overwhelming opposition to the land deal.
Even the Province of Ontario had to step back from their controversial new plan to allow medicinal marijuana users to smoke and vape in public places where cigarettes are banned. In less than a week, and after public outcry, they are revisiting that ruling and making the changes we expect to see shortly.
If even the Provincial Government can see where they may have made a mistake and are adult enough to pull that decision back for review, why then can’t our tiny Municipal Council do the same. What possible reason can there be for charging ahead despite so much opposition and new information that was not available to, or simply not provided to them before their contentious vote?
Blind, stubborn refusal to listen to overwhelming dissent and act on it can only ensure that this will be their last term in office. We and most of the community will neither forget nor forgive this Council for the damages that they have done and have yet to do to this community.
In even more waste, the recent string of “retirements” or outright “terminations” of experienced and dedicated long-term staffers, many of whom had tried to take a stand against this “regime” only shows the contempt this Council and senior Town officials have for the community at large. We will have more on these “retirements” in the days to come and will be publishing the financial costs to the community for termination pay, severance and parting gifts to get rid of these staffers and to keep them from speaking out about the circumstances surrounding their untimely departures.
The “good ship Midland” is heading for the shoals and it seems both Captain and crew are oblivious or unwilling to hear the cries from the rest of the community locked up deep below and out of the way.