Simcoe County wants to collect $5,000 court costs from “AWARE Simcoe”. In an article published by Kate Harries of AWARE News Network she reports:
“The case involved an application by the citizens’ group for a judicial review of a County decision to allow a developer to clearcut a portion of Beeton Woods. A judge awarded the costs after refusing to grant an injunction to prevent the cutting until the judicial review was heard. AWARE Simcoe then withdrew from the judicial review.
New Tecumseth Mayor Rick Milne told council that developer Tecumseth Estates is not planning to pursue the $27,000 in costs it was awarded against AWARE. The group has no money, he said. “Are we going to spend staff time and legal costs? I think we should just write it off.”
Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes disagreed. “AWARE’s integrity is at stake,” he said. “We should not be letting them off the hook.”
Upon receipt, the county plans to donate the funds to the South Simcoe Streams Network for the planting of trees.
AWARE Simcoe spokesperson Sandy Agnew said members are disappointed in the county’s decision.
“AWARE Simcoe is working hard to protect the environment and natural heritage in Simcoe County and the value of that work seems to be lost on most of county council,” he said.
“AWARE Simcoe members spend their own personal money on our work, while the county spends our tax dollars fighting AWARE Simcoe, instead of getting the process right – as pointed out by the judge.”
Allowing the cutting of the Beeton Woods under the false pretence of agriculture was an abdication of political responsibility by county councillors, Agnew said.
“AWARE Simcoe’s cause was just, but we were out-gunned in court by high paid lawyers who bamboozled the judge. The idea of replacing a mature stand of trees with seedlings planted elsewhere is ludicrous.”
Agnew said AWARE Simcoe’s Vision is for a Healthy Environment, Agricultural Prosperity, Development that is a Net Benefit to the Community, Complete Communities, Reliable Sustainable Energy, Awareness of the Need for Sustainability, and Healthy Lifestyles.
“AWARE Simcoe will continue to fight for our Vision,” he said.
HOW THEY VOTED
Motion: THAT Item CCW 15-401, regarding the award of costs to the County of Simcoe in the matter between Aware-Simcoe, the County of Simcoe, and Tecumseth Estates Inc., be received; AND THAT the County of Simcoe proceed with cost recovery;AND THAT upon receipt, the award of costs be donated to the South Simcoe Streams Network.
Leduc (Bradford-West-Gwillimbury), McKay (Midland), Milne (New Tecumseth), Allen (Springwater), Keffer (Bradford-West-Gwillimbury).
Little (Adjala-Tosorontio), Macdonald (Essa), Marshall (Penetanguishene), O’Donnell (Ramara), Ross (Midland), Saunderson (Collingwood), Small Brett (Adjala-Tosorontio), Brian Smith (Wasaga Beach), Jamie Smith (New Tecumseth), Walma (Tiny), Wauchope (Innisfil), Bifolchi (Wasaga Beach), Burkett (Severn), Burton (Clearview), Clarke (Ramara), Cooper (Collingwood), Cox (Severn), Dollin (Innisfil), Dowdall (Essa), Dubeau (Midland), Hough (Oro-Medonte), Hughes (Oro-Medonte).
Absent: Vanderkruys (Clearview), Warnock (Tay), Cornell (Tiny), Rawson (Tay)
Conflict: French (Springwater).
This is very telling of how things could have played out with our group’s OMB appeal of the contested Edgehill Park rezoning issue. The appeals against the Town of Midland’s rezoning and the County of Simcoe’s approval of the Official Plan amendments were dropped after our group was unable to raise the money required to proceed. If we had the money we could have faced being hung with court costs by Waypoint’s lawyers and lawyers for both the Town of Midland and Simcoe County.
It seems that Mayor Marshall (also County Warden) and Midland Deputy Mayor Mike Ross are happy to penalize anyone or any group who opposes his decisions and has voted to go after this small group of concerned citizens who tried to save their forest from the developers. To his credit, Midland’s Mayor Gord McKay was not supporting this and voted against going after the group for the $5000 in costs.