MetrolandMedia, in their North Star publication and at their parrysound.com website, published an article on an appeal I have filed with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) regarding two by-laws passed by Town of Parry Sound Council on December 20th of last year. The article provides background on the appeal that I won’t bother to repeat. Here’s a link to the online article in case you don’t subscribe to the paper version (I do).
It’s an interesting situation that if left as is has the potential to negatively impact the Downtown and Parry Sound as a whole, and by extension all of the Town’s residents and businesses. Parry Sound Council by a 4 to 3 vote approved rezoning and Official Plan amendments, against the recommendation of Staff, and against the stated opposition of businesses and individuals who constituted the majority of opinions filed with the Town. In the end a bare majority of Council chose to support the interests of two parties and ignore the interests of the Town as expressed by the Official Plan, the studied opinion of Town Staff, and the interests of dozens of Downtown businesses. It left me scratching my head. Who exactly is Council interested in serving? Do they know something that they haven’t shared? Are there bigger things afoot?
After determining that no other parties were in a position to file the appeal I chose to do so. I appreciate the support that the appeal has received.
As a Town we really don’t spend much time keeping an eye on what goes on at Council. Strange things happen, more often that you think. Almost always by a 4 to 3 vote.
The OMB appeal process is designed to address this type of situation. A set of independent experts, the OMB panel, is tasked with reviewing the facts and making a decision on whether or not the decision by a council is consistent with best planning practices, the existing Official Plan, and the interests of the community. They represent a second set of eyes. Parry Sound is rather remarkable in the very limited number of appeals that are filed with the OMB. This could be a positive statement on the measured decisions made by Parry Sound Council. Or, it could be a general sense of community apathy, and hesitance to ‘rock the boat’. Or, it could be that people in Town don’t understand their options when it comes to Parry Sound Council. We need to remember that they are elected to serve the Town’s best interests. Sometimes they misread the public interest and make mistakes.
And sometimes as an individual, you have to do what you have to do. Walk the talk.
That’s all you will hear from me about this appeal until there is a final decision. I wasn’t planning on discussing it at all, but yesterday’s article deserved some sort of acknowledgment.
Yesterday’s GapingVoid ‘Toon of the Day. Timely.