Township’s twisted word
For those that are interested in Adelaide-Metcalfe council, here are my ‘minutes’:
Adelaide-Metcalfe Township Council meeting – Feb. 1st 2010
We were not on the council agenda. There was nothing on the agenda Re: wind turbines or the wind proponent. Nothing. So we didn’t really expect to hear much of interest while we waited. Harvey and I were there to speak on the issues about wind turbines.
Within the first hour, 2 items were quietly brought up by the clerk, with no introduction except, “let’s turn to page 60…” in their agendas. There was no mention of what they were looking at. When then found that they were strangely talking in ‘code’ about wind turbines. We heard ‘energy provider’, and a mention to ‘12 re-zonings’. That was just enough evidence to tip us off. Here’s what the 2 issues were about:
- What we could gather from what they were saying was that Ontario Hydro wanted to be part of any talks that the wind company had with the township with the hydro lines. One statement made was that “there is no need to put up new hydro lines if there are already some there…”.
- Second ‘code’ talk, which also wasn’t on the agenda, but did require a resolution was even more confusing. They obviously wanted to just get this document OK’d and flip the page. Again, there wasn’t any introduction, and before we knew it ‘something’ had had a motion put forward by Adrian DeBruyn, and Betty Ann MacKinnon seconded it. We had no idea what they were talking about. It was some letter with a comment form. Then Nick Stockman spoke up and said, “I really don’t understand what this letter is about”. There was silence, and I think the rest of council was ticked that he didn’t just let it go…because now they were going to have to talk in code again (which is really hard to do!). The resolution that they passed was basically 90 day free pass to TCI/NextEra by township council. It says in the letter that “Mr. Mark Gallagher of TCI also requested that Council by resolution and letter to the Ministry of the Environment and Energy acknowledge the community consultation that has taken place for this project and waive a further 90 day notice.” And that’s what council did before they even discussed it. Poof- 90 day notice for this project gone. Conc. Stokman questioned what exactly they were signing away. Was it that they thought the project met all the requirements? Were they just trying to do away with the 90 day notice? Had this already happened? When does the clock start ticking on the 90 day notice? In response he got very abrupt and unclear answers. It’s difficult to explain something like this in detail without saying ‘TCI/NextEra’, or ‘wind turbine’. Finally, Harvey said from the audience, “Perhaps this needs a little clarification”. Dead silence, and more flipping of pages. Cat’s out of the bag.
What’s wrong with this picture?
- Neither of these items were on the agenda. This is a major no-no for our clerk. What I think they hoped would happen is that nobody would be at the council meeting, therefore nobody to verify their agenda….and therefore nobody to ask for a copy of their resolution, again. But when they saw we were there, they had to be sneaky (this is so ridiculous) and try to talk around us in hopes we wouldn’t catch on. Well, we were bored, but when you’re bored you pay attention to what is going on in front of you…and they were what was going on in front of us. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we were being spoken ‘over’. The purpse of the Agenda is to notify the constituents/public of what resolutions are going to be discussed. You can see why a good/correct agenda is necessary now.
- Council members clearly weren’t thinking of conflict of interest judging by who was passing resolutions. (DeBruyn’s son is signed up for this wind project)
At 9:15 they had a coffee and cookie break. We asked for a copy of the resolution that was passed. Lo and behold it had already been typed up and ready to be signed.
At 9:30 the mayor told us they were going ‘in camera’ and we, the public would have to leave. I said, ‘No we need to discuss the forbidden words in this room: Wind Turbines”. He tried to shuffle us out with a ‘you have to get on the agenda…”.
I said, “No, we need to discuss this resolution that council passed in December that asked for a moratorium on wind turbine construction until proper health and property studies are done. Did you support this motion?” The mayor said they did, but it was in his mind only for the resident of Kawartha Lakes. I knew he would say this so I blurted, “you mean to say that you would support a motion to protect the health and safety of other township residents but not the residents of you OWN township?!”. Silence. I continued on and said, ‘you tried to retract your support for this motion on the radio last week.’ He denied that he discussed this with the radio host. I read to him what was written, and then said again, ‘does your council support a motion that asks for a moratorium on wind turbines?’. He said, ‘not unanimously’…. Oh, for crying out loud. I said AGAIN, “Can I call up the radio station tomorrow and say that council supported a motion asking for a moratorium on wind turbines?” This was getting a little repetitive and annoying and I was answered with some slight nods and mumbled yeses. Done. I told the clerk that the December 22nd minutes did not record whether this resolution was passed or not which just added to the confusion so could you please update the minutes.
Harvey asked how it was that Adrian could still vote on a NextEra motion since he was clearly in a conflict of interest. This had them yelling and the clerk rolling her eyes. We were told there was no conflict of interest, their lawyer and MPP Maria VanBommel had all said that they weren’t in a conflict of interest and it ended with Milligan loudly saying, ‘take us to court on it!’. Hm. Love to. Harvey said that this was clearly a conflict of interest in the Municipal Act. Conc. David Bolton said, “I’m not making anything off of it.” DeBruyn rightly said that they had no idea who was signing up initially so how were they to know at first. We agreed with him, but that didn’t explain why he could vote tonight. We were told that the ESR was done correctly and completely. When Harvey said that the School Board was not notified directly, Fran said they were notified, because they were on the ‘mailing list’. We asked where’s the proof? I said we asked 3 separate times to see this invisible mailing list and it has never appeared. Silence.
The mayor said that most of the kids at the school probably have parents signed up for wind turbines. I told him I was glad he brought that up because me 6 year old had told me he knew informally in his class of 17 kids of 2 kids had anti-turbine signs posted, 1 that went to the meeting (not in favour) and another aside that they ‘will be surrounded by the wind turbines’…and they will. I told them that THESE are the children us adults are supposed to protect and to do anything otherwise e is disgusting. The mayor said that they are putting turbines on school property down in the States and they are happy. I told him that they are also falling over and losing blades. He said something sarcastically to the effect that ‘it fell on a bunch of kids?’. I said no, luckily they were inside the school at the time. Silence. Then the mayor said, “Well I don’t think they should be on school property….”.
The mayor then went on to say that the majority of the landowners were in favor of wind turbines, and for that reason we should go ahead with the project. I said, “I’d love to see where you get your numbers for a ‘majority’”. David Bolton said, “You are taking that out of context”. I replied “What context? A majority is a majority!”. The mayor then went on to talk about how after the Adelaide project goes through, then the Suncor one in North East Adelaide will follow… and I stated ‘ IF’. He said, ‘that’s your personal opinion’. Harvey responded, “IF, the project goes through.” And we left.