Adelaide Metcalfe ruling allows for uneasy peace

WIND TURBINE OPPOSITION: Council gives its OK for videotaping, signs and talking, all activities it flirted with banning, at its meetings
By JONATHAN SHER, The London Free Press

In a rural landscape soon to be home to an industrial wind farm, an uneasy truce has been reached between the township mayor and activists fighting the arrival of turbines.

Gone for now are police who were called in twice to May meetings by Adelaide Metcalfe Mayor David Bolton to stop a wind opponent from videotaping the proceedings.

Missing at its most recent meeting in June were vociferous critics confronting Bolton with shouts and signs calling for his resignation as they did in May. Instead, council decided to allow videotaping, signs and talking, all activities it had flirted with banning.

But while the flashpoints have passed for now, it’s clear neither side trusts the other. Council members mused about resigning, but Bolton said none considered that a serious option.

“I’m not going to give them (activists) the satisfaction,” he said.

It will take time to restore trust, but it can happen if council conducts its proceedings as citizens expect, Bolton said.

“It will solve itself.”

The mayor insists he has been misunderstood by some, that while he was taken aback by the sudden interest in council proceedings, he appreciates the involvement of citizens in the municipality northwest of Strathroy.

“I’m not disappointed there are people caring (enough to attend). I think it’s a good thing,” Bolton said.

He said he was encouraged a meeting last week drew many people who conducted themselves civilly.

“Everyone behaved themselves,” he said.

Those who led the fight to videotape were happy to see council change its course, but were troubled that a supporter of the mayor dismissed their protests because it came from renters, not landlords.

“This is the kind of attitude you have to work with out here. If you don’t have land and money, you are not respectable,” said Esther Wrightman, who videotaped meetings because she believed the township was not giving citizens advance notice of key votes and was not reporting accurately or fully in meeting minutes what had actually happened.

Her father, Harvey Wrightman, shared a similar sentiment: “With such a derogatory attitude (towards renters), how can we trust such people to do what is best for the citizenry?”

E-mail jonathan.sher@sunmedia.ca, or follow JSheratLFPress on Twitter.

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Posted on June 12, 2012, in London Free Press, Municipalities. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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