Township Watch - January 2016 - Special Edition

Special Council Meeting - January 26th, 2016

As we reported in the January 2016 - Township Watch, four councillors walked out of the January 15th, 2016 council meeting leaving the Council without quorum and unable to complete Township business.  Due to their actions a Special Council Meeting was held in the Port Carling Community Centre on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 to complete Township business.

The meeting began with an amendment to the agenda where Councillor Harding asked to be added so  he could “apologize” to his fellow councillors and staff for his actions on January 15th, 2016.  It was apparent during his “apology” that Councillor Harding was criticizing other councillors and not simply apologizing for his actions.

The meeting, which included a resolution that would allow the Mayor and Clerk to enter into a lease with Swift River Energy Limited for three parcels of Township owned lands, drew a substantial crowd.  There were ten separate presenters on the agenda who asked:

  • That Council write the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) regarding safety issues,
  • Why Council wanted to destroy trees on Portage Landing whereas “only a couple” of trees would be affected in Margaret Burgess Park,
  • That Council be responsible and transparent and hold a public meeting in Bala,
  • That Council not approve the lease until full details were made available to the residents of Bala, (the presenter then stated that he did not feel that all leases need to go through such public scrutiny),
  • Why Council was selling the people of Bala out,
  • Why Council was not following their own policies,
  • Why the MNRF has been complicit with safety issues, as they do not attend meetings,
  • Why a summary of the lease was released “at the last minute” and
  • That Council not make a “knee jerk reaction” when voting for the lease.

The presentations were followed by questions asked by Councillor Currie, Harding and Kruckel to the presenters.  Councillor Harding asked the Township CAO if letters that councillors had received from the public would be read into the record.  CAO McDonald explained that although the procedural by-law says there is no limit on the amount of presenters, it is silent on whether written submissions could be read into the record.   Following a vote to allow the letters to be read, the motion was defeated, Mayor Furniss explained that typically a request like this is addressed when the agenda was accepted at the beginning of the meeting.

A resolution to delegate authority to the Mayor and Clerk to sign the lease was voted on and carried by a vote of 6 to 3 (Councillor Nishikawa was absent from the meeting).  While councillors cast their votes, members of the public became very vocal yelling and shouting phrases such as “shame”.

To read the 5 page "Agenda Package" for the meeting and a summary of the draft lease, please click on -1601 - Special Council Meeting.pdf Special Council Meeting - Agenda Package

(Editorial Note: Numbers in attendance have been heard to vary between 150 to 300 people.  It is important to note that the Port Carling Community Centre has a capacity of just over 250 and it was not full.  Furthermore, not all in attendance were there to oppose the lease.  There were many in attendance to support the councillors who had to make a hard decision to vote yes and move on with Township business.)

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