Lifting of Rush Hour Restrictions on Heavy Farm and Heavy Farm-related Vehicles on the Frontenac Howe Islander: County's Decision
The many emails from islanders over the past three months, the lawyers letters, the meetings, the ongoing emails from those directly involved pointing out the proper process under various acts and boards that should have been followed, all of this time and effort resulted in "...that the County of Frontenac take no further action" as stated in the County Council meeting of January 18. Following a brief, possibly five minutes, address to Council by solicitor Tony Fleming, Council voted to allow heavy farm and heavy farm-related vehicles to load the Frontenac Howe Islander during rush hours. There was one "nay" and that was Councillor Inglis from North Frontenac. Supporting the motion, Councillor Doyle and Councillor Nossal.
Councils set by-laws. They defend their by-laws. The County's solicitor, Tony Fleming, "...appears before the Ontario Municipal Board and the Assessment Review Board. In addition, Tony appears in all levels of Ontario Courts on administrative law matters, including defending challenges to municipal by-laws" (Mr. Fleming's bio on Cunningham Swan website). We were advised on Wednesday that while there was no actual by-law on rush hour restrictions, policies/recommendations/procedures become by-laws at the end of a Council meeting under, "By-law to confirm proceeding of council". If the County's former policy actually qualifies as a by-law (as their solicitor claims), why didn't Council defend their own by-law by putting the onus on the farmers to go the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board as outlined in the Farming and Food Production Protection Act? Or why didn't Council go to the Board on their own initiative, as their solicitor now seems to suggest was an option, to defend the former policy?
It appears that County Council was directed by their lawyer to NOT take the necessary steps to go to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board. Council deferred to their lawyer on a policy decision, an unelected single individual. Don't you think Council should have decided what was the best policy, take the various competing claims into account, and then seek legal advice? This should have been Council's decision not their solicitor's, but Council in the end, didn't think they had to decide anything other than pass their solicitor's opinion to their staff for implementation.
From the beginning, that's what we asked...move through the process as outlined in various acts, then move through the appropriate boards and engage islanders, not just the five islanders on Craig's letter. You and we were stonewalled and blindsided all the way through. Why did County Council meet in-camera? Why wasn't the Official Plan taken into account? Why weren't the concerns of the majority of island taxpayers taken into consideration? If any of our Township elected officials supported our cause, why weren't they vocal? Why did Council act so quickly?
In the run-up to the 2014 election, Deputy Mayor Nossal produced and circulated a campaign postcard that listed Howe Island issues that included ferries and effective county representation. It also stated, "Will provide careful and balanced consideration of the issues, and a voice for all Howe Islanders."
Christopher Hitchens quote on voters is worth repeating here, "The only people truly bound by campaign promises are voters who believe them."
PS Check the article in Whig by clicking here