Wednesday, March 15, 2017


By Marianne Cole

The meeting began with all members of each council present and about 23 people in the “gallery”. These are the highlights of the meeting:

1. Presentation by Clearwater Broadband Foundation Michelle Swanson and John Reid gave a brief outline of their vision and efforts to promote the improvement of broadband services in the area. This is the first time that the town has heard, publicly, about their efforts so it was suggested by Councillor Mizera that the town needed more information on the costs involved before making a decision to get involved financially.

2. Area Structure Plan The meeting then proceeded to the main item on the agenda which was discussion on developments to the north. These are the highlights of that discussion:

Ron Leaf gave a brief introduction indicating that the Open House meeting on February 16 was to introduce the Area Structure Plan and gather information. There was no intent to short circuit the process. He then asked that the councils consider 2 questions:

                    Do you agree with what the 2 councils are doing?

                    Would you review the documents in that context?

Mayor Nash said he believed that the process is there and he is willing to look at the plans but that there are more questions that need to be considered. He indicated that this if for the long term and that we’re here to do what’s best for the area.

Reeve Alexander said that the whole reason for this development is for the town. This development could have been taken a 5 miles or more out of town but that wouldn’t be helpful. He further added that we are only one community and he thinks we can find a solution.

Rick Emmons then gave a history of the process that lead up to the presentation of the Area Structure Plan in February. Both councils had met in 2014 to discuss future development. From there an Intermunicipal Development Committee was struck with representatives from both the town and county administration and councils. They met “in camera” and no information about their discussions was presented to either council. Neither council had heard/seen the information on the ASP prior to the open house on February 16.

Bill Shaw, planning consultant, then addressed the meeting and presented information on the ASP and the process that had taken place.

The meeting then proceeded with each member of each council giving their opinion on the process and the plans. Below is a summary of the general feelings of each council:

Town: Generally the town council was in favor of moving forward with the development plans but concerns were raised about:

    The process (the lack of information/transparency given to both councils)

    The need for more information on the economics of the plan and the status of the lagoon

    The economic benefit has to be equal for both areas; unfair to kill development/business in one
     area in favor of another

County: Generally the county council was in favor of moving forward with the following a summary of their comments:

    Being ready for development (have infrastructure in place for developers) is necessary • Need to be     careful not to over invest

    Moving forward together is better than individually
    Need results of the lagoon study and the economic feasibility study before any final decisions are

    Concern with tone expressed by some of the town councillors

    Disappointment with the blame for lack of transparency on the county as the town also had
    representation on the Intermunicipal Development Committee

Towards the end of the discussion the question was raised if there will be a new Intermunicipal Development Plan or will the Joint Development Agreement take precedence? Ron Leaf indicated that there would be a new IDP but that involves due process and public consultation. Todd Becker, town CAO, indicated that the Joint Service Agreement also needs to be approved.

Town councillor Mizera suggested that in order to promote greater transparency that joint council meetings be held instead of the planning/discussions/decisions being made by the Intermunicipal Development Committee. Discussion took place suggesting that a joint council group is too large to effectively manage so it is best that the committee meet with better communication to follow. Ron Leaf concluded the session by saying that a public hearing will be held on these documents before any final decisions are made. If the hearing went in September/October a second one would be needed after the election if there were new councillors that hadn’t been given the opportunity to be involved.

The meeting then proceeded “in camera”.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the report, Marianne.
    I also attended the joint meeting of the two councils and here are some reflections on the meeting:
    While there was a general feeling of good will between participants, one could not avoid sensing some underlying points of friction between the two bodies, one of which was the perceived lack of communications between staff and council members and committees involving council members. This was brought to light with the recent emergence of data pertaining to the inadequacy of the Town sewage treatment plant to treat waste from both municipalities.
    Another issue emerged in regards to the discrepancy between Town and County tax rates on commercial/industrial property. One Town Councillor expressed concerns over a possible loss of revenue to the Town in any joint development.
    So, both councils are now in the pressure cooker to actually implement the much touted "stronger together" strategy for which they have already received a provincial award."Who pays for what?" and Who gets what?" are likely to be major stumbling blocks and the history of funding for the Town lagoon expansion will hopefully not set a precedent here.