Water-skiing, bird banging, citizen engagement dominate Mono session

December 14, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Mono Council met Tuesday night, for the last time in 2016, and a wide range of topics awaited its attention.

Before hearing a presentation from the Mono Research Advisory Committee (MRAC), the floor was opened to Public Question Period and Lewis Baker rose to question Council concerning the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) hearing involving the Town and Dr. Cliff Singer, regarding the latter’s application to host two water-skiing competitions annually on his private lake on a worked-out gravel pit north of Mono Mills.

This has been a very contentious issue and Mr. Baker had previously addressed this question to Council, but received no answer.

Based on information received previously  from the Town, Mr. Baker had been able to ascertain that Council’s legal costs for such a hearing would fall in the range of $200,000 to $250,000 and since the citizenry had been given very little, if any, information about this matter, he asked Council to illuminate him and the general public as to why they were planning to spend that not-so-insignificant amount of funds, on what he felt was a fairly insignificant matter. Potentially, legal costs to pursue this could reach upwards of $400,000, and he felt that the public should be better-informed as to why this was such an important topic for the Town of Mono.

No definitive answer was given, but Town CAO Mark Early did state that there would be one more opportunity, in January, at which Mono could try to settle the dispute without the need for a full NEC hearing.

Next up was a complaint from Fifth Line resident Gary Murakami regarding the use of “bird bangers” by the Adamo winery to scare off birds from the vines. Mr. Murakami wanted  Council to use the town’s noise bylaw to prohibit the use of these deterrents, due to the disturbance they created for neighbouring residents.

Council stated that their understanding was that there was nothing they could do, as this fell under “normal farm practices” and hence was exempt from any bylaws. However Mr. Murakami noted that in the residents’ discussions with OMAFRA, they were led to believe that the town could enforce the by-law under these circumstances. Since the residents were there before the winery, they hence had a right to expect peace and quiet in their neighbourhood.

Council advised him that they would take the matter under consideration at future meetings with the appropriate authorities and get back to Mr. Murakami’s complaint with a definitive answer.

This ended public participation in the meeting and Council moved on to the MRAC delegation’s presentation.

Bob Mitchell and Joanne Hyde, the presenters for MRAC, proceeded to inform Council of their progress in developing an Engagement Charter for Mono. This charter  would be an outline to how Mono’s citizens could interface with, and become more involved in, the business and governance of the town, thus adding to a sense of purpose and unity in the community.

Although all this comprises a long and involved process, the highlights were that the town would work toward informing the public, consulting with the public, involving the public, collaborating with them and finally to empower the public by putting final decision-making in their hands. To achieve these goals, the Town would produce fact sheets, web sites and hold open houses, ask for public comment, orchestrate focus groups and surveys, convene workshops and conduct deliberative polling, as well as organize citizen advisory committees and participatory decision making. Finally, they could empower the citizens through things like citizen juries, ballots and delegated decision-making.

The presentation ended with the proposal of four recommendations to Council. First, that they approve an “Our Mono Engagement Charter”. Second, that Council approve an Engage Mono Guide, which outlines how members of the public can participate in the decision-making process by becoming members of committees and delegating to Council and Committees. Third, that Council approve, the establishment of quarterly Resident Open Forums, Town Hall Meetings.

Councillors noted that they are committed to further Town Hall meetings and that the next one will be held in March or April of next year.

The final recommendation was that Council consider providing for the hiring of a full time Community Relations Officer in the 2017 operating budget.

Following the presentation Council moved on to the various pieces of new business, including a consent to a land severance, and adoption of the 2017 tax rate By-law which saw the rate decrease by 2.9% for 2017, and approval for a ground water study, to be conducted by MRAC.

Deputy Mayor Ken McGhee spoke to a resolution from the Township of McKellar, asking the Provincial Government to recognize municipal fire services as critical infrastructure and thus include them as a part of the government’s Infrastructure Strategy to Move Ontario forward. He asked Council to support this resolution, as it would further help to control the costs to the Town of maintaining and supporting fire prevention and the several fire departments with which Mono is involved. The motion was carried unanimously.

The meeting  concluded with reports from reports from the members of Council and Staff concerning ongoing projects and the year to date.

Mayor Laura Ryan noted that as she was no longer the Warden for Dufferin County, she would be available, once again, to join Mono boards requiring her assistance.


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