Do the schools at any level still teach civics? Did they ever?
It would seem the answer to both questions is “no,” given the way a number of people acted at Monday night’s special council meeting. Note the last two words: “council meeting.” Admittedly, the somewhat Spartan surroundings of the community centre were a far cry from the regular council chamber, but the decorum one would expect in the chamber should be on display wherever council meets.
The meeting was moved to the Arena because council knew a lot of people would be on hand for the Grainboys decision and they wanted to accommodate them. Aware it is a volatile issue, Mayor Dave Barton acknowledged that fact in his first utterance.
“This is not personal,” he said and asked the crowd – quite often throughout the evening – to be respectful.
But after hearing three deputants – all local farmers – speaking in favour of the Grainboys application, some of the crowd became restless, asking why these three were able to speak, but there was no one speaking for their anti-Grainboys side. The mayor had to explain how one goes about being a deputant and getting listed on the agenda.
Then the questions started flying and Mayor Barton once again had to explain council procedures. It’s all basic stuff that people really should know. Do these folks really think they’d be allowed to yell questions at the members in Queen’s Park or on Parliament Hill? I hope the answer is, of course not. Where do they get the idea it’s okay at the municipal level? Besides that, printed right there on the agenda that was available to the public, after the listed deputations, correspondence, reports, etc., was the phrase QUESTION PERIOD.
After council voted – unanimously, in a recorded vote – in favour of the Grainboys application, a large segment of the crowd left the room en masse, but another segment began yelling at the councillors, stepping forward what seemed to me a rather a menacing manner, wagging their fingers because . . . because what? Because council, acting within the constraints of the Municipal Act, the Planning Act and other provincial legislation, having considered the reports of the town’s planning consultant, Liz Howson, Fire Chief Phil Alexander and other staff members, as well as the mountain of correspondence they received, did the only thing they could. I repeat: the only thing they could.
For all concerned in this ongoing saga – (all, that is, but the residents of Goodwood) – the various concerns raised by those opposed to the Grainboys mill have been addressed and resolved and there is no defendable way they could oppose it. The fact that council approved the application unanimously would seem to prove that councillors could not find any reason to deny the application.
I’m aware the residents of Goodwood feel strongly about this proposed mill. I’m against it myself, because I don’t want to see a bank of silos cluttering up a pleasant stretch of road. But that’s not a good enough excuse to stop the project. And yelling and screaming and stamping my feet is not going to change that.
Now, it’s quite possible that some in Goodwood are thinking of appealing council’s decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), something they are quite at liberty to do. But think on this. You’ll not only be paying the lawyer who represents you, you’ll also be helping to pay – through your taxes – the township’s lawyer, who will oppose you.
Gerrit Herrema put an interesting spin on the whole subject by giving the crowd a brief lesson in geo-politics. Brexit, the unratified NAFTA agreement, moves against Canadian farmers by China and India, the recently imposed carbon tax – all affect our local farmers and farmers throughout Durham Region. Having a local receiver for their grains is, as Gerrit said, “a good thing.”
More importantly, however, his comments show that none of us can live in isolation from the rest of the world. It has a way of intruding, whether we like it or not. It seems to me that the residents of Goodwood need to learn that lesson, harsh as it might be.
Tell me, am I wrong?