Voicing my opinion – Letter by Brighton Resident, Mr. Amstutz

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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The following letter from Brighton resident, Mr. Frank Amstutz was published in the Brighton Independent on February 12, 2015. Re-published here with permission.

Personally I think that this is an excellent letter that discusses “business development and the development of the Esso property” in a thoughtful and balanced manner.

Dear Editor,

 

re: business development and the development of the Esso property.

 

I feel very strongly that everyone has a right to voice their opinion and be able to disagree with decisions made by their government, and I applaud those who actually take an issue that they feel strongly about (like those citizens who are forming a group to oppose the development of the Esso gas station property), and see it to a conclusion.

 

Dave Cutler and David Green feel that council neither understands the interests of the business community nor have the insight for future development of Brighton. They might be right. However, what they do not take in to account is the possibility that a majority of the council actually do understand what has been presented to them, but just don’t agree. Brighton Council did vote to not spend more time and money on the cultural trade centre as it was proposed, but they did say clearly that if the business community brought forward a more cohesive, costed plan, they would be willing to reconsider the issue. As a local business person, who is also a taxpayer, I think that is an appropriate response to any initiative.

 

I would prefer that a gas station not be built on the empty ESSO lot, but I do not object to having the station there either, as historically there had been a gas station on the site for decades, and any other new development on that site will also have traffic issues. There will be people for and against any development of that site and council has the right to decide on behalf of its citizens what they would like.

 

I have had to endure many municipal, provincial, and federal governments whose philosophy and actions I did not agree with, but I would never state, as has Mr. Green, (who clearly disagrees with much of what Brighton Council is doing), that it is “an affront to the democratic process . “ What both Mr. Green and Mr. Cutler miss, is that this council was elected only four months ago by a majority of the citizens of Brighton who gave it a clear mandate for change. The fact that the council are not behaving in the manner, or voting in favour of what they feel to be important, does not make the process less democratic.

 

Newly elected municipal governments, like their provincial and federal counterparts, are not bound to the policy of the previous government. Mike Harris did not follow Bob Rae’s plans just because they were already in place. John Tory is not obliged to go the path of Rob Ford now that he is mayor of Toronto. Even though there is a development plan in place for Brighton, this newly elected council is not bound to carry on with it, if a majority of council feel otherwise.

 

A last comment would be to criticize the Brighton Independent who have used inflammatory headlines like ‘Downtown Brighton Under Attack’ and ‘Brighton citizens fight back’ along with biased reporting of these events. Starting a story with “Residents in Brighton are tired of council not listening to them and are planning to fight back” when not used as a quote, becomes a statement by the reporter, Joyce Cassin (herself a failed council candidate). How citizens could be tired of a council four months old that is “not listening” seems absurd. I attended a meeting while council sat and listened to more than 14 people in a row speaking on behalf of the proposed centre, the fact that they didn’t vote to move forward on this endeavor does not mean that they didn’t listen.

 

I would assert that the majority of citizens in Brighton have not yet formed an opinion good or bad about this council in such a short time. Inflammatory comments and headlines by the paper help to create ill feeling toward government generally. Now that is something that does not serve democracy.

 

Frank Amstutz,

Brighton

 

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Ontario Ombudsman’s 2013 – 2014 OMLET Annual Report

Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Ombudsman’s Message – Winds of Change, Clearer Days Ahead

Read the Ombudsman’s third annual report on the work of the Ontario Ombudsman’s Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team (OMLET), which is solely devoted to upholding Ontario’s municipal open meeting law, also known as the Sunshine Law.

Ontario Ombudsman’s 2013 – 2014 OMLET Annual Report

OMLET Annual Report 2013-2014 – Facts and highlights

Ontario_Ombudsman_2013_2014_OMLET_Annual_Report

Ontario Ombudsman’s 2013 – 2014 OMLET Annual Report


OMLET Annual Report 2013-2014 – Ombudsman’s remarks

I want to thank everyone for attending today, in person, by phone and via our live webcast.

 

As I release this report today, I can’t help but think back to January 2008, when Ontario first implemented its “Sunshine Law,” allowing members of the public to complain when they were shut out of local council meetings.

 

Municipalities were afraid there would be a flood of complaints. Elected officials were worried that they wouldn’t be allowed to attend social gatherings together. And I was concerned that the law would be a weak patchwork because it allowed municipalities to handpick their own investigators and opt out of Ombudsman oversight.

 

Seven years later, we have seen some progress. Many municipalities have reformed their practices and embraced the open meeting rules. There has not been a flood of complaints – in fact, after steady increases in the past few years, we saw a drop this past year.

 

And that’s a good thing – it shows that in most cases, municipalities are following the rules. Elected officials and the public are more educated about the Sunshine Law, and I like to think that seven years of reporting and outreach by our office has helped with that.

 

Of course, some councils are still breaking the law, whether through ignorance or intent. We had fewer complaints, but they were more likely to be justified. We were able to concentrate on the serious cases and dismiss those that seemed frivolous or sparked by ulterior motives.

 

A few municipalities illegally twisted the rules – like those that stretched the exception for discussions about “personal matters” to apply to almost any meeting involving a person. And some ignored the rules altogether, doing business outside of council chambers with third parties. But all of our recommendations were accepted, and several councils took our advice to start digitally recording all their meetings.

 

However, my main concerns about the Sunshine Law haven’t changed: There are no consequences for breaking it, and municipalities can still choose any investigator they like. This year, we saw the public and politicians complain about the spotty and inconsistent investigations by hired investigators. This undermines the law – the same standards should be applied provincewide.

 

The good news is, local government accountability rose to the forefront of the political agenda this year. The province passed Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, last month, giving my office full oversight of municipalities, as well as school boards and universities. Once it is proclaimed in force, we will finally be able to help people with virtually any problem with their local government, not just narrow questions about the open meeting rules.

 

We are already seeing a spike in complaints about municipal issues, especially since Bill 8 passed. Many candidates in October’s municipal elections were enthusiastic about Bill 8, and a lot of the old guard who violated the Sunshine Law and resisted our investigations in the past were tossed out by the voters.

 

A few of the newly elected councils have chosen to drop their hired investigators and come back to us, including Sudbury and Leeds and the Thousand Islands, both of which opted out in the past after we issued critical reports.

 

We’re now at an historic turning point in municipal accountability. I’m optimistic that the elections and Bill 8 have ushered in a new era where oversight and openness at the municipal level will be taken seriously.
– André Marin, Ontario Ombudsman

 

Ontario_Ombudsman_Visits_Brighton

July 21, 2014 Ontario Ombudsman, André Marin attends a Brighton Council meeting

“in July 2014, residents of the Town of Brighton packed a community centre to hear me speak about the Sunshine Law, and soon after, their council dropped LAS as their investigator (reverting to my Office by default), and resolved to electronically record all closed sessions.” – André Marin, Ontario Ombudsman

The Ombudsman is an independent officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints from the public about Ontario government services. André Marin has been the Ombudsman since 2005 and his investigations have sparked numerous government reforms.

Learn more about the Ombudsman

 

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Brighton’s Downtown Revitalization Project Launch

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Brighton’s Downtown Revitalization Project Launch presentation, January 18, 2015.


Video credit – Chris Pelletier – NorthumberlandView.ca

What is the Downtown Revitalization Project?

Brighton’s Downtown Revitalization Project will follow a 4-stage process developed by the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, focusing on Economic Development, Leadership & Management, Marketing & Promotion, and Physical Improvements.

Click here for more information

Power Point Presentation from DR Launch, January 18, 2015

Resident Survey – Should be completed and returned before February 27, 2015

 

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When is a “meeting of Council” not a “Council meeting”?

Posted by on Jan 16, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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I sent the following email to Brighton Council when I noticed that the audio recording from the January 6, 2015 meeting of Council had not been posted on the Municipal website.

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

 

From the correspondence below I understand that committee of the whole (COW) Council meetings are not being recorded as per Council resolution no. 2014-398.

 

Since COW Council meetings are not excluded from this resolution, why are the COW meetings not being recorded as directed by Council resolution?

 

Please can you confirm if the COW meetings scheduled for January 20, 2015 will be recorded?

 

Thank you,

Adrian Ellis

 

***********************

From: Vicki Kimmett
Sent: January-15-15 12:18 PM
To: Adrian Ellis
Subject: RE: Budget Meeting Audio

 

I’m sorry Adrian….. I was in Council mode. The January 6, 2015 budget meeting was not recorded. It was a Committee of the Whole meeting and Council hasn’t addressed anything more than Council meetings.

 

I apologize and please disregard my earlier message!

 

Vicki Kimmett
Deputy Clerk
Municipality of Brighton

 

***********************

From: Adrian Ellis
Sent: January-15-15 11:58 AM
To: Vicki Kimmett
Subject: RE: Budget Meeting Audio

 

Sorry, should be Jan 6, 2015.

 

Adrian

 

***********************

From: Adrian Ellis
Sent: January-15-15 11:53 AM
To: Vicki Kimmett
Subject: Budget Meeting Audio

 

Hi Vicki,

 

Please can you advise as to when the audio recording from the January 6, 2014 budget meeting of Brighton Council will be posted to the municipal website?

 

Thanks,

Adrian

Section 238 (1) of the Ontario Municipal Act states, ““meeting” means any regular, special or other meeting of a council, of a local board or of a committee of either of them.

Section 1.1.11 of the Municipality of Brighton Procedural By-Law (No. 097-2013) states, “Meeting means a gathering of the members of the Council or a Committee where quorum is achieved and either public business or public policy over which the Council or Committee has jurisdiction or control is discussed or deliberated and/or during which formal action is taken. Member means the Mayor or a Councillor of the Corporation of the Municipality of Brighton.

Based on these definitions, the answer is “never” to the question “when is a “meeting of Council” not a “Council meeting“?”. All meetings of council are “Council meetings.

It is mind boggling to think that Staff are not aware of these definitions and if there was any confusion, why did Staff not ask for clarification from Council?

I hope that Council will without delay, provide further direction to Staff to ensure that they follow the directive set out in resolution no. 2014-398 and record all meetings of Council!

Follow-up:
I received the following responses to my email

Mr Ellis

 

1. Resolution 2014-398 states

 

That Council receives the report Recording of Council Meetings, dated July 21, 2014 as information, and that staff be directed to implement audio recording for Council meetings, and that the recordings be posted to the website.” (underlining my own)

 

2. Council has been informed that the first budget mtg of Jan 6, 2015 was not recorded because it was a committee of the whole meeting and NOT a “Council meeting” as described in preceding resolution. Also, council has been informed that the upcoming budget meeting of Jan 20, 2015 will not be recorded for the same reason.

 

3. For two reasons, it is – in my view – ludicrous that we should have argue about whether or not a “Council meeting” should be recorded. The two reasons are as follows:

 

(a) the spirit & intent of Resolution 2014-398 & professional interpretation of the law; and
(b) the letter of the law.

 

The Spirit & Intent of Resolution 2014-398 & Professional Interpretation of the Law

 

4. During the last term of council, I was one of the principal proponents of the recording of “Council meetings.” The spirit & intent of recording “Council meetings” was to ensure accountability, transparency & accessibility of council activities. When I read & voted FOR Resolution 2014-398, it was my clear understanding that the term “Council meetings” would be interpreted as meetings of council & included open & closed council meetings and committee of the whole meetings.

 

5. And my understanding of the term “Council meetings” seems to be supported by Mr Andre Marin, the Ombudsman of Ontario. Page 16 of The Sunshine Law handbook (Second Edition) (@ https://ombudsman.on.ca/Files/sitemedia/Documents/Resources/sunshinelaw-en.pdf) states, in part, “when the purpose of the gathering is to discuss business of the council, local board or committee and/or to make decisions a gathering is more likely to be deemed a “meeting …”” (bolding IS NOT my own)

 

6. I am not a lawyer, but the common sense interpretation of the preceding description of a “meeting” clearly indicates that when council meets to discuss one of the most important issues it will consider – that is how taxpayers’ money will be spent – the council is gathering to “discuss business.” And because council is gathering to “discuss business,” the gathering is a “Council meeting” (as described at Resolution 2014-398) & must be recorded.

 

The Letter of the Law

 

7. The Ontario Municipal Act is a law of Ontario. Subsection 224 (d.1) of the Municipal Act states,

 

It is the role of council to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality.” (underlining my own)

 

8. In my view, if there is any question about whether, or not, a council meeting should be recorded, it makes sense to err on the side of the law. The law requires accountability & transparency. Recording a council meeting – whether it be a committee of the whole budget meeting or an open or closed council meeting – is one more step to ensuring the accountability & transparency required by law. So there should be no doubt that a committee of the whole budget meeting must be recorded.

 

9. There is nothing confidential in this e-mail. Please distribute it as you see fit.

 

10. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about the preceding, or any other, issue.

 

John Martinello
613 475 5120

 

Good Evening and Thank-you for your inquiry.

 

Please be advised that I inquired with respect to this very issue on January 13th. I trust you can be kept informed by either myself, other members of Council or Staff as to developments in regard to this important issue.

 

Regards
Steven Baker

 

Hi Adrian,

 

I haven’t spoken to staff about this, but I suspect there is an interpretation issue at hand. The resolution from July 2014 passed by the former council reads: “… and that staff be directed to implement audio recording for Council meetings, and that the recordings be posted to the website.” The interpretation comes from the term Council meetings which has likely been interpreted as regular and special council meetings. It would seem that some are interpreting this to mean all meetings of council (both Council meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings). I believe that Council should provide clarification and direction to staff on this item, and I would support the recording of all meetings of council (both Council and Committee of the Whole meetings) moving forward.

 

Thanks for bringing this to my attention,

 

Brian

Brian Ostrander
Councillor
Municipality of Brighton

 

All members of council sit to comprise Committee of the Whole, you need a majority of council members to hold a Committee of the Whole meeting, who then work from the same Procedural Bylaw as regular council, who sit and discuss council business. I don’t care what you call it, its a meeting of council. Semantics nothing more.

 

I will not participate in the next budget meeting if its not recorded.

 

No quorum, no meeting…no meeting, nothing to record!!

 

Mark Walas

 

Mayor

Municipality of Brighton

 

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Happy New Year from the Smiling Idiot!

Posted by on Jan 8, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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I would like to wish everyone a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

If you are active on social media don’t forget to “follow”, “like” and add the Smiling Idiot to your “circles”. Also, don’t forget to use the hashtag #brpoli when posting about Brighton Politics!

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/asmilingidiot
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/asmilingidiot
Google+  https://plus.google.com/106762191499302783275/posts

 

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Brighton is the perfect place to call home for you, and your business

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Brighton Industrial Park, Phase 1, 16 serviced lots now available at $35,000 per acre.  Lots designed with flexibility to suit individual business needs (minimum 1 acre purchase). Development charges waived for industrial development.

Details provided in Brighton’s Industrial Park Investment Package

Brighton_Industrial_Park

Competitive

Affordable operations are achieved through competitive utility rates and building costs, in addition to below average tax rates. Development fees are waived for industrial development in Brighton.

 

Flexibility

Perfect for small to medium sized business, lots have been designed for flexibility. Phase 1 features 16 serviced lots (21 acres) that can be combined or divided to meet individual needs.

 

Investment Ready

Brighton is becoming Investment Ready Certified – a designation that provides important information on the site, utilities, transportation access, and environmental records – creating an expedited process.

 

Well Connected

Located 90 minutes east of Toronto between Bay of Quinte and Northumberland County, Brighton’s Industrial Park is located within 5km of the 401 corridor where businesses can easily coordinate transportation.

 Brighton Industrial Park website – www.brighton.ca/industrial_park.php

 

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Making it Brighton Starts Here – The Brand Story

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Click here to download a copy of the Brighton Brand & Graphics Guide

This Brand & Graphics Guide was approved at the last meeting of Brighton Council on October 20, 2014 as part of the Branding Strategy developed by Tenzing Communications.

Stories are used to create context for brands. In the case of Brighton Ontario, much of it will focus on the journey—and creating a new future together. But to set that stage, this is how we want to be perceived when we’re done:

Brighton Ontario, nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario and the primary gateway to the naturalists haven of Presqu’ile Provincial Park, is a growing hub of unique craft and trade entrepreneurs, adult education, tourism and lifestyles.

Our journey to creating that perception starts now as we create context and establish a shared path.

 

Brighton_Brand_Story_cover

Making it Brighton Brand & Graphics Guide

 

Related information:

Brighton Creative Trade Centre & Brighton Public Library – Business Plan & Strategy

Brighton taxpayers are being asked to commit to a project based on vague numbers (page 30) and no public discussion on where the project is to be located.

Brighton_Creative_Trade_Centre_Business_Plan_cover

Brighton Creative Trade Centre (BCTC) – Make your own future

On June 26, 2014 I made a Google+ post, No more silence in the library which explains how a modern library is so much more than just books on a shelf. In that post, I took the following quote from the article as I believe that it has been fundamental in the success of the Halifax library redevelopment and I also believe that this approach will be fundamental in the success of the Brighton Library redevelopment.

 

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Congratulations to our new Brighton Council – Unofficial Election Results

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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UPDATE –  Official Results: Certificate of Election Results – Brighton 2014

Municipal Election 2014 – Unofficial results for Brighton

A strong message has been sent with 61.95% of eligible residents voting and they say that the voters are never wrong!

Looking forward to four years of a Council that puts the interests of residents first and showing them the respect they deserve!

Congratulations to our new Brighton Council.

Brighton_Municipal_Election_2014_Unofficial_Results_scr

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For the record, David Green – Citizen Comment

Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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At the October 20, 2014 Brighton Council meeting, Mr. David Green used Citizen Comment period to make an unfounded and personal attack against me. The reason for his verbal barrage seemed to stem from a tweet I posted on the evening of Friday, October 17, commenting that for the third meeting in a row the agenda had not been posted as required by Brighton’s Procedural By-Law (# 097-2013).

Click here to listen to Mr. David Green’s “Citizen Comment

ScreenShot279

The first important fact overlooked, or perhaps misunderstood, by Mr. Green was that my comment refers to the last three meetings and not just the last meeting of council. I spoke to Mr. Green after Monday’s council meeting to point out this fact and Mr. Green’s response was, “ok, well you didn’t say that“. I cannot understand how Mr. Green could read the preceding tweet and miss the first seven words.

As you can see, I posted a similar tweet on October 3, 2014.

ScreenShot276

I also posted another similar tweet on September 29, 2014.

ScreenShot278


After I posted each of the preceding tweets mentioning the municipal twitter account, each one of the respective agendas was quickly posted to the municipal website
. This of course was appreciated, but still disappointing. It should not be the responsibility of a taxpayer to ensure that the Procedural By-law is being followed.

Another point to note is that Mr. Green claims that “the Procedural By-Law calls for the Agenda to be ready 72 hours prior to a meeting“. Even if Mr. Green is content to settle for mediocrity, he would only be partly correct. The Procedural By-Law states that agendas must be posted at least 72 hours prior to a meeting. Unfortunately, Mr. Green fails to point out – or perhaps he fails to understand the By-Law. Agendas are to be made available to the public as soon as they are ready. The following excerpt is from Para 4.7 2) of the Procedural By-Law.

ScreenShot280

If Municipal Staff want to have an item added to the meeting agenda they need to submit their request by noon the Tuesday prior to a meeting and submissions from the public must be made before noon on the Wednesday prior to a meeting, why must the public wait until the Friday before a meeting to receive a copy of the agenda? Why can’t councillors and the public receive a copy of the agenda by the close of business on the Wednesday, or perhaps by noon on the Thursday, instead of Friday night?

Mr. Green’s comments indicate a blatant disregard for the municipal process and that he misunderstands the importance of council consistently following municipal procedures and policies.

During his comment, Mr. Green states that if I want to know what information is given to candidates then maybe I “should have invested the $100 and become a candidate“. I presume that he is referring to my questions to CAO Frost regarding the ballot process. I think that it is ridiculous to suggest that, even though I pay thousands of tax dollars to the municipality every year, I should pay an additional $100 to have simple questions answered. Especially considering that the information and documentation should have been available to the public via the municipal website. I will also note that as a result of my enquiry, additional information was added to the brighton.ca website.

Mr. Green concludes that “all I know for sure, is that this person is living up to its moniker and not the smiling part“.  Mr. Green has once again misinterpreted things, even though someone may call themselves an “idiot“, it doesn’t necessarily make them stupid.

Later in the meeting, during Question Period, Mr. Green demonstrates a blatant disregard for and basic misunderstanding of the Municipal ActMr. Green seems to think that council can simply ignore the law as prescribed in the Municipal Act. and write their own laws to supersede the Act.

Click here to listen to Mr. Green’s question to Councillor Martinello

Councillor Martinello is correct when states that the Municipal Act. makes it very clear that reports from the Integrity Commissioner are to be made available to the public. The fact that council passes a motion to only release reports if all those named sign off, does not relieve council of their obligation under section 223.6 (3) of the Municipal Act.

Publication of reports

223.6 (3) The municipality and each local board shall ensure that reports received from the Commissioner by the municipality or by the board, as the case may be, are made available to the public. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 98.

The Municipal Act. does not say that they “can” be made available. It clearly states that they “are” to be made available. The fact that four Brighton councillors pass a resolution saying that the reports “can” be made available if all parties sign off, does not in any way change the fact they are in breach of the Municipal Act. for not making the reports available to the public.

If I was Councillor Martinello, I also would not sign off on the release of any reports that must be made available to the public according to the Municipal Act. If he did, he perhaps could be found complicit in breaking the law with the four councillors that voted in favour of the sign off requirement.

For the record Mr. Green. I suggest that you gain a better understanding of the Municipal Act. before you embark on vexatious and malicious attacks. If not Mr. Green, you may end up looking like an idiot!

 

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Brighton Creative Trade Centre & Brighton Public Library – Business Plan & Strategy

Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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I was invited by CAO Frost to join the branding strategy focus group meeting on March 12, 2014 and the meeting was very productive and at that meeting the concept of a Brighton Creative Trade Centre (BCTC) emerged. I saw and still see a great deal of potential in the concept, but after the meeting concluded I had several concerns with the discussions focusing on a potential location for the project on Richardson St. (former Country Fixin’s building). As such, I arranged for a follow-up meeting on March 18, 2014 with CAO Frost and Elisha Purchase, Manager of Economic Development & Communications.

At that meeting I raised my concerns regarding the possible location on Richardson St. as historically it had not been a good location for retail outlets as it was “off the beaten path“. It is also in a residential area with limited parking. Additionally, being outside of the downtown core I was concerned that it would take away from the existing Main St. retail corridor. Another main concern was the absence of any consultation with incorporating an educational component and including Brighton Public School, ENSS, Loyalist College etc. in the project discussions.

Considering these and other shortcomings and knowing that Brighton Council was considering a new library redevelopment project adjacent to the current building on Alice St., I suggested to CAO Frost and Ms. Purchase that both projects could be combined into one in the central downtown location. In doing so, it would strengthen the downtown core and take advantage of the synergies between the two projects to create a cultural, arts, technology, retail, educational and business resource hub for Brighton.

At the May 29, 2014 meeting of the Brighton Economic Development Committee (BEDC), the two locations (Richardson St. and Alice St.) were discussed in some detail and Gary Lintern from Tenzing Communications stated that he felt there should be some definition of location before going public with the vision and he hoped that the business plan stage would take care of that. I agree with that statement and view the Business Plan as being incomplete without addressing the question of location. After reading the Business Plan, there is no clearly defined location where the pros and cons have been evaluated. The only real reference to location is, “it is recommended that existing commercial assets located in the municipality be investigated for feasibility for the development of a Brighton Public Library and Creative Trade Centre” and as such it is difficult to understand how hard numbers can be stated in the “Financial Plan” section of the Business Plan.

Brighton Creative Trade Centre & Brighton Public Library – Business Plan & Strategy

Brighton_Creative_Trade_Centre_Business_Plan_cover

Brighton Creative Trade Centre (BCTC) – Make your own future

Also at the May 29 BEDC meeting, Deputy Mayor Vandertoorn expressed concern with the location being in a residential area and I raised the concern that the Library Board had previously stated that the Alice St. location was the only appropriate one for the library redevelopment. When leaving the BEDC meeting I had a discussion with another resident over the safety concerns of the Richardson St. property being adjacent to the main line rail tracks.

On June 26, 2014 I made a Google+ post, No more silence in the library which explains how a modern library is so much more than just books on a shelf. In that post, I took the following quote from the article as I believe that it has been fundamental in the success of the Halifax library redevelopment and I also believe that this approach will be fundamental in the success of the Brighton Library redevelopment.

Nobody says, ‘Wow, this not a good use of our money,’ because we did this community consultation and the community told us, ‘This is what we want‘”

Unfortunately so far and despite the fact this quote appears in the BCTC & BPL Business Plan, to my knowledge, beyond small focus groups the community has not been consulted. If this project is to be a success, which I believe it can be, it needs to be driven by the Community and not by the Municipality.

If there is an “Advisory Committee” formed as suggested by the resolution that is being brought forward to the next meeting of Council on October 20, it is essential that the committee selection process is transparent and does not happen in closed session as happens with the selection of other committees. I also believe that it is essential that the committee be chaired by someone other than a Councillor or Municipal staff member.

 

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Brighton Municipal Election Ballot Return Envelope Processing Procedure Questions and Some Answers

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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This post is a follow up to an earlier Facebook post titled “Vote by Mail ballot processing procedure questions go unanswered

I am pleased to say that answers have been provided to most of the questions I posed to CAO Frost regarding the elections procedures.

CAO Frost provided a document called “2014 Municipal Elections Procedures” and this document confirmed that candidates and/or their appointed scrutineers are permitted to be present during the opening of the ballot return envelopes.

On Tuesday afternoon at around 3:10 pm I dropped my ballot return envelope into the ballot box located in the Municipal offices at 35 Alice St. As a designated scrutineer, I was then able to watch the processing of the contents of that ballot box, including my own ballot return envelope.

Although the procedural questions were answered in the documents provided by CAO Frost, there are still several other questions that remain unanswered. I emailed the following to CAO Frost on Wednesday afternoon and as of yet I have not received a reply.

Hi Gayle,

 

Thank you for the information provided as it is does address some items of concern, but it is disappointing that this information was not available on the Municipal Website and it was not provided when I specifically enquired last Wednesday, or last Thursday when I asked again for the answer to my question.

 

Considering that you knew the answer to my question, I am not sure why you referred me to the Municipal Elections Act which did not contain the answer?

 

Also, considering that you knew the answer to my question, I am not sure why it took the best part of a week to reply to me with the answer?

 

I would appreciate answers to these questions, as the lack of timely answers has cast a shadow over the process. As I have mentioned before, I believe that in addition to actually being fair, an election must also appear to be fair. Effective communication is essential in these situations.

 

However, more importantly why were the candidates not notified directly about the time and location that the ballot return envelopes would be processed?

 

I know that the candidates have all now received copies of the “Election Procedures” document as you copied them on your reply to me. As such they are aware that they can be present during the opening of the ballot return envelopes, but the time and location where this will be occurring has not been directly communicated to them. Some have been provided this information, but I am not sure why this would not have been communicated directly to all candidates?

 

I also know that you will be conducting a briefing to all candidates tomorrow regarding the election procedures, but I think that if the briefing had taken place before the ballots were mailed out, you would have been able to address all aspects of the election process and it would have allowed for the candidates to participate in scrutinizing all aspects of the return process from the time that the first ballot returns started to arrive.

 

I look forward to your reply.

 

Thank you,

 

Adrian

I will update this post when/if I receive a reply to these important questions.

 

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Brighton-Cramahe Chamber of Commerce Mayoral Candidates Forum – video

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Thanks to the Brighton-Cramahe Chamber of Commerce for hosting the Brighton Mayoral Candidates Forum on October 8, 2014. It seems that Brighton Independent reporter Ray Yurkowski stole the show with what appeared to be a staged question at the end of the forum. Following complaints to Mr. Terry Bush the Brighton Independent editor, Mr. Bush confirmed today that “John Campbell or another freelance reporter with be covering council from now on”.

Video credit – Chris Pelletier – NorthumberlandView.ca

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