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.
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.