NEWS ITEM:

Fitzroy Harbour residents hold rally

at Fitzroy Harbour Community Centre

                   June 8th at 5:30 PM                 

     LINK TO RELATED NEWS



--------------  Ottawa Valley News  --------------


Angry Fitzroy residents call councillor a liar and promise to defy proposed boat bypass

By Karen Secord
Ottawa Valley News

What started with a roar ended with a whimper on Tuesday evening in Fitzroy Harbour.

More than 200 people on both sides of the Chats Falls boat bypass issue, some from the Fitzroy area and some not, came out to hear the latest developments and let their opinions be known.

A Rallying Cry

A pre-meeting rally organized by the Willola Beach Property Owner’s Association featured a line-up of representatives from local groups. Each addressed the concerns of residents likely to be affected by the boat bypass. Randy Hillier, of the Lanark Landowners Association, Janne Campbell, President of the West Carleton Rural Association, Bob McKinley, of the Rural Council, and Daniel Van Vliet, representing the Sierra Club all spoke in opposition to the bypass.

Terry Kilrea, defeated mayoral candidate and leader of The People’s Voice, was unable to attend, but a life-size cardboard cutout of his image was placed at the back of the community centre hall by members of his group.

 
 
“I believe that the city council is going to have absolutely no difficulty in ignoring your concerns, unless you make your presence known."
 
                                 -Bob McKinley, Retired lawyer & democracy advocate

 
 

Although all four of the federal candidates in Carleton-Lanark were invited to share their views on the issue, only Rick Prashaw, NDP, and Stuart Langstaff, Green Party, accepted the invitation.

“In the spirit of cooperation and support and volunteerism that are a tradition in rural communities,” said McKinley, the lawyer who represented rural interests during the ward boundary dispute “we are here to dedicate our efforts to you in opposing something that is rotten-headed, mean-spirited and absolutely nonsensical.”

“I believe that the city council is going to have absolutely no difficulty in ignoring your concerns,” he continued “unless you make your presence known. And the reason I say that is because I believe that rural residents in this city are really second-class citizens.”

NDP candidate Rick Prashaw gave a moving speech. “This is your community. This is your way of life. And your concerns have been utterly dismissed. My friends, this isn’t just a bypass for speedboats. This is a bypass of democracy. This is a bypass of citizen and community rights.”

“This is an issue of property rights. The right to own and enjoy property is not entrenched in the Canadian Constitution,” said Janne Campbell. “We must and we will right this terrible wrong.”

Randy Hillier, wearing his “Back off Government” tee shirt and trademark red suspenders, said that government no  longer respects rural people because they have been silent and accepting of everything the government has imposed on them.

 
 


“The only way to change this is by standing up and speaking out and demanding good representation. You have had your municipal voices silenced by amalgamation. What is happening in your community must only be decided by members of your community. That is the fundamental principle of democracy. Governments don’t have rights they have obligations and that is the message we have to get across."

                                                                                         -Randy Hillier, Lanark Landowners Association


 
 
   
   

“The only way to change this is by standing up and speaking out and demanding good representation,” he said to applause. “You have had your municipal voices silenced by amalgamation. What is happening in your community must only be decided by members of your community. That is the fundamental principle of democracy. Governments don’t have rights they have obligations and that is the message we have to get across. The only authority the government has we give, and we can say , no.

If this boat bypass comes to pass and your municipal representatives don’t listen to you there is a simple solution – you stand up and say no. When they bring those trucks to build those ramps you stand in the road and say no. And you know that the Lanark Landowners Association will be there with you if you chose not to allow this to happen.”

Boat Bypass Panel

As promised by Ward 5 Coun. El-Chantiry, representatives from the City of Ottawa, the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, and the proponents of the Chats Falls Boat Bypass were in attendance to explain the current status of the project and address questions and concerns from the audience.

From the onset the audience was hostile towards El-Chantiry.

“On this, with the staff and the proponent I have had almost 33 meetings and that includes tonight. I have had 130 phone call conversations, half of them with Mike Campbell (President of the Willola Beach Property Owner’s Association). We had had at least 200 emails exchanged,” said El-Chantiry. “I would like to give a chance for the proponent to speak to the EA. (Environmental Assessment).

 A promotional video on the success of other bypasses along the Temiskawa Waterway caused a stir in the room as residents demonstrated their impatience. The video was cut short.

Presenters from the City of Ottawa included Cynthia Levesque, Environmental Planning Manager, Ian Duff, Business Development, and Rob MacKay, Manager - Business Initiatives.

Gary Wiseman, representing the Ottawa River Project Group (ORPG,) and often referred to as “the proponent”, was also in attendance as was ORPG board members Dwight Eastman and Jean Pierre Ledoux.

“ORPG is a not-for-profit corporation that has four members on a board of directors,” explained Wiseman to the Ottawa Valley News. “I am only the Project Manager hired to act on behalf of the municipalities to build a bypass.”

In addition to Eastman and Ledoux, the other board members are Roly Armitage and Pierre Choquette. The municipalities that the board is working with are the County of Renfrew, MRC Pontiac, and Temiskawa Shores.

Jim Inch, of Robinson Consulting, was hired by the proponent to undertake a review of a number of possible sites and to prepare an environmental report. He and the other members of the panel reviewed the project and after some pointed questioning from the audience, area residents were left with the following:

  • the “spit” to be built at Willola Beach to load the boats will be constructed 48m or approximately 150 feet off shore.

  • the project did not require that the proponent do an Environmental Assessment, although something similar to one has been completed.

  • the proponent is not under any obligation to release the plan for the boat bypass to the public. “It is a planned document that the proponent owns,” said MacKay “and he has chosen not to have it reviewed by the public.”

  • interested parties will be able to review the staff report five business days before it is reviewed by the Corporate Services Committee.

  • the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Natural Resources must still review the proposal before it can be implemented.

The Community Responds

A long line of concerned citizens stepped up to the microphone once the presentations were complete. Some carried signs that read, “He lied”, referring to the Ward 5 councillor, who some believed was on their side in opposition to the bypass.

“I have always said that I thought the boat bypass was a good idea,” said Coun. El-Chantiry, who raised his voice numerous times during the evening.

When pressed by several questioners regarding his stance on the issue El-Chantiry eventually said, “Yes to Willola Beach if it is approved by MNR and DFO. I do not like to have it through the conservation area.” El-Chantiry reminded the audience that he does not sit on the Corporate Services Committee, where the proposal will first go for review.

 
 


“We’ll be asking our members of the Rural Council from across Ottawa to oppose the staff recommendations,” stated McKinley. “The Rural Council will be making an official request for the document. If we do not have it in our hands by Friday we will involve the Privacy Commissioner.”

 
 

Many were concerned about what they feel has been a lack of transparency during the process.

“We’ll be asking our members of the Rural Council from across Ottawa to oppose the staff recommendations,” stated McKinley. “The Rural Council will be making an official request for the document. If we do not have it in our hands by Friday we will involve the Privacy Commissioner.”

Carol Booth asked the councillor to accept her official request to provide the residents of Fitzroy with a report outlining the social and financial implications of the boat bypass on the Village of Fitzroy Harbour and the people who live there.

Julie Beck was among very few in the room who wondered out loud what all the fuss is about. A resident of Fromme Street in Fitzroy and a boater, she was upset that the petition she signed early on in the bypass debate was being used for other purposes than that for which it was intended.

“I signed that petition because it opposed the traffic on Kedey Street if the bypass went into Fitzroy Park,” she said. “I didn’t oppose the bypass altogether.”

Karen Taylor, President of the Fitzroy Harbour Community Centre, said “I think people are over reacting to the bypass.”

Ottawa Valley News


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