Rural Council protest on steps of City Hall falls on deaf ears...
FOR NOW!

Rally focused on City's failings during two hour lead-up to Council's
ward boundary vote against effective rural representation.



Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton RALLY
Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

 

In spite of threatened rain, and timing of Rally during peak planting season, the rurals who were able to attend were treated to excellent speeches from numerous individuals representing themselves or their organization.


Original Rally Notice and Background    (Also see LINKS to media coverage at bottom of page)


Janne Campbell, President of the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton :
 
Janne opened the rally with greetings to all of the participating organizations, invited speakers and guests.

All of the speakers at the Rally were either members of the Rural Council, or endorse the principles which the Rural Council stand for. As Ms. Campbell explained, these principles are best summed up in the Rural Council's Mission Statement:

"The Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton is a coalition of rural citizens and organizations representing communities, property owners and small business, dedicated to the preservation and protection of rural rights, values and freedom from unwarranted urban regulation, through education, advocacy and political leverage."

 


Janne Campbell addressing crowd.

 

Brian McGarry, Ottawa businessman, and Mayoralty candidate in the 2006 Municipal Election: 

First guest speaker, Brian McGarry, opened by noting, “I see many of you holding  signs, ‘If you ate today, thank a farmer’. I had breakfast today. Thank you. - I thank YOU, the farmers!"

Getting right down to business, he followed with, "After the next election, you need a Mayor who has been able to earn your trust and not just seek your votes when convenient. - I hope to earn that trust.

I will help you, and not leave your interests ignored, as is presently the case.

I will continue to seek your help, input and advice to make life better for you in this city."

Mr. McGarry also expressed, that with respect to the rural community, what is needed is a change in governance. "One size does not fit all. We need to return to local

 
Brian McGarry, is a prominent Ottawa businessman,  with former School Board Trustee and former Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton (RMOC) Councillor experience.

decision-making. We need a change of governance within the context of the one city system."

His views regarding tax sharing: "Rural Ottawa is part of the City and deserves its fair share of any new revenue. I will not allow it to be used entirely for an O-train that serves no one from the rural areas."

On City Budgets: "I believe in controlled, sensible spending and in balanced budgets –as you rural business people and farm-business operators have been practicing for years."

PROPERTY RIGHTS ARE VITAL

McGarry stated, "Property rights need to be respected, and fair market value needs to be paid if your land is taken from you."

Also, "Rural residents should not be subjected to overwhelming regulations and bureaucracy."

Brian McGarry closed by saying, "These are just some of the issues I intend to resolve, given the opportunity in 2006."

He thanked the Rural Council for inviting him to speak, and wished the Rural Council and Rally attendees future success in their battles for fair and effective representation.

 

Terry Kilrea, Mayoralty candidate in the 2006 Municipal Election:

Mr Kilrea opened with, “I would like to thank The Rural Council for organizing this meeting and commend Councillors Brooks and Thompson for supplying buses. I would also like to thank Bob McKinley and Janne Campbell for inviting me to speak today.”

He then raised the issue, “It is a shame that a city would present ward boundary changes to be adopted with one rural Councillor disappearing, weakening the rural voice and going against previous O.M.B. ruling.”

Kilrea stated that the performance of the Mayor and about 14 Councillors have been a “total disgrace”, but
with the Mayor being about “70%” of the problem. He added, on the brighter side though, November 10, 2006 will cure that problem.

 


Terry Kilrea ran for Mayor in 2003

 
He emphasized the foolishness of the city’s rural policy by saying, “Imagine a rural resident needing a permit to cut down a tree or a permit to sell roadside fruit and other products. One size does not fit all, so why do they keep trying!”

He added that he had worked with the Willola Beach residents to help defeat the Chats Dam By-Pass, and added, “We must continue to stand up to a City Council that does not speak for all residents, including those in the rural area.

Mr. Kilrea thanked the crowd for listening and concluded by saying, “I have not stopped fighting since last election and will not stop until Nov. 2006”.

 

Bob McKinley, Past President of the Rural Council (retired municipal lawyer):

Bob McKinley said that the Rural Council had chosen this day to hold the Rally, "because Council was going to make a determination on our right to participate in the democratic process of the governance of Ottawa and that they would be reducing our presence at the Council table by more than 40%".

He went on to state, "A strong voice at Ottawa Council is fundamental because of the many issues coming forward that would seriously impact on the rural way of life.

The most compelling example is the City's decision to destroy farm practices by taking farmers to the Ontario Municipal Board under their Intensive Farming Bylaw. They've already spent more than $1,000,000 of taxpayer's money on this issue in unsuccessful litigation to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Even though they have lost at every step, and the City's own legal department refuses to represent them, the City has decided to spend a further $300,000 challenging the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

 
Retired Lawyer, Bob McKinley, is Founder and Past President of the Rural Council, and has proven most helpful to rural ratepayers in defending against City abuses of citizen rights, mismanaged rural affairs, and general City bungling
and Ottawa farmers by pursuing their position.
 
This is a typical example of how Ottawa's City Council refuses to obey the law or respect the fundamental needs of its rural component."
 

Tony Walker, Chair of the Goulbourn Landowners Group:

Mr. Walker introduced himself with, "I’m from a new group called the Goulbourn Landowners Group,"  then quickly added that perhaps he should use the the more descriptive, short version, 'the GuLaG'.

"We think ‘gulag’ accurately reflects the city’s view of us as slaves with no rights and no need for consideration."

He followed with, "Those of us who live in rural areas are ALL environmentalists. We live in rural areas because we enjoy the natural environment, and we have a very direct interest in preserving it."

"So why am I opposing the wetlands designation?", Walker asked.

"For three reasons."

(1.)The "underhanded and arbitrary process" that was used:

 
Tony Walker, is President of the Goulbourn Landowners Group, a collection of about fifty property owners in the area to the southwest of Stittsville. Residents feel they are betrayed and undermined by a clandestine process that was started without them.
a.) While it appears that the study was started in 2003, that around September of 2004 City environmentalists flew over the properties at 2000' to 'identify wetland plants', and in February of 2005 the City sent their report to MNR for designations to be applied, the landowners were not informed until April of 2005.
b.) The public meeting in April of 2005 was billed as an "information" meeting. There was no opportunity for prepared public input.
c.)
According to the city, there was no detailed justification for designation, just lines on map.

(2.) The residents are struck by the bizarre definition of wetlands:
a.)
Your property doesn’t have to be wet to be a wetland:  Quote from Susan Murphy (city’s environmental planning dept.) on CBC Ottawa Morning show, Wed. June 8th (Dave Stephens report):  'Land doesn’t have to be wet to be wetland'. This is bureaucracy gone crazy!
b.) MNR doesn't care if property is wet. MNR doesn't care why property is wet -  e.g. city drainage policies:
In fact, problems on some of our properties are caused by spring flooding. City is draining areas to north of us but making no provision for the increased water flow to pass through our area.  Isn’t that illegal?  Yes it is. Does city care? Apparenty not.  Summary:

  • City fails to provide drainage
  • Causes spring flooding on our properties
  • Causes wetland plants to thrive
  • City sees wetland plants
  • City designates property

c.)  Another example:  In the late 80’s, tree planting was in vogue – “We need to plant more trees”.  Some owners have areas of tamaraks, recommended by MNR and planted under MNR’s Managed Forest Program.  Guess what?  Tamaraks are an indicator species for wetlands So:

  • Province recommends tamaraks
  • Owner plants tamaraks
  • City sees tamaraks
  • City designates property as wetland

d.)  There are two wetlands designations.  Provincially Significant designation causes problems. Our properties not Provincially Significant in their own right; at best, a few may be considered very marginal wetlands. To get around this, MNR has ‘complexed’ our land with existing Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSW) to the North;

  • This means our properties would have all of the restrictions of PSW, but don’t have to meet same standards.
  • This is a blatant injustice.
  • While the city is doing this, it’s talking about allowing building on genuine wetlands like the Carp river floodplain. If you were cynical, you might think this is all smoke & mirrors.  They’re developing the Carp River floodplain and need to find wetland somewhere else to replace it.  However, designating new wetlands does not create wetland – they were there before (or not), whereas paving over wetland destroys it permanently.

(3.) This is a  Violation of Property Rights:

  • Property values would be reduced from $2500/acre to $200/acre
    This amounts to $250,000 on 100 acres!
  • If these are to be artificially created as 'Wetlands" as a communal benefit, why are    Landowners being asked to foot the bill?
  • We can no more absorb these losses than can urban property owners. City’s first response is to deny there is any reduction in property values. City’s second response: no property tax on wetland areas (acreage only, not home value). That’s about $10 - $20 /acre/year.
  • Gross violation of property rights.  City & province should either provide adequate compensation or back off.
  • Not democracy – democracy respects minorities, respects property rights

 

 

Paulene Cyr, Augusta Township Councillor: 

Councillor Pauline Cyr, of Augusta Township told of how she and her fellow councilors found the need to stop abuses by their own municipality against private landowners, through their Planning Department’s arbitrary re-designation of private property.

Ms. Cyr noted that she felt the need to talk to the Rural Council’s Rally because the same types of abuses they put a stop to in Augusta Township, are occurring on a huge scale in the vast expanse of Rural Ottawa …such as those described by previous speaker, Tony Walker.

On April 11, 2005, the Augusta Township Council passed a resolution to add the preamble suggested by the Leeds & Grenville Landowners Association, (LGLA),to the Zoning bylaw and the Official Plan. The resolution

 


Councillor Pauline Cyr of, Augusta Township, has demonstrated exceptional leadership and desire to serve the public interest. The world needs more 'Pauline Cyrs'.

stated:


“Whereas an individual cannot re-designate or rezone the use of his/her private property without the written consent and approval of the municipality, it is a fundamental requirement that the municipality not rezone or designate the use and opportunities of private land without the landowner’s prior written approval and consent. This principal can only be abridged for the public good, with fair, just and timely compensation.”

Paulene explained that, prior to the successful vote of Council, over 300 residents of Augusta Township had signed a petition that was circulated by the LGLA, demanding that Council add the above preamble to the bylaw IMMEDIATELY.

By Council’s approval of the inclusion to the bylaw, protecting landowner rights, Augusta Council clearly demonstrated that it placed the public interest foremost, and not some self-serving interest to its own bureaucracy.

Hurrah to Augusta Township Council,
and bravo to Councillor Pauline Cyr!

 
 

Gerry Kamenz, for Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA):

Mr. Kamenz opened with the comment that with this city, being the Capital of Canada, surrounded by such a large rural expanse of lush greenery:
"Ottawa is the #1 city in Canada."

"But," he adds, "being #1 has its responsibilities, because if Ottawa doesn't keep improving --to keep that position-- the only direction it can go, is down."

"This city has huge diversity of culture. Many ethnic groups, speaking in a variety of languages, call this home. Many urban residents go about their business without much awareness of how the large rural sector works and lives. And many farm business (employing more than 10,000 people and generating over $400 million in annual sales) operate within the municipality of Ottawa. The countryside, where they work, play, raise their children -- within the boundaries of Ottawa-- is their home, too.

So, why don't we all live-and-let-live? Let's all do what we're each best at, and not tell the other how

 
Gerry Kamenz, representing the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), gave an animated and powerful speech about the need for City Hall to live up to its obligation as the administrator of the city with the largest rural/farm component of any city in Canada.
 
to do his or her business, or live their life. The rural community is far too independent and proud, than to exist as a mere serfdom of urban Ottawa.

"Rural serfdom is unsustainable! ...It's not an option"

"You know, right behind me here, in this edifice called 'City Hall', we have a Mayor who is asking the Province and the Federal Government for more authority, for the City to be allowed to make its own decisions. The reason he cites, is that the City knows better how to direct many matters concerning its day-to-day operations, than the Province or the Feds can do.

All we're saying, is that the same principle applies to the rurals. In matters of day-to-day function, regarding issues relating uniquely to the rural portion of the City, we should be given the democratic right to govern our own local affairs:

"The best decisions pertaining to the rural area are going to be made by the people living in the rural community, where there is a history of problem-solving in rural matters that goes back for generations."

Just think how much simpler, more pleasant and efficient, the functioning of City Council would be, if there weren't all those 'confusing rural matters' to deal with, that urban councillors know nothing about.

"Quite simply, the City could and would operate a lot more smoothly, and a lot more efficiently, if rural-related decision making was handled locally."

To thrive as a city, we rurals need the to reclaim the role of rural-specific decision making in this city. Anything less would be downright undemocratic.

So, in closing, let's make sure that we properly utilize the vast energy and unique talents of the residents of the large rural component of this great city, so that we can use all of our diverse and cumulative talents in a unified, positive and synergistic way ...to ensure that we continue to remain the #1 city in Canada."

 

Jack MacLaren, of West Carleton, is an Ottawa-resident representative of the Lanark Landowners Association (LLA):

Jack MacLaren opened with the blunt declaration of something acutely apparent to all those who were present:
“Amalgamation has failed.

MacLaren, who is a farmer in West Carleton, serves on many agricultural committees, as well as being an Ottawa-resident representative of the rapidly growing “Rural Revolution”, which was started by the Lanark Landowner’s Association (LLA). Now, he and another 500 Ottawa residents are members of the LLA.

Mr. MacLaren attributes the rapid growth of the LLA, in no small part, to the city’s bungling of rural affairs and mismanagement of city finances and operations --on a massive scale.

 
Jack MacLaren,  a well known and respected West Carleton farmer,  who is an active member of several organizations, spoke at the rally on behalf of the LLA's "Rural Revolution".
 
The City spends $100M more every year than it takes in!

He stated that, in terms of financial mismanagement  -- the city spends $100,000,000 more every year than it takes in. It has spent almost all of the $400 million reserve fund that it started with four years ago -- with only $37 million left. And, it has taken $200 million of cash equity out of Ottawa Hydro.

In terms of the city’s management of rural affairs, Jack stated, “Urban councilors should never have been given the role of governing rural townships. The ensuing disaster was predictable.”

According to MacLaren -- with everyone present agreeing:

“The only way to establish effective rural representation and good rural government, is for us to govern ourselves”.

He closed with the not so far-fetched idea, in the light of the city’s treatment of rurals, “We must ‘Go Back To The Future’ and re-establish ‘CARLETON COUNTY’.”

 

Wyatt McWilliams, founder of “Hay West” and “Food Aid”:

Mr. McWilliams received a loud ovation, as soon as he was introduced.

He was the founder of "Hay West", which was helped western farmers last year with shipments of local hay, while the western provinces suffered from a severe drought.

On May 27th, Wyatt along with may other individuals and organizations --and with all-day support from Radio Station CFRA--- managed to raise $108,000 to supply the Ottawa Food Bank with local beef.

 
East Ottawa farmer, Wyatt McWilliams is considered a local hero for his contributions to western farmers, and to the Ottawa Food Bank. A couple of non-farmers in the audience were heard commenting, "Wyatt McWilliams typifies the generous nature of farmers in general. It's too bad they are so badly treated by a City that doesn't understand them, and doesn't care to understand."
 
Mr. McWilliams said that he hopes that the 'Food Aid' idea catches on in communities across the country, "It would do a huge amount of good".

He closed with the modest comment that he only came up with the "idea". His "success was based on the work of a whole lot of people." He said that is why, "We have to work together,"  adding, "We need to look out for our farmers: 'No farmers, no food, no future'!"

(View press coverage of "Food Aid" day, May 27, 2005- CLICK HERE)
 
 

Eve Yantha, President of the Arnprior Regional Federation of Agriculture (ARFA)

While the President of ARFA, Eve Yantha, addressed her comments to, "all the supporters of the rural and farming community," she also made the point that she was also directing her remarks
to, "Mayor Bob Chiarelli
and Councillors of Ottawa."

And, while the Mayor was conspicuously absent --for someone who professes having an interest in solving rural concerns-- three rural

 
Eve Yantha, President of the AFRA, does not like the negative impacts of amalgamation on rural life, but still sees Ottawa becoming a great community if City officials maturely treat rural residents as partners, with unique talents and abilities, and capable of making most of their own decisions.
Councillors, Glen Brooks, Doug Thompson and Rob Jellet, were present, and had been recognized and thanked earlier by Rural Council President Janne Campbell for their attendence and interest.

Ms. Yantha explained that the, "Arnprior Federation covers a number of former townships, of...  Nepean, West Carleton, Fitzroy/Torbolton, Pakenham and McNab Township."

She added that, "We have a membership of almost 400 representing mainly farmers of many commodity groups, including, beef, dairy, pork, horses, deer/elk, etc. The issues we deal with are mostly farm issues but many issues cross almost all boundaries, and are dealt with by a democratic process, through resolution and vote by the membership nominated Board of Directors."

Eve said that it was her opinion that there are no real savings to be had with amalgamation: "Bigger is not Better!!"

She said that if the City had kept a consistent open dialogue with its rural components, answered letters addressed to the City politicians and staff more promptly, and held more meetings with all the stakeholders concerned, things might have worked more smoothly.

However, Yantha admits, "Since Amalgamation, I have kept a close eye on the happenings between the City and rural and farming community.  I also kept clippings with headlines that show much frustration on the part of these hardworking folks."  To read only "a few", she cited the following: "'Rural Voters have many complaints with merged city''Anger in the Back Forty', and of recent: 'Rural residents ill-served by city' and 'Farmers, city hall clash over selling roadside produce'."

She added that the new 'ward boundary issue' is, "of dire importance to everyone," as well. She exclaimed, "I cannot believe your Council would go ahead and vote for something that your guide, the OMB, would object to?  Explain that to me please, someone!"

Eva expressed that the many negative headlines give reason to ponder the problems rurals are being saddled with, by the City of Ottawa.  -- "Think about them!"

"What would your response be to an outsider, or newcomer, looking to locate here?

Farming is a 'Way of Life' that must be preserved.

Council must understand a saying, we all know, 'One size does not fit all'.”

"A solution to the many frustrations and problems building in these communities since Amalgamation can be remedied, if the City is up-front, willing to be flexible, willing to communicate openly, and address the concerns with respect, and expediency."

"You can by-law these folks to death, but, as you know, we farmers come from very strong willed, 'never give up,' backgrounds.  So be prepared to hear from us, often, loud and long to get our point across."

"If there is something that disturbs the rural way of life, or the 'right to farm' legislation, we will be at your door."

"I tend not to dwell on the negative, but look to past considerations given to O.F.A. by the City on The Agricultural Advisory Committee (now defunct), which had at least a hearing of the rural issues." Now that's gone.

"The farmers themselves, have been working on solutions to help us out of the devastating situation BSE has put us in. 

The O.F.A. worked with Wyatt McWilliams and the Ottawa Food Bank, with, CFRA and Rob Jellet’s help in a win win situation.   Congratulations.!

Our farmers in Fitzroy have formed a company to take the excess of cows to beef products to alleviate some of the overburden on the farmers. Congratulations."         

Eve Yantha finished her talk with, "We are mature people.  Maturity means, walking hand in hand, but not necessarily seeing eye to eye."

"We, together, can build an even greater City, if we work co-operatively."

 

Bruce Webster, resident of Richmond
 
Mr. Webster acknowledged the presence in the audience of the two rural Councillors, Glen Brooks and Doug Thompson, who had both provided busses so that Osgoode, Rideau and Goulbourn residents could attend. He thanked them. He also noted that the Goulbourn Councillor was asked if she would be kind enough to provide a bus --as she has with other groups in the past--- but that request resulted in a flat decline.

Bruce added that, in fact, Goulbourn, for that matter, does not have ANY rural representation. If anything, the opposite is true, "The Councillor has had a history of sabotaging rural interests at every turn."

He added, "Two classic examples of how Councillor Stavinga has worked against the public interest are:
1.) She fought the Village of Richmond all the way, by siding with the Mayor and a pipeline contractor/campaign supporter who pushed for a pressurized sewer line to go through the very middle of Richmond's shallow-well drinking water source. This violates every precept of 'source water protection', presenting a flagrant case of public endangerment and representing a serious breach of the public trust."

 
Richmond resident, Bruce Webster has worked with the Richmond Community Association, attempting to protect Richmond's drinking water supply from future, city-caused contamination. "The city is guilty of public endangerment and is in breach of  public trust," he states.
 

"The risky forcemain was not even built for the sake of saving money. What could have been done safely with an on-site treatment plant at Munster, for under $4 million, got illegally switched to the forcemain, at a Capital Cost in 2004, alone, of over $23 million. (There is still an additional $5.5 million in work remaining to complete the forcemain!) As one other Councillor has stated, 'Something really smells here, and it's not just the sewage'."

2.) "As reported by earlier speaker, Tony Walker of the Goulbourn Landowners Group, some fifty-or-so land owners are being treated very badly by the City of Ottawa, and Councillor Stavinga is actually working in a conflict situation against the interests of her ratepayers.

The city has invited the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to create new wetlands on private property (where there was not wetlands before). While Councillor Stavinga is the Councillor of Goulbourn, who is paid by the city to represent her ratepayers ---she, instead--- sits as Vice-Chair on the RVCA, appearing to be working solely for its interests, and sabotaging the ratepayers' interests at every turn. Meanwhile, she has not responded to almost all of the pleas for her assistance in the two months since this has been public. She secretly worked against the ratepayers' interests for more than two years, without disclosing to them what she was up to."
 
"So, if you ask me if we need MORE councillors at City Hall, I would say NOT like Goulbourn's:

We need BETTER Councillors -- We need better REPRESENTATION!"

"When you experience, from the rural perspective, such consistently wasteful and counter-productive activities by City Council, in the context of our rapidly diminishing "effective representation," it is patently clear why there is a 90% level of rural dissatisfaction
(view survey results), and why Amalgamation is perceived to be an abysmal failure."
 

 

Crystal LeBlanc, NDP Candidate for Carleton-Mississippi Mills

Ms. LeBlanc thanked the Rural Council of Ottawa Carleton "for putting on this important event."

We're here today because of what NDP Agricultural critic Charlie Angus has coined a "political walk away" from rural Canada. In the May 2nd edition of The Hill Times, Charlie writes that: 'For the last dozen or so years, farmers have been left on their own to compete and to cope in the face of increasingly growing international and domestic obstacles. Farmers have adapted. They've grown more efficient, and have moved towards increasing economies of scale. But the fact is, they've hit the wall and there just doesn't seem to be any political inclination on the part of the ruling Liberals to find a new way forward.'

I think Charlie is being optimistic: the political walk-away is more like a run, that's brought our farmers out of the fields and off the land to stand up and make their voices heard.

 
                                         Photo by Bruce Collier

Crystal LeBlanc, NDP Candidate for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, and resident of West Carleton, points out that the democratic deficit facing rurals across Canada,  is made all the worse in Ottawa by City Council's Ward Boundary Review-vote to reduce effective rural representation by another 40%.
 
While, economically, rural Canada is being marginalized, politically it is being disenfranchised.

Today, Ottawa City Council will vote to receive a report from a consulting company that recommends reducing rural representation on City Council by 40%. Amalgamation took away rural councils. Rural representation on Ottawa City Council is weak enough as it is. If successful, the restructuring of the Ottawa ward boundaries will almost certainly silence whatever voice that remain for rural communities.

...We're here to let our municipal leaders know what we think of the rural democratic deficit they're voting on today.

...Farmers continue to lose faith in a government and political process that seems less and less about the issues important to farmers and important to Canadians." Crystal added:

"There's a democratic deficit when the voice of our rural communities is drowned out by the din of urban
'busy'-ness and city planning on rural communities."

With the inference being that all of the political and bureaucratic meddling in rural affairs is almost always impacting negatively, Ms. LeBlanc stated, "There's something broken in rural Canada. And it's not the farmers, nor the communities in rural Canada who broke it. It is becoming increasingly difficult to determine which level of government holds rural life in more contempt. After two years of government dithering about the BSE crisis, cattle and dairy farmers from across Canada have rolled up their sleeves and taken matters into their own hands, increasing the slaughter capacity and selling inspected beef directly to consumers, through co-ops that by-pass the packers whose only concern is fattening their already huge profits."

..."Our rural communities are hurting. We need our community leaders, our council representatives, our MP's and MPP's to roll up their sleeves, to get dirty and with us, make it work.

It's time our representatives stopped listening to 'stakeholders' and started standing up for the communities they represent. This is what they were elected for, this is what our taxes pay for.

Whenever any voice is silenced, whether it be that of women, youth, or farmers, democracy is threatened.

Today, with a strong and united voice that no consultant's report can silence, we say NO to the Rural Democratic Deficit, and YES to Rural Democracy!"

 
 
Gordon O'Connor, MP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills

Mr. O'Connor, earlier, had sent his regrets about being unable to attend due to a caucus meeting, but expressed his support for the Rural Council's objectives in promoting fairness in government handling of private property.

O'Connor's website (www.gordonoconnor.ca) states the following:

"The right to own property should be written in
the Constitution. No government should have the authority to expropriate private property or to
impose regulations that impact an individual's property, without just compensation."

 

MP, Gordon O'Connor, has strongly argued the case that fair compensation should be included as part of owners' property rights, when governments choose to take  ownership, or control of private property.

 
 

Bob Broomfield, resident of West Carleton:

CAUSE OF RURAL PROBLEMS CLARIFIED:

Mr. Broomfield began by noting that on the city web page regarding the rural summit Mayor Chiarelli stated that one of the purposes of the summit is: "to help promote greater understanding between Ottawa's rural and urban residents".

Broomfield commented, "I do not know whether this is posturing or a genuine lack of understanding by the mayor but ...for the most part I don’t think the problems arising from a rural perspective is due to a lack of understanding between the two groups of residents, both are basically trying to get on with their lives in their own environments:

"The problems of understanding are between Rural residents and the city politicians and staff."

THEFT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS:

 


West Carleton resident, Bob Broomfield, made many clear points on City's abuse of ratepayers' interests.

"There is one particular aspect of living in the city of Ottawa and that particularly disturbs me. It is the willingness, even enthusiasm, of the planners and politicians to steal the property rights of their residents.

They re-designate (or re-zone) the land use of private property in their official plans and its expanded sub plans, this means they take away peoples property rights relating to some aspect of the property, they create bylaws which have a similar effect.

The City staff get upset if you tell them they are stealing from the property owners on behalf of the city. Yet they are taking away peoples property rights without their permission and they have no intention of returning them.

In the dictionary this is the definition of stealing.

It is however not illegal because the municipal and planning acts give the city the legal ability to steal in this way. It does not however make them exercise this right, the decision to steal is with city staff and politicians.

They could pay for the rights, and control, that they want to take from the property owner, or they could use a more positive approach to their objectives but in the most part they don’t. Its easier to steal when you have been given license to do so. 

In other activities the planning department also exercise their right to indulge in extortion like activities. I questioned some planners about this and was told that it was "standard practice". I personally found this disgusting that staff in this city who are paid with our tax dollars supposedly to service our needs have so little concern about the morality and impact of stealing peoples property rights that that they dismiss it as "standard practice".

Because this type of stealing is not illegal, and bears no consequence for the city and its staff, does not diminish its real impact on the victims, their property is devalued, they face a real loss on their financial investment in their property, and the psychological impact of feeling anger and violation is not mitigated by knowing that the perpetrators are being paid to do this with our own tax dollars.

While I am justifiably (miffed) when it is my property rights they are trying to steal, I am equally disturbed and appalled when its somebody else's... because they claim that they are doing this for the public good and being as I am one of the public, a resident of Ottawa, this travesty is claimed to be done for my benefit (as one of many)."

To drive home the point, by example, Broomfield explained:

"Clearly I would not steal from my neighbors nor anticipate that they would steal from me. That is why I find it morally corrupt that city representatives are willing to steal from city residents and claim to do this on my behalf."

"In its official plan the city presents itself as supporting a caring community. Such hypocrisy is appalling, how caring a city is it that steals from its own (usually minority, frequently rural) residents.

It is said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It would seem that amalgamation is putting way to much power in the hands of those without the moral compunction to use it sparingly and fairly for the actual benefit of all of the residents."

TREE-CUTTING RIGHTS EXTINGUISHED:

"Rural residents have objections to the city's 'good forestry practices' bylaw.

Our rights and freedoms are being incrementally eroded by legislation which is allowed to progress into existence as a compromise from something worse, when it should not exist at all.

There is no fair compromise in this situation as any compromise results in only one side giving something up. A compromise here means they simply steal less of the landowners rights than they would have liked to.  It will be too late when all of these pieces of compromised legislation collectively remove not only all of our rights and freedoms but the right to change back also."

"When does the cities bylaw officers achieve the status and power of the KGB or the Gestapo and can enter anybody's property or home on the pretext of bylaw complaints?"

"By way of example in a different context, perhaps it should be recommended that to solve parking problems downtown and protect greenspace from becoming parking lots there should be a bylaw that specifies all down town private home and business driveways be designated public parking and be fitted with parking meters. Is any compromise good? How about if the property owner were given a free pass for the use of his own driveway, but the bylaw would contain a clause for city parking officials to enter the home owners home without a warrant at any time if somebody complained that their visitors were parking there illegally using the owners pass. Fines would be $1000 per day for private vehicle infringements and $10000 per day for commercial vehicles. Property owners would of course get no compensation and be responsible for maintenance to city parking lot standards also for snow clearance of their driveways, with penalties for obstructing them in any way.

Its BS! It would never happen, but only because to many downtown residents would be completely (and rightly) incensed. The good forest practices bylaw is BS in the same vein, unfortunately it does not affect such a large proportion of the population, and the majority would not have the time to understand the concerns anyway, also the proposed bylaw is easier to dress up as professional, reasonable and green to people who are not affected.

There should be no compromise on keeping this Bylaw it should be dismissed and assurances given that council will not accept its resubmission in the future, its time council showed some concrete support for property owners.

Further I do not think the people promoting this would be looking for a compromise that’s reasonable, the bylaw's basis is unreasonable, it proposes stealing fellow citizens property rights, they heard public comment and changed only the cosmetic."

Mr. Broomfield ended his comments by thanking the organizers for bringing focus to the many grievances of rural residents --voiced by others, today, as well as himself-- and expressed hope that the broad-based support of the Rural Council could bring a stop to city abuses.

 

Mike Maguire, resident of Kars, is a member of the Ontario De-amalgamation Network: 

Mr. Maguire thanked listeners for taking the time to come out to add their voices to the growing chorus of dissent in Ontario. "We’re here because we’re dissatisfied with the decisions and we’re suspicious of the intentions of the government, be it Provincial or Municipal."

He said, "All of you have seen first hand the effects of runaway municipal bureaucracy, the un-checked hikes in your property taxes, the decline in services, the loss of representation in rural communities due to amalgamation and now with the proposed ward boundary changes you’ll see a further loss of identity as historical boundaries are eliminated and artificial ones are constructed by committee."

"…The simple fact is that all over Ontario the mega-cities that were created are failing and this story is repeated in Hamilton, Sudbury, Kawartha Lakes etc." he states. 

 
Mike Maguire, does not  take kindly to rural Ottawa being  short-changed by Amalgamation. He plans to continue fighting the inefficiencies and abuses of
this risky experiment gone wrong.
(View Mike's website: Out of Ottawa.ca)
 
"The idea that you could combine formerly highly efficient municipalities with terribly inefficient municipalities and generate greater levels of service at lesser cost is surely counter intuitive."

"What’s the solution? I believe that the province has to step back in and un-tangle the mess that was created during the municipal mergers. I want to stress that last point because I don’t hear it enough. Feel free to ignore what city council says about de-amalgamation, cities and their councils have no say in this debate. It is the province, in particular the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who determines the makeup of a city and what regulatory authority the city has. If we are to achieve de-amalgamation in Ontario before the mega-cities start to go bankrupt then our job is to convince the Premier that it’s in his best interest to start the process.

I believe that Premier McGuinty is probably a pretty reasonable guy. He knows that the cities are in a mess but he believes that because this isn’t an election issue then he can turn his attention elsewhere. Our job is to convince the Premier that municipal reform is one of the primary election issues in Ontario and failure to address it will result in devastation for the provincial Liberals at the polls in 2007.

So, here’s what I plan to do. I’ll be sending out thousands of these postcards to residents in Ottawa just after the next municipal budget. The front is pre-addressed to the Premier, no stamp required, and the back has a single sentence. 'Premier McGuinty, I need a binding referendum on de-amalgamation immediately or I can’t vote for your party'."

Mike concluded with, "After almost 5 years of observation we can conclude that the mega-cities are unmanageable. I really believe that our job is to help the Premier realize that municipal reform is a priority and with your help we can do that."

 

 

Janne Campbell's closing remarks:

"Ninety percent of the City’s land mass is rural.  Not only this, we are fighting for survival from two other levels of government.  We all heard in the speeches today, 'One size doesn’t fit all'.

In principal everyone agrees with that, except for some bureaucrats that have no idea what rural life is like.  In last year's budget cuts, the only committee to be cut was the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Advisory Committee (ARAAC).  This committee had no money or staff associated with it.  It didn't cost the city anything.  And the present Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) doesn't have the support or strength that it needs. 

Since our inception of the Rural Council last year, part of our mandate was to be a resource for the City.  Not once has the city called to ask about the impact of policy that it is deciding.  The city doesn’t even see fit that out of 17,000 employees to have one person who is truly knowledgeable about rural affairs.

As you've heard today, the level of frustration is palpable.  We have not been consulted on major issues that affect us; like the open air burn by-law, 3km buffer zone, the vendor licencing by-law and believe me I could go on.  The last fire call for the Township of West Carleton on Dec. 31, 1999 was to my house.  The first two fire fighters on the scene were dual hatters.   Five ended up on that call.   A year before when my baby was choking and I called 911, a dual hatter responded within minutes. Today the dual hatters - full-time firefighters who happen volunteers in their community, are not allowed because the city couldn’t take a leadership role and stand up to the union.

There are too many things that are happening without our knowledge and are forcing reactionism."

OUR OWN TAX DOLLARS ARE USED TO FIGHT US

"Continually our tax dollars are being used to fight us with.  Whether it is bureaucrats that don’t understand, or don't care to learn, about the rural lifestyle, or on the other hand special interest groups like the Ottawa Greenspace and Forestry Advisory Committee that receives money from council to write a by-law to prevent us from cutting trees on our own properties and prop up another bureaucracy.

When I gave my presentation to you on the Tree-cutting by-law, I was poo-pooed by the city forester for being afraid that the by-law was a foot in the door with the phrase regarding land use designation 'as amended from time to time'.   The Provincial Policy Statement 2005 has sweeping changes in OMB legislation and will make all planning decisions centralized in Toronto.  The language states that municipal land use planning 'shall be consistent with' as opposed to 'have regard to'

You heard from Augusta Township Councillor, Paulene Cyr, who spoke earlier, that on April 11, 2005, the Augusta Township Council passed a resolution to add a preamble suggested by the Leeds & Grenville Landowners to the Zoning bylaw and the Official Plan. The resolution is worth repeating. It provided that,

1.) '... it is a fundamental requirement that the municipality not rezone or designate the use and opportunities of private land without the landowners prior written approval and consent.'

2.) 'This principal can only be abridged for the public good, with fair, just and timely compensation.'
 

The City of Ottawa would do well to take a page from the enlightened Council of Augusta Township, before the rift between rural ratepayers and city politicians/bureaucrats becomes irreconcilable. That time is fast approaching.

The Rural Council's suggestion (in December, 2004), to host a 'Rural Summit', is being acted upon by the City. I would like to recognize Moira Winch, who is the City Co-ordinator for the Rural Summit, and who is taking notes on some of our grievances mentioned today. The Rural Council will be working very closely with Moira, and we wish her every success in the great task before her."

"From the outset, the Rural Summit has a lot to do to prove itself, the first being credibility in its sincerity --from a political perspective-- and many of the city abuses and offensive programs cited today have to be put on hold IMMEDIATELY if the Summit is to retain any credibility ---as we approach the proposed November event."

Janne added, "The Rural Summit may be, in fact, the last hope for productive fence-mending between the City and its rural communities."

Campbell concluded the Rally with, "Thanks to all of the great speakers who participated".

She then announced that the Council Meeting, likely deciding to reduce the effective representation of the rural communities by 40% was about to begin, and anyone who wanted to see a sickening spectacle in failing democracy, could go inside the Council chambers and watch.

 

PRESS REPORTS OF RCOC's RURAL RALLY
and WARD BOUNDARY VOTE IN COUNCIL:

Metronews Ottawa - June 9, 2005 (See page 3)

Ottawa Sun - June 9, 2005

Ottawa Valley News -June 16, 2005

Manotick Messenger - June 15, 2005

Free Press Advocate - June 7, 2005 (PRE-RALLY COVERAGE)

Ottawa Citizen - June 9, 2005


 

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