Council votes down motion to allow development on Treasure Island

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A decision to allow development on Treasure Island by Huntsville’s Development Services Committee did not make it past Huntsville council on Monday night.

Development staff’s recommendation to grant the owners of the island some development rights, despite the island’s Conservation zoning, was initially approved at Huntsville’s Development Committee on November 13, 2019. Councillors Jonathan Wiebe, Nancy Alcock, and Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano voted in favour of the recommendation, while Councillors Dan Armour and Jason FitzGerald voted against it.

Twelve days later, when the recommendation made its way to Huntsville council’s November 25 meeting for ratification, those who had voted in favour of the recommendation seemed to have a change of heart.

“I thought that the staff did an excellent job trying to meet all of the interests involved in this file, but it was a protracted discussion at that same meeting and I felt like maybe I called the vote prematurely. Maybe we had more room for further discussion? I’m not sure,” said Alcock, who chairs the committee. “All I know is post the meeting I have also reflected on that decision and I feel quite strongly now that I can’t support the recommendation that was before us two weeks ago.”

Councillor Dan Armour also sits on the committee and told his fellow councillors that he did not support the recommendation before them. “I did not support that motion two weeks ago and I still do not support it today. I believe back in 2006 it was zoned Conservation due to the threshold of the lake, 13 years later the lake is better but I still think this could [be]detrimental to the lake. And I think we all serve the people of Huntsville, Port Sydney and Utterson to save our lakes… I can’t see supporting this today or in the future,” he said.

Councillor Tim Withey said that although he does not sit on the committee, he would not be supporting the motion either. “I’ve heard from a number of people and I’ve certainly read through all the documents that have been considered all along… for me, this comes down to basic right and wrong and I think this is wrong.”

Terziano said she supported the resolution at the committee with the caveat that she preferred to leave the island in a Conservation zone, including the areas to be developed, which staff recommended be rezoned. “I was hoping to find compromise that would work for everyone and keep us out of the OMB [now the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)]. Given that I said that at the time, I appreciate the passion of the residents on Lake Waseosa and I appreciate the size of the lake and the fact that we are potentially going to damage it if we let further development go there so I’m quite prepared to change my vote and vote to deny this as well,” she said.

In the end, council defeated the motion which will likely be appealed by the applicants at the LPAT.

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6 Comments

  1. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    Only two councillors on the Development Services committee opposed this decision two weeks ago.The rest of the councillors on the committee were in favour of implementing this resolution. Now they are trying to turn everything upside down by saying that they were in favour of or even against the introduction of this resolution.The phraseology refers to the good times of communist rule in Eastern Europe.

    • Things happen fast in a committee meeting. What this change in votes demonstrates, actually, is a successful democratic process. The councillors took to heart what was said at the committee level, they invested time in shaping and, in some cases, reshaping their opinion and then they voted with their convictions and in representation of their constituents. Nothing was turned upside down. The committee sent it to council for a vote, it got pulled for discussion and it got voted down. That meeting demonstrated the thoughtful intent of the council members to perform their roles with integrity, exactly what we hoped for when we elected them.

      • Waldi Frankiewicz on

        My mom had a few life maxims.One of them is: *A wise man thinks before making a mistake,. A fool starts thinking after making a mistake.

      • “Any man (woman) is liable to err, only a fool persists in error .” Cicero

        I would like to take this opportunity to thank the councillors of Huntsville for their thoughtful vote on the evening of November 25. By your 8-0 vote against development , you have made a bold statement about the environment. Statements like these need to be said more often to show future generations that we do care about their world.

        You listened to what many people said. You persevered with our facts, data, thoughts and emotions. You took time to think about it and you asked questions. To me that shows you care. That sounds like good governance.

        A resident of Lake Waseosa, Doug Janes, worked tirelessly, researching and conveying information to town staff and lake residents for almost a year. His excellent efforts and achievements have not gone unnoticed. Tony Doob, LWRA, was also very helpful, insightful and encouraging. Many other lake residents offered thoughts, feelings and encouragement as well.

        I would like to thank you for listening and making a progressive decision for the environment of Lake Waseosa.

  2. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    The mistakes of the fool are known to the world, but not to himself. The mistakes of the wise man are known to himself, but not to the world.

    *Charles Caleb Colton*

  3. Changing one’s mind is never easy. Changing one’s mind publicly is even harder. And changing one’s mind publicly (or rejecting a staff and committee decision) when one is a politician is even more difficult.

    It was, therefore, enormously satisfying to see the Town of Huntsville Council listen to and consider carefully the arguments from the Lake Waseosa community.

    On 25 November, the Council made a decision that, in the long run, does send a message to everyone in Huntsville: The Council listens to the arguments made by the community and each of our Council’s members was persuaded that it was in the Town of Huntsville’s interest to turn down this development proposal.

    I am happy about the decision they made that Monday night. But I am even more happy about what it tells us about our Council.

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