By MAGGIE M, Editor, Wedgee-in-Chief, theWedge.LIVE
It’s fascinating to watch a population rise en masse against their elected leaders this close to home. It’s happening in many corners of the world. In Smiths Falls, it is uncommon. Not anymore.
I got into the Council meeting by the skin of my teeth last night, in time to get a photo of Justin Duhamel, business owner, speaking to Council about the businesses’ grievances regarding angled parking.
Vince Hamilton, retired CPR Conductor, presented first including three sets of petitions numbering 2,607 signatures from residents, businesses and frequent local visitors. The number had climbed to 2,828 by March 10th.
“The Council did not say a word or ask a question,” Hamilton said after he spoke. “Was it a plan to get through it and not engage?”, he adds.
“At the council meeting I shared that fifty plus businesses downtown reject this change, because it will be crimping capacity at a time when businesses that in some cases have been there for decades are expecting dramatic increases in growth and demand,” says Duhamel.
“I said that making a decision like this that dramatically reduces capacity amounts to planning malpractice. I described the feeling among business owners that they are under attack after I mentioned that some members of council itself have felt threatened, and that the decision to reopen the parking has opened up a civil war in town, and the only way to rectify things and fix their legacy would be to reverse the new decision and go back to angle surface arrangement.”
“Council’s decision was to let the public ask questions. That (last night’s Council meeting) was the forum,” answered Mayor Pankow today to the wedge, when I inquired about holding a public forum. “They didn’t ask us any questions. They were allotted ten minutes more than the usual ten minutes and they didn’t use the time.”
And then I asked Pankow about a delay or reversal of plans for open public discourse.
“There is no possibility of a delay; it would put us in a less competitive position in terms of contractors [availability and costs.]”
It seems it was high-noon, both sides waiting for questions. The conflagration appears recalcitrant.
This Monday, March 18th, former Mayor Dennis Staples is expected to address Council about his impressions on the manner in which “Complete Streets” has evolved and angled parking devolved, after the former Council agreed to maintain the status quo.
Perhaps Staples will ask hard questions of the Council.
Vince and Justin presented the facts and figures in a clear and concise manner..They were prepared for questions from council which were not forthcoming..Mayor and council had their minds made up as they stated publicly.These two men did not come to ask questions of the council..But to present the wishes of over 2800 signatories through evidence presented to council. To the media, please do not try and slant this meeting to be anything but camouflage by council and Mayor Pankow to appear transparent..
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Posting for Vince Hamilton: Thank you Maggie for the coverage.
We who oppose this council’s re-visit of the decision of last year’s council regarding the re-surfacing of our main street (Beckwith Street) want the true facts to come out.
Last year’s decision of council was strictly a decision on Options 1 or 2 and they made that decision, after public input, to remain with angled parking.
This year’s council decision to “re-visit” that decision has opened up a whole new ‘can of worms’. Although this council want to make this present conflict about parking again, it is no such thing. It is about the transparency of this council and it’s decision to steamroll their personal preferences on a very angry populous that feels betrayed by those they put in office.
After a multitude of requests/demands for public input, the constituents have been met with the council’s stone wall. They have blatantly denied us a public forum and merely provided an extra 10 mins per delegation as provided in the existing by-laws. It is a farce and we will continue the protests and petition-gathering. We have just started to gather signatures door-to door.
Thanks again for covering our story.
Very concerned citizen of Smiths Falls, Ontario