‘ The process was flawed’
North Sydney resident still has questions about sale of Archibald Wharf.
A recent report by the province’s office of the ombudsman validates concerns that the process that resulted in the sale of Archibald Wharf was flawed, according to North Sydney resident Earlene MacMullin.
Last May, CBRM council finalized the sale of Archibald Wharf in North Sydney to Canadian Maritime Engineering Ltd. to expand its dry dock.
"We all know regardless of whether you were for or against the sale, the process was flawed and that many can agree on," said MacMullin. "That was always my concern. The property being sold, the reasoning behind it if it created jobs — I understand that. My issue was always with the process."
The sale came months after council met with hundreds of angry residents who were upset with how the controversial sale was pushed through council without a proper public hearing.
The office of the ombudsman identified issues warranting review around the process to amend the municipal planning strategy, the public hearing process and administrative procedures related to council’s agenda policy.
"During the public hearing process that took place in council chambers, that’s exactly what I brought forward — that we weren’t meeting the deadlines because they weren’t giving us enough time. All we asked for in the beginning was to slow it down, give us time to react. Follow the deadlines set out in the Municipal Government Act, and for some reason it was rushed through."
The ombudsman’s recommendation was to develop a plan to ensure that public notices meet the requirements as set out in the Municipal Government Act.
MacMullin also contends that the final sale didn’t take place in May as stated in the ombudsman’s report.
"It was the CBRM that released the ombudsman report that states it (the sale) was finalized in May. Yet I have correspondence between myself and Dimetri Kachafanas, the solicitor for the CBRM, where he tells me it wasn’t finalized until Oct. 20."
MacMullin said she also has an issue with the amount of property sold to Canadian Maritime Engineering, adding the parcel of land sold was larger than what was originally voted on by council.
"There are still questions we’d like clarification on such as what is the actual official date of sale. Is it May according to the ombudsman’s report, or October according to the CRRM?"
MacMullin said she was disappointed in the ombudsman’s review that the sale of Archibald Wharf was reasonable, but identified some deficiencies.
"The Municipal Government Act is a legal document that should be followed," she said. "It’s nice to know that it’s been acknowledged by a third party that the process is flawed. The report validates the fact that we said this process was flawed right from the beginning."
The ombudsman’s report notes there appears to have been a lack of accountability in adhering to the Municipal Government Act, specifically by not following appropriate time requirements for public notice. A public participation program policy is a requirement under the Municipal Government Act, the report states, and appears to be lacking in the CBRM.
The office recommended the CBRM develop a public participation program policy, develop a plan to ensure future public notices meet requirements as set out in the Municipal Government Act and that the council agenda policy be reviewed to ensure it is meeting the objectives.
North Sydney resident Earlene MacMullin believes the sale of Archibald Wharf by the CBRM resulted from a flawed process.