If only we all had the vi­sion of Chuck Charlebois

Seaway News - - EDITORIAL & OPINIONS - Todd Li­hou

City hall has drawn a line in the sand – and is dar­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to cross it. An­gry city coun­cil­lors, if you haven’t heard by now, passed a by­law Mon­day night that pro­hibits the work be­ing done on Corn­wall’s water­front to build a pair of tanks that could some­day house cal­cium chlo­ride.

The is­sue is sim­ple – the mu­nic­i­pal­ity says all work on that site must com­ply with its of­fi­cial plan, a doc­u­ment city hall uses to de­ter­mine what kind of de­vel­op­ment can take place on any given prop­erty in Corn­wall.

In this case, the city says that par­cel of land can’t be used as a chem­i­cal stor­age or trans­fer depot. Now the big ques­tion is, what will the fed­eral gov­ern­ment do about it? City coun­cil­lors are bank­ing on the gov­ern­ment, in this case Trans­port Canada, will avoid a very pub­lic, very messy bat­tle over what gets to be built on the water­front.

The city has the PR war sewn up. It’s hard to spin chem­i­cal tanks on the water­front into a pos­i­tive event – es­pe­cially af­ter all the hard work that this com­mu­nity has done to re­pair the im­age of that area of town.

City coun­cil­lors were say­ing all the right things Mon­day night, and the mes­sage was sim­ple: “If they want a le­gal fight, we’ll give them one.”

Of course, that’s just what it might come to – and that’s where things could get trou­bling for the city and the rest of us who want no part of more chem­i­cals on the water­front.

Un­less there’s some­thing we don’t know ( there al­ways is) it looks like the fed­eral gov­ern­ment played by the rules on this one. It doesn’t have to get any per­mits or site-plans to do some­thing on its prop­erty and it signed an agree­ment in good faith with a pri­vate in­dus­try (Tril­lium Dis­tribut­ing). The only thing the gov­ern­ment could be ac­cused of is do­ing all this be­hind our backs – which is ter­ri­ble, but won’t ex­actly rule the day if this fight ends up in a court­room.

But we have a se­cret weapon, and his name is Chuck Charlebois.

If you haven’t shaken Chuck’s hand re­cently do your­self a favour and shake it the next time you see him. Chuck bleeds Corn­wall blood, and de­spite a crip­pling af­flic­tion that would have left lesser peo­ple wal­low­ing in self­pity, there he was trudg­ing through the snow at a protest Mon­day, ral­ly­ing the city against the tank con­struc­tion.

City coun­cil, in spite of a land­slide of prob­lems this term, got it right Mon­day night. For a while I thought this thing would re­sult in a lot of hot air that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would sim­ply ride out un­til tem­pers cooled.

I was wrong (again) and it looks like city hall has both bar­rels loaded and will fight. Awe­some.

The guy who comes out of this with prob­lems is MP Guy Lau­zon. He has been vil­i­fied in some cir­cles, per­haps un­fairly, be­cause it is a fed­eral gov­ern­ment min­istry that owns the land and signed the lease agree­ment. It wouldn’t be the first time that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment did some­thing with­out first con­sult­ing the MP of the rid­ing in ques­tion.

The is­sue now is what will Guy do for his rid­ing? He made an ap­pear­ance at the protest Mon­day and sug­gested he’s hope­ful com­mon ground can be found. I’m not sure that’s what peo­ple want to hear, as ev­i­denced by the re­ac­tion th­ese tanks have cre­ated.

We want them gone, and this is where we start to fight back. Chuck Charlebois has a vi­sion for the water­front that I hope, one day, be­comes a re­al­ity. Of course, I could be an old man by that time, but so what? At least it will be a part of Corn­wall we can look at with pride in­stead of em­bar­rass­ment.

If th­ese tanks are built, it sends a mes­sage that Corn­wall is re­gress­ing in­stead of break­ing free of a mold that has kept us a pris­oner for decades.

How many times have you heard some­one say, es­pe­cially th­ese last few days, ‘Well, that’s Corn­wall for you.” A lot. I say this is the is­sue where we cast that sen­ti­ment aside.

To those who would look to build chem­i­cal tanks on our water­front I of­fer this: please find some­place else. We’ve charted a dif­fer­ent course for our water­front, be­cause the dream of a man who uses crutches to walk, can run cir­cles around those tanks.

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