Bay Roberts tax­payer casts crit­i­cal eye on coun­cil

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

I’m writ­ing this letter in re­sponse to your March 1 editorial head­lined “ Tell us your se­crets,” re­gard­ing the un­will­ing­ness of the Bay Roberts town coun­cil to be­come more trans­par­ent to the min­i­mum stan­dard re­quired by the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act.

To say I’m a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed is like say­ing that Char­lie Sheen is cur­rently a lit­tle un­hinged. I re­ally, re­ally thought that when the town hired CAO Nigel Black, their op­er­a­tions would evolve from small town, back room, old boys’ pol­i­tics to a more mod­ern, efficient, trans­par­ent and tax­payer-friendly coun­cil. Ap­par­ently not. They have given an amount of money to a pri­vately run busi­ness for “ loss of busi­ness.” How much of tax­pay­ers’ money was paid out? What caused the loss of busi­ness? Why was this done un­der a veil of se­crecy called a priv­i­leged meet­ing?

This begs the ques­tion: What else are they do­ing with our money be­hind closed doors?

Then we have the $171,000 of our money al­lo­cated to pur­chase 22 acres of Crown land for a pro­posed busi­ness park.

Why was there no men­tion of this dur­ing the pub­lic meet­ing held re­cently to de­bate the al­ready adopted plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment reg­u­la­tions? They went through the mo­tions of pub­licly dis­clos­ing what they wanted to dis­close and then out­right re­fused to dis­close any more in­for­ma­tion/ de­tails when re­quested. What’s up with that?

Speak­ing of go­ing through the mo­tions. Re­cently, the town hired a com­mis­sioner to hear in­put, op­po­si­tion and re­quests for change to the al­ready adopted De­vel­op­ment and Plan­ning Reg­u­la­tions for 2011-2020. How­ever, the coun­cil is not re­quired to adopt any changes rec­om­mended by said com­mis­sioner, and the tax­pay­ers have ab­so­lutely no abil­ity to ap­peal the de­ci­sions al­ready made by the coun­cil.

So I ask: What was the point of that whole process? Would it not make more sense for the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs to ap­point a non-bi­ased, neu­tral com­mis­sioner to make changes to the Plan be­fore it is adopted, based on the mer­its of the ar­gu­ments pre­sented and best past prac­tices?

Why does the town ar­bi­trar­ily de­cide if I can or can­not de­velop land to which I have clear ti­tle with­out com­pen­sat­ing me for my loss? Why does one body of wa­ter and shore- line in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity get a pro­tec­tion zone of ap­prox­i­mately 300 feet when yet a sim­i­lar body of wa­ter and shore­line gets des­ig­nated “ half ” en­vi­ron­men­tally pro­tected/con­ser­va­tion? How does the wildlife know which half of the pond they should swim in and on which half of the shore­line they should build their nests?

Come on peo­ple. This is 2011. As I stated in that pub­lic meet­ing, Bay Roberts is much too big of a mu­nic­i­pal­ity for the town coun­cil to be puff­ing up it’s chest and be­hav­ing like they can do as they please. Not in our town. Not with our money. Not any­more.

If the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act stip­u­lates a min­i­mum stan­dard of what is manda­tory to dis­close, then dis­close it you shall. It will be a whole lot less painful if the coun­cil takes it upon them­selves to fol­low the Act with re­gards to dis­clo­sure and trans­parency than if they are forced.

I, too, have great re­spect for the coun­cilors as in­di­vid­u­als in our com­mu­nity. How­ever, I have lit­tle re­spect for the be­hav­iour of this group of pub­li­cally elected of­fi­cials and how they treat the ma­jor­ity of tax­pay­ers and our tax dol­lars.

Re­mem­ber, you fel­las vol­un­teered to put your­selves out there for pub­lic of­fice, and you know how the old adage goes: If you can’t stand the heat …

I feel our town de­serves to be treated bet­ter. Con­sider your­selves no­ti­fied. The Com­pass’ eyes are not the only crit­i­cal eyes that are watch­ing. Char­lene Dawe-Roach

Bay Roberts

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