Bylaw change in Harbour Grace endangers public
Following his election, Mayor Terry Barnes indicated that council was looking forward to the challenge ahead to bring Harbour Grace forward as a productive, safe community for everyone to enjoy, as well as enticing new residents and new commerce to our beautiful historic town. The community and in particular seniors need to be made aware that his vision for a safe community no longer includes them.
At the Nov. 19 council meeting, the mayor and all but two councillors voted to remove the regulatory safeguards required for senior developments. This amendment was put forward to help a developer evade the town’s bylaws, so that the developer can place more units than is safe on the piece of property that he owns. If the development moves forward, there will be so little space that not only will the fire department not be able to do their job, but in the event that emergency services are called to the development, there will be insufficient room to allow ambulance and police services to function effectively. Council has been repeatedly advised of these risks, but seems to be of the opinion that seniors are not deserving of the same level of safety in the community as other residents.
If council truly believed that the residents of Harbour Grace would approve of treating its seniors in such a cavalier manner than they
This amendment was put forward to help a developer evade the town’s bylaws, so that the developer can place more units than is safe on the piece of property that he owns.
would not have avoided their obligation to hold a public consultation on an amendment that fundamentally changes the way seniors are treated in our community. Rather, not only was the public not informed, the two councillors who would not support treating seniors in this way were not advised that this amendment was being put forward at the council meeting. Council refused to answer any questions from residents that were in attendance at the meeting and either could not or would not answer councillor’s questions.
When I asked to have time on the agenda to address the fire safety issues, conflict of interest of one of the councillors, their obligation to allow for a proper public consultation, and the inequitable application of town regulations, I was informed that I would only be allowed approximately 15 minutes to have my say. I was also informed that it would not be an open discussion or a question and answer period. I was also advised by the town manager that when I was seeking information from her in regards to the proposed development that would put seniors at risk, she had been directed not to return my calls or respond to me. Clearly, the mayor is no longer committed to making every effort to keep the residents of Harbour Grace informed, as he promised just after being elected. However, it is not surprising that he and the other Councillors would not want the community knowing they supported an amendment putting seniors at risk for the sake of a developer.
I would urge you to publish my letter so that the residents of Harbour Grace are aware that the town is willing to discriminate against seniors and put them at risk. I am sure that the residents of Harbour Grace would not approve of treating its seniors in such a cavalier manner.
— Sean Ash writes from