By Allan Elgar
Wednesday, November 23, 2016 8:25 am ·  7 Comments
I have received hundreds of emails in response to my note last week about the Saw-whet settlement. Shock and disappointment were the dominant responses from the public. Thank you for caring about the future of our community. I intend to respond to those of you who asked specific questions, but given the large number of such emails it may take me a few days to answer them all.
One question that was asked over and over again was: when will Oakville Council vote on Saw-whet? The answer may surprise you: it already has.
Way back on May 16,2016 our council meeting agenda contained an item called “OMB Verbal Update”. Oakville typically has several OMB cases on the go at a time, often on relatively small matters and updates are common. There was no advance notice that Saw-whet was the file being updated (usually these updates include the file name on the agenda) and, more importantly, there was no advance notice that there could be a motion relating to Saw-whet’s fate.
I have been on Council for 16 years, and I have never seen a matter of this importance being dealt with in this manner.
That night everything about Saw-whet was handled behind closed doors. Everything that happened was confidential. So to answer some of your questions…
In fact, I only received clearance yesterday from the Commissioner of Planning allowing me to tell you that a vote had taken place and when that happened!
You can imagine my many frustrations surrounding what happened that night:
In my opinion, being blindsided like this is a poor way to conduct the business of this community. The in-camera portion of the meeting ended at 11:55 that evening – that might tell you something.
Here is literally the only public information that was released from our session behind closed doors: “Direction was provided to staff and legal counsel in closed session.”
So nothing that even mentioned the word Saw-whet was made public that evening.
I have been on Council for 16 years, and I have never seen a matter of this importance being dealt with in this manner. I realize that some matters must be dealt with behind closed doors, but generally, your council, as decision-makers and the public representatives, are given information about important confidential matters in advance.
I believe that what happened at the May 16, 2016 council meeting was much more than an update, because it resulted in a decision that plays a large part in determining the fate of Saw-whet.
What next? The OMB still has a say in this matter. You have an opportunity to attend OMB proceedings on Wednesday and Thursday this week at Town Hall, starting at 10 am. Those who registered a full year ago to be participants have a chance to speak.
I hope you stay engaged in this matter and others that affect our community. I plan to keep you updated as best I can. However, if it becomes the norm going forward to expect council to make important decisions without any advance notice, my job will continue to be very challenging indeed.
Thank you for your support and kind words. They mean a lot to me.