Secrecy of Saw-Whet Development Approval infuriates Ward 4 Councillor

Secrecy of Saw-Whet Development Approval infuriates Ward 4 Councillor
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Allan Elgar

Allan Elgar

Allan Elgar is the councillor for Ward 4. Previously he was a founding president of Oakvillegreen, and held various management position at Bell Canada. He was elected in 2000 to town council.

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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…

  1. Who attended that meeting? Confidential.
  2. Who put forward the motion? Confidential.
  3. What did the motion say? Confidential.
  4. What was said in the debate? Confidential.
  5. Who voted for and against the motion? Confidential. (although when the vote was taken at the Region it was done in public with the mention of Saw-whet)

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:

  1. no advanced notice that Saw-whet was going to be dealt with and that a motion about its fate was being considered
  2. no opportunity to bring background and support documents to the meeting
  3. no chance for quiet reflection on a large amount of new information being presented (verbally)
  4. no chance to prepare detailed questions as a result of that reflection
  5. no chance to do additional research or consultation

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.



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Readers Comments (7)

  1. Jim Ronson says:

    Concealing who even voted for or against something like this? Reprehensible. How did something like this even happen? How can it be prevented from happening again? Is there anything anyone can do to reopen this file? Can someone put forward a motion to demand disclosure at least? If none of these questions have good answers, then why have council elections at all? Might as well call it a day, just hand the keys over to Build-and-Pave-Co and dispense with the charade that citizen’s concerns even matter.

  2. Lorraine Mueller says:

    The Mayor had a secret meeting with developer re property at Lakeshore Rd & Belvedere Drive in spite of the fact that there was a large resident input. We were told the last meeting was cancelled as the Mayor had made a secret deal with developer.
    He sure doesn’t get my vote.
    Oakville needs property that the residents can use re Saw Whet. We sure don’t need more subdivisions. Are the roads not crowded enough now. Are the services, eg. sewer & water, not straining to meet the needs of our present population. Millions are being spent just to be adequate.

    • Sara says:

      I have had a similar experience when my next door neighbor decided to subdivide his property into 3 lots. There are a ton of sewage, water concerns. A study is in progress but doesn’t hope to be complete for another year. Not to mention environmental concerns and road concerns. We need openness and transparency in regards to these matters as it impacts all the residents of Oakville.

  3. corrie wright says:

    The mayor doesn’t care if he gets voted in again because he has already made a whole lot of money on all of his shady deals. Traffic is so crazy now in Oakville every time that I go for a walk around Oakville I almost get hit by a car. Every single time.

  4. Ron says:

    Although I don’t live in the immediate area of Saw-Whet, I still have concerns as a citizen and taxpayer in Oakville as to how Mayor & Council handle many issues/concerns in the Town. The Mayor personally instructed me to contact his office on a specific concern in my neighbourhood and assured me it would be addressed by him. Two phone calls to his office and still no response. They only seem to care when they need your vote. Unfortunately Mr. Burton will NOT get my vote next time round.

  5. Fritz Kristbergs says:

    I completely agree with councillor Elgar. This is a perversion of basic democratic principles and a betrayal of the people of Oakville. Have the mayor and Council really no shame? Or has blatant greed and stupidity “trump-ed” their responsibility to the citizens?

  6. JoAnn says:

    The very reason why I want to move out of Oakville!! Not the quaint little town that attracted us to move here 20 years ago. Not proud to say I live here anymore!!


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