Appeal to Ontario Municipal Board under Section 4 of the Ontario Heritage Act

Public Information Note / Summary – August 8, 2016

RE.:     Appeal to Ontario Municipal Board under Section 4 of the Ontario Heritage Act

Appellant: John Kerry (on behalf of some 40 to 50 landowners in Mississippi Mills) of By-law 16-61 passed by the Municipality of Mississippi Mills on June 28, 2016

In 2013, Council for the Town initiated a study of downtown Almonte as a potential Heritage Conservation District (HCD) (the “HCD Study”). The HCD Study area initially covered the downtown core of Almonte but was later expanded to include a much larger area that included neighbouring residential areas. Phase 1 of the HCD Study began in 2014, Phase 2 began in 2015 and was concluded in 2016.

Strong opposition was voiced by the concerned property owners about the HCD Study process in general and the deficient consultative nature of the HCD process. Most of those concerned property owners were unsatisfied with the responses they received to their questions, be it because they were answered glibly and lacked any insight or detail or because much of the information that was provided to their responses was largely incorrect.

Town Council passed By-law 14-86 on September 16, 2014, to authorize Phase 1 of the HCD Study. Town Council subsequently passed By-law 15-04 in early 2015 to amend the HCD Study area and to establish a one-year moratorium on any construction within the HCD study area. On February 17, 2015, Town Council passed By-law 15-19 repealing the two previous By-Laws. It is worth noting that in the passing of By-law 15-19, Town Council acknowledged a lack of public consultation and the provision of adequate notice to concerned property owners about meetings on the subject. The Town’s By-law process became questionable from that point on – once it repealed both By-law 14-86 and 15-04, there is some question that the Municipality no longer had authority to proceed with its HCD process. The Municipality should have passed a new By-law to authorize proceeding with the HCD process.  No such By-law was passed.

On June 28, 2016, Town Counci1 passed By-law 16-61 establishing a new, revised HCD area. It is this last By-law, 16-61, that forms the subject of this appeal. At each of the public meetings, many concerned property owners voiced both concerns and objections and made presentations indicating that, at a minimum, they wished to opt out of the HCD. The Town ignored the concerns raised.  As a consequence, concerned property owners were left with no option but to form a Concerned Property Owners’ Group (CPOG) and to appeal the Town’s HCD By-law to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Reasons for the Appeal:

The Town’s HCD process, commencing in 2014 and concluding with the passing of By-Law 16-61 in June 2016, was irregular and substantially flawed for the following reasons:

  1. Inadequate communication with residents and concerned property owners
  2. Notices sent to property owners of the passing of various By-Laws contained material errors
  3. HCD process became convoluted and messy to the disadvantage of the property owners
  4. Inadequate consultation between Council and property owners
  5. Potential Conflicts of Interest (of the Mayor and some Councillors)
  6. Town’s HCD process was conducted under false pretenses (more oriented to stop Enerdu than genuine heritage reasons)
  7. Conduct unbecoming by the Mayor (intimidation)

Conclusion

The CPOG is of the opinion that the HCD process, in its entirety, was conducted unfairly, underhandedly and, in general, in contradiction with the inclusive and consultative responsibility a Town Council has to its constituents. The HCD process was not consistent with the provisions, the intent and spirit of the Ontario Heritage Act. The remedy the Appeal is seeking from the Ontario Municipal Board is for the repeal of By-law 16-61 by the Town of Mississippi Mills. After such repeal, should Town Council wish to revisit the concept of an HCD in the Town, the CPOG would expect that the full and proper process for such project, as stipulated under the Ontario Heritage Act, would be adhered to.

Should you require any further information including a copy of the Appeal, please phone or e-mail to:

 

Brian J. Gallagher
P.O. Box 946, 166 Water St.
Almonte, Ontario K0A 1A0
613-290-3781