After 30 years in the meat department at the Trousdale’s Foodland store in Sydenham, Laurie Ross is hanging up his meat cleaver on November 18th.
Laurie had not intended to retire any time soon.
“I had figured I would be working at least another dozen or so years,” Laurie said, when interviewed in the store lunch room last week during his break, “but everything changed with the diagnosis.”
That diagnosis came two years ago. Laurie had been feeling some weakness in his left hand and wrist, and didn’t know what was causing it. He has always been very active in sports, and is also a gym rat, going to Elements Fitness in Sydenham between 3 and 5 days a week to work out. Even though he cut meat with his right hand, the weakness was starting to get in the way at the gym and on the field.
“A friend mine at the gym suggested that I check it out because it could indicate more serious problems, so I went to the doctor. The doctor said it was motor neuron disease. I think that was because he knew I didn’t want me to hear it was ALS right away, but that is what it is, and that is what we have been dealing with.”
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is the most common type of motor neuron disease. It is also sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the baseball player who had been known as the “Iron Horse” because he set a record playing 2,130 consecutive baseball games without missing a single one due to injury, before developing symptoms.
There is no cure for ALS, and no exact cause has been determined either, and the prognosis for those who have it is dire. Few live more than 5 years after symptoms develop, although some do live more than 10 years.
“Over the last two years we have learned to live day by day, and while it is hard for Laurie to stop working, it is time” said Andrea (Andy) Ross, Laurie’s wife of 30 years, and the mother of their two daughters, Megan and Kelsey. Andrea is the store manager at one of the Kingston Beer Store locations and Megan and Kelsey also work in Kingston.
Laurie’s departure will be keenly felt at the Foodland store.
In 1988, Laurie was working at Bennett’s in East Kingston as a meat cutter when he was offered a position at the new Trousdale’s grocery store in Sydenham, which had been open for a few months at that time.
“It was a chance to work close to home, and I took it and have never regretted it,” he said.
It was also not the first time he had worked for the Trousdale family, having worked when he was younger at Trousdale’s General Store for before he went on to become a licensed butcher.
When he arrived at the new store, it was like coming home, and one of the people who was already there was Sherri Horton, who he had worked with at the General Store years earlier.
“I always tell that I’ve been here longer,” said Sherri, who came to the store when it opened in March of 1988 “because he didn’t get here until November of ‘88”.
To say Sherri, who is the Deli manager at the store, will miss her friend Laurie, is an under-statement.
“He’s been here every day, for all these years, quietly serving customers whenever they needed something special. He’s been there for everyone, staff and customers alike. I don’t think he ever thought of himself as someone who would need help from others, he’s always been the one helping. I’ll miss his very dry sense of humour, but mostly not having him around the store everyday will be a change for me, for all of us. We’re going to see him, of course, this is a small town and we all live in the same community, but it will be different in the store,” she said.
“One of the good things about working in Sydenham, where our daughters went to High School, and where we went to High School also, is that he never missed any of their competitions when they were students, and got to play a lot of sports as well,” said Andrea Ross.
Laurie played touch football in the Kingston League for many years, and played rugby and what they now call Y-ball at the Kingston Y (they sued to call it Murder Ball). In addition to that he always worked out.
“That’s one of the strange things. I was in better shape than I had been in years when this all started,” he said.
Typical of the commitment of the local community, Laurie’s diagnosis has made a difference for the Kingston chapter of the ALS Society. At the annual Walks for ALS a large contingent from Sydenham, wearing matching t-shirts, is now a regular feature.
After the 18th of November (he will keep working until then so the current meat manager, and avid hunter, can get his two weeks in the bush) Laurie will be taking it easy at home, with the support of his family, and his Trousdale family as well.
“We’re not going to leave him be,” said Sherri Horton. “We know where he lives, and if he needs anything, we will make sure to get it to him.”
On Friday, November 16, customers and friends will have an opportunity to mark the end of Laurie’s time at Trousdale’s. There is a drop-in scheduled from 11am-3pm and there will be cake for everyone who stops by, as well as an opportunity to visit, and reminisce.
The Frontenac County trustees are set to become part of the old guard on the board of trustees for the Limestone District School Board come December 12th.
Suzanne Ruttan easily held off the challenge from Roger Curtis, receiving 3659 votes to 1672 for Curtis, to return to the board for a third term representing the schools in South Frontenac (Harrowsmith, Prince Charles, Loughborough, Perth Road and Sydenham High School). In Central and North Frontenac Karen McGregor was acclaimed to a second term representing the students at Land O’Lakes, Clarendon Central, North Addington EC and Granite Ridge EC.
Roger Curtis was part of a connected group of candidates who campaigned under the banner of #TRUSTee. While he lost out to Ruttan, the group did well in the City of Kingston, elected 5 members to the 9 member board. They ran on a campaign of greater transparency and consultation before the board makes decisions.
The rift that could develop on the board as the result of the election may also have a geographical component. The trustee from Napanee, Laurie French, was re-elected, leaving three of the non-Kingston districts in the hands of the ‘old guard’.
The fourth rural district was the only one that saw the defeat of an incumbent. Wes Garrod was defeated by Robin Hutcheon in Loyalist -Stone Mills, by almost 1,000 votes.
In addition to Hutcheon, #TRUSTee members include: Bob Godkin, Judith Brown and Joy Morning, who were all elected; and Tom Gingrich, who was acclaimed.
One newly elected Trustee, Garrett Elliott, refused to join #TRUSTee when approached. He told Global News that he only “ran to try and make a positive difference to try to help out. I’ve always been involved in school council.”
The new Board of Trustees will take office on December 12.
It has now been two weeks since marijuana became legal in Canada, and it is also about 10 days, for most Canadians, since the novelty will have worn off. The tv cameras are all gone from the new legal dispensaries, as are the line ups, but apparently not the product shortages. It will take quite a while for the market to settle down and for the positive and negative implications of a relatively free market in cannabis to be established in Canada.
Most of us grew up with cannabis. For those of us who are under 70, marijuana has been a part of our lives since we were teenagers. That could mean anything from smelling it at a party once or twice to smoking on a regular basis for ten, twenty, even fifty years.
One of the outcomes of marijuana use among several generations has been a strained relationship with the law and the police.
I used marijuana as a teenager, pretty heavily at times, and more sporadically until I was somewhere in my 40’s. I stopped using it because it stopped being something I wanted to do. The fact that it was illegal had nothing to do with starting, my pattern of use, or my decision to stop. But it did, from a young age, make me feel nervous whenever I saw a police car. Was I carrying any? Was there pot in the glove box. All of these issues coloured relationships with the police, as it did for, literally, millions of Canadians, for many years.
Having a set of rules that are reasonably easy to follow regarding when ingesting cannabis is legal, how it can be stored and transported, and grown for personal use, will create a more law-abiding population, instantly. This is one of the biggest changes that took place two weeks ago. And that impact will take time to filter through.
I don’t feel any differently when I see a police car than I did when I might have been in possession of pot. Once that fear and that sense of transgression is set in place, it does not go away. But for some younger Canadians, one reason to live in fear of the police will no longer develop.
I am hopeful that as time goes on, even though governments across the county have a vested interest in taxing marijuana use, the gardeners will win out. Even before the inevitable court challenge against the 4 plant growing limit, the quality and variety of marijuana seed and cloned bedding plants will only increase over time, and the savings that cannabis users will be able to realise by growing a few plants will have an impact.
Big pot, already represented in Canada by four companies, will certainly thrive through the development of new products and the convenience of an increasingly better organised distribution system, but since ‘weed’ is easy to grow and exchange on an informal basis, it will become increasingly popular, as it should.
The prohibition on selling homegrown cannabis products will likely never go away, but over time it will become more like maple syrup. Anyone can tap a few trees and make enough syrup for their own use and to give away to friends, but in order to sell it legally there are rules that need to be followed. That is as much about safety as it is about maintaining a viable price for producers.
Some small-scale syrup producers sell a few jars and make some money doing it, but it is small potatoes and is not policed.
Cannabis may never be like that because of the health risk, but it will change as cannabis settles into its new status, a recreational drug that will come in and out of fashion. And other countries who are looking at the Canadian experience with legalisation, will soon realise that, like same sex marriage, it becomes a non-issue surprisingly quickly.
Now if we could only solve some of the real social, political, environmental and economic issues we are facing,
Sarah and Pete Nilson have only been living and farming on the Clarendon Road for a couple of years, but they have been active years for them. They have set out a large market garden and have become mainstays at the Sharbot Lake Farmers Market, have begun growing Shittake mushrooms, are about to put up a large greenhouse, and have been continually developing a product that still needs to be recognised as food by Health Canada, black soldier fly grubs
They are touted as a global solution to the problem of food waste, since they will consume almost any waste and produce no waste of their own. They are protein rich and can be used as fertiliser of animal feed, and potentially, a protein rich food for humans.
The new greenhouse will be used partially for the Soldier flies and partially to extend the garden season and enable “Unusual Acres” to have fresh produce available from May until November each year.
This week, the farm has been transformed into a pumpkin patch/graveyard/halloween destination.
“We grew a lot of squash this year, and a lot of pumpkins, all shapes and sizes. We thought that in addition to selling pumpkins we would set up for Halloween.”
Once that idea got started, it led to graveyards with hands reaching out, creepy spiders, haunted trees, a guillotine and much more. The couple used to work in the film industry creating special effects and they put that background to use creating a Halloween destination. This weekend they will be open on Saturday from 10am-9pm, when they will be offering pumpkin carving for families, a tour of the graveyard, hot chocolate and soup, in addition to pumpkins for sale. They will also be open on Sunday from 10-9 and Monday to Wednesday from 4-9.
“We are planning to add more and more elements to our Halloween pumpkin patch each year,” said Sarah.
Unusual Acres is located at 1786 Clarendon Road, which can be accessed from Road 509, by heading east from the junction with Ardoch Road. It can also be reached from Hwy 7, by travelling north on Zealand road and turning left onto Willis Armstrong Road to Clarendon road. The farm is located just west of the junction of Willis Armstrong and Clarendon roads. For further information, call 613-268-2625.
Henry Hogg was not that surprised that his election margin was narrow this time around, or even that he lost one of the two wards to Alice Madigan, who has never held public office but has been active politically in Denbigh, and was a vocal opponent of a wind turbine proposal that was unpopular with many in the community.
Hogg led the debate on council, which resulted in the township supporting the project, based partly on the promise of the establishment of a community fund should wind turbines ever be erected in the township.
Hogg received 769 (54%) votes to Madigan’s 653 (46%). In ward 1, Madigan received over 100 more votes that Hogg, but he took ward 2 by a margin of over 200, leading to the overall victory and a 6th term as Reeve. In 2014 Hogg received 71% of the vote against Gerald Bray and in 2010 he was acclaimed.
“I was not surprised by the margin,” said Hogg, “I knew it would be close because of the wind turbines and other factors. But a win is a win, no matter what the margin is, and I am happy to keep serving the municipality. I once lost an election by 12 votes, so I know anything can happen.
Hogg said that the township will have to do what it can, with its limited resources, “to deal with the inevitable changes that are coming our way.”
He said that in this term of council, it will be necessary to at least start looking at new township office space.
“When we started out, there were only two people working out of the little office space we have in the basement of the Flinton Recreation Centre. We need something better for the staff we have working out of that office now,” he said.
Incumbents ruled the day in Ward 1. Tony Fritsch was comfortably returned for a third time with 531 votes and Kirby Thompson (378 votes) narrowly outpolled former road and waste superintendent Royce Rosenblath (343 votes).
Newcomer David Miles was the most popular candidate in Ward 2, receiving 450 votes. Helen Yanch finished second with a 405 and will also return to council. Bill Cox, who has served three terms on council, went down to defeat with 388 votes, 17 less than Yanch.
Because Reeve Hogg now lives in Ward 2, the councillor who receives the most votes in Ward 1, will become the Deputy Reeve and second AH rep to Lennox and Addington (L&A) County Council. Tony Fritsch will thus have the opportunity to become Deputy Reeve.
At the all candidates meeting that was held in Sydenham, Fran Willes got the biggest laugh of the evening when, during her opening remarks, she said “last time I lost by only 4 votes, so I’m playing on your sympathy here by asking you to vote for me this time.”
She could not have known at the time, no one could, that when the votes were counted this time around, in a computer server somewhere in Nova Scotia, she would be exactly 4 votes shy of winning once again. There is no word on who those 4 people are and if it was the same 4 this time around.
The last time she lost out 688-684 to Mark Schjerning, who went down to defeat in the mayoralty race this time around, and this time she lost 1079-1075 to Randy Ruttan. In 2018, as well as in 2014, Ross Sutherland led all vote getters in Loughborough District. This time he received 1647 votes. Farrah Soaft rounded out the field with 275 votes.
In the race for Mayor, Ron Vandewal was comfortably re-elected to a second term with 3,237 votes (48%), almost as many votes as the total of both his opponents when added together. Mark Schjerning received 2,164 votes (32%) and Phil Archambault 1,274 (19%).
It was a wide-open race in Portland District. The only incumbent, Brad Barbeau, had been appointed two years into the term, after the death of Bill Robinson. In this election, two new members were elected. Ray Leonard received the most votes by a fair margin (1,156) and Doug Morey was also elected (579). Tom Bruce finished in 3rd place (528), followed by Brad Barbeau (495) and Bruno Albano (222)
When contacted the day after the election, Vandewal said he was happy to have been re-elected.
“I felt all along that with two candidates opposing me, they would end up splitting the votes against me, and to a certain extent I think they did that,” he said.
He also said that he expects the township to continue in a similar path that it has been on, and that he would like to sit down with Council early in the new term to talk about the direction the township wants to go in, particularly as far as public works is concerned.
“I would like us to set a direction. What projects do we want to take on, and do we want to shift the emphasis towards roadside maintenance, which we sometimes neglect in favour of road construction,” he said.
There was some controversy in the run-up to the vote, about an ad that Ron Vandewal purchased on the Verona electronic sign that is operated by the Verona Community Association. Phil Archambault said he thought it might be improper because the operation of the VCA sign is subsidised by the township, which covers the sign’s electricity costs on behalf of the association.
Wayne Orr, Chief Administrative Officer for South Frontenac, responded in writing to a question about the propriety of Vandewal paying to use the sign.
He said, in part, “All candidates have the opportunity to use campaign advertising within the confines of their authorised spending limit. The choice of advertising (i.e. newspaper ads, social media, hand delivered flyers, mail outs, lawn signs, election billboards, etc.) rests entirely with the candidate. The township does place restrictions on the location of signs. In summary the VCA Electronic Sign is not a township asset under our control and as such the township is not in a position to intervene in this situation.”
Wayne Conway, of the VCA, said that Vandewal approached him about renting rotating space on the sign and was referred to the VCA website, which outlines the terms and the cost.
“He rented it for two weeks. We could have and would have accommodated other candidates but none came forward. Use of the sign is free for not-for-profit groups and we have spots available for businesses, at a fee, as well, to help us cover our costs.”
Archambault told the News that if the vote was close, he would consider lodging a complaint or taking legal action, but not if, as ended up happening, Vandewal won handily.
(Editors note - We reached out to Fran Willes before preparing this article, but she did not call back in time for this week’s paper. Back in 2014 and again in 2018, she raised concerns during the voting period about problems some residents have had accessing the online/telephone voting system that the township uses.)
The new Reeve of Tay Valley will be former Deputy Reeve Brian Campbell. He received 1581 votes. Former Deputy Reeve Susan Freeman was second with 1234 votes and incumbent Reeve Keteh Kerr finished a distant third with 597 votes.
In the race for Deputy Reeve, newcomer Barrie Crampton was elected with 2021 votes, and incumbent Councillor Judy Farrell received 1344.
In Sherbrooke ward, Roxanne Darling was re-elected with 483 votes, as was newcomer Rob Rainer with 455. Mark Burnham, another incumbent, is out with 327 votes.
In Bathurst ward, Fred Dobbie and Gene Richardson were elected with 828 votes and 769 votes respectively. Wayne Jordan had 735 votes.
The Burgess ward councillors are both new, Beverley Phillips with 616 votes and Mick Wicklum with 609. Incumbent Greg Hallam narrowly missed out with 585 votes and Doug Barr finished 4th with 365.
The election campaign was marked by a pitched battle between the majority of the sitting council and soon to be former Councillor Judy Farrell, who had been stripped of many of her council privileges after refusing to follow the recommendations of an investigator who found she had harassed members of township staff, a finding that she disputed. Two of the key figures in that dispute, Farrell and Reeve Kerr, both went down to defeat but Brian Campbell, an ally of Farrell’s on Council, was elected to be the new Reeve.
A planning dispute between the township and Robyn Mulcahy, the operator of the Blueberry Creek Nature Centre, also may have influenced the election. That dispute also involved Mulcahy’s husband, MP Scott Reid, who appeared before Council in September on her behalf, and also published a response to the release of a second investigators into Farrell’s actions, this one relating to her relationship with her fellow members of council.
Mulcahy put out a post card last week naming 8 candidates for various positions who she said were supportive of the school in its increasingly expensive legal challenge with the township. Of those, 5 were elected. However at least one of the 8 named said they had never indicated that they support the school’s position. That candidate, Wayne Jordan, was not elected.
Another, Roxanne Darling from the Maberly area, told the News a couple of weeks ago that she does not see herself on any side in the divided world of the soon to be former council/
One thing is certain, however. The new council will have a new look. 5 of the 8 current members on Council were either defeated or did not run for re-election. Only 3 members of the current council will be in in place after the changeover next month.
Voting is now complete and the results are in for South and Central Frontenac, Addington Highlands and Tay Valley
Ron Vandewal -- 3237
Mark Schjerning - 2164
Phil Archambault 1274
Doug Morey - 579
Brad Barbeau - 495
Bruno Albano - 222
Tom Bruce - 528
Ray Leonard - 1156
Fran Willes - 1,075
Ross Sutherland -1,647
Farrah Soaft - 275
Randy Ruttan - 1,075
Suzanne Ruttan - 3,659
Roger Curtis - 1672
Nicki Gowdy - 362
Philip Smith - 315
Brent Cameron 328
Victor Heese 267
Dan Cunningham 175
Bill Everett 171
Elwyn Burke 190
Tom Dewey 410
Cindy Kelsey 404
Isaac Hale 289
Henry Hogg - 769
Alice Madigan - 653
Royce Rosemnblath - 343
Tony Fritsch - 531
Kirby Thompson - 378
Helen Yanch - 405
Bill Cox - 388
David Myles - 450
Brian Campbell 1581
Susan Freeman 1234
Kieth Kerr 597
Barrie Crampton 2021
Judy Farrell 1344
Mark Burnham 327
RoxAnne Darling - 483
Rob Rainer - 455
Peter Mclaren - 1472
Terry Lee Donaldson - 1067
Brian Stewart - 406
John Wilson Hall - 1008
Bob Mingie - 954
Bill Nelson - 962
Ward 5 (Elphin McDonalds Corners)
Jeannie Kelso - 242
Mary Kirkham - 178
I spent the better part of the last week talking to candidates for mayor and council in South Frontenac. The profiles that resulted from those conversations start on page 6 of this edition. I woud first like to thank all of the people I talked to. They were honest and forthright about where they think the township is going and the role that the township should be playing.
A couple of divisions emerged and depending on how the election pans out the township could be headed in a different direction.
One of the divisions is over spending. All of the candidates are committed to controlling spending on existing operations, while maintaining services, paving roads, and so onw. But a number thought that the township needs to respond to the current and likely future influx of young families seeking to raise families in the countryside. The traditional rural character of the township and its small hamlets might not. Where there are now a number of parks, ball diamonds and soccer fields, and an arena up at the top end of the township, some candidates are talking about splash pads, new recreation centres, even swimming pools.
As one candidate put it, and I’m paraphrazing, South Frontenac needs to decide if it is going to be ,ore suburban.
The is a big change from anything that has been seriously discussed in the past. Until now, the township has been steadily improving its roads, modernizing its parks and beaches, and essentially maintaining the same character as the township had 30 or 50 years ago. Some fancy houses have been built on and even off the water, and subdivisions have gone in here and there. But aside from the Frontenac Arena, which was built in pre-amalgamation days (1976) by 4 Frontenac townships working together, nothing else like it has even been seriously contemplated.
Since South Frontenac was created in 1998, with the exception of the Sydenham library, the only recreational infrastructure projects that have been completed have been enhancements to pre-existing facilities, notably Centennial Park in Harrowsmith and the Point Park in Sydenham.
The idea of building a recreation centre as an add-on to a potential new office complex, which is being floated by one mayoralty candidate and hinted at by another and also promoted by several council candidates, would be a big change. South Frontenac Council spent its first ten years figuring out how to amalgamate fully and its next ten implementing amalgamation and consolidating its public works infrastructure.
When this idea is combined with the realisation that tackling Road 38 is now a real priority for the township, budgeting is likely to become a more contentious, and costly, enterprise over the next four years.
The second issue of note during this election is the vigorous assertion, by a number of candidates, that the only way to solve the townships planning woes is to wrest responsibility for subdivision and plan of condominium approvals from Frontenac County. A change of that order may or may not solve some of the problems the township has been having, but it also seems to miss the point.
What everyone says they want is a transparent, rules based process. If there were an up to date Official Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw in place, good complete information from the planning department for developers large and small, and a chance for affected parties to air their concerns, presumably good decisions would follow that allow the township to grow while protecting community and environmental concerns. It would not matter who makes the final decision as long as all of these safeguards are in place.
The possible pitfall of setting up a made in South Frontenac process that inserts council into the mix in a big way via enhanced public meetings, is that politics could run roughshod over the rules.
Sometimes a fair and reasonable planning decision will run counter to the interests, perceived or real, of the neighbour down the road.
South Frontenac needs a planning process that is overseen by professionals under a set of rules that are debated and approved by Council.
Any other outcome will lead to a continuation of the tendency towards decisions being made by provincially appointed appeals tribunals overseen by people who have no connection to either South Frontenac or Frontenac County as a whole.
(Next week, we will focus on the elections in Addington Highlands and Central Frontenac. Candidate profiles of the 10 candidates for council in Central Frontenac, and the 6 candidates for council and 2 candidates for reeve in Addington Highlands, will be published. These profiles will be posted at Frontenacnews.ca as soon as they are completed, hopefully on Sunday the 14th or Monday the 15th.)
A number of letters to the editor have been published in the Frontenac News in recent weeks about Judy Farrell, a member of Tay Valley Council who was the subject of an investigation by a third-party investigation into allegations that she harassed Tay Valley Township staff.
In a report to the township, the investigator concluded that Farrell had indeed harassed the staff members. Farrell, and her lawyer, asked for a copy of the report and were told that for privacy reasons they could not be supplied one. The report prescribed that Farrell undertake sensitivity training and apologise to the staff members involved.
Farrell refused, and in response council stripped her of many of her duties, including sitting on township committees and attending conferences. About all that Farrell was left with was the right to attend council meetings.
Some of the letters to the editor deal with some of the statements made by Farrell on her Facebook page on September 11 of this year. In last week’s edition of the Frontenac News, an article was published (Tay Valley Debacle Colours Election) about the controversy and how it relates to this year’s election campaign inTay Valley, where Farrell is running for Deputy Reeve.
Farrell was called as the article was being prepared, but did not respond in time for publication, so we used her Facebook post to characterise her position on the issues that led to her being censured by Council.
Farrell contacted the News after the article had been published and she was interviewed this week. She did not say anything that contradicts her Facebook post of September 11, but added some detail about the situation.
The first thing that Judy Farrell said was that the much of what was said in the letters we published was not true.
“How can you publish such unsubstantiated statements,” she said.
The letters she was referring to were by Mark Burnham, a member of Tay Valley Council, and David Taylor, a Tay Valley resident.
We also talks about the statement made by Keith Kerr, Tay Valley Reeve, on September 19, which was published on the township website. The statement refers to her September 11 Facebook post, and includes some pretty pointed language, including the following: “It is convenient for Councillor Farrell to blame others for her mistakes, but that does not make her statements true.”
For her part, Farrell went back to the beginning.
She said “it’s no secret that Tay Valley is known as a difficult place to build because of the way the planning and building departments operate. All of this has come from efforts to make improvements and deal with these problems. Efforts that were done in a respectful way.”
According to Farrell these efforts began after MPP Hillier, who lives in Perth, received complaints from Tay Valley residents about how hard it is to get approvals in order to build.
“Randy Hillier, along with representatives from the Perth Real Estate Board and the Lanark Leeds Home Builders Association, came to a committee meeting and talked about the issues that are of concern. This was June 26/2017. When the delegation was finished I said that we would look into this and try to rectify this. The next day a gentleman from Black Lake wrote a summation of the meeting on his Facebook page, and I gave it a thumbs up. The Planner and the CBO accused me of harassment.”
Farrell said that she has never met privately with either the township planner or the Chief Building Official except in 2014, before taking office, when she was applying for permits for her own home. She did have disagreements over decisions and fees with each of them at that time. She said she has not met with them later on and has never discussed their performance with them in her role as a member of council.
“They say that I said the Planner was over paid but I never said that. I did say that we should look at the cost of our planning and building departments. At conferences there is talk about sharing services with other townships to save money for both townships. I brought that up at council, but I did not say anything against our staff in a personal way.”
Farrell also said that the township did not follow its own procedural bylaw when the complaints were made.
“They should have sat down with me, the CAO [Chief Administrative Officer] and the complainants and we could have dealt with the problems. But instead he hired an investigator,” she said.
This point is addressed in Reeve Kerr’s release from September 19: “Councillor Farrell also suggests that the Township’s internal procedure was not followed. The truth is the CAO attempted to deal directly with Councillor Farrell about staff complaints prior to the investigation. That was ineffective and an investigation was ordered by Council after further incidents were reported.”
According to Judy Farrell, there were no further incidents.
“Everything that I have done or said was done in a council meeting. How does a Councillor doing their job get to the level of harassment?” she said.
She also said that her lawyer accompanied her when she met with the investigator looking into the harassment allegation, and afterwards her lawyer said that nothing that there was no way she could be found to have harassed any township staff member based on what came out at that meeting.
“So, when they said there was harassment I wanted to see the report. How can I defend myself when I cannot see the report?” she said.
Keith Kerr, speaking on behalf of Council, clearly sees things differently. Again, from his September 19 release: “It is important for the public to understand that Council has certain legal obligations where its staff are being harassed, and accordingly could not accept Councillor Farrell simply refusing to apologize or accept that her conduct contravened the Occupational Health and Safety Act … Councillor Farrell is directly responsible for the decision of Council to direct me to respond to the ongoing issues created by her behavior.”
The dispute has been expensive, for both sides. The township has paid $160,000 in costs, according to what a member of council told the News, and Judy Farrell said she has spent $30,000 in legal fees.
The restrictions on Farrell will cease to have effect as soon as the new Tay Valley Council is sworn in later this fall. Judy Farrell is running for Deputy Reeve.
“I did not think, after one term, that I had the experience to be a good Reeve, but I have the ability to be a good deputy and listen to the taxpayers concerns.”
She supports the current Deputy Reeve, Brian Campbell, who is running for Reeve against both Keith Kerr and former Deputy Reeve Susan Freeman.
“Only if Brian Campbell is elected will there be change. If Kerr or Freeman get in, it will be status quo,” she said.
Voting begins on October 15, and the results will be posted just after 8pm on October 22.