Hanne and Dennis Saunders | Sep 01, 2016

On August 23, the Township of South Frontenac held a special Council meeting to deal with the proposal to build a 13-lot subdivision in the tiny hamlet of Hartington (Hartington subdivision debate coming to a head, Aug 25/16). This meeting was followed the next day with a County Council meeting with the same purpose. This proposal surfaced about three and a half years ago, and has been discussed, studied and debated ever since. Residents of Hartington and the surrounding area banded together in opposition to this proposal. Our primary concern, from the beginning, has been our water. We have hired two preeminent experts to research the issue to see if we have reason to worry. The result of their efforts has been a resounding yes. We have every reason to worry. Their reports have been submitted to both Township and County councils.

Tuesday's meeting resulted in the proposal being rejected by a vote of four to three. Two of the three voting in favour of the proposal are also South Frontenac's representatives on the County Council, Mayor Vandewal and Councillor McDougall. Since South Frontenac has the largest population of the four townships, our two representatives actually have three votes. This sounds like it should be good news, but, wait for it, they are under no obligation to represent South Frontenac's decision at County Council. Their three votes at County Council on Wednesday were for the proposal.

This issue will be going before the OMB for resolution, so County Council's vote is really meant to indicate their position to that tribunal. There is a seriously mixed message being sent here. A unanimous yes vote from County in spite of a rejection of the proposal by the Township Council. We, as well as the rest of the overflow crowd at the Township meeting, were astounded that the Township Council's rejection of the proposal was essentially meaningless. Our two representatives at County were going to vote the way they wanted to anyway. In this case, we think the term 'representative' is misplaced. Mayor Vandewal and Councillor McDougall rejected Township Council's decision and carried their own agenda into the County Council meeting on Wednesday, and in front of the largest crowd ever seen at a County meeting, used their three votes to support the proposal. This, we think, was not a shining example of democracy at work. We think that there was, at the very least, a moral obligation to represent Township Council's position, and to represent the constituents most affected by this proposal. Shame on both Mayor Vandewal and Councillor McDougall for not doing so.

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