Central council voices concerns over new Help Centre building

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Council reserved judgment on a letter of request from Manitoulin Family Resources that the municipality waive building permit fees for the new Help Centre building.

“What they would like is for council to approve their proceeding with their building,” noted CAO Ruth Frawley, explaining that staff had emailed the directors of the organization for clarification.

The Help Centre discussion proved lively, as a number of councillors expressed the concerns they had received from those whose properties lie in the vicinity of the proposed new building.

“I would like to send it to committee,” said Councillor Adam MacDonald. “I think we should be giving people an opportunity to express their concerns. We don’t want to be landed with something that would be detrimental to their interests.” Councillor MacDonald noted the access road is not on the MFR property.

“I think this has come to us a little prematurely,” said Mayor Gerry Strong. Ms. Frawley noted that there has been no official application for a building permit received by the municipality.

“Have the property owners been given notice?” asked Councillor McDonald.

“Not normally,” said CAO Frawley, noting that it would not be normal practice to inform land owners of other property owners’ building plans in this instance.

“If they meet the setbacks,” interjected Mayor Strong.

“I want to be sure they do,” rejoined Councillor McDonald.

“I also would want to be sure,” said Councillor Patricia McDonald.

“Normally we don’t have neighbours consulted as to what property owners build on their own property,” Councillor Derek Stephens pointed out. Councillor Stephens conceded that council needed to have all the information in front of it.

“It is wholly on municipal property,” noted CAO Frawley. Ms. Frawley added that it was her impression that the existing Help Centre building would eventually be removed, but of that she was not certain.

“I don’t think we can stop them from building,” said Councillor Gloria Haner.

Council did not need a motion to send the matter back to committee, said CAO Frawley when asked.

The councillors made it clear through the discussion that they were responding to those concerns they had heard expressed by some property owners near the planned building over the plans being put forward for the Help Centre and how it could impact on their own properties.

Michael Erskine