Manitoulin Planning Board secretary calls NEMI report ‘slanted’

MANITOULIN—Tension between the Northeast Town and the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) continues as the planning board attempted to pass a motion at its recent meeting to send a letter of non-support to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding the Northeast Town council’s request to withdraw from the planning board and become its own planning authority.

“It was the general consensus of the board that fragmentation of the planning board would not be in the best interest of the planning area,” states the MPB minutes from Tuesday, October 29. “The province supports the municipalities to participate in shared services when possible. The planning board has been established since 1975 and has provided good planning practices and consistent planning across the planning area as well as ongoing support to the municipalities.”

“The secretary-treasurer (Elva Carter) requested that the board consider if they wished to respond to the Northeast Town’s decision to request permission from the minister to become its own planning authority,” the minutes continue.

A motion was moved by MPB member Ken Noland and seconded by fellow member Keith Legge that “a letter of non-support for a second planning authority within the planning area be sent to the minister of MMAH.”

“Discussion of this motion stated concern for causing further animosity with the municipality (the Northeast Town) and that it may be premature to send a letter at this time,” the minutes state.

The motion was defeated by a tied vote.

The discussion and subsequent motion was prompted by email correspondence to the MPB by the Northeast Town, informing the board of council’s plans to withdraw from the planning board.

“Council has decided to request permission from the minister to become its own planning authority,” states a portion of the email included in the MPB minutes from last week. “I understand that during the process our existing relationship will continue until such time as the ministry takes over our planning (while we prepare our own Official Plan). In the meantime, we will still be subject to the revised Official Plan so we need to work together to ensure that the municipality’s interests are accurately represented.”

A copy of the report that was prepared for the Northeast Town council by staff (at council’s request) on the relationship between the municipality and the planning board was attached.

The report, which was presented to the Northeast Town council last month, was the last discussion item in council’s ultimate decision to request permission to withdraw from the planning board.

In response to the report, the MPB minutes go on to read that Ms. Carter “stated that it was her opinion that the report that had been provided to the council was very slanted and contained inaccuracies, partly due to not providing complete information that gave the planning board and planning board staff a very negative and less than true report.”

Ms. Carter was unavailable for comment.

Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson, who prepared the report, stated that he “respects Ms. Carter’s opinion and would welcome the opportunity for her to share any concerns (with the report) with the town and council.”

“However, staff is confident that the report was well researched and presented,” Mr. Williamson added.

The Northeast Town will be meeting with the Northeastern Area Director with the MMAH Lynn Buckham on Wednesday, November 13 to begin discussions concerning the town’s request to withdraw from the MPB and become its own planning authority.

Robin Burridge