Northeast Town denied planning board’s blessing in quest to go on its own

N.E. Town will seek own planning authority

with files from Tom Sasvari

GORE BAY—The Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) defeated a motion from the Northeast Town, moved at last month’s MPB meeting by Northeast Town representative on the board, Councillor Melissa Peters, for the board to support the Northeast Town in leaving the MPB to establish its own planning authority.

“At our last Northeast Town council meeting on May 5, our planning board representative advised our council that the MPB made a decision to not reconsider our request to change the board’s recently adopted weighted voting model,” stated a letter to the MPB from Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin on the subject on behalf of the Northeast Town council. “It is unfortunate that the board has chosen not to recognize the need for a model that fairly represents both the financial contribution and population represented by its member municipalities. Let me also express my continued disappointment regarding the document that was circulated by Mr. (Doug) Head. In my opinion he continues to embody all that is not well with the Manitoulin Planning Board in serving the needs of its members.”

“I met with Lynn Buckham (regional director for the northeast office of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing) on May 6, following the planning board’s rejection of my request to amend the weighted vote procedure,” continued Mayor MacNevin’s letter. “I advised her that our council wishes to have the minister grant us approval to create our own planning authority and withdraw from the Manitoulin Planning Board as we asked over a year ago. Director Buckham asked us to prepare a formal submission for her to present to the minister for review on this matter. We are preparing it now and I am confident that the minister will see that we have the ability to move ahead and take control of our own planning matters. My council has requested that (MPB member) Melissa Peters put a motion forward at the next planning board meeting, asking for the board’s support for the Northeast Town’s effort to form its own planning authority. I hope that the board will recognize that it would be in the best interest of all the parties to support our request.”

Following the review of the letter by the MPB, Councillor Peters put a motion on the table asking for the MPB’s support for the Northeast Town to leave the board and establish its own planning authority.

“I feel the Manitoulin Planning Board is here to represent all of  Manitoulin,” said MPB chair Ken Noland. “And the Northeast Town has still not indicated the reasons they want to have their own planning authority. We need to stay together and continue to talk towards a solution.”

The majority of the other board members were in agreement with Chair Noland.

Ms. Peters asked for a recorded vote on the motion, which saw all board members in attendance, including Brent St. Denis, Richard Stephens, Ken Noland, Lyle Noland, Lee Hayden, Eric Russell and Paul Moffatt voting against the Northeast Town motion for support, with Ms. Peters voting in favour of the motion. Austin Hunt abstained from voting (which is counted as a negative vote).

The board also carried a motion to ask the MMAH if the planning board will have the opportunity to respond to the Northeast Town’s application to leave the MPB.

“I’m disappointed with their decision, but I’m not surprised,” Mayor MacNevin told The Expositor following the MPB meeting last week. “Judging by comments made by MPB members in the past, they wanted us to leave the board, but they obviously don’t want to lose the third of their budget that we contribute through our municipal requisition.”

“Ms. Buckham told us to submit a detailed report which the minister (of the MMAH) will review and ultimately make the decision if we can leave the board to establish our own planning authority,” added Mayor MacNevin. “We plan on doing this and following up with the minister at the AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) conference in August.”