Northeast Town unhappy with weighted vote proposal, moves forward with own OP

MANITOULIN—The Northeast Town council has requested that the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) revisit the weighted vote model proposed by the town last year and stated that it will be moving forward on creating its own Official Plan (OP) for the municipality.

“Dave (Williamson, Northeast Town CAO) and I attended a meeting with Lynn Buckham (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), Northeastern regional director) and MPB Chair Ken Noland,” Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin explained to council last week. “At our last meeting we said that we would work with the planning board to find a solution. We explained that the weighted vote model the planning board passed was not acceptable to us (the Northeast Town council) and that it didn’t reflect our proposal—we wanted the weighted vote to be based on municipal assessment or population. We asked Ken Noland to ask the planning board to revisit the proposed weighted vote model at the MPB’s next meeting (Tuesday, March 24). If it doesn’t happen, I’m going to contact the minister (of Municipal Affairs and Housing) again, but if they agree to change the model we can try to work things out.”

“Even if we work out the weighted voting model, it won’t solve our OP problems,” continued Mayor MacNevin. “We have the right to ask for our own OP (opposed to one for all of Manitoulin). “The MMAH has to approve it, but if it is, the MPB will simply use our OP for (planning) applications, however it will still be subject to provincial policy statement.”

Mayor MacNevin also reminded council that the MPB was working on an OP for the Island and if it is approved prior to the Northeast Town’s OP, then the Northeast Town’s planning will fall under the new plan until the Northeast Town’s OP is approved.

As The Expositor has previously reported, the Northeast Town has claimed ongoing issues with the MPB, which started in the spring of 2014 when the MPB appealed a zoning amendment made by the Northeast Town council to the Ontario Municipal Board. The appeal, in addition to other ongoing problems, led to the municipality contacting the MMAH, requesting permission to leave the planning board and establish its own planning authority.

The MMAH requested that the Northeast Town try to reach a compromise with the MPB and that they would help support and facilitate the discussions if needed.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2014, the MPB debated various forms of the weighted voting model before an amended version was passed: “a bylaw to amend bylaw No. 2002-02 being the procedural bylaw for the Manitoulin Planning Board. Now therefore the Manitoulin Planning Board enacts as follows: i) Under section VIII, the addition of subsection 14: 14. A weighted vote may be requested by a board member, subject to the following criteria: a) the existing voting process stays in effect unless a member specifically requests a weighted vote before or after a vote and when requested immediately after a regular vote that regular vote shall be deemed to be nullified; b) without a majority consent for a weighted vote, a requested weighted vote is automatically deferred to be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting; c) the model for weighted voting is based on each board member having one vote except the municipalities of Central Manitoulin and the Northeast Town each have three votes and Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee-Mills each have two votes as per planning board structure prior to municipal amalgamations; d) a weighted vote is adopted by a majority vote; e) a weighted vote shall be recorded in the same manner as a recorded vote.”

The Northeast Town council said that it is hopeful the MPB will revisit the weighted vote, but reiterated if it does not they will go back to the MMHA.