ED19 motion raises harsh words and high temperatures
"I need to call a five-minute recess to cool down"
SPENCERVILLE - Just when it looked like Monday night's Edwardsburgh-Cardinal Committee of the Whole meeting was winding down, a motion put forward by Ward 3 Councilor Michael Barrett got the event extremely wound up.
Barrett's motion, seconded by Ward 1 Councilor Karie Smail, was presented during the "notice of motion" portion of the meeting. The motion was a request that the mayor advocate at the county council level to temporarily halt the sale of a county owned parcel of land within the township that has been slated for development as a waste disposal site.
As presented, the motion read:
WHEREAS the development of waste disposal site ED19, owned by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, has not been recently discussed or debated publicly; and
WHEREAS the Council of The Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal was only informed of a recent proposed use of the land on November 29, 2016; and
WHEREAS the community and its elected representatives deserve the opportunity to be a part of consultations and to make submissions regarding the proposed use of this land; and
WHEREAS the environmental assessments and approvals were completed almost two decades ago; and
WHEREAS property owners, business owners, community members, taxpayers, and elected officials have a right to current information on the environmental impact of having an additional waste disposal site in Edwardsburgh Cardinal;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Committee of the Whole of the Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal recommends that Council call on the Mayor of the Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal to advocate for, and formally request that, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville halt the development and sale of ED19 until a public consultation, including updated environmental impact information, can be completed by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville in the Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal.
While the site (labeled ad ED19) located on Byers Road has long been zoned and discussed as a waste site, both Barrett and Smail suggested that the majority of local residents are not well enough informed on the site and have been lobbying for public consultation prior to moving forward with any development.
"There are too many unknowns, too much lack of information," Smail explained to her fellow councilors in requesting the public input. "The residents that we represent are not comfortable with this. They deserve to be heard. They deserve that."
Sayeau, repetitively describing the motion as an ambush from within his own council, was livid with what he perceived as an 11th hour attempt to undermine a project that would appear on the County Council agenda the following day. He berated Barrett for the nature and timing of the motion.
"Don't blame me for your lack of knowledge," he lectured to Barrett, sighting that the information has been in the public continually and suggesting that the residents need to own the responsibility of understanding the process. "That (residents not being aware of the history and details of the proposed waste site) is not my problem," Sayeau quipped.
"That (the publics lack of knowledge)..." Barrett argued, motioning to his peers around the table, "...is collectively all of our problem."
An extremely lengthy and volatile debate ensued with emotions reaching the point where Sayeau stopped discussion to call a brief recess in the procedures.
"I need to call a five-minute recess to cool down," the mayor proclaimed.
Returning to the table, Sayeau requested to Barrett and Smail to rescind the motion. Getting no response, the mayor then called for a recorded vote.
After Councillors Barrett and Smail voted in favour of the motion, Deputy Mayor Peggy Taylor supported Sayeau's nay vote.
"I am voting for the best interest of my residents," Taylor told the gallery.
Deadlocked at two votes each, the deciding vote would come from Ward 2 Councilor Gerry Morrell.
In a scene befitting a Hollywood blockbuster, Morrell visually and verbally weighed his options for the better part of seven minutes while the assembled residents and his fellow committee members anxiously awaited his response. With no sign of a clear vote in sight, Sayeau finally informed Morrell that he would only be able to allow the councillor one additional minute before asking for his say on the matter.
Clearly struggling with the issue right down to the wire, Morrell reluctantly voted in line with Sayeau and Taylor, defeating the motion to request more time at the county level.
"This is the toughest decision I have ever had to make in six years of council," Morrell stated when casting the final tally.
The ED19 issue is expected to be on the December County Council agenda.
Mayor Sayeau has also recently invited concerned residents to the next meeting of township council.
"There will be a township council meeting on Monday, December 12 at 10:00 a.m. and an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the meeting," Sayeau offered in a social media post on Thursday.