Council opposes Mayor’s request for extra MZO meeting

Featured image for Council opposes Mayor’s request for extra MZO meeting

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

HALDIMAND—County councillors voted 5-1 against Mayor Shelley Ann Bentley’s request to host a second in-person consultation meeting on the divisive Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) for the proposed Nanticoke development from Empire Communities.

Mayor Bentley asked at the Council meeting last Tuesday for a meeting to be planned in Jarvis in addition to the planned consultation meeting at the County’s administration building in Cayuga.

“This would be fair to Ward 1 residents who will be affected most should this MZO get passed,” said Bentley.

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Councillor Dan Lawrence explained his reasoning for voting against the request: “I do have reservations about moving a meeting out of Council chambers, due to the fact that we can’t control the environment. It’s emotional for some. I think that is very important that we control that environment.”

He noted that regardless of the location, residents who want to attend in person would still need to drive there, and cited the advanced technological options provided in Council chambers, including the ability to livestream the meeting to the entire community seamlessly.

Councillor Rob Shirton added, “There’s more chance of bedlam in a place that’s not really controlled as opposed to here where we have livestream abilities in the building.”

Councillor Stew Patterson echoed the sentiments, “I have no problem with an additional meeting…. It should be in this facility.”

The mayor also pushed back against a proposed April 13 in-person consultation date recommended in a staff report, noting, “This is an extremely important issue for our county, and we appear to be rushing through it right now.”

She continued, “April 13 is only 23 days away and we have a number of seasonal residents that I’m sure are enjoying their winter basking in the sun and I’m certain they’re not paying any attention to what’s going on up here.”

Bentley requested an extension, pushing the meeting back to “the end of April or the first of May,” giving seasonal travellers a chance to come home and catch up on the news.

Shirton initially pushed back, “I can understand snowbirds, Mayor Bentley, but with the ability to chime in online, I don’t think there’s any reason not to move forward. We know with our CAO leaving at the end of May, I would like to see this here process finished prior to him leaving.”

Lawrence saw no problem in allowing the extension, “Mayor Bentley brought up some good points with regards to advertising, making sure that everybody gets the opportunity.”

Council ultimately supported the request for an extension unanimously, with a new date of April 27 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Council chambers in Cayuga.

The meeting will have seating capacity for 150 people, with overflow seating available in the lobby outside. Those who wish to speak at the meeting must register with the County Clerk by noon the day of the meeting, with no cap being set on the number of registrants allowed. Speakers will be limited to five minutes each, with the County also accepting written submissions to be added to the public record. Submissions can also be sent to the County Clerk. 

The County will also host a virtual public meeting on April 19 from 3 to 5 p.m., where participants can attend via Zoom. As with the in-person meeting, registrants wishing to speak must register by noon the day of and will also be limited to five minutes.

To tune in to either meeting online, visit Haldimand’s website haldimandcounty.ca and follow the links to the Council tab, where you can find the livestream video on the Council meeting calendar by date.