Letter: Let the planners speak!

Kudos to Councillor Justice for trying to set things straight

Let the planners speak!

I am writing in support of Councillor Justice’s motion to seek planning staff’s professional opinion regarding possible impacts of building scenarios for Bell McKinnon Local Area Plan.

It is long overdue to put all the facts on the table regarding BMLAP. It goes without saying that committing to the BMLAP requires trade offs in other parts of the municipal budget. Given our aging infrastructure in other growth centres, we need to know how much of our finite resources would be required to fund the build out of BMLAP. We also must project what the impacts will be on our growth projections for other growth centres.

The information flow to council and the public has been hijacked by Mayor Siebring. The mayor displayed his bias for sprawl at the Sept. 7, 2021 Committee of the Whole meeting where he cut off council questioning planning staff on BMLAP. The mayor’s “sprawlitics” have completely overwhelmed the ability of the planning department to deliver the facts of the case.

This is unacceptable, and kudos to Councillor Justice for trying to set things straight. Municipal staff need to be free to exercise their professional autonomy, and they are bound by a mandatory code of ethics. Their code makes it clear: the public expects members, as public servants in local government to make decisions with evidence-based impartiality and commit to transparent stewardship of community assets.

As the code states, public service is a form of public trust. It is not appropriate for the mayor to be interfering with reasonable and bona fide questioning of municipal staff by our elected council. Nor is it appropriate for information to be managed or sculpted in ways that mislead council, its committees, and the public at large.

It is time for the facts to be brought to the table, and restore the public trust in the decision making around growth management in MNC. Please support Councillor Justice’s motion.

Chris Crowther