Open Letter to the Council of the Municipality of French River: Respect Your Citizens! — An Opinion

The Municipality of French River is currently experiencing major upheaval due to Bylaw 2007-41, which rezones a Rural area to a Waste Disposal area. On Wednesday, September 5, at 7 p.m., a Council meeting was held at which a petition with approximately 1,800 signatures asking to rescind Bylaw 2007-41 was presented to Council. Residents were allowed 30 minutes to ask questions of Council, but no responses were given. This letter demands answers.

Firstly, Council maintains that the citizens of French River have been misinformed regarding the adoption of the new bylaw; however, Council has not publicly provided any information regarding this venture. How does Council plan on notifying voters of all pertinent information? Does Council plan on providing all information in a timely manner? May I remind Council that information regarding Bylaw 2007-41 has yet to be made available to taxpayers and that in order to inform citizens in a timely manner, information should have been gathered and shared prior to or at the August 15 Council meeting. Council has acted irresponsibly towards its constituents. How will it make amends? The voters of the municipality have voiced their opinions: Rescind Bylaw 2007-41.

Secondly, Council was adamant about not giving the residents of French River a voice. It began the meeting by attempting to expulse a resident from the premises in order to establish its own power. Later, when the crowd of hundreds expressed its opinion by applauding some Councillors’ comments, Council chastised the residents. Granted, rules of order must be obeyed, but voters must also be allowed a voice. Isn’t it an accepted practice worldwide to applaud in order to show support? Even after the multitude had firmly and clearly stated that it did not want a waste disposal site in the area by way of a petition and by enthusiastically applauding the delegate when he presented the people’s concerns, Council still proceeded to pass a motion to research the issue further. The constituents of French River question what method of communication they must use in order to be heard and understood by Council. It is evident that neither the petition, the mass attendance at the meeting and the public forum, or applause is effective at stopping Council from pursuing this matter. When will the people’s voice be taken into consideration? Once further research has been completed? But again, will the results of the proposed investigation be shared adequately? It appears we are caught in a web of deception, concealment, and oppression.

Thirdly, Council often spoke of our municipality’s own landfill sites, our own organic disposal methods, our own recycling initiatives. Yet, Council failed to note that Halton Recycling’s importing of all of Ontario’s compost and/or garbage would exponentially increase the amount of waste in the area. Does Council truly believe that the waste of millions of Ontarians is comparable to that of the meagre thousands in the Municipality of French River? If so, how can it justify such a wilfully biased viewpoint? Council, please do not confuse the issue. Your constituents are painfully aware of your avoidance tactics.

I urge Council to represent the voters of French River by providing them with complete information, by giving them an avenue of expression, and by rescinding the bylaw. I also request that each Councillor have the courage to stand up and speak out publicly against Bylaw 2007-41.