Public vs. Private Interests
We often hear the term “special interest groups” used to disparage citizens and environmental groups who protest or oppose developments of one kind or another, whether it’s pipelines or urban sprawl. The term that should be used is “public” interest groups because there is rarely any monetary gain to be made by the people who fight to protect farmland and the environment. In fact it’s almost always the case that people fighting development projects that they feel are not in the public interest use their own limited resources.
On the other hand, the term that should be used for proponents of development projects should be “private” interest groups because almost without exception, the proponents expect to make huge profits on their investment. This is why they are prepared to spend mega bucks on lawyers and consultants at the Ontario Municipal Board. These proponents are seldom people from the local community. They have no long term investment in the community nor have they any understanding of what the residents wish to see happen. And they rarely care what residents think anyway. Occasionally they are willing to make minor concessions when the locals raise sufficient opposition.
Proponents of large developments like to work behind the scenes, promoting their proposal with politicians and approval staff before members of the community get wind of the project. This is why AWARE Simcoe is calling for a lobby registration where proponents who want to promote their projects must register so that the public can be informed about their activities.
One of the goals of the AWARE Simcoe’s Vision is that all development proposals be able to demonstrate that any project will be a net-benefit to the community. In other words, that residents and taxpayers will see some benefit such as new long term jobs, and not be saddled with paying for infrastructure that benefits only developers. The whole Vision can be viewed on this website. Link