Criticisms of AWARE have no basis in fact
For the greater good
Letter to the Orillia Packet & Times from Don Morgan, Midland August 21 2017
As chair of AWARE Simcoe, I am disappointed that several recent letters to you by Mr. Doyle and Mr. McKee paint our organization in such negative terms.
The references to AWARE and political interference and Burl’s Creek have no basis in fact.
AWARE tries to follow its mandate to monitor and support, as the Simcoe County motto states, “for the greater good.” We lobbied successfully to have the Nottawasaga River put back on the National Waterways protected list, tried to help the good people of Beeton when they tried to stop a developer from clear-cutting parts of the Beeton Woods and illegally removing endangered butternut trees. Seeing the flood devastation in this town earlier this summer, it is sad that our justice system decided to side with the developer and county in this issue.
AWARE has supported the citizens of Midhurst in their effort to save valuable agricultural land and the unsanctioned biosphere protected Minesing Wetlands from the negative impact of development sprawl.
We also provided our support to save Strawberry Island from development.
We are providing ongoing support for Tiny and Adjala-Tosorontio townships in their efforts to prevent their water supplies being polluted by aggregate extraction, a major health issue for these two areas.
One of our current efforts is the support we are giving to the Green Belt Coalition in their effort to get Simcoe County included in the Green Belt to protect the county’s invaluable water and agriculture assets.
These are some of the many endeavours we at AWARE have undertaken to make Simcoe County the best place it can be for our citizens now and in the future.
As I said at the beginning, it saddens me when some see fit to paint what AWARE is doing in a such negative terms.
Please visit our website for updates: www.aware-simcoe.ca
Chair, AWARE Simcoe
Letter to the Orillia Packet & Times from David McKee, Oro-Medonte July 31 2017
In an era where social media is given free rein, small groups can spread misinformation without the need to sign their names or support accusations with facts or fairness.
When testifying before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for Burl’s Creek, Save Oro/the West Oro Ratepayers Association (WORA) were exposed for what the acronym AWARE (Accusations Without Any Real Evidence) seemingly represents.
The consequences of Save Oro/WORA using AWARE-like tactics resulted in taxpayers being on the hook for huge costs. They stretched what should have been a three-day hearing into 11 days spread out over a year. Six lawyers, two OMB members and numerous employees prepared for and attended the needlessly costly hearing.
The board characterized Save Oro/WORA’s testimonies as “negativity expressed by the complainants … conveyed in generalities with sweeping statements made without substantial factual evidence to support them … considered unreasonable and inflammatory” (OMB Page 23 [q]).
Additionally, the OMB referenced their testimonies to be “disingenuous and selective (OMB Page 39 ); objections … were limited, vague and were not supported by any corroborating evidence; in the absence of any evidence of any kind (OMB Page 39 and 40 ); there are no archaeological resources on the TUB Land (OMB Page 7 ); there is no persuasive evidence before the Board” (OMB Page 18 [g]).
The OMB emphasized that the township got it right in stating “Under all of the circumstances the Board prefers the planning evidence of the Township …” (OMB Page 29 ).
The OMB ruling confirms that, had the unelected, small, vocal group permitted those democratically elected to do their job without interference, the decision would have been the same. The difference would have been a timely decision with huge savings for the taxpayers.
On the day of the decision, Save Oro spokesperson Bruce Wiggins inadvertently summarized and validated the OMB’s findings. Before a TV camera, he still contended that Burl’s Creek was not being used for agriculture. In the background, farm machinery was spewing out large, round bales from a bumper crop of hay on the Burl’s Creek lands.
It is evident that Save Oro/WORA will continue to broadcast their misinformation, accusations and dire predictions, regardless of the evidence to the contrary, to anyone willing or foolish enough to listen.
The newly proposed OMB changes must prevent such abuses where a small, vocal minority can, seemingly with impunity, walk away without being held accountable. Otherwise, taxpayers will continue to be the financial victims.