• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Marshall has no answer on County using “deep pockets” to go after AWARE Simcoe

In Council Watch
Nov 10th, 2017
Mark Calzavera at Water Walk potluck-Melanie Robitaille photo

Mark Calzavera of the Council of Canadians addresses the crowd at the Wyebridge Community Centre – Melanie Robitaille photo

By Kate Harries AWARE News Network

Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall did not reply to a request from Council of Canadians representative Mark Calzavera that he step back from his pursuit of a court costs award from AWARE Simcoe.

The request came at the Water Walk potluck dinner to which Marshall – recently nominated as Liberal candidate in Simcoe North – was invited.

Calzavera noted that “one of the great things that came out of Site 41 was the formation of AWARE Simcoe, which did some amazing work in getting rid of those who didn’t do their job at the municipal level.”

This was a reference to the 2010 election that saw the defeat of many county councillors who had supported Dump Site 41 and backed legal action against the protesters, particularly farmer Anne Ritchie-Nahuis and Vicki Monague of Beausoleil First Nation, who were named in a $160,000 lawsuit.

The recent costs award was in relation to an injunction sought by AWARE Simcoe in 2015 that would have halted clearing 35 acres of mature forest near Beeton until the group’s application for a judicial review of a Simcoe County decision was to be heard in early 2016.

The judge in the case refused the injunction and awarded costs of $27,000 to the developer, Tecumseth Estates, and $5,000 to Simcoe County. AWARE Simcoe subsequently withdrew its judicial review application.

Calzavera pointed out that AWARE Simcoe members are volunteers who do their best to challenge politicians and hold decision-makers accountable.

With regard to the Beeton Woods matter, “they were doing the right thing,” Calzavera said. “At Council of Canadians, we’re all about people across the country standing up, and we encourage them to stand up, and we need to know that our municipal politicians aren’t going to turn around and use their deep pockets for legal fees and all the rest to challenge well-meaning and well-intentioned people to stand up for what they believe is right.”

To applause from the 175 people who gathered for a potluck dinner at the end of the Water Walk, Calzavera told Marshall, “I think everyone would love to see a commitment from the county to step back on that.”

He suggested putting in place a policy not to go after communities that stand up to government, but to support them, to give them the resources to make their case.

“That would be a better way to go about things,” Calzavera said. Noting that Marshall is seeking election at the provincial level, he added, “I think that’s the kind of thing that’s going to get a lot of support, you might want to consider that or speak to that.”

Marshall did not address the issues Calzavera raised. “Thank you for sharing those comments,” he said. “I’ll take them under advisement.”

The two-day Water Walk on November 4 and 5, 2017 was organized by Monague and others from Beausoleil FN, with support from Friends of the Waverley Uplands, AWARE Simcoe and other community members, to protest the expansion of the Dufferin aggregate operation.

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