Planner caught in NVCA, Turnbull-Guergis face-off over floodway property
By Kate Harries WaterWatch
Comments made by Leesa Turnbull, the wife of Essa Mayor David Guergis, are “inappropriate and unjust,” the township’s manager of planning and development says in a report received by council on Wednesday.
Colleen Healey was responding to a strongly worded attack by Turnbull sent to her in a November 13 email. In it Turnbull accuses the planner of being in league with the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority which is standing in the way of development in Angus.
In her email, Turnbull asks when will the Essa planning department “report this behaviour to our council so they can be aware of what the NVCA is doing to devastate the economic development in Angus.”
She says she has “been present at council meetings where you (Healey) push the NVCA agenda.”
“I have never ‘pushed’ the NVCA agenda as I am a proud employee of Essa,” Healey replies in a 5-page report with many attachments. The report refers to Turnbull only as “a resident” but her email is the first attachment.
At issue is a Committee of Adjustment approval of a severance at 350 Mill St. – clearing the way for Turnbull to sell the property to Canadian Tire – that the NVCA has appealed to the Ontario Muncipal Board.
Whether the 305 Mill St. property is within a floodway where development is prohibited or restricted has been a sore point for some time. The matter was raised when Turnbull and Guergis attended an NVCA executive committee meeting in March.
Then in September, Guergis tabled a motion at Essa council to dissolve the NVCA. He later withdrew it.
Turnbull states: “It seems that you (Healey) are not working to move this community forward but supporting an institution that is devastating much needed development” and jeopardizing hundreds of jobs and revenue.
“Angus now has a bad name with all commercial developers (I hear it from Toronto reps all the time),” Turnbull adds. “One successful developer stated Angus should be one of the major commercial centres in all of Simcoe County because of County Rd. 90 and the County Rd. 10 intersection, also the over 20,000 cars a day.”
Turnbull asks why Healey has not pushed for “Special Area policies which we are clearly eligible for.”
This is a reference to Special Policy Areas (SPAs), a planning provision that allows regulation of existing flood-prone neighbourhoods, but is not designed to open up flood-prone lands for new development.
According to Healey’s report, Essa Council has instructed its Official Plan planning consultant to look into SPAs, but feedback from the NVCA and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is that “we will have our work cut out for us to convince the province that a SPA should be applied in Angus.”
Essa is also putting together a case “for berming lands in Angus and thus opening up additional lands in central if not north Angus,” the report states.
Turnbull copied her email to various township officials with the request to Clerk Mike Galloway that it be included in the council agenda.
It was listed in the December 2 agenda as Report P09-73 ‘Response to email from resident circulated to Council.’ Mayor Guergis declared a conflict and left the room and the report was received by council without any mention of Turnbull’s name or her criticism.
Councillors later passed a resolution condemning a proposed 3 per cent increase in the NVCA levy and requesting that it be reduced to 2 per cent or less.
See also NVCA fax on Turnbull property went astray