• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Wynne and Jeffrey – different styles, same substance?

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In Kate Harries - Blog
Dec 6th, 2013
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UPDATED – see below
Does Premier Kathleen Wynne keep Linda Jeffrey in cabinet just to make herself look good?
Our group’s recent contact with the two members of the Ontario Liberal government has been a study in contrasts.
On October 24, Jeffrey, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced a review of Ontario land use planning and development charges. A series of workshops were to be held inThunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, Mississauga and Toronto. The deadline for public comment is January 10 2014.
On November 4, AWARE Simcoe chair Don Morgan wrote to Jeffrey, asking that the ministry schedule a workshop in Simcoe County. After all, Morgan pointed out, this is where intense development pressure is leading to sprawl and the loss of irreplaceable farmland.
“This oversight is curious in view of the fact that the Simcoe Sub-area is the only jurisdiction within the Greater Golden Horseshoe to be specifically addressed in Places to Grow,” he wrote.  “Section 6 and Amendments 1 and 2 are a clear demonstration of the unique nature of the land use stresses that we face.”
AWARE received an electronic reply the same day from the email moniker “Minister (MAH). “
It said: “Thank you for your e-mail to the Honourable Linda Jeffrey,
“Your correspondence has been forwarded to the appropriate office for review.   This message acknowledges receipt of your correspondence.
Regards”
There was no signature. There was no further communication. We were left to ponder the dangling comma – had some senior bureaucrat excised a reveaing comment, leaving only a punctuation mark as a marker of good intentions thwarted? We wondered who works at the “appropriate office?” Perhaps it is an empty office, where missives from groups like ours are fotwarded, where the staff have all been fired and dust is settling on their desks.
In contrast, AWARE Oro-Medonte’s Ann Truyens wrote to the Premier on November 20, after meeting her at a reception in Bradford. Ann forwarded a letter from Beth Brass Elson, a First Nations leader at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi, and asked for help in resolving the impasse with the natural resources ministry.
Wynne’s special assistant responded five days later and gave the names of two officials, one a policy advisor in the Premier’s office and the other a policy advisor to Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti. We’ll keep the names private, for now – and see if any action is taken. There’s certainly a difference in style that makes Wynne seem more appealing. But in terms of substance, perhaps Jeffrey is more honest. Do either of these politicians have any regard for our concerns here in Simcoe County?
We did have another go at Jeffrey. This is the letter Don Morgan sent her on November 20.
“I wrote to you on November 4 requesting a workshop in Simcoe County and explaining why we think it is necessary and appropriate.
“Unfortunately I received no response to that request – merely an unsigned acknowledgment that it would be forwarded to “the appropriate office for review.”
“We at AWARE Simcoe would feel more comfortable about the sincerity of this public consultation exercise if we had received a response showing that you or a person in your office had given some thought to our request, and if it is not to be granted, giving us reasons why not.
“In any event, five members of AWARE Simcoe travelled to the workshop in Kitchener-Waterloo – a trip of more than three hours each way – and there they repeated our request. They were told the ministry would not come to Simcoe County but that we as volunteers could organize our own workshop. We are now working on doing that.
“Unfortunately Christmas comes in the middle of the comment period, which is in any case unusually short. Even without trying to organize a workshop, we need more time. Please extend the deadline for comment by at least a month, to Feb. 10 2014, so as to make this a useful exercise for all concerned.
“We are also surprised that there are no workshops for the public on Development Charges. These are central to the issue of sprawl and many of us have ideas of how to make growth pay for growth. There is also a great need for better public input into DCs. So I hope you will reconsider your ‘invitation only’ plans for DC workshops. If you extend your deadline, I’m sure you will find your staff and consultants will be able to organize public DC workshops.
“Yours sincerely
“Don Morgan
“Chair AWARE Simcoe”
We have had no response.
THIS JUST IN
On December 13 2013, Don Morgan received the following response from the Minister.

Dear Mr. Morgan:

13-61862

Thank you for email about extending the deadline for comments about the review of the land use planning and appeal systems.

Our government hopes to receive all comments and submissions by January 10, 2014. This is to ensure that full and careful consideration is given to all comments and submissions received. Where possible, efforts will be made to consider comments received after the deadline.

Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Please accept my best wishes.

Sincerely,

LInda Jeffrey

Minister

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