September 15th, 2019
Dear Ms Black,
Please consider this an official document and forward this letter to the councillors and the mayor for their consideration.
I’m writing today to comment on and ask questions about issues raised at the council meeting of September 9th, 2019.
The main area of concern is the continuing communication problems between Wentworth and its residents. The fact that approximately 130 people turned out for a council meeting in September in itself demonstrates that the taxpayers are unhappy and want answers. The municipality’s response, to strictly limit the time available per person and in total, was a poor start. Thirty minutes of discussion for all of the issues important to Wentworth’s residents is not enough, particularly in the exceptional situation which we are facing. Furthermore the aggressive tone of at least one councillor was unprofessional and unhelpful.
The people sitting near to me were upset by what they saw as a failure of the democratic process, given that their right to be heard and ask questions was being severely restricted. I worried that one gentleman would have a heart attack given his evident anxiety. Like most people in the room, he questioned why we were not permitted to raise all of our concerns and ask follow up questions when the answers were not forthcoming. We all are trying to understand how and why Wentworth got into the current unsatisfactory situation and how we can protect our environment going forward.
One way for the council to reduce the amount of time taken by questions would be for the council to respond openly and fully to all of the questions asked, rather than hide behind vague comments about legal concerns, present arguments that they cannot reply (such as the non-existent non disclosure agreements) and use their power to curtail discussions which the municipality seems to prefer to avoid (council meetings of August 5th and September 9th). These questions will not go away and without communication, the residents will make up their own minds about intent.
One example of a communication failure is the Council’s treatment of the Ryan report. There are many questions surrounding this report:
- Why was taxpayer money spent on an incomplete, unprofessional and biased report to be handed to a developer?
- What was the brief given to Ryan Affairs? Given the report’s serious and numerous failings as a summary of public opinion (please see my email of August 22nd, 2019 and correspondence of fellow residents), it is inexplicable to the residents that this document would not be returned to the writer for a complete rewrite or put in the garbage. Certainly the invoice for such poor work should not have been paid. So why has this not happened? Ms Black’s assertion that the report has been deposited and therefore could not be amended led to confusion. What, in this context, does deposited mean? Why could the report not be amended? Given the lack of clarification, inevitably Wentworth’s citizens will draw their own conclusions. One possibility is that the report says exactly what Wentworth asked Ryan Affairs to conclude and that the exercise was always no more than a public relations stunt.
- Why would the council not discuss the Ryan Report at the September council meeting in order to explain their viewpoints to the community? Passing a resolution for the council members to defer taking a decision stifles input from the residents and creates more distrust.
- Why has the council not responded to my letter about the Ryan report, or the comments submitted by other concerned citizens?
The communication issues have three levels. Firstly there is the lack of response to questions and a lack of information. Secondly there appears to be misinformation. According to CNN, misinformation means false information which is spread whether or not the intention was to mislead. Lastly, there may be disinformation, which involves the deliberate spreading of misleading information.
There are many examples of poor communication by Wentworth.
- Where are the responses to residents’ letters? In particular, I have not yet heard from the municipality about my letters of August 22nd and August 27th, 2019.
- Where are the minutes from the August 5th council meeting? Why have they not been posted online yet?
- Why initially did Wentworth make it so difficult for residents to access the Ryan Report?
- Why did Wentworth not ensure that Ryan Affairs included the red sign campaign, the red shirt campaign, the petitions and the residents’ correspondence prior to the June meeting in their report?
- Why did the municipality choose not to advise the residents of the imminent WITRI plan before the re-zoning exercise was completed so that more residents could participate in the democratic process? We now know from the Ryan report that the mayor and officials of Wentworth had knowledge of the project before that time. The standard answer which Wentworth provides when asked this question is evasive. The municipality provides evidence that the basic minimum level of communication about the by-laws was provided and that they were under no obligation to mention the environmental threat on the horizon. However Wentworth does not address why they did not seek expert advice or participation from the whole electorate on the most important issue ever faced by the municipality.
- The municipality has worked with the Lake Louisa Property Owners Association (LLPOA) for years to devise methods of protecting Lake Louisa, her wetlands and her watershed. Why does the municipality no longer seek the LLPOA’s advice, credit it’s representation of the residents or encourage the LLPOA to speak in meetings? In the body of the Ryan report, there was no mention of the number of people who are represented by the LLPOA or any weight given to the LLPOA’s submission. I attended one meeting at which some council members jeered when an LLPOA member rose to speak. This came across to the audience as rude and an attempt to intimidate. It looked like the councillors did not want to have to listen to the LLPOA’s views. The unanswered question here is when and why did Wentworth turn its back on the LLPOA given Wentworth’s urgent need for environmental advice and a mouthpiece for the community?
- Why didn’t Wentworth provide detailed information to the near neighbours of the new zone RU6 before the by-law vote? Did it not occur to Wentworth that these properties would be seriously impacted by the changes which now permit race tracks, flying schools, amusements parks, firing ranges, 100 room hotels, spas and marinas on their doorsteps?
- Given that the WITRI project would sit in the new RU6 zone on Lake Louisa’s watershed and very near to Lake Louisa’s north shore, why didn’t the municipality seek independent expert environmental advice before introducing by-laws to permit the zoning change in the fall of 2018?
- The previous zoning of that area was Vtfd-25 (villégiature tres faible) in keeping with the urbanism plan in recognition of and to preserve the rural nature of our community. The new zoning designation of commercial recreotouristique contradicts this plan. Why?
- What exactly has happened with the WITRI project? What did the municipality know and what interaction has the municipality had with the developer? A timeline would be appreciated. The residents should not have to read about this development in the news and online.
- Where is the mayor’s response to the LLPOA’s requests for his resignation and a moratorium on the WITRI project? Given the mayor’s unfortunate absence from the September council meeting, the residents were unable to hear his response. I look forward to hearing from the mayor as soon as possible.
There appear to be several examples of misinformation.
- When asking about the WITRI project, we are consistently told by Wentworth that it is only an idea, nothing more than that. Yet the mayor has told us that the developer’s biologist is already on site and we see a promotional commercial document from WITRI last year which shows a photo of the mayor with the developer and displays logos of Wentworth and the MRC. Furthermore, we have seen online plans labelled “The Lake District of Wentworth Golf Course presented by Jason Morrison February 24th, 2019,” So why is Wentworth still saying that the WITRI is nothing more than an idea?
- When asked when the mayor first had contact with the developer, initially he advised that his first contact was in December 2018. The mayor later amended the date to August 2018. More recently we have been advised by Wentworth that the mayor had verbal contact with the developer in May 2018. Which date is right? What other forms of contact have taken place and when?
- The councillors regularly say that the developer probably has not purchased any land yet. However where is the biologist working? If not on land owned by the developer then on whose land and on whose authority?
- Whenever Wentworth is faced with the request to “fix it” and “press undo” to remove this existential threat to Lake Louisa (September 9th council meeting), there is either no response or the response is that there might be legal implications if it were to try. However, Wentworth agreed on Monday that the council could have chosen to vote against the new zoning by-laws in the autumn of 2018. It is this new zoning which most threatens Lake Louisa, her wetlands and her watershed.
- Similarly, when asked if the municipality is under any legal obligation to the developer, the councillors’ answers are always an emphatic no. Yet Wentworth continues to refuse to drop the Ryan report and the letter, both of which are seriously flawed documents. From the residents’ perspective, it is hard to understand why not, unless there are legal considerations of which we are unaware.
- For months we were advised that questions could not be answered due to a non disclosure agreement between the mayor and the developer. Subsequently, the mayor admitted that no such document exists.
- The mayor also said that he has a verbal undertaking with the developer, details of which cannot be shared. Notwithstanding this, we are told that the developer presents no legal threat to Wentworth.
- We were told in the May 6th presentation that Wentworth would surround itself with resource people to reflect together on this project. However so far it appears that the only extra resource which Wentworth has acquired is the help of lawyers and a public relations firm, presumably both paid for by taxpayers, to advise the council members and municipal officials on how to protect themselves. Why? What we need, and should be spending taxpayer money on, is expert help in how to protect our fragile environment.
Citing examples of disinformation is difficult because disinformation occurs when the information being spread is known to be wrong or biased, something which may be suspected but hard to prove when information is unavailable and questions are left unanswered. We don’t know whether or not some of the examples in the above section might more accurately be placed under disinformation.
- An example of disinformation would be if the Ryan Report were to be sent to the developer or used in any way to indicate the view of residents. As the mayor confirmed, you would have to live under a rock to not have seen all of the red signs displayed on residents’ properties. Similarly, every official or council member who has read letters from the community or attended the council meetings must know that the residents do not feel that they have been heard. The report and letter are deeply flawed and the municipality knows it. Using this report in any way would be disinformation.
So, I end as usual with a plea for Wentworth to start communicating with its citizens in an open manner. Please explain what has happened and why Wentworth has legal worries and no legal worries at the same time. Please answer the questions and clarify the inconsistencies discussed above so that trust can begin to be rebuilt. Your citizens have a right to hear and to be heard. It is not too late to protect our community but Wentworth needs to be a positive force.
Mar. 25th, 2019
Une étude d’impact sur l’environnement est clairement requise ici. Rappelez-vous que chaque grain de sable/sol est recouvert de phosphate qui est rejeté dans l’environnement lorsque le sol est perturbé.
C’est pourquoi nous nous sommes toujours préoccupés de perturber le moins possible le sol au bord ou près du bord de l’eau – le phosphate est libéré dans le lac où il fournit des nutrients pour la croissance des algues. Imaginez [ il est vraiment impossible d’imaginer ] la perturbation du sol qui se produirait avec toute la construction de la route et l’infrastructure nécessaire pour un projet de cette envergure. La destruction de l’écosystème en serait le résultat inévitable.
Quand l’étude d’impact sera-t-elle effectuée?
An environmental impact study is clearly required here. Remember that each grain of sand/soil is coated with phosphate which gets released into the environment when the soil is disturbed. That is why we have always been concerned with disturbing the soil at or near the water’s edge – the phosphate gets released into the lake where it provides nutrient for algae growth. Imagine [it’s really impossible to imagine] the amount of soil disturbance that would take place with all the road building and construction required for such a massive project. The destruction of the lake ecosystem would be the inevitable result.
When will the impact study be done?
Mar. 22nd, 2018
Dear council members,
Thank you for posting the development proposal so that those of us who were unable to attend the meeting could begin to understand the situation facing the council.
I have three comments and one suggestion:
1. This proposed development is huge – off the scale of anything which the Laurentians have seen before.
2. We do not know these people and they do not know us or the area. Who are they? Where are their previous developments and how successful are those developments in terms of integration with the community and protecting the environment?
3. The proposal is long on promises and short on detail. In my experience, developers who make promises at the beginning come back to the council later, demanding changes and threatening to leave the project half built or to sell it onto another developer while they retreat back to their base thousands of miles away. The developer’s first priority is always to make money for its investors. Keeping a promise such as not permitting access to Lake Louisa would be a low priority when they hit problems in the scheme – and developers always hit problems along the way.
4. My suggestion to the council would be to stop any further discussion until an independent report on the impact of the proposed development has been completed. The council does not have the time or money to be able to assess this proposal. We need experts, chosen by the council, to look into every issue which the development raises. This report should be funded by the developer. Requiring the developer to finance the report is a reasonable position and a normal requirement in projects of this scale.
If the developer says that there is no time for a pause, then we know their true intentions.
If the developer is unwilling to fund the report and tries to make the council form a judgment using only the developer’s reports, then again we know their true position.
So far, it looks like the developer is bullying us, trying to push through a massive development while minimising the risks to the ecosystem.
We risk losing everything.
Thank you for reading my views
Dear Mayor and Council:
Like others, I have been reading with alarm about the “Investors interested in the Enhancement of the Magnificent Territory in Wentworth”, which your website so ironically and facetiously states on the front page link…and I am appalled that ANYONE, would consider this proposed horrific addition to be an “enhancement” of any kind! Any environmentalist or simple nature lover knows…this development actually rings the death knells for our unique, peaceful community and clearly means the end our pristine lake as we know it. There are a million reasons why I , the LLPOA and so many other residents object to this shattering news, and I’m in agreement with every one I’ve heard stated so far…but the number one reason at the top of my list, is this:
- The proposed property for the development encases the Great Blue Heron Rookery, north of McIntyre Creek, which has been there for years and years and is the breeding ground for about 10 pairs of magnificent birds. They use Lake Louisa as a fishing ground to feed their young. Jane Nelson (past President of the LLPOA) and I have walked up there several times to see them in the spring and they are spectacular.
This development would destroy these birds. I have been a member of the World Wildlife Association for years and intend to notify them and other bird protection organizations who would be certainly be interested. Surely world-wide animal activists would mobilize to save these magnificent creatures if the council of Wentworth will not.
Mar. 21st, 2019
The whole project seems like someone’s unbelievable dream – or nightmare for Lake Louisa, and Wentworth. I wish that the whole idea of this project is rejected and is not even considered ever again.
Mar. 20th, 2018
My Family and I Are Absolutely Against Said Proposed Development Of Any Property Due North Of Our Cottage’s and Lac Louisa!!
The Roads and Infrastructure Can Not Sustain proposed Development …. Without Harming a Very Fragile Environment and Lake and Any Watershed’s That Affect our Beautiful Pristine Lake ….. a one of The Only Large Lakes In Our Area!!
This Will be Extremely Detrimental for …. All Property Owners In This Environ and Beyond!!
There Should Be ….. No Lake or Water Access Involved With This Proposed Development!!
The Boyd Family
We’ll be posting letters from our members on the topic of the WITRI project. Watch this space for more to come.