Last week the Frontenac News ran an editorial arguing that South Frontenac Council is too involved in evaluating the subdivision proposals coming before Council. The following is the comment I have sent back to the paper:
Dear Frontenac News,
Your editorial view that South Frontenac’s Council is down among the weeds is surprisingly undemocratic.
The implication is that Council and residents should, when the experts and staff have spoken, agree and get on with it. If that were the case then there would be no need for a Council, values or debate.
And, it ignores the grain of truth in the old joke: put 5 lawyers in a room and you have 6 different opinions. This is not to dismiss the necessity of expert opinions or science, but to simply say they are not sufficient.
It is a core obligation of elected officials to ask for clear explanations of issues and to question expert reports. This is essential if we are to cast an informed vote. Another core responsibility is to be very respectful and thoughtful, and to pay close attention to the residents, which also have sound opinions, many years of experience and live in our community.
South Frontenac Council is working as well as it has in years. Two complex development projects are progressing. Johnson Point will be a better than what was originally proposed because of the questioning and the extra work. The development at Hartington, when it is finalized, will also be better than the initial proposed. To use another old saying, democracy is the worst form of government [it is messy] except for all the others.
It is important to note that there are literally hundreds of new subdivision units currently in process in South Frontenac. Our problem is not that we are scaring away development but making sure that development benefits the community.
The Councillors and residents of South Frontenac need to be complimented on raising the level of public involvement and discussion on important issues. It is this engagement and understanding that will make a better community.
You cannot have the kind of garden you want, even if you work with expert gardeners, unless you understand the nature of weeds and occasionally get your hands dirty.
Ross Sutherland, Councillor, South Frontenac