After months of back and forth with residents, council has voted to move forward with an amendment to next week’s council meeting to vote on holding a public meeting.
Midway through Monday, April 8 committee of the whole meeting, Councillor Dwyer spoke up about adding a discussion on holding a public meeting about the Beckwith Street development plan as a priority item.
“I would really love for our community to be happy again and to not have this divisive feeling,” Councillor Allen said.
“Unless we have a public forum here this isn’t going to end,” Councillor Brennan said. “This is the only way this council is going to get some credibility back.”
Councillor Brennan then referred to the petition circulating around town in favour of option one. “At least 70 per cent of those names live here. The vast majority of names on those petitions are from Smiths Falls.”
“I agree with having a public forum. I’d love to see a moderator who has experience with conflict resolution that brings out the bigger picture that we’re all neighbours,” Councillor McGuire said. “What are pathways to reconciliation? How do we go down the street without boycotting businesses?”
Mayor Pankow expressed concern over the reality of holding a public meeting after the divisiveness of the issue.
“I appreciate the concerns, but I don’t see the benefit of having people in a room yelling at each other,” Mayor Pankow said.
One option for the public meeting is to have an outside moderator with experience in conflict resolution.
A second priority item was added in reference to having a revote on option one or two for the Beckwith Street development. However, the motion was voted down in a 5-2 vote.
“I really feel like this is just digging the wound deeper and it gives out false hope,” Councillor McGuire. “I can’t support putting it on the agenda.”
Councillor Brenan and Councillor Dwyer both wish to see the motion added to next week’s agenda.