Former Mayor Dennis Staples addressed Smiths Falls council Monday afternoon in connection with the Beckwith Street Redevelopment Plan.
During his address, amongst other comments, he asked — and wanted answers for — four questions: why his letter of Feb. 19 was not part of the council agenda on Feb. 25 in keeping with the Procedural By-law section on correspondence; why were the 150 emails received by Council on the Beckwith Street Redevelopment Plan not placed on a Council or Committee of the Whole agenda; what actions would Council take on the two previous delegations from Vince Hamilton and Justin Duhamel; and would you provide assurances that future delegations will be heard?
He was willing to leave his notes for Council’s perusal.
Councillor Chris McGuire commented: “It’s great to have these meetings in the community but I’ve never been invited to one and I’d love to show up. It’s a good way to engage.” He added there seems to be “a lot of ideas of backroom conversations that I’m not aware of. By not getting invited to meetings it eliminates an opportunity for that dialogue.”
He continued he was willing and open if invited — but to invite him via email. “I’m not on Facebook. I think it’s a toxic forum right now.”
Mayor Pankow assured Staples future delegations would be heard. Staples concluded: “My experience has been that providing an opportunity [for the] public to be heard, to [take] part (they may not agree with the final decision) but at least they will have had an opportunity. If that was allowed — maybe I’m old-fashioned, he acknowledged — it might put an end to this grief you’re going through and the public is going through. Without it I think you’re going to have a continuation of this.”
Mayor Pankow pointed out there have been “13 individual opportunities for public feedback as well as email and telephone calls and individual meetings through the length of this project, going back to 2017 [and up to] to January of this year.”
More answers will be forthcoming at future Committee of the Whole and Council meetings.