Smiths Falls council passed a motion to defer all discussion on the Beckwith Street redevelopment project in a meeting on Monday, April 15. Council is at a standstill until town works Director Troy Dunlop provides more information on how to proceed in the coming weeks.
The decision was made after council discussed the potential implications of hosting a public meeting.
“Emotions are high here at council and taking a pause might be in the best interest of our entire community. We need to take the temperature down on this,” Councillor Wendy Alford said. “It is the political will of this council that we continue with complete streets. It’s time for council to move on to other important stuff. It’s also time for everybody to reflect for a few weeks until we have more information.”
Councillor Jay Brennan expressed his dismay that a public meeting was not held back in January.
“I’m really down. I’m disheartened. I’m upset. The people that live outside of Smiths Falls that signed the petition, work here, they shop here. I call them permanent tourists,” Councillor Brennan said. “To me the purpose of a community meeting is to reach out and listen to concerns and answer questions.”
Two more delegations were proposed to speak at a future committee of the whole meeting, but council voted to delay them until Director Dunlop speaks on the project’s current standing.
“Right now this project is at a standstill. I don’t think it’s a great idea to keep hearing delegations or to plan a public meeting,” Councillor Chris McGuire said.
Former Mayor Dennis Staples made a delegation on what a previous council decided when the idea of a complete street was first mentioned in 2013.
“On May 6 a bylaw passed to adopt a downtown revitalization plan using the complete street principles,” Staples said. “There was no mention of bike lanes on Beckwith Street. Council took no further action on the Beckwith Street redevelopment project.”
Photo caption: Former Mayor Dennis Staples gave a delegation about what his council knew about plans to make Beckwith Street a complete street when he was mayor in 2013.