Town denies St. Mary's building permit fee rebate

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The phrase 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander' supposedly derives from an earlier proverb, 'what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.'

Tillsonburg Council may have said 'hold the sauce' when they voted to reject – in a recorded vote on Monday, June 22 – a proposed by-law that would have provided a building permit fee rebate for renovations at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church at 137 Rolph Street.

Two councillors abstained – Councillor Jim Hayes and Councillor Brian Stephenson – declaring a pecuniary interest in the item, temporarily leaving the Council Chambers. That left Mayor Stephen Molnar, who was mayor in 2006 when the Community Improvement Plan and building permit fee rebate policy was introduced, Deputy Mayor Dave Beres, another veteran on Council, and Councillors Max Adam, Chris Rosehart and Penny Esseltine. The by-law was defeated 3-2, with Molnar and Beres voting in favour.

Just two weeks earlier, with its full complement, Tillsonburg Council voted to accept a similar building permit fee rebate by-law proposed for renovations and expansion at St. John's Anglican Church, 46 Ridout Street West.

That June 11th decision had Tillsonburg's Doug Shwaluk thinking, why did one church get the rebate and not the other? He pointed to the precedent and questioned whether another by-law was even necessary.

"This type of outcome divides the community," said Shwaluk, "and creates animosity among citizens.

"All church groups and designated faith groups," he said, emphasizing all, "deserve to be commended on their efforts to draw families together, instilling moral and ethical values to upcoming generations, not to mention the countless hours and work donated toward charity, such as providing food, clothing and shelter to the needy. Visiting shut-ins, assisting youth, etc.

"My question is, 'Why are those who have been elected by us, the tax payers of this community, not being more considerate and understanding prior to making a decision on issues placed before them?"

Shwaluk, who did not attend the June 22nd meeting, followed up speaking with the mayor, deputy mayor, and two councillors. What he learned was the Councillors who voted against the by-law on June 11, also voted against it on June 22. The difference was the two Councillors who declared a conflict.

"My point was, why was their a vote the second time. Why is this a new by-law each time someone applies for this? I don't understand that part of it."

If they had turned down both churches, Shwaluk said it wouldn't have been an issue for him.

"Word for word, they were exactly the same."

Shwaluk said one of the Councillors told him they didn't want the taxpayers to pay for 'Catholics or whoever.'

"But I am a tax payer," said Shwaluk, who would like the by-law – or rather the need for the by-law – to be examined before another church makes an application. "Everybody plays a human role in our community, regardless of what church they might attend."



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