Letters: 'A fiasco'
I devoted 35 years of my professional career to recording – through photos, videos and words – the daily news of Stratford for readers of The Beacon Herald.
In all that time, I never witnessed such a fiasco as I’ve seen unfold here in the past two weeks.
A number of city councillors and staff at investStratford seem hell-bent on ramming a controversial glass plant development down the throats of Stratford residents in record time, allowing a mere one hour of public input along the way.
At the last possible minute, council wisely hit the pause button on a development agreement Tuesday, ostensibly to gather more information to belatedly share with us at an upcoming meeting. It’s an encouraging step, but that’s all.
I appreciate that council is under no legal obligation to heed taxpayers’ concerns on an industrial project that ticks all the appropriate municipal, provincial and federal government boxes. Sadly, there’s even less likelihood of accountability in this case, given that the land proposed for Xinyi Glass was apparently rezoned for this specific company’s use under a Minister’s Zoning Order issued by the province.
Regardless, council has a moral and ethical duty to Stratford residents to allow sufficient time to question, engage and challenge the PR flacks from Xinyi, as well as city staff and our elected representatives, about this environmental nightmare of a mega-project.
Given the heartfelt and insightful pushback during Monday’s token town-hall forum, it’s clear that many of us are not willing to swallow the same Kool-Aid that some councillors have.
That the city of Stratford is pumping the brakes a bit on the proposed glass factory is a good thing, and a testament to the good work that concerned citizens did in exerting a great deal of pressure on council.
That it needed to happen that way, though, is unacceptable.
There are many important issues surrounding the proposed factory, but perhaps the most pivotal is the use of a Minister’s Zoning Order to circumvent established public policy. This is of vital importance because an MZO is a tool that could be used again and again and again if we don’t speak out against it, at both the municipal and provincial levels.
There doesn’t seem to be a public record indicating council voted on the matter, so it seems at least some city councillors were sandbagged by this, and we’re left to wonder: Who requested – on behalf of the city – that an MZO be triggered, so that the project could be sped along without benefit of the usual, more transparent and established process?
Since this is the same council that saw fit to grind through a lengthy, methodical public process regarding the renewable gas project, it is strange that an unethical shortcut would be utilized here.
MZOs should be used for urgent matters, not to sidestep public scrutiny simply because somebody, somewhere feels that scrutiny is bothersome. A glass factory is, obviously, not an urgent matter and an MZO should not have been issued here. Council should formally request that the provincial government revoke the order.
MZOs are being doled out like Halloween candy these days, all across the province of Ontario. Municipalities ought to be ready to fight them on principle, and for the good of the community. They certainly should not be requesting them.
We’d better remain on guard about MZOs from here on out.
For Saint John, N.B., 1941 was a dark year. And so were the next three years. The city lights went off at night as they could silhouette the ships in the port’s vicinity making them an easier target for German submarines.
In European cities, lightless nights were a standard measure to lessen the visibility to enemy aircraft. Many co-operated with those measures as an act of patriotism, as a humble but critical contribution to undermine the enemy.
A war is being fought now as well. COVID-19 is killing daily as many as night raids bombings killed during the world wars.
There is, however, a simple but effective defence: a face mask. Just as wartime blackouts, masks could save lives.
Appallingly, some refuse to wear it, endangering themselves and others. Wars, though, are not fought for personal preferences, but to safeguard the well being of all citizens.
Those who don’t wear masks in public spaces, where distancing is difficult, are aligning themselves with the enemy.