Defeated Minden Hills mayoral candidate Jarrett Campbell claims he’s being targeted by the township and incumbent Mayor Brent Devolin a claim that Devolin steadfastly refutes.
Back in May Campbell had made a presentation to council regarding a complaint about the property on St. Germaine Street where he’s operated a trucking business for about the past decade.
“I’ve had a complaint brought to me that I’m supposed to move all the trucks and trailers off of my property” Campbell said during the May 31 meeting. Campbell runs the business from a commercially-zoned property on St. Germaine Street near its intersection with Water Street. At the time he noted a number of other properties in the township have trucks trailers and shipping containers located on them.
“It seems to me that I’m the one taking the brunt of this and all I’m trying to do is make a living” Campbell told councillors.
“You’ve stated your case” Devolin said during the May meeting. “I would say conceptually that over time as we go through an official plan amendment and downtown revitalization that a trucking hub which is basically what it is becoming is probably not in our longterm plan.”
“We’ll have a report back to us about the technicalities of zoning … I understand clearly what you have said to us today we’re in an evolution of the downtown of Minden” said Devolin. “That may not be what you want to hear but that’s the reality.”
A complaint regarding the property had been filed and Councillor Jeanne Anthon said she’d received a number of verbal complaints about the property. Township staff can also respond proactively if they see properties that violate township bylaws.
A staff report on the issue never came back to council in open session.
On July 5 the Township of Minden Hills issued a letter to Campbell or rather to his parents who own the property where the trucking business is located.
“Please be advised that a site visit has been conducted and it would appear that the above noted property has not been brought into compliance” the letter reads. Referring to the township’s zoning bylaw the letter highlights uses that are prohibited in any zone in the township with “the storage of disused rail cars streetcars truck bodies or trailers without wheels” printed in bold text.
“Accordingly truck bodies are not a permitted use in the C4 (Village Commercial) Zone and therefore must be removed or alternatively apply for zoning” the letter reads. “Please plan to have the truck bodies removed from the property or apply for a rezoning on or before July 31 2018. A further site inspection will be conducted shortly after that date to ensure compliance has been met. Should compliance not be met the file will be forwarded to our legal department.”
On July 27 the last possible day to do so Campbell filed papers to run against Devolin for the mayor’s seat in the Oct. 22 election.
“Basically I … undertook this whole mayor thing to start with it was me being angry” Campbell told the paper adding he was making a statement with his candidacy.
“When you get told to find a new way to make a living that kind of sticks it a little hard” he said.
Devolin reclaimed his seat in the Oct. 22 election with 1720 votes. Competitor Wayne Hancock was next with 1375 and Campbell finished third with 662 votes.
The Campbells received a letter from a lawyer with township solicitors Russell Christie LLP dated Oct. 17 which Campbell said his mother retrieved from the mail on Oct. 24.
“I have been retained by the Township of Minden Hills to ensure that your property is brought into compliance with the municipality’s zoning bylaw and the municipality’s property standards provisions” the letter reads before citing a number of uses taking place on the property that are not permitted under township bylaws. “Unless the subject property is cleaned of all debris within the next seven days and you immediately cease the operation of your trucking business on the subject property I have been authorized to commence an injunction in the Superior Court of Justice seeking an injunction and a mandatory order directing you to clear your property of debris.”
“My biggest thing is the timing of this whole thing” Campbell said “with the election on the 22nd.”
Campbell told the paper he believed “100 per cent” that Devolin was ultimately responsible for the timing and said he was prepared to take legal action against the township.
“I have full intention of leaving that stuff right where it’s sitting” he told the paper.
The Times asked Devolin why a staff report had not come back to council as per the resolution at the May meeting.
“Under the Municipal Act under Section 239(2) … there’s a grocery list of things that are not discussed in open session” he said. “So this is a general comment not a specific comment but the reality is if there are things that fall under the scope of Section 239 council will and do receive reports back in closed session.”
Section 239 of the Municipal Act lists several reasons a council may enter an in-camera session including but not limited to personal matters about an identifiable individual proposed or pending acquisition of disposition of land litigation or potential litigation including matter before administrative tribunals affecting the board or municipality and advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege.
Devolin said what was happening with the property had nothing to do with the election and that council members are not involved with the processes taking place within the bylaw department or other township departments.
“I’ve gone to great lengths not to meddle with staff and their duty” Devolin said.
“Staff brings things to council’s attention along the way and if they’re acting to uphold bylaw and uses they bring them to our attention and it rolls from there” Devolin said adding that such letters were sent to violating property owners as matter of course as the township attempts to enforce its bylaws and clean up the village.
“We’re taking an aggressive approach to this dealing with them one at a time” Devolin said. “We don’t go out with a list and tell staff the priority and the ranking … that’s in their jurisdiction.”
“The reality is this is a letter authored by a lawyer previous to the election” Devolin said adding there would have been ongoing discussions between bylaw staff and the law firm during the past number of months.
“This is the type of process we have been rolling out all over the place” Devolin said.