By Katrina Boguski
On Sept. 29 Haliburton County council hosted its second virtual open house to discuss the proposed draft shoreline preservation bylaw. Participants could access the meeting via Zoom or via telephone. As of press time, the recording of the meeting, which is available on the county’s YouTube site, had 759 views. This amount is more than 10 times the average number of views for most videos listed on the county’s channel. The only other video to exceed this number of views was the first virtual open house held on the same topic.
The popularity of this video, and the number of residents represented through various delegations, is evidence of the weightiness of this topic. Despite the complexity of the issues raised by the proposed bylaw, and the variety of opposing views it exposes, the tone of the meeting was both civil and conciliatory. Although multiple presenters raised concerns about a lack of response to their submissions sent earlier, some presenters did commend the consultants for their willingness to listen and for their consideration of points that had been made to date. These consultants were from two firms which were brought on board to make recommendations about the bylaw.
A statement posted on the county’s website says, “In light of the significant interest in this issue and the Draft By-law, the County retained external, independent consultants to review the matter and return with professional recommendations on a new Shoreline Preservation By-law for the County. Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Limited and J.L. Richards & Associates Ltd. have been retained by the County to lead this exercise.”
Warden Liz Danielsen opened the meeting with comments noting that council’s role at the meeting was to listen to the delegations, regardless of the views they presented. She also noted that council would not be responding to questions during the meeting.
The initial draft of the proposed bylaw is available on the county’s website for residents and stakeholders to read. Warden Danielsen said that she wanted to be clear that the consultants would only be using the draft bylaw as a possible baseline in developing a new document for council’s consideration in October.
Danielsen also addressed the concern and disappointment raised by some people who had requested the option to use a PowerPoint presentation during their delegation. She noted that the decision to not allow such presentations was based on the desire to provide equitable treatment of all presenters more than on expediency. She said, “Those individuals making delegations at our initial meeting didn’t have that opportunity and we want to make sure that we offer fair and equitable treatment for all those who have comments that they wish to make.”
At the close of the meeting, after thanking representatives from both companies, the Warden said, “… Good work. It’s really great to hear from the public and to hear the different perspectives.” She also added that council continues to receive public input on this issue through other means of communication such as email. She confirmed that council is continuing to listen to stakeholders, regardless of their perspective on the issues related to shoreline preservation.