By Chad Ingram
Late last month, Haliburton County councillors received an initial presentation from the consultants responsible for the drafting of a new shoreline preservation bylaw.
That process will involve an extensive, two-phased public consultation and any county residents with an interest in this controversial issue should be sure to participate. Also, share this column far and wide. I’m not kidding, and I’m not suggesting that sheerly out of self-promotion.
Last time around, during an in-house process that was eventually halted due to an outpouring of criticism, there was a repeated sentiment from numerous residents that they’d known nothing about this bylaw that was being created. There were repeated implications that county council was somehow trying to secretly pass a Draconian bylaw under the cloak of proverbial night.
I was on the receiving end of dozens and dozens of emails to such effect. It was difficult each time for me not to write back, “Well, I guess you haven’t been reading the newspaper.”
Haliburton County has two separate print media outlets and two radio stations. Conversations around the creation of a shoreline preservation bylaw have been ongoing for about three years, and I know I’ve personally written at least a dozen stories on the issue.
Local media aside, there are municipal newsletters, websites and social media channels where this information has been available. If you are somehow unaware of the subject of the shoreline preservation bylaw, which at this point is the most controversial thing I’ve seen in nearly 13 years of covering municipal government in Haliburton County, you are not paying attention.
So, to reiterate, there is going to be an extensive, two-phased public consultation and any resident with an interest in this controversial issue should be sure to participate.
The issue is complicated and council’s position unenviable. Amid the field of general opinion, there are two very vocal and powerful local organizations polarizing the conversation around the draft bylaw, those being the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations, and the Haliburton County Home Builders. In between is county council, among whose eight members there exists a spectrum of opinion on how restrictive the bylaw should be.
Along with virtual open houses and surveys, the consultants’ public engagement process will involve consultations with identified stakeholders, including both organizations listed above, as well as the chamber of commerce, lake associations and others.
As Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt pointed out, there is some degree of issue soliciting feedback from lake associations, since an association does not speak on behalf of all its members, let alone all the residents of a lake.
As Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin pointed out, while the process may be considered imperfect, it’s an open process, and every single individual has an opportunity to be involved in it.
That brings me to my closing: There is going to be an extensive, two-phased public consultation and any residents with an interest in this controversial issue should be sure to participate.