To the Editor,
Members of Haliburton’s environmental community noted in letters to local media as early as July 21, that the shoreline preservation bylaw would be on the agenda for the Aug. 10 special meeting of council, with a vote expected.
It is concerning that this group has so much knowledge of the agenda, so far in advance of the meeting. In response to repeated requests to councillors and staff, the agenda was finally released to the public on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 5.
This was almost three days earlier than council’s normal practice, which is to only make information available to the public 48 hours before meetings. With just two substantive issues on the table for this meeting, the agenda packet runs to 130 pages, so there’s a lot to read through.
Several times over the past year when important, complex and, at times, fairly technical issues such as the shoreline bylaw have been on the Haliburton County Council agenda, ratepayer groups and individuals have had to scramble to read the materials, analyze proposals and provide input to their councillors in less than two days.
Providing such limited notice is a head shaker, particularly when some groups seem to have preferred access to the agenda, and raises questions about transparency, whether taxpayers are being properly consulted and their input valued.
We call on Haliburton County officials to consistently communicate council’s business as transparently and with as much notice as possible to generate the highest quality input from all perspectives and all members of the community.
Whatever our views, everyone deserves equal access to relevant information and a fair opportunity to provide reasoned input on significant changes – whether broad-brush proposals or detailed elements.
One of Haliburton’s most distinctive and special features is our sense of community. We ask councillors and staff to facilitate and encourage fair and open discussion among all constituencies. Providing transparency would produce greater trust and confidence in the county’s governance and result in better public policy.
Little Kennisis Lake