Letter-to-the-editor

To the Editor:

On July 26, I attended a public meeting of municipal council to express my opposition to the proposed building of a four-unit townhouse project by Barneybrook Ventures Inc. (William Versteeg, proprietor). This project is to be built basically in my backyard and directly across from Hants East Rural High School.

My main concern was that the water table, and as such my well, would be compromised. To those unfamiliar with Milford, we are not on municipal water services and rely entirely on our individual wells for our water source. Hence any infringement on that source could be very detrimental and costly to the home owner.

My additional concern is the additional traffic this project will create since it is directly across from the school and our subdivision. The building permit has already been approved and this meeting was to amend zoning bylaws to allow this project to proceed.

Prior to the last municipal election, Willy Versteeg was the councillor for Milford. At some of those meetings when my neighbours and I expressed our concerns over issues of building permits so as to protect our water supply, Mr. Versteeg voted against us.

Excuse me, but is it not your elected councillors responsibility and duty to represent the concerns of the people for which they were elected to do so? Democracy is defined as “Government of, for, and by the people.” No where in that definition does it state it is for just a select few. Maybe it is just a coincidence, that now since Mr. Versteeg is no longer a councillor (defeated in the last election) his finger prints are written all over this building project. Yeah right, purely coincidence!

According to John Woodford, director of Planning and Development for the Municipality of East Hants, staff report “a previous water quality/quantity report was conducted for a nearby property. The report concluded that there was sufficient water quantity for a special care facility. Water quality was assessed using 1990 guidelines and was deemed sufficient at the time.

However, staff cannot make a recommendation at this time as we do not have a copy the report, the 2017 guidelines for water quality and quantity differ from the 1990 guidelines, and the water quantity is unknown on the proposed lands.” Paragraph 3, page 5 of the policy analysis report.

Really, have things changed in the last 27 years? (Yes, I used to have hair.) The question, therefore, must be asked how can council make any kind of informed and educated (I use that term loosely) decision on issuing building permits when they have no recent data to support the permit request? Under what criteria are building permits issued? Are there any requirements needed, such as an environmental study, impact on surrounding home owners, traffic patterns, quality and quantity on the water table?

I do not know how much water is there and by your own admission, Mr. Woodford, regarding policy analysis, you have even less of an idea.

The 27-year-old guidelines refer to water but council have already issued the building permit based, I suspect, on your recommendations in the first place! How can you recommend any type of structure, from a chicken coop to a shopping mall, when you and council have not done your due diligence on these properties?

Our family has lived in Milford for 27 years (ironic isn’t it?) and while speaking to a woman who has lived in Milford a lot longer, referring to council decision making said, “My dear man that’s the way it has always been, they (council) look after their own.” Sad, but an obviously true statement.

There is, however, some hope my fellow voters and taxpayers, my opposition to this project was defeated 6-5. What I find encouraging is that of the five councillors who voted against the motion, four were newly elected in the last election and the other councillor I had seen at different meetings and has always asked intelligent questions and offered valuable comments. My sincere thanks to councillors King, McInnis, Smith, Moussa and Rhyno for your support and for voting with your conscience and not having made your decision before coming to the meeting. You are a credit to your districts.

It has been quite some time since we have had any representation in our area. However, there are people on council whose best before date is questionable. Maybe at the next election we will be able to rid council of the “old boys club” and elect people who understand the meaning of democracy.

Fellow voters and taxpayers, if this is what goes on at an open meeting, can you possibly imagine what happens at closed sessions? I can live with a dry well and get it repaired, but if some young person gets hurt or worse trying to cross the road because of some careless decision, it will be tragic.

This permit should be cancelled and not allowed to proceed. At the very, very least, postponed until council has more up-to-date data.

Rick Chaisson,

Milford

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Patrick Healey
Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!