Letter: Public planning meeting a waste of time

I had the misfortune May 16 to attend County council’s public planning meeting at Shire Hall. I went to register my objection to the rezoning application by Quinte’s Isle Campark to expand its operation along the shoreline of Soup Harbour.

In a word or two … this gathering was an insult to the honourable intentions of those who attended and a staggering waste of everyone’s valuable time!

The proceedings began at 7 p.m. and sometime near 1:30 a.m. I found myself staggering through the doors of the Council chambers, the question “Why?” hammering through my head.

To be quite blunt, what happened that night was a set-up. And we who went in good faith were the dupes.

Hearings were scheduled for about 10 rezoning applications, at least three of which were destined to be lengthy and involved: the rezoning of some land in Cherry Valley to allow for a massive concert venue, the rezoning of the asparagus farm along Ridge Road so that it might become a gravel pit, and the rezoning which would allow the Quinte’s Isle Campark to establish what amounts to a small town along the shore of Soup Harbour.

My best guess is that by the time a couple of hours had passed not one of the councillors heard a word anyone was saying — not that I could be convinced they really wanted to hear anything anyway — and several people who spoke on each of the applications had solid, well-researched, and pertinent things to say.

In the case of the Quinte’s Isle rezoning, we discovered — among other things — that background work by the campground had been ongoing for about two years before any of us who live along Soup Harbour heard anything at all about it … and then only to drag us to this eleventh hour travesty of a “public” airing of the issues.

It would take a lot of clever stroking to disabuse me of the notion that the concert venue, the gravel pit, and the small town proposed for Soup Harbour were “done deals” long before this “public” meeting took place. From start to finish, it reeked of a pro forma opportunity for a few concerned citizens to let off steam before the initiatives got rubber stamped.

Most distressing was the extent to which many aspects of the County’s official plan were either ignored or summarily violated during the deputations by the proponents of the rezoning applications. And, given the Councillor’s responses, it was like no one sitting around the horseshoe gave a damn!

How long, I wonder, will council continue to alienate the people who pay the freight? And let us make no mistake about it, every one of us who went to have our say were profoundly alienated.

Also, how long will it be before those who organize debacles like this get it into their heads that this stupid, shop-worn method of paying lip service to “public input” has got to stop. It’s 2018, not 1918.

Maybe this coming October the campaign for Council seats will rouse a few candidates who have something to say about the kind of “spectacle” that I, and about a hundred others, endured last Wednesday evening. We were not pleased!

Brian Flack