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We’re very disappointed.
The meeting did not resolve anything.
Present at the meeting were my mom and dad (Marta and Lech), Mayor Jim Abernethy, Deputy Clerk C. Anne Greentree, Manager of Development Review Carlo Pellarin, and Junior Planner Meaghan Harrington. I was on the phone to participate in the meeting.
The municipality did not budge.
With respect to the crippling $50,000 charges faced by mom and dad for permitting me to host the Liberty Summer Seminar on their property, Mayor Abernethy insisted that there is nothing they can do. That once the charges are put forward, there is nothing he can do. “I’m not in a position to drop the charges,” he said. “Once a charge has been laid, politicians cannot interfere.” The mayor continuously insisted that his hands were tied.
With respect to hosting weddings, a separate issue from the Liberty Summer Seminar, we would need to file three applications. It costs $10,000 for a change in the Official Plan application, $5,000 for a re-zoning application, and $3,000 for a site amendment application. On top of the prohibitive $18,000 application charges, property owners should also hire a planning consultant who puts the applications together; and must pay for any experts that the municipality decides are necessary.
Total estimated bill (application fees + experts + consultant fees): the average income of an average Ontarioan for a year. To start a business. In Clarington. With no guarantee of approval.
When I asked how residents of the municipality can start a business if they cannot pay an average year’s salary up-front, the mayor explained to me that there are only two sources of revenue for the municipality — property taxes (my parents’ property tax bill is $7,542.78 this year; the municipality’s share is $2,249.75, the remainder goes to the Durham Region and to education) and user fees, including application fees.
The mayor’s salary, as of this year, is $100,232.14, with $12,340.16 in taxable benefits (source). (Mayor Abernethy attempted to decline the three per cent raise that bumped him over the six-figure income mark, as the article explains).
As for the commercial sign that Ezra Levant wrote about, they informed us that we have to get a permit for the sign. It costs $150 for the permit.
When my mother, in tears, explained her fear of the by-law officer who has been dealing with my mom, and explained, “I feel harassed,” C. Anne Greentree interrupted her. “We do not harass people,” she intoned. “I do take offense to that.”
When I asked about whether or not a different by-law enforcement officer can deal with my parents, since my mother is obviously frightened of the one dealing with us now (especially after reading Ezra Levant’s column and blog), they did not want to discuss that issue.
My mother went to the hospital yesterday. She has lost 10 kilos (about 22 pounds). She is just over five feet tall. She weighs less now than she weighed when she got married.
But no one wants to discuss the simple matter of putting someone other than the six-foot by-law enforcement officer who menacingly said, “be careful” to my mother in one exchange. When my mother, confused, responded “I am careful,” he leaned in and whispered, “be very careful…”
At the end of the meeting, I expressed my disappointment that nothing has moved forward, and that my parents are in the same position they were in before all of this started. Nothing has changed.
My parents did not go to work this morning to attend the meeting. My father left at one point in the meeting to put more quarters into the parking metre. The civil servants and the mayor were on the clock for the meeting. They did not lose two hours of income to speak with my parents.
Disappointed might be the wrong word. I feel deflated.
I feel deflated, but not defeated.
(Posted by Peter Jaworski)