The County of Haliburton sought to correct the record and respond to accusations of an “underhanded” step in its shoreline bylaw process Sept. 23.
CAO Mike Rutter reported to council about a widely circulated letter from landscaper Michele Bromley, which The Highlander also published as a letter to the editor Sept. 17.
The letter responded to the County committee of the whole meeting doing an in-depth review of the draft shoreline protection bylaw Sept. 9, which Bromley said occurred without enough prior public notice. She also alleged the County modified the agenda after it was first sent, to add the report about the bylaw’s content, which she said “occurred underhandedly.”
“The public is constantly asked to trust the councillors and the process, but that’s hard to do when things like this happen. This feels sneaky,” Bromley said.
Rutter did not name Bromley but reported about an online public feedback process on the first bylaw draft, with further feedback opportunities to come. He also said the allegation that the agenda was modified is untrue and there was a proper notice for the item on the committee agenda two days in advance, per legislated timeline.
“This isn’t something I normally do,” Rutter said. “But I really felt since a lot of the facts were not correct in the letter, and some of the facts were widely distributed, I think it was important to clarify.”
Rutter said staff also sent an additional email to 157 individuals and organizations about the meeting in advance. They filled that list with those who had previously written to the County about the subject.
“Thank you for bringing this,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “We live in Trumpian times and sometimes it’s important to correct the record.”
Bromley declined an interview request on the matter.
Special meeting coming
Director of planning, Charlsey White, brought an updated bylaw to council based on feedback from the committee of the whole meeting. But with some council questions needing ministry response, they agreed to hold off and have a special meeting later to go through the bylaw in detail again.
White also defended the 30-metre protected shoreline zone the bylaw proposes, which Coun. Patrick Kennedy challenged at the Sept. 15 meeting. She noted the science behind that and how provincial policy already recommends that 30-metre setback as a minimum.
Deputy warden Andrea Roberts said although there has been criticism about the bylaw, her emails have also been overwhelmed by messages supporting it.
“There’s going to be a lot of support for this going forward,” she said.