Midhurst sprawl: What is the weakest response a developer could make when Ontario Nature calls about their plan?

June 19, 2014

Why did Geranium Corp. appear to effectively say “no comment” if this scheme is such a done deal?

20140601 Midhurst residents 3

ThreatenedProposed development could adversely affect Minesing Wetlands.

An interesting article in the summer edition of Ontario Nature‘s newsletter, ON Nature, called: Midhurst residents oppose development: pdf

 …In 2012, the Ontario minister of infrastructure granted MLG a “special rule” allowing the developer group to proceed with planning the first 300 hectares of the project.

Geranium Corp., the largest member in the MLG consortium, is no stranger to controversial projects. The developer is also behind the Big Bay Point Marina development on Lake Simcoe, which received approval despite concerns over the environmental impact of adding 1,600 timeshare units and a 1,000-slip marina to the already taxed watershed. “They’re extremely good at marketing their proposals to government and, more often than not, they’re successful,” says Strachan. “It’s amazing to me how gullible the government has been.” (At press time, calls to Geranium Corp. for comment had not been returned.)

While 4/7ths of the current Springwater Township continues to strike a truly ostrich assume-the-position, position, the winds of change are bringing in some very heavy-weight opponents of the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

While Springwater Township has warned that any attempt to stop the development in Midhurst would result in lawsuits, Strachan and others are not willing to give up the fight. A number of high-profile artists and politicians, including Margaret Atwood, Maude Barlow, MPP Jim Wilson and MP Patrick Brown, publicly support the campaign. More information is available on Stop Springwater Sprawl (stopspringwatersprawl.com).

Don’t forget to come to the MRA’s event this Sunday: Celebration of Rural Living with Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood poster

Cross-posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org and voteLesStewart.ca.


Springwater Township councillor Perry Ritchie and Dr. Kahneman suggest: If there is time, slowing down is likely to be a good idea.

April 23, 2014

Professor Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate and an expert in decision-making. Mr. Perry showed again last night at Council that is a man of character and not easily SLAPPed into irrationality.

Daniel Kahneman

Why are 5 of 7  votes on Council continuing to not just green-light but help the acceleration of the the clearly catastrophic (ie. economically, socially, and environmentally) Midhurst Secondary Plan? I would suggest Dr. Kahneman has some answers.

Bully Tactic: trigger the councillors’ fear of losing their own homes and life savings in Anten Mills, Midhurst, Elmvale and Grenfel in a never-before seen-in-Ontario “+$100-million lawsuit” that is “probable”. Don’t just intimidate a few militant ratepayers through phoney lawsuiits or just Council: intimidate all 18,000 voters in Springwater Township.

Mechanism: A Toronto lawyer’s very, very, very carefully crafted, verbal opinion. A +$100-million figment of a attorney’s imagination. A deeply cynical “Trap for the Trusting”. A situation engineered to scare the shit (and sense) out of the perfectly competent rural representatives who are cast into a situation that is well-beyond their own abilities to comprehend or even know they don’t understand.

Kahneman Quotes:

People just hate the idea of losing. Any loss, even a small one, is just so terrible to contemplate that they compensate by buying insurance, including totally absurd policies like air travel.

Human beings cannot comprehend very large or very small numbers. It would be useful for us to acknowledge that fact.

We’re blind to our blindness. We have very little idea of how little we know. We’re not designed to know how little we know.

And most especially:

Courage is willingness to take the risk once you know the odds. Optimistic overconfidence means you are taking the risk because you don’t know the odds. It’s a big difference.

At Stake: Almost 200 years of community building, 1,900 acres of prime farmland, political self-determination based on local financial control, irreplaceable biodiversity in the Minesing Wetlands: all lost because 5 individuals chose to listen to their fears and enemies instead of their friends, family: their hearts and minds. Their faith.

This may be their legacy: a failure to meet and master their life’s work.

An unwillingness to be a leader who trusts we could do this as a community.

 


Ontario elites silence their opponents via real or imagined SLAPP lawsuits

April 16, 2014

Ontario has no anti-SLAPP legislation which favours those most able to access and influence the legislative process.

SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) are the powerful’s very useful weapon in managing change in environmental, political, business, and municipal boundary controversies.

Definition

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. Wikipedia excerpt

Originally posted on Feb 22, 2012.

SLAPPs

1. Reality of Litigation UPDATE: No anti-SLAPP law yet and no citizen-directed litigation against Midhurst residents (not like Big Bay Point). But, Springwater Township hauled before quasi-judicial Ontario Municipal Board. Their offence?: not rubber-stamping zoning bylaws fast enough before the Environmental-Assessments 3 and 4 are completed.

2. Illusion/Fear of Litigation UPDATE: Councillor Rick Webster says he believes stopping the Midhurst Secondary Plan would cost +$100-million. In 2008, Maple Leaf Foods was linked to the deaths of 29 people. Their estates received $27-million in awards  after the Merchant Law Group filed class-actions worth $350-million.

That’s make that a 7.7% ratio of cash paid-out by defendant to claim filed by plaintiff.

The land speculation business is (by its very nature) very high risk, high return.

I believe any ON Superior or Appeal Court Justice knows an attempt to wring private gain from public loss.


Are Springwater Township Council members & staff competently managing their own developer-originated, litigation-derived contingent liabilities?

March 18, 2014

Every corporation must disclose and protect against material risks and executives must manage and disclose something called contingent liability.

SLAPPs ON

From their initial response, this does not appear to be happening by the Corporation of the Township of Springwater

Request for Information
from: Les Stewart les.j.stewart@gmail.com

to: Mayor Linda Collins <linda.collins@springwater.ca>
cc: Deputy Mayor Dan McLean <dan.mclean@springwater.ca>,
Jack Hanna <jack.hanna@springwater.ca>,
Perry Ritchie <perry.ritchie@springwater.ca>,
Dan Clement <dan.clement@springwater.ca>,
Sandy McConkey <sandy.mcconkey@springwater.ca>,
John Daly <John.Daly@springwater.ca>
date: 18 March 2014 09:10
subject: Contingent Liability provision: Litigation risk to Corporatino involving in the Midhurst Secondary Plan

Without Prejudice but Not Confidential

Mayor Linda Collins
Corporation of the Township of Springwater
Minesing, Ontario

Mayor Collins,

This is a follow-up from my verbal question at the March 17, 2014 general council meeting.

From their response, it is my conclusion that your senior staff will not be booking any financial liability whatsoever on their 2013 or 2014 audited financial statements having to do with this controversial, unprecedented activity by corporations that are on the public record as being extremely litigation-prone to those that do not yield unconditionally to their will.

Q1: Will you be instructing your senior staff to investigate and report back to Council in open session the range of potential financial loss(es) that may accrue to the Corporation of the Township of Springwater having to do with the initial cost of defence and potential final claim (trial and appeal) of a lawsuit(s) by a single or multiple parties?

A yes or no answer would be be appreciated, please. Other questions may arise from your answer or non-answer.

It is my understanding, that you, Council members, and senior staff have a professional and personal fiduciary duty to protect the Corporation from harm by acting in a commercially reasonably, fiscally prudent manner to protect future taxpayers’ interests.

I reserve distribution and publication rights to this document and unreservedly offer the same to the Corporation and individual members of Council. Clerk Daly; please formally record this correspondence and acknowledge such to me.

Regards,

Mr. Les Stewart MBA
1201 Bayfield Street North
Midhurst ON L0L 1X1
705 737-4635 Tel
705 627-2242 Cell


Are the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association and Environmental Defence either incompetent or co-opted financially as activists?

December 7, 2013

Was today’s event a bought-and-paid-for publicity stunt to increase the next Conservative candidate’s profile in new Barrie-Oro-Springwater (Midhurst) riding with the first federal election being in Oct 2015? MRA Nuttall Strachan1 Did money donated to the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, MRA and Environmental Defence Canada, EDC go toward the cost of this event or was the money from another source? Are either or both of them shills for a political party that represents pro-development or can any interest group buy their brand? I recall the MRA accusing the Township of Springwater for calling  short notice and scheduling information sessions at unbelievably difficult times for citizens to attend. They then said there were “extensive good faith consultations”. Who paid for the show today?

1. Extremely Short Notice: I received the bulk email from the MRA last night 11:18 pm (Dec 6th). That would have given me 13 hours to re-arrange my Saturday afternoon. Oddly, the  EDC media advisory also had a very short media fuse as well: out  Dec 6th.

And, to boot, the ED communique mentioned a federal MP (Mr. Patrick Brown Barrie) would be attending although (1) Midhurst is in the Simcoe-Grey riding (Hon. Dr. Kellie Leitch MP) and (2) growth and sprawl are a provincial not a federal jurisdiction. Shouldn’t Jim Wilson MPP Simcoe-Grey who is the 2nd most powerful Conservative in the Hudak caucus (or even Rod Jackson), be explaining growth issues to his own constituents?

I would have gone to it because I would have loved to ask some questions of David Strachan, president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’, Alex Nuttall, City of Barrie Ward 10 councillor (farthest south and east ward in Barrie, rumoured MP hopeful) and EDC. I believe I am a member in good standing and have contributed financially to both the MRA and EDC. 2. Missing Article: In fact, I wrote the only article about the Midhurst Secondary Plan for EDC at the request of their Claire Malcolmson. It was called Midhurst Secondary Plan: Village to grow 10 times? and was published on their weblog on February 13, 2012. When I tried clicking through on the URL that I had listed as a pdf this is the image that came up:

ED Search1

So as an author I no longer have access to the article? I also tried searching ED’s blog with the title and my name, but no luck. Click here for a pdf copy of the article or here for a post that I wrote called: Land speculation and other confidence games have always relied on human weakness.iLoveMidhurst.ca, February 14, 2012. David Donnelly 3. ED’s legal counsel is listed as David Donnelly.

He was Executive Director of Environmental Defence Canada from 1988 to 1996 in addition to having been  very involved in the Big Bay Point SLAPP situation as well as many ongoing First Nations issues.

The only federal issue that I am aware of that links Mrs. Brown, Strachan and Donnelly are the ladies at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi Cross-posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.

Les Stewart Gets Results!!

Dec 11, 2013 Update: To give credit where credit is due, Mr. Aidan Grove-White, Environmental Defence Canada, EDC contacted me directly and we had a very productive conversation. He promised to look into the misplaced weblog article and we discussed the lessons I’ve learned about being the subject of two SLAPPs (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)and the reason I resigned as president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association (before Dr. Paul Fleming and the current Mr. David Strachan), and other local matters. Full marks for transparency and accountability to EDC and internet monitoring.

This is the only response to this specific post or these two related ones:


Friday Harbour: Earl Rumm’s vision

October 19, 2012

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