Pelham tries creative problem solving in committee
Town council applied a new approach to an old issue when it tackled a site alteration bylaw Monday.
Reviewing comments on a draft bylaw during a committee-of-the-whole meeting, it applied a creative problem solving process. Mayor Dave Augustyn acted as a facilitator taking suggestions from councillors and filling out paper sheets that were posted on council chamber walls.
They did it before an audience of about 70 people. The crowd overflowed from the council chambers while some people sat on the floor beside politicians.
A proposed site alteration bylaw has been a controversial issue in the town for more than two years.
Earlier this year staff prepared a draft bylaw. Council invited comments on it. More than 50 pages of comments and letters were included in Monday night’s agenda.
Augustyn and chief administrative officer Darren Ottaway explained the problem-solving process called Simplexity thinking.
It was outlined in educational sessions to councillors on Friday and town staff on Monday by professor Min Basadur from the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.
The mayor and councillors listed pros and cons of a site alteration bylaw such as berms made of questionable construction fill, risks to the environment, interference with farm practices, and questionable inspections.
By placing dots on handwritten charts listing 18 issues, councillors narrowed them down to a set of specific concerns. They included eliminating unwanted berms, avoiding risks of interfering with normal farm practices, inspection and enforcement that respected rights of property owners, protection of environment particularly water courses, and protecting roads.
Staff will bring recommendations on how to deal with them to council’s next policies and priorities committee on Nov. 19. They may or may not include a site alteration bylaw, said Augustyn. They may be able to deal with the issues without one.
Ottaway said the final list of items from Monday’s meeting will be posted on the town’s website: www.pelham.ca.
Residents are welcome to comment on them by “e-mail, snail mail or on the back of a napkin,” he said.
“We just ask that they identify themselves.”
Ward 3 Coun. John Durley said the problem-solving process did not overlook comments made on the draft site alteration bylaw.
“We drew our suggestions from what was in those 61 pages of letters and comments,” he said.
SITE BYLAW COMMENTS FROM LETTERS
• Being farmers, we are extremely concerned that this proposed bylaw will cause regulatory and financial hardship for us to be able to grow nursery stock on our own lands. — John and Linda Suk, South Pelham Nursery
• This proposed bylaw giving the Town of Pelham almost complete control of all property under their jurisdiction goes far beyond the scope of the original request. In fact, the way the draft bylaw reads, it reeks of Communism. — Wayne and Lorraine Patterson
• It has been six years since residents first asked for a site alteration bylaw to be created for Pelham. The town continues to deal with questionable dumping/berm building because no such bylaw yet exists. Please get this bylaw passed as soon as possible. — Carolyn Botari
• Let’s not get carried away with overzealous laws being applied across the board to everyone making it more costly and time consuming to do anything. — Dennis Bering
• As a rural resident and farm owner, I would like to express my approval of the revised draft of the site alteration bylaw. It is detailed, clear and thorough. It provides equanimities in the evaluation and decision-making process for all citizens. — Brian DiMartile
• The Town of Pelham needs a site alteration bylaw in order to protect its residents from unscrupulous landowners. It would give us reassurance that we will not have dumping of hazardous material or alteration of neighbouring land that could cause drainage problems. — Thelma and Lou Poolsaar