Letters & Opinion

Four Meetings Down. Zero To Go? But Caledon Residents Aren’t Finished Yet

Farm field and barn
Written by Patti Foley

Photo credit: Patti Foley

One might think that four Town “information meetings” and dozens of questions from hundreds of articulate and concerned residents, would add up to something much different from the not-so-made-in-Caledon scenario that the community found itself facing in April.

But the short answer is no. It does not.

Some residents attended one of the Town’s “information meetings,” some several. One resident who attended the fourth meeting told JSC that they felt that the people still coming no longer expected any revelations or even concise replies to their questions. They simply were there, with jaded determination, to demonstrate that they are still paying attention and to repeat their questions and concerns. Residents aren’t finished yet.

Many felt the Town just went through the motions, attempting to bolster the case for the mayor fast-tracking 12 development zoning applications. And many feel it was way off-track with delivering the outcome they were seeking.

What were they seeking? The expectation for those four meetings was to get definitive, verifiable, sensible, acceptable-to-the-community, answers. Answers to questions about a rushed, undemocratic process that will shape the face and future of Caledon forever.

Questions like… Does growth really pay for growth?

What will be the total infrastructure costs related to these developments? What percentage will be covered by developers via Development Charges (DCs)?

Who will incur the ongoing costs of that infrastructure including staffing for new facilities, overhead, maintenance over the life of the asset, and eventual replacement costs?

Will this effort to skip over normal planning process result in increased congestion on roads, urban sprawl, poor policy, and lack of proper protections for the environment?

What guarantee is there that a reasonable percentage of these homes will be affordable for first-time buyers or seniors looking to stay in the community?

If so, is affordable housing exempt from DCs, reducing anticipated help with infrastructure financing via DCs even further?

Is there a solid plan in place to ensure that these developments are created with a view to the considered ideal 70/30 residential-industrial ratio ensuring that residents will not carry a high percentage of the tax burden?

Given that the Region of Peel has determined the 12 applications to be ‘premature’ why is the mayor still moving forward at this time?

After the exodus of qualified staff, via termination or otherwise, over the past year, is the Town currently staffed with sufficient employees, and with the level of expertise needed, to take on something of this magnitude?

Can the mayor remove Holding Symbols (a mechanism that could stop developers from moving forward unchecked once they have their rezoning) with her strong mayor powers? After the mayor stating at earlier meetings that she could not, at a subsequent meeting a staff member said that the Town had gotten a legal opinion and, apparently, she can.

Debbe Crandall, a long-time resident and spokesperson for local residents’ group Democracy Caledon, asked that the 12 applications be unbundled and that statutory public meetings be held on each one individually after the appropriate planning process had been followed and secondary plans approved.

Janet Eagleson, the Town’s manager of public affairs and external relations, stated at the fourth meeting that there is no plan for another public meeting. But residents aren’t finished yet.

On the mayor’s campaign website, in the ‘Farms in Caledon’ section of her platform, she stated “We need to strike a healthy balance between food security, the environment and protecting the value of farmland. We need to ensure we can grow our own food locally and not depend on other countries to feed our families.” Residents are expressing disappointment that she is now intent on rushing ahead, choosing pavement and houses over crops and farmland.

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question of all is who truly stands to gain the most from this?

Four Town information meetings down. Zero to go? Residents aren’t finished yet.

Editor’s note: Democracy Caledon is reminding residents that you can still communicate your questions and concerns to the mayor, all councillors, and your MPP. There is a contact list in a featured post at the top of their Facebook page. As well, they will be scheduling a residents meeting before end of June.

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About the author

Patti Foley

Having spent 25 years in Bolton, Patti remains an advocate for Caledon. As a former Regional Councillor and a long-time community volunteer she is passionate about communicating information about its issues, news, events, people, non-profits and businesses.

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