Who says municipal politics can’t be interesting?
Minden Hills councillors were greeted by a protest as they made their way into the township building for last week’s meeting.
Yes, a protest, with placards and everything. These kinds of demonstrations are not unprecedented in the county but are certainly rare.
The last picketing of a council chamber that comes to mind was a protest staged outside the Algonquin Highlands building when the council of the day wanted to build a new and expensive runway at Stanhope Airport that most township residents weren’t too happy about.
That’s going back seven or so years.
What brought Minden Hills residents, or more specifically, residents of Hunter Creek Estates, to the parking lot of the Minden Hills building last Thursday was an application for an automotive salvage yard on a property abutting the housing development.
Already zoned for industrial use – the property once operated as quarry – a site-specific zoning amendment is required for operation of the scrap yard.
It was a peaceful protest, by the way. The police did not have to be called. Protestors quietly took seats in the gallery following their demonstration.
Given the degree of public interest, the decision on the application will be one of the most controversial the current council has made.
No matter the outcome, someone will be unhappy.
Representatives on both sides of the argument made presentations to council last week, each side with valid points.
The Gull Lake Cottagers Association, which opposes the project, emphasized environmental concerns, worried that fluids would make their way into a wetland on the property and eventually into the watershed.
The applicants spoke of how a number of properties along the stretch of Highway 35 south of Minden are already occupied by industrial uses, including fuel and woodworking businesses and MTO and Minden Hills public works yards.
The property is gated, fenced and well treed, the township’s planner agrees.
It’s a lot for council to consider.
Taking a diligent road, council has asked the applicants to produce an environmental impact assessment and noise study. The results of those studies will likely dictate or at least influence what council ultimately decides, although constituents’ concerns, especially in a critical volume, must always be taken into consideration.
At the end of the proverbial day, council will make a decision. One side will get its way, one side will not.
And thus turn the wheels of the municipal machine.