13.8 C
Niagara Falls
Saturday, July 20, 2024
DISERO: “You’ve bought another month.”

An attempt to have the Town move forward on a heritage designation for Randwood Estate failed at town council Monday, when Coun. Betty Disero tried unsuccessfully to amend the wording of a motion she had made and had approved in April.

She said she had intended the motion to direct town staff to implement designation of the property, including two addresses on John Street and one on Charlotte Street, but she discovered last week the wording didn't reflect that intention, and planning staff interpreted it to mean they would wait for the property owner — who agreed to designation about a year ago — to go through the provincial process.

Although most properties are designated at the request of the owner, under the Ontario Heritage Act a municipality can initiate the process and designate properties of heritage value.

Opponents of the Randwood hotel development were being encouraged to attend Monday's meeting through social media, apparently with the mistaken expectation the minutes of the Municipal Heritage Committee's meeting last week would be discussed.

One of the recommendations in the minutes was for the town to initiate the designation process, however it was the minutes from the MHC's April meeting on the agenda to be received, and although councillors were prepared for a large audience anxious to hear a discussion about Randwood, they had been given legal advice earlier in the day that they couldn't stray from the process.

The more recent recommendation could not be debated until June.

“MHC has been dealing with this for a year, with no designation,” Disero said.

She tried to avoid the delay by amending the wording in an April report to direct town staff to move the process along, but after interruptions by Coun. Martin Mazza and Coun. Paolo Miele on points of order, saying Disero couldn't amend a recommendation that was already approved, town clerk Peter Todd explained she could introduce her amendment only if a motion to suspend the rules gained two-thirds support.

Disero made that motion, which failed to get the approval necessary to permit the vote to amend her original recommendation.

Mazza, who along with Miele and Coun. Maria Bau-Coote opposed the rule suspension, said Tuesday he supported the original motion for designation as it was written, expecting it would be up to the property owners to proceed, and couldn't support changing it to reflect what might have been intended, rather than what it said.

“You've bought another month,” Disero said to those who opposed the suspension of rules to allow the motion, adding she will support town-initiated designation at the June council meeting when the Municipal Heritage Committee's May recommendations are discussed.

Judy McLeod, a member of SORE (Save our Randwood Estate) was at Monday's meeting to see Disero try to move the MHC's recommendation forward.

Although she understood the minutes from MHC's meeting last week won't be available to council until June, she said most of the recommendations were not new, including the one requesting designation. 

“Those minutes just advance something that has been topic of discussion for a year,” she said, accusing council of “foot-dragging” when it comes to acting on the advice of the “incredible expertise” of members of the heritage committee. 

“I don't understand why we'd put forward such a committee if we're not going to act on their advice.”

She also said, noting she's not speaking for SORE but voicing her own opinion, that she saw Monday's meeting as another example of the the lack of civilized discussion from a “dysfunctional council” she's been following for the last year.

“I”m not sure what's causing it, but it's very unfortunate.”

At the opening of the meeting, Lord Mayor Pat Darte, seeing the number of opponents to the Randwood development in the audience, cautioned those in attendance to express their opinions with respect. 

When Disero's motion was defeated and a number of people in the council chamber voiced their disappointment, he quickly used his gavel to silence them.

Subscribe to our mailing list