A Alnwick/Haldimand Township Council meeting that erupted in shouting is now online.
The meeting took place on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 and dealt with by-laws regarding short term rentals.
Video from the meeting was posted on Thursday, July 20, 2023 and gives and indication of what transpired.
Deputy Mayor Joan Stover was speaking and stated, “we’re close. When I look at the bylaw that we have. We’ve very close. And once we get the data…”
At that point there was yelling from the gallery in attendance, but it was to hard to make it what was said.
“Order! Order!” said Stover before saying, “Sir you will leave.”
Stover tries to carry on with her comments, “we will be bringing all the information back. We will have the bylaw in place. And let the process take its course. And that is how we’re going to get through this.”
More shouting can be heard in the background by the same individual and then others join in.
While Mayor John Logel tries to maintain order and then calls for a recess, one person in the gallery could be heard saying, “this has to stop. You were elected by the people. You work for the people.”
The video for the meeting ends shortly after.
While council members went into a safe room, police were called and the gallery was told to leave the building.
Speaking to Today’s Northumberland after the meeting, Stover said, “we feared for our safety.”
Today’s Northumberland was directed to the Chair of the Alnwick/Haldimand Business Owner’s Association (AHBOA) for comment, but they declined.
On Wednesday, Chair of the AHBOA Bonnie Annis wrote an explanation of the events that took place the night before, stating, “I’m here to answer questions.”
Throughout Annis’ words she said including, “we deeply regret that the meeting took an unfortunate turn,” along with “the events that transpired were not reflective of the values and principles that our association upholds.”
But throughout her explanation, she never did apologize.
“Thanks for your patience while we prepared a measured response, with some background information. Be warned, it’s long, but I’m here to answer questions.
As the newly appointed Chair of the Alnwick/Haldimand Business Owner’s Association, I would like to address last night’s council meeting. We deeply regret that the meeting took an unfortunate turn and want to express our sincere concern for the real distress caused.
The events that transpired were not reflective of the values and principles that our association upholds. Throughout the past year, we have been engaged in a process aimed at constructive dialogue and finding solutions for our whole community.
The behaviour witnessed during the meeting was an unexpected and spontaneous emotional response, and unacceptable, and we acknowledge the need for better communication and understanding moving forward. Our genuine goal is to create a safe and respectful environment where all voices are heard, and differences are discussed with the proper process.
We appreciate those who have shown understanding during a time where we didn’t show our best side, respecting that it’s been a long, emotional, tiring process that we would sincerely like to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction.
I know that this issue isn’t on everyone’s radar like it has been for many in our community, so if you bear with me on this very long post, I’ll attempt to offer some insight.
· Over the past year, people in the Alnwick/Haldimand community have actively addressed the issue of short-term rentals (STR). This process involved numerous council meetings, with at least 20 delegations from community members, as well as several months of dedicated work by the ad hoc committee (that was created BY A/H COUNCIL to recommend a solution).
· The committee carefully considered various perspectives, working to create recommendations that respect the needs of visitors, small business owners, and homeowners to enjoy their own property.
· Within this time period, at least 2 drafts of a bylaw were proposed, and most recently, Mayor John Logel tasked the Council with either rescinding, revising, or retaining the bylaw that was enacted in 2022, and he recommended a timeline to have that completed. Council chose not to address the Mayor’s request, and instead referred the issue back to township staff to draft yet another report.
· The most recent report was presented at council last night, with the Fire Chief sincerely addressing the gallery of citizens and their concerns, and offering a plan of action that proposed ACTIVELY enforcing existing bylaws (with a step-by-step process).
· Regrettably, what followed was a presentation of a draft bylaw that replaced the previous draft, (are you still with me?), and contained none of the carefully considered recommendations of the ad hoc committee in their report to council). Understandably, it upset many stakeholders, and in an unfortunate statement, the Deputy Mayor, Joan Stover, expressed that this proposed bylaw was “close” to meeting the needs of the community. That was the flashpoint, I’m afraid, but I hope it offers a little bit of the background of what got us to this moment.
Finally (thanks for bearing with me), our association is very new, and we haven’t officially become a non-profit organization yet (but we’re working on that). While we initially formed to facilitate the short-term rental issue, our aim is to grow our current 65 members into a supportive, dynamic organization for all business owners in Alnwick/Haldimand Township. Our community is filled with people who are working hard to build sustainable businesses, and we genuinely want to be there to support them in their goals. We plan to make a positive impact together.”