West Nipissing Council voted to grant a purchase request to a property owner who built a gazebo on municipal land near the Holditch St. boat launch, rather than instruct them to remove it.
Municipal staff were in the process of directing the owner to remove the gazebo for trespassing when they offered to purchase part of the land that forms the boat launch instead.
“It would be kind of irregular as well, I have to state it: usually you would ask permission to use our property or ask to buy it so that you can use it and not use our property and then buy it to rectify a situation, so it’s kind of a little bit backwards,” CAO Jay Barbeau informed council. “But there was a request that was made to the municipality and we’re duty bound to bring it forward.”
Coun. Yvon Duhaime spoke first on the matter, and though he expressed disapproval in the owner for not asking the municipality before building, his suggestion for the conditions of a sale quickly caught traction.
“If we do decide to sell that portion of land, I want the money to go directly into repairing the launch and the dock surface: they’re in dire need and that would certainly help us alleviate a lot of the complaints I’ve been having in that area,” he said.
Some other members of council saw no issue with the owner building on public land.
“Maybe at a given time, council should entertain a policy on municipal land and make sure that if we have residents who want to use municipal-owned land, that there’s a policy in place to ask permission,” said Mayor Joanne Savage, who had already had two policy suggestions at that meeting defeated: an amendment to the hiring personnel policy and a new yard by-law to supplement the existing property standards by-law. “Because to penalize an individual for trying to make it beautiful and beautify the community, I don’t think should be subject to a penalty.”
Coun. Chris Fisher and Denis Sénécal were the only two to vote against granting the sale, on the grounds that it would be “encouraging bad behaviour.”
Now municipal staff will determine the best way to sever the land, before it can be appraised and the decision to sell can be circulated for public comment. The sale will eventually return to council to be finalized.
Council still torn on IC reporting
Council will soon be sending questions to the Integrity Commissioner, responding to his annual report, but they’ve yet to reach a consensus on how often they’d like to receive reports in the future.