Gazebo motion gums up council

Staff frustration shows at another slow meeting

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A confusing motion brought forward by Coun. Yvon Duhaime led to a 50-minute discussion at the end of another inefficient meeting for West Nipissing council on March 1.

Duhaime’s notice of motion alleged that council “reversed their decision” on a deal to sell land to Bob Guenette, a private citizen who built a gazebo on municipal grounds and then offered to buy the property to correct the mistake. 

In a 6-2 vote at their July 13 meeting, council had agreed to declare their land near the Holditch St. boat launch surplus and convey it to Mr. Guenette, but no specifics were given. The item then returned to council in October when staff informed council that the gazebo would have to be moved from its current location because it didn’t conform to municipal by-laws. (The structure was not set back four metres from the shoreline and exceeded the height for which a building permit is not required.)

“There was no reversal of decision from council,” said Stephan Poulin, Director of Economic Development and Community Services. “Initially council agreed to sell Mr. Guenette a piece of land, there was no specific width or size of land, that’s why we came back to council… Council decided to only sell him that small piece behind the garage because that would fix his enforcement file and allow him to move his gazebo onto his property without giving away any of our land tied to that boat launch. So, there was no reversal of decision, all that happened was council agreed to sell Mr. Guenette the piece of land and then we came back and presented council with options and that’s what we were moving forward with until this notice of motion came back.” 

Duhaime, who hadn’t spoken to Guenette since tabling the motion in October, said that he provided him with a diagram of the initial request for land but there were no visuals included when the offer was first brought to council last July. 

“The first request that came on, came on as an addendum at the last minute,” said Municipal Clerk Melanie Ducharme. “Staff had no opportunity to prepare anything or get any information prior to that addendum being tabled, so the night that it was discussed, staff didn’t have the information to properly comment, there was a general discussion that council would convey some land to assist in curing the encroachment, but the subsequent meeting where it was discussed in detail with measurements and information, that was my understanding that that was the decision point.”

Ducharme added that both discussions were held at committee level and weren’t official resolutions.

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