Who runs our Town? Ask a Beverly St resident.

Provincial policy, thanks to our Toronto-centric provincial government encourages “intensification”. Residents of Small Town Ontario, with lots of wide-open space are scratching their heads. GTA residents may love living in boxes in the sky, despite the hour long commute, but why (to paraphrase our MPP, Randy Hillier) to do they want to force us to live in an anthill too? Municipal politicians in rural communities like ours, while paying lip service to the need for “affordable housing” have resisted intensification and rightly so. Many of us live here because it’s NOT Toronto.

Eventually Greater Napanee had to comply with provincial dictats and conform to provincial requirements which encourage semis, basement apartments and row housing.  In 2017, a builder, who specializes in semis, decided to intensify the 4 remaining lots on the east end of Beverly St.

At that point, someone in the Development Services Department discovered that the Town had run out of numbers. What to do? Uh, why not try letters? Well, someone decided that it would be a good idea to renumber the whole street – all 70 units – to avoid alpha-numeric numbering of the 4 lots. On December 5, 2017 notices were hand-delivered to the residents.

Not surprisingly, residents were outraged.

By-law 2000-0021 provides that street numbers and only be changed by council resolution. But no council resolution was passed and, as far we can determine, council did not hear of this until a meeting was called at Commercial Court on December 4 at 2 p.m. Councillor’s Lucas, Harvey, Kaiser and Cole attended. Deputy Mayor Isbester was in Jamaica. By that time the letters had already been prepared and this was presented as a done deal and the meeting was just an information session to inform council of what staff had already decided. Councillors Lucas, Harvey and Kaiser objected but staff were insistent based on safety issues and other policies.

No one seems to have realized that it took a council resolution to change street numbers.

As far as we know, Peter Dafoe, who supervises the whole department, was NOT present.

Staff barreled ahead and the letters were delivered the next day, Dec 5. An open house was held at Commercial Court on Dec 7 but it was poorly communicated and only 10-20 residents attended. No record of either meeting shows on the meetings page of the Town website and no minutes or notes of the meeting have ever surfaced.

On December 20, a second notice was hand delivered informing residents of an open house on January 16. This notice is signed by Gib Garrett, planning clerk in the Development Services Department.

On January 9, 2018, a petition was presented to council with signatures of virtually everyone on Beverly St. A front page story appeared in the Beaver on January 11.

60 or more angry residents of Beverly St attended the open house on January 16. Staff argued that the alpha-numeric solution was confusing to emergency responders, and posed a safety risk. An number of easels were set up. A young OPP officer, in uniform, attended for the police and was probably puzzled at the furor. Resident,  Karie Lynn, who attended the meeting  reports that the easels for the fire department and the police department were empty.  60 residents milled about, then left puzzled by the format of the meeting and, no doubt. texting lot of WTFs.

The issue ended up on Peter Dafoe’s desk. He’s the manager of infrastructure services and a pretty good guy. He prepared a 4-page report. (He has to do a lot of this and it takes up a lot of his time.) With great understatement, he reported that “the mood was overwhelmingly in favour of the alpha-numeric solution.”  His report still argues for renumbering the whole street and continues to argue that the alpha-numeric solution “May be confusing to emergency responders and pose a public safety risk.”  The report also claims that this is “an inconsistent application of civic addresses.” In fact, there are already 155 alpha-numeric addresses on 47 streets in Town (complete list is on our facebook group).

Peter’s support for the original proposal seemed luke-warm and we get the impression that it’s more of an explanation of where things went wrong. But, we don’t know. We believe that Peter was not involved to this point but we’re not sure. Like you, GNRA has no window into the inner workings of that department. We’re not even sure council has any better information than we do. For the record, we do not blame Peter for this fiasco.

At the open house, the mayor and one of the building inspectors reportedly claimed that they were just doing what the by-law required. But, as Shaun Hinds pointed out, by-law 2000-0021 provides that street numbers can only be changed by council resolution. By-law 2000-0021 specifically permits alpha-numeric lettering. Shaun Hinds found by-law 2000-0033 establishing 2913 A, B, C, D & E County Road 9.

On January 23, this mess was dumped into council’s lap. Staff  continued to recommend that a complete renumbering of Beverly Street is their “the first choice for a preferred solution”. The mayor apologized to an audience in a packed council chambers for the way the matter had been handled. Shaun Hinds delivered a deputation and so did Stacey Corriveau. Other residents spoke briefly. Gib Garrett, John Konig and Rebecca Roy were not present. Peter Dafoe was present but said little.  Carol Harvey, made a motion, seconded by Shaune Lucas, to go with alpha-numeric street numbering. After brief comments from members, the motion passed 7-0 on a recorded vote.

How much did this fiasco cost our Town? We will never know.

Will a postmortem be done to determine how this blooper happened? Not likely.

Will the staff members responsible be held to account? Not a chance.

It’s one hell of a way to run a railroad.

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