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LETTER: Welland Council doesn't 'have any real clue' in condo project collapse

'Nothing to do with us' comment rankles

PelhamToday received the following letter to the editor regarding Welland City Council's approach toward a recent building site issue:

Welland Council clashes over closed-door meeting on condo collapse…curiouser and curiouser!

It boggles the mind to hear of any elected council, at the behest of their staff, deciding that an in camera meeting, regarding the biggest story regarding development in their city’s history, should just be scrubbed from an agenda that had already been circulated.

The quote that was so alarming, in refusing to allow any further discussion, from the councillor chairing that meeting: “It had nothing to do with us,” is quite incredible.

Sometime, many months ago, maybe even before Covid, Evertrust, or their agent, will have contacted the City’s planning staff requesting a “pre-planning consultation,” possibly even before they even committed to purchasing the property.

The job of planning staff is to consider planning applications and ensure they comply completely with all current planning policies, specifically their own Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw.

Equally, potential developers have the responsibility of understanding the content of the same Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw so as to submit applications compliant with the OP and ZB.

It is patently ridiculous to suggest no application should ever be considered without the potential to amend planning policies within such a planning process. However, in such a case, as it is the City Council who are the Planning Authority for the city, not the planner, nor the developer. It is they who should be consulted to decide if such amendments should be considered.

Strange that no record of pre-planning consultations seems to be in the public domain, and, even more curious, there seems to be no records indicating council’s input or records to such meetings.

“It had nothing to do with us”? It had absolutely everything to do with Welland Council since that first meeting, maybe three or more years ago.

Since then an application has been received by that same planning staff, further meetings have taken place, questions asked by planning staff, answers offered by various experts and consultants, all paid for by the developer.

Quality assurance on planning, construction and materials used, will have been asked and answered and a schedule of inspections by City building staff throughout the entire construction process will have been agreed.

The fact that no one, including the City Council, or Welland’s Planning Authority, have any real clue as to what their planning staff have agreed to, or what their building inspectors were doing throughout this whole process, is no excuse for claiming “It had nothing to do with us.”

For the past maybe three years now it has had everything to do with you.

This catastrophic collapse, twice, of such a huge development has been an application you have approved, recommended by your planning staff and supported by them after two, three years of meetings and consultations which I doubt any member of this council even know about.

It doesn’t alter the fact you were all elected to represent the best interests of all your residents.

By pretending that the biggest development failure in your history had nothing to do with you calls into question why anyone would have wasted their time by electing you.

But don’t worry too much, or take this personally—there are many other municipalities within Niagara Region who have done no better. It’s only a matter of time before one more “inappropriate” development, somewhere in Niagara, suffers a similar meltdown.

No elected council anywhere has any right to claim that anything, certainly disasters, that occur in their constituency, has “nothing to do with us.”

Andrew Watts