The following was originally published July 24, 2017 in as a letter in the Owen Sound Sun Times.
The July 20 OSST edition reported Councillor Jackson’s reaction following a meeting of TSBP council and MNR officials Mark Shoreman and Suzanne Robinson.
The article has Councillor Jackson saying “They [MNR officials] recommend or advise certain practices but, when push comes to shove, demand the municipality act according to MNR’s wishes.”
The MNR officials did no such thing. In the July 19 meeting the MNR officials stated that Piping Plover habitat destruction was prohibited by section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, informed council of what sort of driftwood removal would be considered habitat destruction, advised the town that if we want to comply we ought not destroy habitat, and indicated that there would be consequences if we did.
That’s exactly the same message as in the letter from Mark Shoreman to the town of June 20. There was no change in the message between June 20 and July 19, and no change during the July 19th meeting. The law has not changed and the MNR advice to comply with the law has been absolutely consistent.
Far from “They [MNR] keep going around in circles”, as Ms. Jackson suggests, the MNR officials have spoken clearly, correctly, and consistently.
If anyone “keeps going around in circles”, it’s Councillor Jackson.
Early in the discussion Councillor Jackson demanded that the town be allowed “right now” to remove driftwood from the part of the beach North of sixth.
MNR’s Mark Shoreman answered that driftwood removal would be considered habitat destruction and a violation of “section ten”. It sounded like a “no” to me.
Yet Councillor Jackson, feigning deafness, or feigning something, repeated the same demand. Mr. Shoreman gave the same response.
Then Councillor Jackson made the same demand nine more times, (and got the same response, nine more times), and would have asked all day if Mayor Close had not stepped in and cut the “questions”.
But the incessant circling was not the most entertaining of Councillor Jackson’s contributions.
The rhetoric coming from the good councillor was over the top.
Ten times Ms. Jackson claimed that “we” have lost the whole north end of the beach to the plovers. But Ms. Jackson is just plain wrong. The beach north of sixth is almost as well used as the part south of sixth.
And taking a page from Mayor Close’s May 24th “we’re-gonna-get-the-blog-criminals” press release, Ms. Jackson offered this: “We have complete intrusion of the entire north end of our beach. One hundred percent. Our people have lost their beach to the plovers. That’s beyond unreasonable. That’s criminal.”
C’mon Councillor Jackson. There is lots of room to walk in the sand on the beach North of sixth. You really need to take that walk.
Council’s meeting with MNR was not all heavy and adversarial. Councillor Turner threw in a bit of levity by announcing that he knew of six mating pairs of plovers at the edge of a little pond within five minutes of council chambers. But after the laughter and snickering died down, the driftwood argument went on.
Ms. Jackson wants a “balanced approach”, a “compromise”. What she doesn’t seem to get is that the plovers and their habitat are protected by law, and you don’t find a compromise with the law, and you don’t find “balance” by obeying the law sometimes and breaking it other times.
Ms. Jackson was elected to represent the residents of ward 3 in the TSBP policy making process. Ms. Jackson was not elected to represent the residents of ward 3 regarding acceptability of the provincial endangered species act, or of the enforcement policy, and even if she did know the views of the people she has no more mandate than anyone else (except our MPP) to speak on behalf of the residents regarding acceptability of the act.
But what makes Ms. Jackson’s position so outrageous is that Ms. Jackson not only lacks the mandate to speak for the residents, but also completely misrepresents the views of the residents.
While Ms. Jackson claims, based on thirty e-mails from people that want the driftwood removed now, that the whole town is behind her, the fact is that her position is her personal view, and is not the view of the residents, or the ward, or the town.
Ms. Jackson is trying, without any legitimate mandate, to use her position as councillor to sell her personal views about the act and about MNR’s enforcement strategy as the position of the residents. This, in my view, is outrageous and fraudulent.