Janice Jackson tried to get food trucks through council at least twice before. She failed. Because it was unfair to residents negatively affected. And unfair to existing food services businesses.
In spite of the unfairness, Ms. Jackson is pushing it through again.
There are several issues:
The sham public consultation
From April 15 to 29 a food trucks survey was posted on a website named “Open Mic South Bruce Peninsula”. The town is portraying that survey as a genuine and legitimate public consultation.
It was neither. It was not a genuine or meaningful consultation at all. It was a sham.
The outcome of the open mic survey was clearly predetermined and the survey was designed to produce that predetermined outcome.
Here are some concerns about the open mic survey:
1) The explanation of the issue on the open mic website was extremely biased in favour of food trucks.
2) Negative impact on residents and existing food service businesses was not included in the website explanation.
3) The economic benefits claimed in the website explanation were ridiculous and unfounded. The economic analysis was written by someone with no qualifications to comment on economics. The benefits expressed are dubious at best.
4) There was no announcement that the issue was on the website. So virtually no one knew unless they were told privately.
5) People had to register to complete the survey. But they could do so anonymously. That means one person could respond a hundred times. There was a huge potential for bias and fraud.
6) The website said: “Give your opinion by filling out the survey.” But the survey asked for answers to only three narrow questions: 1) are you for or against food trucks? 2. where do you live? 3. [a third question was not relevant and was not opinion]. Filling out the survey did not “give an opinion”. There may have been a place to provide real meaningful opinion, but it’s reasonable to expect that the words “Give your opinion by filling out the survey” would have led participants to only answer the three survey questions.
The open mic survey was a sham and a fraud.
And even if the survey had been done properly (which it was not), it would be wrong to make a decision based on “majority rule”. And it is especially wrong to base local decisions on what the majority want when the survey includes non-residents. Our system is the rule of law.
Illegal bypass of zoning bylaw amendment process
In the March 19, 2019 council meeting where the food truck issue was discussed, Janice Jackson identified the zoning bylaw as an impediment to her food trucks agenda, and asked staff if there was a way to get around the requirement to amend the zoning bylaw.
In the March 19 meeting Bill Klingenberg, Director of Community Services, was happy to respond, telling Ms. Jackson that there was no need to amend the zoning bylaw if the allowance of food trucks was characterized as a “trial”. This is of course was wrong and preposterous.
I recently talked to Bill Klingenberg. As we chatted he changed his story. He said that they do not need zoning bylaw amendments because some of the proposed locations are road allowances and road allowances are not zoned.
That is equally wrong. And equally preposterous.
Klingenberg said he got that advice from Bruce County planner Jack van Dorp. I called Jack van Dorp. I asked him if he had told town staff that road allowances were not zoned or were exempt from zoning requirements or prohibitions. Mr. van Dorp would not reply. He just pivoted, obfuscated, and ran. (Mr. van Dorp is between a rock and a hard place. Ms. Jackson tried to get him fired in 2015 for not rubber-stamping a project of hers.)
Unfair to negatively affected residents
All proposed food truck locations are zoned residential or environmental hazard or institutional, none of which permits food trucks. Residents have a right to quiet enjoyment of their properties and common areas. Residents have the right to count on the zoning bylaw to protect them from arbitrary land use. Allowing food trucks where the zoning bylaw prohibits them is unfair to these residents, and is inconsiderate and illegal. Allowing food trucks on residential streets is unfair to these residents, and is inconsiderate regardless of whether road allowances are included in the zoning bylaw restrictions. Residents also have a right not to be hit by arbitrary zoning bylaw changes. Allowing food trucks is unfair to residents, and is wrong.
Unfair to existing businesses
The zoning currently does not allow food trucks. Food service operators have made decisions based in part on the existence of zoning restrictions. Like residents, they have a right to count on the zoning bylaw. They have a right to count on the zoning bylaw not being arbitrarily amended to allow food trucks. Allowing food trucks is unfair to current food service operations.
Council has shut out residents who do not agree with them. Council (except Deputy Kirkand who voted against food trucks) has shut out businesses who do not agree with them. Council has ignored the letter and intent of the zoning bylaw to the detriment of residents and existing businesses.
If they get away with putting food trucks on residential streets or parks, you might ask yourself what is next, and what might be put in front of your house.
If you are concerned about these council shenanigans send a protest email addressed “To council: …..”, and submit your email to clerk Angie Cathrae at firstname.lastname@example.org
A report will be before council May 7. So email council soon.
Please forward this to neighbours and friends who may be interested.