The Results of the ABCA Special Board Meeting – November 3, 2016
Note from the Author
Unlike the first two meetings, this ABCA Special Board Meeting didn’t last very long. The total length of the audio recording from this meeting is less than 10 minutes. I am recommending that you listen to the audio first, and then review the transcription of the motion plus the amended motion, and also the commentary provided. For more information on why the ABCA SMP 2016 has been such a contentious issue since September 1, 2016, please see my previous article on this topic.
– Mike Sloan
Here is the full audio recording from the ABCA Special Board Meeting held on November 3, 2016 at the South Huron Recreation Centre in Exeter, ON with over 270 in attendance!
ABCA Special Board Meeting Intentions and Outcome – November 3, 2016
Success! Our lakefront properties are back on the map. CTV ran a nice piece on the outcome of today’s meeting. A small portion of my interview was used in the story, but not enough to provide a good summary of the meeting today. You may also refer to the ABCA’s official newsletter declaring their position on the recommendations in the ABCA s016 SMP. So let’s breakdown what transpired in the recording of the ABCA Special Board Meeting.
As explained on the ABCA website, the intended purpose of this ABCA Special Board Meeting was to receive timely clarity on the ABCA’s position on the following motion that was suggested at the previous ABCA Board meeting on October 20, 2016:
RESOLVED, THAT the ABCA Board of Directors declares that it does NOT intend to implement the ABCA Shoreline Development Guidelines of Section 7.8 in the report (pages 113-117) in its proposed form and does not endorse the underlying principle of “managed retreat” and the unilateral prohibition of any shoreline protection works.
As detailed in my article entitled Why the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) is such a Hot Button Issue this Fall, certain portions and recommendations within this report have produced immediate and negative repercussions. Just to name a few of those who have been experiencing these repercussions, there are clients of mine selling Grand Bend lakefront property, a variety of other sellers of lakefront property from Port Franks to Bluewater, and contractors and builders in the area that have had large projects forced into costly holding periods. Then, there are the tax collecting municipalities, businesses, and thousands upon thousands of other concerned home owners residing within the ABCA’s regulated territory. As I mentioned in my last post, it would seem that ABCA staff and Board members do recognize that all of these parties would surely be feeling the same effects in the near future without the ABCA’s official declaration that they will not implement the recommendations subject to this motion.
While we should all recognize that the ABCA has unofficially not been endorsing the contents of this report, perception is reality when it comes to the World Wide Web. The ABCA published this report for public viewing. Once the cat was out of the bag, it didn’t matter that ABCA staff was verbally declaring that they would “never” support the recommendations found at the end of the ABCA SMP 2016. Even with the informal reassurance that it could never happen, the perception of readers of the publically published report was that there was a chance it could happen. This is why we couldn’t wait until the end of November for official clarification. We needed this ABCA Special Board Meeting so that the Board could address this issue sooner.
Just as the stock market rallies and plummets based on perception or feelings that may or may not be reality, the real estate market is a kindred spirit. So how has the public been feeling about what the ABCA published on the Web? Scared, nervous, terrified, angry, resentful, annoyed, confused, violated, etc. Whether or not the recommendations in that report were ever going to come to fruition was irrelevant to the property owners that could have been affected by such restrictions. Until the ABCA was willing to go on record and tell us that it WILL NOT happen, my clients weren’t going to sell their houses, our local contractors weren’t going back to work, and our local business owners weren’t going to be sleeping soundly. Once again, this is exactly why we needed the ABCA Special Board Meeting. And to the credit of ABCA staff and Board members, this is what we received.
Over the past several weeks, this type of market perception has surely become more and more concerning to the powers that be. Consequently, the response from the ABCA’s Board of Directors at today’s ABCA Special Board Meeting was very strong and applauded loudly by the audience. The hundreds upon hundreds of constructive discussions and well-written letters and declarations have also contributed substantially to the outcome of today’s ABCA Special Board Meeting. Within seconds of the above motion being recited, the author of the motion moved to amend it to read as follows:
BE RESOLVED THAT the ABCA Board of Directors will not implement the ABCA Shoreline Development Guidelines of Section 7.8 in the report (pages 113-117) and does not endorse the underlying principle of “managed retreat” and the outright prohibition of all shoreline protection works. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the ABCA Board of Directors continues to endorse the use of polices as contained in the 2000 Shoreline Management Plan and that the Board of Directors direct ABCA staff to provide options to re-engage the public to update the 2000 Shoreline Management Plan. (Listen at 5:47 to 6:40 in the recording to hear the Board vote on this motion).
The big news – the vote to pass this amended motion was unanimous! Yeehaa! Our properties are back on the map!
Other Notable Selections from the ABCA Special Board Meeting on November 3, 2016
Starting at 7 minutes in the recording of the ABCA Special Board Meeting, Brian Horner speaks. Horner is the general manager and secretary-treasurer of the ABCA. He commented that the process was not ideal, especially given that this report was provided for public review without the ABCA Board having full knowledge of said report. His comments were well received by the audience.
Then, at 7:56 in the recording, a board member speaks further to this line of discussion. His comments make it quite clear that the Board was and still is acting in the public’s best interests. He explained to the audience that the only reason the Board was not prepared to make a decision like this on October 20 is because they were never formerly presented with the report until that day. This would have been over 3 months after ABCA staff had received it.
Around 9:20 in the recording, the same board member indicated that he will be making a motion at the next ABCA Board meeting (November 24, 2016) to implement policy that would, in effect, require ABCA staff to provide more transparency and disclosure to the Board in a timely fashion. For example, such policy could help to avoid public exposure to suggestions made by a scientist whose mandate is not the same as a that of a Conservation Authority. After all, this infamous report was not even written by the ABCA. It was written by academics that are simply conducting scientific research and formulating scientific conclusions.
It is now clear to me, based on what has been said throughout this process and what occurred at the meeting today, that the ABCA would have never regulated our lakefront properties in the manner suggested in the ABCA SMP 2016 Draft Plan.
Bottom line, as of November 3, 2016, our lakefront properties from Port Franks to Grand Bend to Bluewater to Bayfield are back on the map!