The latest edition of the North Grenville Times contained an excellent article regarding how this Council has been doing a disservice to a local business, Vichos Honey. It pretty well dovetails with the item in the same edition titled “Requiem for a small town: the decline of Kemptville,” by Woody Armour.
If the way that this Council has treated Vichos Honey is in any way indicative of what has happened historically, then I would suggest that the way this and previous Councils have treated the likes of Vichos Honey might have been more to do with the decline of businesses in Kemptville than Mr. Armour’s inference that those of us in the “vinyl clad subdivisions” are in some way responsible. I happen to live in one of those “vinyl-clad subdivisions”, and would like to remind Mr. Armour that these businesses disappeared on his watch, and not on ours. Myself and my neighbours make a point of supporting local businesses whenever we can, so I am reasonably sure that the increased traffic through their stores is not a problem for them.
Mr. Armour also feels that it comes down to choosing between “more vinyl village development”, or rejuvenating the existing community. Were it that simple. Growing the size of the town is mandated by the province, and Council is duty bound to adhere to what the province requires. Rejuvenating the existing community is under Council’s purview, but they have to do a balancing act between what they have to do, and what they want to do, all the while keeping taxes down, because the likes of Mr. Armour don’t like tax increases. I guess in his world, the price of things never goes up.
Anyway, back to Vichos Honey. They were there before the subdivision was built around them, so it’s not as if the people who bought there were not aware of its presence. The contact between the owner and the municipality does not appear to have been helpful to the owner, and there appears to be scant consideration given to how his business has to operate. When the owner suggested a plan to fix the problems raised by his neighbours by extending his building to store his equipment, his plan is turned down by Council. Why?
So what is the owner meant to do? Council sends him an “Order to Comply” that he tries to accomplish, but is not given sufficient time, even when he works 16 hour days. He could be forgiven for wondering if they are trying to drive him out of business, which would be yet another business to add to Mr. Armour’s list.
This Council appears to not have done due diligence with the owner regarding how his business works, what is possible, and in what time frame. It has rejected his solutions out of hand, has imposed restrictions on him that he physically cannot comply with, and now they are taking him to court. What a great way to encourage business.
It is difficult to figure out why Council has acted in this high handed manner. This Council needs to get its act together if we are to have a viable business community. This example will no doubt have a chilling effect on them, so what has Council accomplished by taking this attitude? Are they simply trying to placate the surrounding community with an election in the offing, or do they simply not understand, or want to understand, the constraints of the business? It will be a sad state of affairs if the answer is the latter.
In closing, kudos to the North Grenville Times for bringing this to the attention of the community. Without an official opposition, as you state in your editorial, your particular branch of the local media is fulfilling its mandate by being the link between municipal government and the people. When only 29% of the population vote, as in the last municipal election, we get the government we deserve. Articles like this latest one will hopefully open a few eyes, and get more people clued in as to what their government is doing on their behalf, and maybe, just maybe, they might form an opinion, and get off their duffs to vote the next time the opportunity presents itself.
Colin Creasey, Kemptville