Ron Evans – Ward 4 Dysart et al

What Is A Bylaw?

At Dysart Council, one of their functions is to handle bylaws. Bylaws are local ordinances designed to help regulate and enforce areas of importance as required.

When a bylaw is brought forth to Council, there is generally information presented by County and/or Municipal departments, sometimes affiliated groups/organizations. After all information has been presented, Council members then discuss the pros and cons and come to a decision.

In my walkabouts talking to residents, I’m finding there is interest in the Shoreline bylaw that passed at the Haliburton Municipal County level last month. I’m hearing arguments ranging from “I’m glad something was done for conservation’s sake” to “It wasn’t strong enough” to “My experts are better than your experts” to “It’s my land, I have the right to do whatever I want.” The overarching feeling is that whatever the decision Dysart Council makes, there are going to be some very happy people, and there’s going to be some very upset people. This is the very nature of Governance – very rare is the decision that pleases 100% of the populace.

When the new Dysart Council sits, the process of the Shoreline bylaw will take place. As far as bylaws go, it will be treated no different than any other bylaw – fireworks regulations, parkland usage etc., because this is the process set forth by Dysart et al.

The Shoreline bylaw will be brought forward by the Haliburton Municipal County for ratification by Dysart Council, as well as at other County councils. They will present their findings with the bylaw as written and passed, giving information, justifications and answering questions as required. If there is any pertinent information that is presented and needs discussion, then that will be part of the discussion.

Presentation and Discussion. Key words to remember.

In order for Dysart Council – or any other council – to make an informed, thought-out and facts-based decision on any item put forth, it is incumbent on every single member of council to enter the process with an open mind, and to hear all discussions. To come into any such meeting with one’s mind already closed off and made up is not only disregarding all facts to be presented, it is doing a disservice and quite frankly an insult to all involved including their constituents. Critical thinking skills are absolutely imperative when coming to any good decision, and prematurely closing one’s mind off to possibilities others might have results not in Good Governance, but merely forcing one’s Personal Agenda on others and that is Simply Not Leadership.

As Councillor, I will make decisions based on all the facts as presented, with an Open Mind to what is possible. I will not go into discussions having already blown off Opinion A or Fact B, no matter how big or small the issue. As part of the information process in looking at the Shoreline bylaw, I sat down with Haliburton County staff a couple of weeks ago to get an overview of the bylaw as presented that passed at Municipal Council – the impetus behind the bylaw, the five years’ worth of studies and professional recommendations, and ramifications such as staffing and enforceability. It’s very important for Council members to build such bridges with County and Municipal staff, and this is just but a small part of how I’ll do my homework in making the best decisions possible with such issues for us all.

Regardless on where you yourself fall on the issue of the Shoreline bylaw, at the bare least deep down you know you owe it to yourself to have a Council representative that will look at all the facts without a preconceived, hollow, self-serving opinion which is just that – an opinion – and nothing more. I’m asking you to really think long and hard on how you want your local government representatives to function – do you want them willing to make decisions with an open mind, or be closed off to input before all information has been presented. I’m not in this for my buddies or neighbours or business associates and I don’t have any waterfront property to cloud my thinking – I’m in this for everyone.

One final thought: as we all go through life, our circumstances are constantly changing. Work, relationships, finances, the list goes on. When thinking of a bylaw, it’s very nature as a response to a need allows it to change with circumstances as well. In my earlier discussions with Municipal staff, the Shoreline bylaw is in itself just one small part of a future broad Municipal strategy that will take in other needs such as water quality and testing, sensitive lands preservation and more, and tie in with larger conservation efforts beyond our borders. When the next level of strategies is developed and implemented, bylaws such as ones that currently look over land usage will be modified to fit the entire package, as is their nature, so the Shoreline bylaw as is written is by no means carved in stone. Love or hate the Shoreline bylaw, it is a living document, and Council has a responsibility to you to fully explore how it may or may not be applicable to today’s needs before either accepting it without proper presentation or on the flip side simply throwing it in the trash.

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