Dear Editor:

RE: Different scopes, Aug. 27.

Centre Wellington councillor Van Leeuwen is correct: at its November 2019 meeting the Centre Wellington Heritage Committee (CWHC) did not offer an opinion about the Heritage Impact Assessment.

The assessment was deeply flawed because it justified demolition based on projected future maintenance costs. That cannot be a deciding factor when considering the retention versus replacement options. Van Leeuwen seems confused about CWHC’s concern. The concern was not about finances. It was about faulty methodology – i.e., lack of due process.

Van Leeuwen said that a “second round of [council] discussions happened because council and staff respect the work that is done by all committees and felt it was appropriate to engage with the bridge report a second time.”

Perhaps he needs to refresh his memory by watching the June 29 council meeting video. The second discussion happened because CWHC voted to recommend designation. However, what Van Leeuwen doesn’t say is that at the meeting, CWHC recommended deferring a vote on designation to allow the consultation that should have taken place as required by the EA process. Council rejected CWHC’s suggestion. How does that show respect of CWHC’s work or a willingness to reopen discussion?

Van Leeuwen says he’s disappointed that the township is facing a Part II order request. So am I. In December, I wrote to staff expressing concerns. The EA process says that concerns should be resolved through dialogue. Instead of discussion, I got a letter essentially telling me to go away. There was no dialogue.

Van Leeuwen’s disappointment would be better placed if directed at staff. By not being open to dialogue as provided by the EA process, township staff left me no option but to request a Part II order, which is what the process requires. The councillor speculates as to costs and delay caused by the Part II request. If there are costs or delays, the township caused them.

Council is required to consult with its heritage committee on matters of heritage. All the praise that council showers on its volunteers rings hollow if the committee is not allowed to do its job to ensure the heritage process is followed. Without hearing CWHC’s advice, council’s “fulsome” discussions about heritage attributes are a meaningless waste of time.

It is unfortunate that the residents who use the bridges continue to use them in disrepair. Heritage bridges must not be allowed to deteriorate to a state where rehabilitation becomes prohibitive. Necessary maintenance and repair actions were not carried out on these bridges. Why not?

I do appreciate that Van Leeuwen has shown more willingness to have discourse on heritage issues through your newspaper than at any other time in my dealings with him.

However, when he shifts blame for a failed process onto a concerned resident who is trying to hold council and staff accountable, that’s reprehensible.

Jean Gerrard,