All indications at the WBRA Deputation during Town Council meeting, May 26, 2022 point to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and most Councillors denying any need for public consultation meetings before selling our prized beachfront properties.
Despite the Survey results and the Poll results conducted by WBRA that overwhelmingly ask for public consultations.
The questions and comments by the Mayor and several members of Council focused on trying to undermine the actual statistics presented and questioning the validity of both Survey and Poll, and were disrespectful to Mainstreet Research, a well-respected and established leader in conducting independent polls.
Mayor Bifolchi, quite unbecoming, disrespectful, and insulting for any Deputation, felt the need to undermine WBRA in her opening comments. This extraordinarily unprofessional action for any Deputation perhaps says a lot about her lack of focus on what the taxpayers are trying to tell her - "you're still not listening to us!"
You can see for yourself how the tone of this Deputation evolved, and how the facts were ignored. You might even wonder if some Council members even reviewed the content prior to the meeting.
Watch the video https://youtu.be/UePswuXwPPY
FACT: The town’s legal counsel for the project, Mary Ellen Bench, a lawyer with Dentons, was enlisted to provide a detailed overview of the beachfront redevelopment process, including the steps to engage the public. We are advised by credible sources, this is highly unusual.
FACT: The town was very quick to send out an eblast on Monday, May 30h with a news release once again maligning the WBRA. “Council questioned the polling methodology used, as survey information provided by the association in the past has been suspect. No action was taken by council on the presentation.”
IMPORTANT FACT: Mayor Bifolchi continues to repeat that the town has conducted public engagement meetings at appropriate times regarding the Beachfront Redevelopment Project. What the town has not done is seek public consultation specifically on what Bayloc Developments plans to do with the Beachfront Properties if they purchase them.
Negotiations between the town and Bayloc for the sale of the properties are confidential, as is proper. The town says that what Bayloc plans to do with the properties is part of the negotiations and therefore confidential.
That was not the case with the failed FRAM and Slate proposals which included concept drawings shown to the public.
The mayor and council are not involved in the negotiations with Bayloc and apparently have no information on what is planned.
Town staff will make a recommendation to council upon completion of the negotiations and council will vote on it.
What we are asking for, and what the Survey and Poll results are asking for is this:
That the public be guaranteed a chance to be consulted in an open public meeting to provide their views and feedback for consideration on the proposal, BEFORE council votes on the sale.
FACT: As an example of a polar opposite approach to public engagement, Collingwood Council listened respectfully and acted on the results of a survey with regard to their proposal of a downtown Archway. The way it should be.
The numbers are very similar to the combination of the WBRA’s survey and poll conducted on the matter of public engagement before the sale of town-owned properties to Bayloc Developments.
* The Poll
Mainstreet Research is a professional polling company with national recognition that was engaged by WBRA to ask people how important it was to them that the town hold public meetings before selling the Beach One properties to Bayloc Developments. The polling company is skilled in getting a sample of opinions that represent how the entire population feels about the issue. If they ran the poll one hundred times, the results would be the same ninety-five times within 4.9% of each other.
The poll showed only 5% of respondents felt public meetings were very unimportant which was interpreted as meaning "No, not necessary". Overall, the poll showed 72% of respondents felt that public meetings were very or somewhat important which suggests strong support for public meetings.
** The Survey
The town has not used the tools they have to consult the public on the sale of the Beachfront Properties to Bayloc through their "Let's Talk Wasaga" portal.
WBRA recently sought to fill the gap in public engagement on the sale by conducting a survey with two simple yes or no questions and a place to leave comments. The intention was to see if people thought there should be public meetings before selling to Bayloc and how many thought they were not needed. We also asked if people thought there should be a third-party audit on Bayloc or not and, most importantly to us, we allowed them to express their thoughts. The survey was informal and open to anyone. It was advertised in the Wasaga Sun for four weeks to reach a broad cross-section of opinion.
The results showed overwhelming support (95%) for holding public meetings and hundreds of comments were left.
CONCLUSION: This is yet another indication that Mayor Bifolchi, Deputy Mayor Bray, and councillors Watson, Foster, Kinney, and Wells are simply not willing to LISTEN to their constituents.