Friday, May 9, 2014

ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD BECOMES A WEAPON

At the Monday, May 5 meeting of Fort Erie's Council in Committee, the spectre of the OMB figured large in the discussion - not as a possible solution to a problem between the planning department and nearby residents of a proposed town house complex on a three acre parcel of land on Rebstock Road in Crystal Beach, but as a threat of expensive costs to fight what is, according to Councillor Stephen Passero, something that  "...will pass at the OMB...."  That's the title of an article by James Culic in Niagara This Week, Fort Erie on track for OMB fight with itself.  While it is true that the OMB has redefined itself as a tool for developers, it is supposedly there to settle differences in a community over zoning and land issues.  Of course, its track record says otherwise and some forward thinkers have called for its demise. But that won't happen as developers are often big campaign supporters for like-minded candidates.

Speaking of which, Ed Lenchyshyn, the president of the developer, Park Lane Homes is a long-time financial supporter of Mayor Doug Martin. A look at the financials of Martin's mayoral campaign donations lists Ed or Park Lane Homes as backers. 

So, I asked myself this question: could this be interpreted as a Conflict of Interest for Martin to be involved in the discussion and vote for the zoning changes recommended by town staff? So, I went to the Integrity Commissioner's website. Here is what it says:


Q5: What are the conflict of interest rules for current public servants?
Ontario Regulation 381/07 specifies the prohibited activities that could put a public servant at risk of a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest rules for current public servants prohibit them from engaging in the following activities:
  • Using their positions to benefit themselves, their spouses or their children
  • Accepting gifts
  • Disclosing confidential information
  • Giving preferential treatment
  • Hiring their spouses, children, parents or siblings
  • Engaging in outside activities that conflict with their public service duties
  • Making personal use of government resources
  • Participating in decision-making where they could benefit from the result
  • Acquiring financial interests related to their duties as public servants.
The regulation also includes requirements for public servants involved in matters that might involve the private sector, as well as rules for former public servants.

Ed Lenchyshyn has often bragged about his advantage in Fort Erie. Is this another example of developers with deep pockets holding sway over regular folks?

A group of people has been studying the townhouse proposal and, after hours of figuring and measurements, they have concluded that, even in its reconfigured form, there is not enough room for emergency vehicles to maneuver within the cul de sac. And that is in dry conditions.  Another question: where is the fire chief on this? Has he taken the time to measure the street and its maneuverability? (/crickets.)

In the article, Martin states: “The problem we have 

here is that our planning policies are basically 

legislated by the province,” said Martin, who noted the 

provincial planners have been pressuring 

municipalities to approve residential intensification 

projects. “The days of large lots and sprawling 

development are basically gone.”


First it was the 'wetlands" now it is "intensification."  Fort Erie has a long way to go before intensification is needed. Just down Rebstock, a large unfinished development of houses on nice-sized lots is stalled. Another town home complex on Schooley Road is inching towards construction. There is plenty of housing stock available in Crystal Beach and all over Fort Erie that is not crammed into a small lot.  The Rebstock Road development will stand in stark contrast to the surrounding homes.  It is totally unnecessary and will be an eyesore and a safety hazard if it is built to its present configuration.

Once again the opinion of residents/taxpayers is ignored and they are soon faced with high legal bills to fight for their rights.

And some people wonder why people worked for and voted for the four councillors. At least they listen to their constituents about zoning issues.

Meanwhile Doug Martin still calls Ed Lenchyshyn his friend and campaign supporter.

UPDATE:  What Mr. Lenchyshyn did was the same tactic used by the Molinaros. It is textbook procedure amongst developers. That is, the first plans provided have way too much development for the property. Anyone remember the Two Towers proposal from the Molinaros?  There was no way that two twelve story condo towers would fit on the south side of the Bay Beach Properties. We knew it too. As predicted, the Molinaros pulled back and provided an amended proposal with only one tower.  So too, Park Lane Homes has dropped one townhouse off its proposal of twenty-four. In fact, in order for the development to fit in with the neighbourhood, it would need to drop back to twenty or less units. 

For further information about the OMB, see the recent video regarding an OMB decision that has affected residents in Toronto.

40 comments:

  1. I see that the ninjas have come out with a new comment. Guess that their handlers aren't giving them anything to do lately so they have resorted to posting remarks by others on the Facebook group they took over and ruined. There are a lot of real issues that need to be discussed but the ninjas don't want people to have civil conversations, especially about the future of Crystal Beach. While they blame those who fought against a twelve story tower on public land, they are doing more to disrupt the town that anyone else. Anything to take the attention away from the failures of those they support.

    Bridgeburg Business Area: really in need of some forward thinking community volunteers.

    Fort Erie Racetrack: constantly needs massive infusion of taxpayer/lottery money to keep afloat.

    Commerce: the EDTC's total obsession with the race track has crippled the town's ability to attract new employment opportunities.

    It will be up to the people to work together for a better community. For the people of Crystal Beach, the "town" did not listen to their concerns about the Molinaro Project so the people took matters into their own hands and worked to elect people who would listen to them. The ninjas are still made that their people didn't get elected so they have done nothing but trash those who were.

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    1. Correction:

      The ninjas are still MAD that their people didn't get elected, so they have done nothing but trash those who were.

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  2. Steve Boyd created the new facebook site title the Village of Crystal Beach political opinion- well it is only an outlet for the same old gang of unwashed to trash the CB residents & anyone else who disagrees with them. So who is Boyd & where does he reside? Anyone even thinking about having a sensible debate with these cover ninjas is wasting their time. You can't deal with stupid!!

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  3. CorruptionFighterMay 9, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    Looking at your list of Conflicts of Interest, I can say dirty doug has broken just about all of em at one time or another and that is only what is known about.

    Fort Erie laughing stock of the province, not that our filthy fearless leader really cares.

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  4. Curious in the BurgMay 9, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Today I noticed in Stevensville that the Vertis Communication plant has a sign on it for a company out of Beamsville. There is work being done there, and it appears that they are cleaning it out. The company produces specialty glass for buildings.
    Now unless I am not spending enough time on social media sites and too much time enjoying the outdoors, I am wondering why there hasn't been any announcements about this. Did they not tell anyone what they are doing or are they saving this as a big surprise for someone's campaign. Did Jimmy not get the email.
    I checked this out and the deal for the land closed about 6 or 7 weeks ago. Or is it that there is too much talking about the beach again and someone just slipped this by everyone in town.
    Or like I said I may have just missed it.

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    1. Good catch! I didn't hear about it either. Hope that there will be jobs coming from this. As to the EDTC, perhaps it is like the situation with Airbus. That company does not rely on help from the EDTC; whatever they do is through their own initiatives. Perhaps this new company feels the same way.

      It is no secret that I do not like the way Jim Thibert operates. It is especially galling when the taxpayers are paying for him to run the race track. That tax money is to pay him to represent all of Fort Erie's commercial and tourism interests - not just one. He gets away with it because there is no transparency and the ETC is an "arm's length corporation."

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  5. I dont see F.E. as the laughing stock of the province, but I did meet some people traveling who commented on the bad smell of the lakeshore in summer, I really didnt have any excuses for it. There is starting to be more and more of this type of thing, a bad situation and no real answer in terms of how to fix it. Seemingly as a Canadian suburb of Buffalo we might be heading toward a type of "common council" model if the present council continues to be so ineffective in terms of attracting employment opportunitys and wasting money of which there seems to be less and less of as time goes on. What about this habit of hiring "summer workers" that are relatives of town workers already getting a pretty good paycheck? Does this not seem to be some form of corruption, or at least nepatism that is unfair and in most cases uneeded? any feedback on this?

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    1. First, council does not have the ability to attract jobs. It (the council) can only vote on by-laws and recommendations by staff; they can help their constituents get questions answered and bring forth motions that the entire council votes on. As to wasting money, this council just completed a budget that has the lowest tax increase in several years. Sure, it would be nice if there was no need for taxes or tax increases, but the town is just like any other entity: it costs more each year to deliver the services people expect. The summer hire program has been the basis of great contention going back to the days when Richard Berry was on council. He had pushed for a lottery system, but that was voted down. It is one of those "perks" enjoyed by the "ins" in a community. Sadly, it happens everywhere. There has been recent discussion about the summer hire program on council. maybe some changes will be made.

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    2. The council does have the ability to make this area more investor friendly, there are programs that include affordable housing for workers, tax incentives for businesses willing to set up shop here, assistance to prospective employers by making vacant buildings and property available for new businesses to at least get a start and get set up... the list is endless with a little imagination. This would be a council that can attract business opportunities with this sort of approach. At least as a start. Taxes are very high here, it effects the ability for people to open and maintain a viable business. That much has been a problem here for a long time. As a private public project on Bay Beach development was missplaced, overpriced, and sadly mismanaged. 200 to 400 thousand dollars for a unit named after an extinct amusement park ride? And this from the development gods of the Oakville strip?? And where were their project "partners" in council while all this was being promoted in the dead of winter?? OH, and it didnt work out? Thank god, who would be able to have predicted what would have come next. I guess all that incompitance wouldnt be called a waste of money and resources, although from what I heard it made for some rude entertainment in the council chambers. Build what the town needs, but its not some sideshow on the lakefront. Its employer friendly developments, with affordable accomodations for their workers and the resulting tax base.

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    3. I agree with the basics of your premise, but I still say it is up to the leadership of the EDTC to lobby for potential businesses to move to or set up shop in Fort Erie. It is up to council to vote on those recommendations that come before it. Councillors are paid very little for what they do now. It is not their job to seek out potential investors and businesses. Sure, they can pass by-laws and incentives (council recently voted to not increase development charges.) As far as housing for workers, we are no longer in that "company town model." There is plenty of cheap housing to buy. In fact, it has been said that Fort Erie has one of the lowest housing prices in Niagara. Renting is a whole different situation, unfortunately. Hard for a family to find suitable housing to rent anywhere in town.

      My priority has always been a better transit system to enable those without a car to get to jobs. That is something I can speak to from personal experience. Before I was able to afford a car, I had to use some very creative (and stressful) ways to get to various jobs in Fort Erie because the transit, at that time, did not run early or late enough to get to and from work. I was very lucky that I was able to join a car pool to get to a job in Welland. If the transit system were expanded or co-ordinated with various businesses, it would help people get to jobs that paid enough so that they could afford a better life.

      As to taxes, they have been climbing steadily for several years. I already pointed out that this year, council brought in a budget with the lowest tax raise in years. That is to be commended. Present council cannot bring the town back to an earlier tax rate. Previous administrations hired more town employees, using the then plentiful gaming income. Now that that is gone, the employees remain and there is little to do to about it. An efficiency study concluded that present town staff levels are in line. Someone has to pay for it. A lot of the property tax money goes to the region which the town council has little effect on. Although the town has two representatives on Regional Council, they are outnumbered by the reps from larger communities.

      Great ideas can be the germ of change, but they are often too simplistic to thrive in today's complicated systems of government. They are often quickly lost in the morass that is politics and vested interests.

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  6. talking earlier here about the OMB, I recall Jim Thibert slamming the public for how easy it is putting out only $100.00 to appeal a highrise on public beachfront property. Yeah, right, the $100.00 was only the BEGINNING, he conveniently didn't mention paying legal expenses involved. Then, as you said the OMB consistently favours developers.

    But, come on, Intensification on our tiny strip of Public Waterfront. Martha Lockwood our ward representative certainly didn't represent us back then. This entire mess can be directly attributed to Martha Lockwood and mayor doug martin.

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  7. The new industry makes the kind of glass used for high rise building, such as skyscrapers , shopping mall glass, McMaster University produces engineers that specialize in ceramic materials , so Canada certainly has the world class expertize in that market, The Ford Glass Plant that used to make all types of glass , even made glass for Pittsburgh Plate Glass ,went to Mexico when the Free trade deal was signed.so we had , twenty years ago the best glass makers in North America right here, in Niagara.Those 200 hundred jobs will help our industrial base.big time

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    1. Good news. As to those who choose to blame the four councillors for the lack of jobs in Fort Erie, this article from the Toronto Star this weekend gives a better picture of the overall problem that, unfortunately, is not limited to Fort Erie.

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  8. Curious in the BurgMay 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Um, what two hundred jobs. Was their some press release some where. Do you have insider info that no one else has. Or are you confusing the bit of info that was in my comment with some other Niagara area plant looking for 200 hundred workers.

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  9. The crazy people on the new Crystal Beach site, are freaking out, they need a dose of Prozak ASAP. .

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  10. It is spring , time for the groundhog to come out of hibernation ( J T) and make out what incredible things, that he is doing for our Town. and grab some money and then scurry off to the Racetrack. !!

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  11. CorruptionFighterMay 16, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    was reading the comments from the new Chamber of Commerce President and how he feels the need to heal the massive rift between east and west in this town(my paraphrase). I dont know the man but I hope he is sincere and wish him luck in trying to undo the complete screwjob that dirty doug and his east end thugs have laid on this town in the name of politics and their own bank accounts.

    The Chamber and a few local business(yeah you Peter K, Leslie North, Marina Butler to name the most vocal and destructive while only looking out for yourselves ie $$$$) have been at the centre of promoting the Great Rape of Bay Beach and I can only hope that this new leader is not just more of the status quo, inbred mindset that has f#K*d us locally for decades.

    You have a clean slate there Mr. Phibbs, make your first priority new business that doesnt mess with the last and best beach around would be a very good start. Question is, are you a big enough person to turn around an organization with such a twisted culture. If you do, you will have the gratitude of most of the west end of town and also have the pleasure of listening to Peter, Marina and Leslie scream. So what, there are another 30,000 citizens to worry about, not just these 3 self centered characters.

    SUPPORT THE FOUR end local greed and stupidity.

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    1. What kills me is that Peter K., Lesley and friends are so quick to bash Crystal Beach and the efforts of the people to save the last public beachfront property, while their whole business district looks like a ghost town. So much can be done to market/improve Jarvis Street tp bring it into the 21st Century. It could become a major tourist destination with the addition of a small marina at the Coal Docks for day trippers. Just look across to what is being done to Buffalo's waterfront (finally) to get some ideas.

      BTW, The Hatch is open on the Buffalo waterfront. Yum.

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  12. Talk about misleading, after looking at the increase taxes the article intent is to "blame the four", but look closely it is 5 years not 4 years ( this council is only responsible for the last 4). I will dare the author and blog posters to look a little further back , let's say the last 8 years ( Lead by Mayor Martin) the tax increases by the council prior to this one is higher!!!!. Didn't Martin want to raise the taxes even more this year commenting ( paraphrase) "we can raise them now or later".

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    1. It was stated in a number of press articles that this year's tax increase was the "lowest in years." If one was paying attention, it was the four who held the line against increased expenditures. It was the hard work of council that allowed for the large reserve fund that was recently raided to give $500K to the race track.

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    2. No matter what side a person is on it is indisputable that there has been, and will be an enormous cost to taxpayers over the past 3.5 years with little or no results. Plenty of blame to go around no matter who you support.

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    3. CorruptionFighterMay 16, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      Bull Sh!t....Che....for the first time in forever we have a majority of councillors who are trying to do the right thing for the town and not their personal political or financial interests. Period.

      You want enormous costs to the taxpayers, try a mayor sueing his own council , fighting a 5 vote recount(using tax payer $$) , giving the ok repeatedly to a very expensive and almost useless EDTC. Pushing through the Bay Beach travesty when he knew most of the west end was against it. A town staff that grants building permits to anyone with a checkbook and hence repeated trips to the OMB, all with dougies blessing. He is such a stand up guy, he votes both for AND against things. What has the FOUR done, got rid of a piss poor lawyer, so what, they should be commended not sued. She is only the tip of the iceberg.

      Indisputable that we have a well entrenched old boy network that has bled this town white for eons with hardly a naysayer in sight until now. This town has quite the reputation that goes back decades for underhanded and questionable dealings.

      I think youre on the wrong site.

      The other site is titled .....while you were out they were destroying the fort (for their own greed).

      For a measly 12 grand a year and all the lies, threats, lawsuits and BS, these 4 stalwarts have tried to do the right thing that has not been done in a very long time.
      God Bless Them.

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    4. This is unverified but I heard that Jim Thibert has filed a conflict of interest suit against Don Lubberts. This is a sign of total desperation.

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  13. Bullshit? What specially do you disagree with in my post? I think you've just made half my argument for me but you have chosen to ignore the other half of the waste. There is a large number in this town that are sick of ALL of the BS and would like to see a clean slate and a fresh start come October.

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    1. I doubt if you were paying attention back in 2010, but that's the way a lot of people felt then. And, you know what? They voted and started with a fresh clean slate. I believe your idea of a "fresh; clean slate" is a continuation of the policies and politics pre-2010 that got us in this mess in the first place. If Martin, Mostacci and their friends had listened to the people regarding Bay Beach, none of what you call "BS" would have happened. We need a new mayor and some staff changes at town hall. We need a planning department that makes sure that developers do not ruin the character of a neighbourhood just to make more money. We need a planning department that supports present zoning. We need a planning department that doesn't just bow down to developers because of the threat of the OMB.

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    2. Why would you doubt that I was paying attention in 2010? I remember the appetite for change quite well. The question for voters this Fall is; are you happy with the change?

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  14. Sharon, what are the facts of this alleged case? Perhaps it has merit. The court will decide. That is how the legal system works and it does take time. We are awaiting other important decisions as well. Some enjoy jumping to conclusions but others choose to be more patient and wait for the facts to be known.

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    1. Well, Jim Thibert has been known to exact revenge upon people by suing them. I do not know the specifics or even if it's true. My information is that a conflict of interest suit was filed against Lubberts by Jim Thibert. I am surprised that no one is reporting it. This is something that Thibert would normally be shouting from the rooftops. Maybe I am finally going crazy. LOL

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    2. The motivation behind a lawsuit is immaterial to the court. The judge is only concerned with rendering a decision based on the merit of the case. One person's revenge is another's justice.

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  15. I wonder who's paying Jim's legal bills this time.

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  16. My Morning Laugh and remembrance. LOL

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  17. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. If the lawsuit is true, and it is JT that is doing it not the EDTC he better not be spending EDTC money on it!!! How do you get the majority of council to vote in favor of your position? Put those who don't agree with you in a conflict of interest position by "suing them". I wonder what is coming down the pipe ( the real agenda ) that would necessitate getting the votes on your side??? It will be interesting to see.

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  18. They will no doubt beef up the attacks with an election coming. It's awful the dirty game they play. The closer the 4 councillors get to the truth, the more nasty it will become.

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  19. Would the Ninjas be looking for the Court outcome of the Whitfield sponsored suit against the Four if they thought the six names were about to be released. For weeks now two brothers , a candidate, a trucker and a Doctor and a Garrison Road business man have been worried about their names being released. They need to wait no longer. Time is up .P.S. Your boy Tim wishes that the Mayor had never talked him into this mess.

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  20. And all those people lead back to Martin and Thibert who cooked up this mess. True about Timbo. He's broke, living in his garage, getting a divorce and waiting for his insurance to pay off. Can't say I feel sorry for the bully. BTW, the ninjas fell right into a trap I set for them. So easy.

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  21. Donnie dared to cross Thibert regarding his opinion that Council [us taxpayers] were bonusing the race track. King pen Thibert does not like to be questioned, we know that.
    Therefore the law suit against Donnie. It only means "secrets" are getting exposed. You know first hand.

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  22. I have just watched Wolf Blitzer talking about the upcoming mid term Elections this fall in the USA, he pointed out that the various Chamber of Commerce in many States are financing and supporting Republican Candidates in vulnerable states, This is exactly the same modus operandi that the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce is doing to hang onto their control of Fort Erie, for these past 40 years, they have now picked Stephen Passero to be their new poster boy for Mayor, and are running like they did last time, a full slate of their own candidates, in every ward. They desperatly fighting to take back our Town, from the people.

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  23. What evidence do you have to support your allegation that the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce has financially supported the candidacy of Stephen Passero for mayor?

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    1. There is no allegation of financial support from the Chamber of Commerce. Individual members of the CofC will financially support candidates. In the States, since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations can openly give almost unlimited financial support to a candidate. Fortunately, Canada has not fallen into that abyss yet, although there is always the spectre of a so-called "black budget" that often is part of a campaign.

      Make no mistake about it: the Fort Erie CofC is actively trying to take over the council through its support of a slate of candidates, many who served on its board.

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  24. It sure sounds as though Porgey was making that allegation. I'm reading it again and it's pretty plain. Perhaps he would like to clarify his statement.

    "...various Chamber of Commerce in many States are financing and supporting..."
    "...This is exactly the same modus operandi that the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce is doing ..."





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