Presented By John Walker
Good afternoon, fellow citizens. I personally thank you for having the community interest and making time to attend this meeting.
This saga begins with the parkland known as the Court House Grounds, deeded to Haldimand County in March 1851 “Forever in Trust to erect a jail and courthouse or other public buildings”. The Province of Ontario owns the Courthouse and the Registry Office. The rest of the land down to the river bank is owned by Haldimand County.
In January 2016 Haldimand Council voted to consolidate all county administrative functions in one location in Cayuga in a new building. To assist in paying for this new administration building, council planned on selling the Court House Grounds to private developers for luxury condos. They denied this but the staff reports prove it. In order to proceed with such a sale, the buildings on the grounds – the existing admin building, Haldimand County Museum, and the 1835 historic log cabin would have to be removed. This explains why the county rejected every reasonable suggestions by citizens for repurposing the present admin. building.
In order to justify demolition of the museum, the county staff said it was landlocked. This was an outright falsehood that probably led the museum board to approve the destruction of Haldimand County’s largest museum and a major tourist attraction. The minutes of the meeting between staff, councillor Morison and the museum board on the future of the museum have been declared confidential.
The Haudenosaunee Indians have warned the council they will claim the Court House Grounds if the buildings are removed. Despite this, the county still intends to demolish the buildings in 2019 at a cost of over $1,000,000.
The only way citizens can stop this destruction is by replacing this council with one that listens to the people of Haldimand.
In September 2017, the council passed Councillor Morison’s motion to change all the parks in Cayuga. A landscape architect is to be hired for $75,000 to develop design concepts and construction costs for the Village Green, Court House Grounds, Bob Baigent Park and the mini park next to the old hotel.
The architect’s instructions are to ensure coordinated design and similar characteristics amongst all the Cayuga parks. Bob Baigent riverside park was to be changed to match what the Ministry of Transportation was doing to the North end of the park beside the bridge. Trouble is, no one could tell us what the MTO was going to do or if they were even going to do anything.
This parks initiative will be typical of this council and staff’s projects. Councillors, staff and the consultant will have their input. The consultant will prepare the plans based on this input and present it to the citizens for their approval or disapproval. The plans will proceed unchanged by any citizens’ suggestions or complaints. This is what passes as citizen input in Haldimand County. If you want to have a say in how our Cayuga parks are treated, this council must be replaced.
In late January Chief Administration Officer, Don Boyle, released classified documents explaining why the new Cayuga Library could not be built on the Village Green. They said the county did not have clear title to the property due to the fact that The Crown Patent (original deed) had never been issued.
Despite records in three places that showed the Patent had been issued, county and their legal team insisted the Patent did not exist. A few days later, a concerned citizen found the original Patent and produced it for Boyle and council. Up till a few days ago, the county website homepage still stated, a month later. that the Patent was missing.
The county has owned the Market Square since 1861 and there is no reason not to put a library on it and save the taxpayers $2,000,000. In order to rectify this council’s errors, a new and different council is required.
In February this year, a series of meetings were hosted by the county to receive citizens’ input on the future of parks and recreation in Haldimand. The consultant stated at the beginning of the meeting that he would take “No questions”. The “guiding principles” questions were all designed to be entirely positive and quite philosophical – all “Mom And Apple Pie” that no one could disagree with.
These consultant sessions gave absolutely no details or indication of what is being planned for parks in Haldimand. So far as what citizens want to see changed/ added or improved or not to our parks, this was a useless exercise. At least the consultant got paid for providing this unspecific citizens’ pseudo input. Will we get the chance to decide what happens to our parks? Doubtful if the county follows their usual procedure of telling you what you are going to get whether you like it or not.
To reverse or change the destruction, demolition and imposed desecration of Haldimand’s history and character by this council will not be easy. To readdress a council decision, four councillors must vote to do so. That means that we must change at least a majority of council in the coming election to representatives responsive to Haldimand citizens’ concerns and desires.
Please remember this when you cast your vote on October 22nd in the election