RESTRUCTURING: ROSS HASTINGS BETRAYS TINY VOTERS
What is this “Restructuring” anyway? “Restructuring” of Simcoe County was promoted by the Provincial government in early 1990 and later accepted by Tiny Council. The aim was to “improve” services by consolidating some municipalities and altering boundaries in others. A major study was presented for consideration in 1990. The Federation, many beach associations, and the council of the day, opposed restructuring because of a “triple whammy” for our taxes: 1) the boundary changes would give away 4,700 acres to Midland and Penetanguishene, including about 85% of Tiny’s commercial assessment – the malls on the Highway 93 strip; 2) the introduction of such a “regional” government will likely lead to the “downloading” of some expensive services from the Province to the County: OPP protection may be one example; 3) the likelihood of adopting 1992 market value assessment could hit the beach properties with a much higher increase than the slower-appreciating inland properties.
Tiny voters at the 1991 election opposed restructuring by a huge margin, but this was after Simcoe County Council had already accepted it.
What has been happening lately? Simcoe County Council held a meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 1993, at which Orillia and Tay Townships introduced a last-ditch motion to rescind the County Council votes of July 16 and 23, 1991, which had approved restructuring Simcoe County.
The strongest and most often heard voice speaking in favor of restructuring was that of Ross Hastings, Reeve of Tiny Township and Warden of Simcoe County.
Warden Ross Hastings did not act as an impartial chairman at the Simcoe County Council meeting on April 27, 1993. Frequently, when a councillor had finished making a point against restructuring, Ross Hastings did not call on the next councillor who wanted to speak, instead, he made a speech in favor of restructuring before calling on the next councillor.
The vote to stop restructuring was lost: 22 to 15 by councillors; 43 to 27 by weighted vote.
The very next evening, Wednesday, April 28, 1993, at the regular Tiny Township Council meeting, not one word was said about restructuring by this Tiny Council.
Is something weird going on here? Let us have a look at history.
This Tiny Council – always in favor of restructuring and boundary changes for Tiny Despite Ross Hastings’ statements to the contrary, he has never been opposed to restructuring or boundary changes for Tiny.
Despite this Tiny Council’s public stance against restructuring, they have never wavered in their determination to give Tiny’s land at the Highway 93 shopping mall strip to Midland.
Some major events regarding restructuring. August 1990. The former Tiny Council voted 5 to 0 to oppose restructuring.
May 1991. Midland proposed a huge expansion into Tiny, including the Highway 93 shopping mall strip (taking 85% of Tiny’s commercial property tax assessment).
June 1991. The Simcoe County Study Committee rejected Midland’s proposal, but gave the option to Simcoe councillors either to double the size of Midland, including the Highway 93 shopping mall strip, or to leave Tiny as it is.
June 1991. At Simcoe Council, Ross Hastings voted not to wait for more adequate financial information before voting on the Final Report on restructuring.
June 1991. At Simcoe Council, Ross Hastings voted not to wait for a referendum by the voters before voting on the Final Report on restructuring.
July 1991. At Simcoe Council, voting on the Final Report on restructuring, former reeve Anthony Lancia said that Tiny opposed boundary changes for Tiny; former deputy reeve, Ross Hastings, said that he was in favor of giving Tiny’s land at the Highway 93 shopping mall strip to Midland, and that Lancia did not speak for all the people of Tiny.
The vote went in favor of boundary changes for Tiny by the narrowest of margins: 19 to 18 by councillors, 36 to 33 by weighted vote.
Ross Hastings voted in favor of restructuring on 108 out of a total of 126 motions on restructuring. Ross Hastings voted in favor of boundary changes on 11 out of a total of 17 motions on boundary changes. Ross Hastings voted in favor of three years compensation paid over five years for lands lost by municipalities in restructuring.
August 1991. On the front page of the Midland Free Press, dated Friday, August 30, 1991, a headline read: “Hastings comes out against restructuring”. The first line states: “Tiny Deputy Reeve Ross Hastings has come out strongly against restructuring as he gears up for this November’s municipal elections.” Was an attempt being made to deceive the public?
November 1991. The result of the referendum was that Tiny voters are against boundary changes for Tiny by a vote of 5,090 to 420.
February 21, 1992. This Tiny Council, without public input or debate, volunteered to give Tiny’s Highway 93 shopping mall strip, plus some additional land, to Midland.
Subsequently, this Tiny Council attempted, unsuccessfully, to form a committee to promote their February 21, 1992, give away “official position”. Is it not strange that Ross Hastings who voted for 3 years compensation for lost lands, has made the subject of inadequate compensation for lost lands his major argument against restructuring?
June 10, 1992. James Simpson made a deputation at the Committee of the Whole afternoon meeting, in which he said that the shoreline residents would soon be returning for the summer, and when they found out what this Tiny Council had done by “seemingly co-operating with the disembowelling process” of Tiny, there would be much “indignation” against this Tiny Council for what it had done.
He told them that it would be better to have the indignation of the shorelines residents directed against restructuring than against this Tiny Council.
June 10, 1992. At the end of the regular Tiny Council meeting that evening, without discussion or debate, this Tiny Council kept their February 21, 1992 give-away “official position”, abandoned the idea of a committee to promote the February 21, 1992 “official position”, adopted a second concurrent position to oppose restructuring, and formed a committee to “oppose restructuring”.
Tiny By-law 92-52 approved $10,000.00 to be spent by the committee to “oppose restructuring”.
After Tiny voters had voted 5,090 to 420 to oppose boundary changes for Tiny, does it not seem weird that this Tiny Council found it necessary to spend $10,000.00 of the taxpayers’ money to be seen as trying to convince Tiny residents to “oppose restructuring”? Councillor Gail Barrie said that she had 5 or 6 positions on restructuring.
July 25, 1992. At this Tiny Council’s first public meeting on restructuring, Ross Hastings said that he always had been in favor of giving Tiny’s land at the Highway 93 shopping mall strip to Midland!
August 26, 1992. At the end of a Tiny Council meeting, Councillor Gail Barrie made a point of praising Deputy Reeve Peter Stubbins for all the extra work he was doing in trying to promote Tiny’s February 21, 1992 give-away “position” to other Simcoe County Councillors.
At meetings with Simcoe County and the Province, this Tiny Council has always discussed their February 21, 1992 give-away position or a variation of it. At meetings with the press or the public, this Tiny Council has always discussed “oppose restructuring”.
It is recorded at Tiny Township offices that recently a Ministry of Municipal Affairs official told Tiny Township that “the financial impact on Tiny is minimal and your Tiny residents (a large seasonal population), have the ability to pay.”
This Tiny Council has not disputed that statement!
So, does it not appear that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and this Tiny Council are planning to make up the lost revenue from the Highway 93 shopping mall strip from you: Tiny’s seasonal shoreline population?
April 27, 1993. At the Simcoe County Council meeting, Ross Hastings spoke strongly in favor of, and voted in favor of restructuring.
The foregoing was presented to Tiny Council on May 12, 1993 by Frank Hughes who is a lawyer, a long time property owner at Wymbolwood Beach, and who regularly attends Tiny Council meetings. Frank can be reached at (416) 661-8328.