Letter to Mississippi Mills Council on Natural Heritage System Proposal

The following letter was sent to the municipal Council of Mississippi Mills regarding the proposed implementation of a Natural Heritage System in their official plan. In it I provide some brief clarification as to the extent such a system is imposed by the province, and outline some of the policy decisions left to the municipality.



Mississippi Mills Council
3131 Old Perth Rd
Almonte, ON
K0A1A0

December 7th, 2017

I have had the pleasure in speaking with many residents of Mississippi Mills recently regarding the proposed amendments to the Official Plan. In addition, Mayor McLaughlin and I have also spoken at length regarding the obligations to designate Natural Heritage Systems (NHS) in the Official Plan.

From these many discussions it became evident that there is a level of misunderstanding regarding what is mandated by the province and what is not mandated for the establishment of a Natural Heritage System in the municipality of Mississippi Mills.

The following is some relevant context and clarification to council and residents regarding the provincial obligations under the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) as they pertain to the establishment of a NHS. I believe this information is important to communicate to not only council, but to the general public as well, so that both can accurately understand what scope of the NHS plan is mandated by the province, and what is voluntarily implemented by the municipality.

First and foremost, it is important to remind municipal policy makers that the purpose of PPS is to establish guidelines for development and the promotion of development[1]. While the document covers a wide range of topics, development remains of central importance to the policies contained within it, and although environmental protection is one aspect of the PPS, it in no way infers an obligation to develop policy with an “environment first” focus above other considerations. Any decision to adopt such a focus would be a municipal decision and not a provincial obligation.

Furthermore, the 2014 PPS requires that a NHS only has to be identified in ecoregions E6 and E7 of the province[2]. The municipality sits on the border of ecoregion E5 and E6, which runs between the southeast to the northwest of the jurisdiction. A large portion of the property designated in the official plan as a NHS is not required to be designated as such under the PPS as it falls within the boundaries of ecoregion E5, and as such many of the policies put forward in the municipal plan are not provincially mandated for that area. I believe it is important to take these map boundaries and land classifications in to consideration when understanding what obligations actually exist for the municipality as a whole. I have attached a basic overlay of the ecoregion boundaries on top of your NHS proposal map to this letter for clarification.

While the PPS requires that an NHS must be identified in the section of the municipality within ecoregion E6, and development or site alteration in that NHS area cannot take place without an environmental assessment [3] indicating there is no negative impact on the core ecological function of the site, there is no obligation in the PPS that sets out limits on specific types of development or site use. Any establishment of specific “permitted uses” within a municipal plan is done at the municipality’s discretion and is not presented as a specific obligation by the province. Similar discretion is also provided for the identification of “adjacent lands” in relation to the NHS. Nowhere in the PPS does the government impose specific metrics regarding what constitutes adjacent lands, and any identification of specific measurements or criteria is the decision of the municipality alone. In addition, any EIS requirement in relation to the NHS on property that is not within the NHS or classified as “adjacent land” is a policy implemented by the municipality, and is outside the obligations required by the province.

I hope these points of clarification will be valuable in the development and communication of your municipal development plans. While I have not touched on every potential detail of an NHS plan, it is important to recognize that there is substantial leeway and discretion for municipalities to determine specific details of the plan that are not otherwise mandated by the province. This is particularly relevant in the situation of Mississippi mills, where a large portion of the municipality is exempt from any and all NHS obligations.

If you have any further questions or need any further clarifications please feel free to reach out to my office. I would be pleased to provide council with a presentation and discussion on PPS requirements should you believe it would be beneficial.


Sincerely,

Randy Hillier

 
End notes:

  1. There is no provincial mandate regarding the exact metrics for establish criteria for adjacent lands. The proposed 120 meters setback can be implemented but there is no requirement for that specific distance.
  2. The schedule of defined permitted uses does not exempt these uses or developments from costly environmental assessments.
  3. Any development not identified in the schedule of permitted uses would be prohibited even when an environmental assessment indicates no detrimental effect or harm to the environment would be experienced.
  4. There is no requirement to include a schedule of permitted uses.
  5. “Environment First” approach is not required; can be removed, or altered such as “Balancing the need for development and growth with maintaining the environment” as an example.
  6. The present proposal permits and does not infringe upon most personal activities such as farming, forestry recreational uses etc. However, there are no guarantees that subsequent revisions or amendments to the PPS may impose greater restrictions on activities within lands designated as NHS.
  7. The present proposal identifies a substantial amount of land in the western half of the municipality (eco region 5E) as NHS designated lands. There is no statutory obligation or responsibility to do so.


[1] As indicated by the objective summary on the Provincial Policy Statement document directory at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page215.aspx, as well as in ‘Part I : Preamble” of  “Provincial Policy Statement” (2014)

[2] Section 2.1.3 of “Provincial Policy Statement” (2014)

[3] Sections 2.1.5 and 2.1.8 of “Provincial Policy Statement” (2014)

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Unwelcome Report Sure To Make Government Employees Uncomfortable

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6th 2017

(PERTH) Randy Hillier, (Lanark Frontenac Lennox & Addington) expressed his dismay and concern over the Auditor General’s Annual Report condemning the Wynne Government’s maladministration of the province’s finances and casual disregard of their obligations.

“I have significant concern that the Auditor General may have exposed herself to a workplace harassment complaint with this report,” remarked Hillier. “According to some, the Occupational Health and Safety Act defines harassment as ‘a course of conduct and comment that was known or ought to have reasonably been known to have been unwelcome’; I am confident this report is unwelcome.”

Hillier goes on to point out that contrary to a letter he received from Tay Valley Township which incorrectly defines harassment as simply ‘unwelcomed comment or conduct’,  the OHSA specifically refers tovexatious comment or conduct”, with the definition of vexatious being defined in the context of harassment as ‘unsupported’ or ‘lacking sufficient grounds’. Despite the misquote of the Act in their letter to Hillier, the Township later issued a press release with the correct definition. “I guess the Auditor General is off the hook,” joked Hillier, “Despite being unwelcome, her report is not vexatious as it clearly delineates the deficiencies of this Premier and her Cabinet, as it was her responsibility to do.”

Hillier noted that it is the obligation of public officials such as the Auditor General and elected representatives to stand up for the public interest, even when doing so may be unwelcome.

Among the concerns, the AG pointed out that 41% of PET scan time goes unused by patients because the Ministry of Health simply hasn’t updated the guidelines on the use of PET scans. Despite having closed numerous rural schools this year and next, the AG determined that there hasn’t been a review of the School Board Funding Formula since the Liberals took power in 2003. Taxpayers own 812 pieces of unused, surplus property that cost $19 million a year to maintain and that the government has been unwilling to sell. Business electricity customers paid 12.3 billion in Global Adjustment fees, of which almost 30% of it went to renewable energy producers, despite the fact that they only produced 6% of our electricity. This list goes on.

“What we see here is a blatant disregard for the public purse and the well-being of the people of Ontario; instead we have a government that puts their patrons ahead of patients, their friends ahead of Ontario families, and power ahead of responsibility and accountability,” Hillier concluded.

The full report can be found here

XXX

 

Contact:
Perth 613-267-8239
Queen’s Park 416-325-2244
[email protected]

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The Crackdown on the Vaping Community

With the introduction of the Ontario Liberal government’s marijuana retail legislation, this government has triggered a heavy crackdown on the vaping community and introduced further prohibitions on tobacco harm reduction products.

I need help from you and the vape community in demanding that the government separate these new prohibitions from Bill 174 so that they can be debated and voted on honestly.

Under schedule 3 of Bill 174 - Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017, vape shops will be prohibited from displaying vape devices, components or juices, allowing their customers to handle vape products, or test flavours before purchase. This bill places further restrictions on areas of use, and where exemptions are made, those using vape products are forced to share spaces with those using traditional tobacco products.

Schedule 3 of this bill also introduces a mechanism for the government to prohibit the sale of certain flavours of vape products through regulation. Regulations do not come before the Legislature for debate and may be made at will by the government. Given this governments penchant to ban flavoured tobacco products I would not be surprised to see flavours described as “kid friendly”, such as Cotton Candy, Rice Crispies and Gummi Bears as well as other ordinary flavours such as vanilla, chocolate, grape or other fruit flavours, be swiftly prohibited shortly after this bill is passed.

It is unacceptable to me that they would incorporate further prohibitions on tobacco harm reduction products in the same piece of legislation meant to enact the legal retail and distribution of cannabis.

It is imperative that Schedule 3 of the act be separated from the bill and the merits of the additional prohibition and restrictions on vape products be debated and voted on separate from those enacting the legal sale and distribution of cannabis.

As you may be aware, the framework for the legal sale and distribution of cannabis must be in place by July 1st meaning that this bill is most likely to be adopted. Therefore it is up to us to speak out and make sure schedule 3 is separated from the bill.

The vape community needs to come together and tell the government we want Schedule 3 of Bill 174 separated!

I encourage everyone to write to the Premier, Attorney General, Minister of Health, Minister of Transport and the House Leaders of each party, whose contact information you can find below, voicing your support for the separation of Schedule 3 from the bill so that it can be debated and voted on independently.

Please share this message with your friends, families and local vape shops so that we can have the greatest sum of our voices heard!

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Premier - Kathleen Wynne
[email protected]
416-325-1941
Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

Attorney General - Yasir Naqvi
[email protected]
416-325-7754
Office of the Government House Leader
Room 223, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A2

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care - Eric Hoskins
[email protected]
416-327-4300
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4

Minister of Transportation – Steven Del Duca
416-327-9200
Ministry of Transportation
3rd Floor, Ferguson Block
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Z8

PC House Leader – Jim Wilson
[email protected]
416-325-2069
Room 241, North Wing, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A8

Third Party House Leader – Giles Bisson
[email protected]
416-325-7122
Room 112, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A5

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You Be The Judge

Below you will find the full, unedited recording of the meeting that took place at Tay Valley Township on June 26th which has resulted in claims of workplace harassment against myself for bringing the concerns of my constituents to the attention of the council. I have released this recording, in addition, to my public comments on the matter as to have all the information regarding this claim to be open and public. Take a listen to the recording below, read my public comments and you be the judge, are these comments paramount to workplace harassment? 

Take a listen to the recording and public remarks below and you be the judge, do these comments constitute workplace harassment? 

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The Law Is Not Meant To Prevent Accountability

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19th 2017

(QUEENS PARK) - Randy Hillier (MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington) is facing an allegation of workplace harassment initiated by the Council of the township of Tay Valley.

The allegation asserts that by bringing the concerns and complaints he’s received from his constituents to the attention of municipally elected representatives, he had violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Further, the allegation also asserts that his opinions on the proper application, interpretation, and enforcement of provincial laws were unwelcome by the complainants, and therefore constituted “workplace harassment.”

“It is my legal obligation to uphold the laws of Ontario and my mandated responsibility to provide advocacy and assistance to my constituents who have cause to feel the law is being unjustly applied against them or incorrectly interpreted to their detriment,” said Hillier. “While many provincial laws are administered and enforced by municipal employees, they remain provincial laws nonetheless, and it is fully under my jurisdiction and responsibility as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to provide advice on their application when justifiable concerns are brought to my attention.”

The OHSA defines workplace harassment as “Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in the workplace that is known or ought to be reasonably known as unwelcome.

“To suggest that my role as a representative for my constituents is a vexatious activity is simply ridiculous and beyond the pale,” Hillier added. “Any, indeed all criticism could be construed as unwelcome; if I used that as the guide in my advocacy not only would nothing ever get resolved, but it would lead to empowering arbitrary decision-making and unreasonable and oppressive governments. I brought my constituent’s concerns forward professionally and respectfully, and in the manner and context they were conveyed to me.”

“I find these actions of Tay Valley Council extremely disappointing. I will not be intimidated from representing my constituents on matters of provincial jurisdiction, and I cannot allow injustice to prevail because opposing it may hurt someone’s feelings,” Hillier concluded.

XXX

Contact:
Queen’s Park 416-325-2244
Perth 613-267-8239
[email protected]

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Parks Canada Needs to Take Responsibility for Flooding

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Provincial Policing Act changes likely to act as ‘carrot’ for provincial vote: Hillier

Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington MPP Randy Hillier speaks about changes to the Police Services Act during the Lanark County association of police services boards meeting at the Ocean Wave Fire Company boardroom in Carleton Place on June 28. - Desmond Devoy/Metroland
Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington MPP Randy Hillier speaks about changes to the Police Services Act during the Lanark County association of police services boards meeting at the Ocean Wave Fire Company boardroom in Carleton Place on June 28. - Desmond Devoy/Metroland

"Local MPP Randy Hillier believes that provincial policing changes could be brought in by Christmas...

...Hillier, the MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, made a partisan joke that “whenever I speak to the Liberal government, I walk away with more questions than answers.”

As of right now, he said “we can only speculate,” as to what the Wynne Liberals will propose to change the act, though some hints have been dropped along the way.

“The government will not telegraph any changes until they are ready to table it,” Hillier said. While leaks are not uncommon around Queen’s Park, “the legislature must be the first to see” any proposed legislation changes. Even so, the changes are “not cast in stone.”

He noted that the Liberals are possibly in the last year of their mandate and “it will be tabled earlier rather than later,” he said, likely when the legislature resumes sitting in the fall.

Maureen Towaij, of the Tay Valley Township PSB, said that she had attended the same meeting in Quinte West as Fennell and that it was her understanding that "they intend to introduce the legislation in September.”

To this, Hillier replied that “whatever you hear from another politician, you take with a grain of salt,” but he agreed that “it just makes sense,” to introduce it this fall, although, with a Liberal majority, “they can pass a piece of legislation in a day if they so wanted to.”

Later in the meeting, Hillier claimed that he predicted that any policing changes could see third reading by this December, and that “it’ll be dangling as a carrot for next year’s election...”

Read the rest of the story at insideottawavalley.com here.

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Frontenac Gazette: Repointing of Grace Centre officially under way

Jun 11, 2017 by Tori Stafford Frontenac Gazette

It may not have been with his usual ballpoint pen, but MPP Randy Hillier put his signature on the official launch of the Grace Centre restoration project another way: with a chisel and hammer.

Hillier, MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, joined those from Southern Frontenac Community Services, as well as a handful of local politicians and township staff, to kick off the restoration project. The Grace Centre, originally built in 1861, originally served as a Methodist church before becoming Grace United Church in 1925. Now serving as a hub of activity for local seniors and community groups, the 156-year-old limestone building is undergoing a restoration project to repoint the masonry, thanks to a grant through the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

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An Open Letter regarding flooding in Tay Valley Township

Read MPP Hillier and MP Scott Reid's open letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada regarding recent flooding in the Tay Valley region.


 

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Bill 77 Passes Second Reading

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30th, 2017

Hillier’s Bill 77 Passes Second Reading

(QUEENS PARK) Randy Hillier’s (MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington) Bill 77, The Kickstarting Public Participation Act, passed Second Reading in the legislature on Thursday. The bill will now move on to committee hearings, followed by a Third Reading. Upon passage of a Third Reading, the bill will lead to the establishment of a province-wide online crowd sourcing platform for municipalities and community organizations to use to raise funds for community improvement projects.

“Municipalities struggle to balance the competing needs of their budgets, which means many community projects are not always a priority, leaving citizens feeling disenfranchised,” explained Hillier. “Even community not-for-profits are facing fundraising issues as a result of new OLG rules, so civic crowdfunding fills this void to help these groups get back to supporting their communities.”

Crowdfunding allows groups and individuals to solicit donations and investment for projects online by setting donation tiers, goals and in some cases rewards. While this method started as a tool to finance projects by artists and entrepreneurs, it has since expanded to become used by humanitarian groups and municipalities to fund projects such as parks and community spaces.

“Making crowdfunding accessible to non-profits, service clubs and municipalities in the province will enable local communities to secure finances and gauge interest in public projects, while simultaneously empowering citizens to be more involved in community affairs and development,” proclaimed Hillier. “Enabling the mobilization of citizen ideas will inevitably have a significant impact on bringing meaningful improvements to the communities that need them the most.”

You can watch MPP Hillier's debate on Bill 77 here.

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Contact: Perth Office 613-267-8239
Queen’s Park 416-325-2244
[email protected]

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