An open letter to the Mayor of South Dundas
Dear Mayor of South Dundas,
While I am sitting in our gazebo on this rainy Fall day and knowing that I should vote soon I made my decision that I will not be voting for you, based on these observations!
Because the leaves are falling, I can see The Forward House with its beautiful natural stone and country grace.
You were our leader and voted to demolish this building. More than 400 people signed a petition to save it.
From another newspaper in April I quote you, “I saw people had doubled or tripled their signatures. I do not want to demean the effort but I have some skepticism of the legitimacy of some of the names.” Well you shot all those messengers without listening and ignoring their concerns.
The Forward House was neglected by council and your community asked for help to save it. You did very little or nothing at all. You voted to demolish this building for $10,000.
The Campground building project is another example where leadership and listening to the people was needed. Only because of Mr. John Ross tenacity and persistence do we have a deal.
A building worth $550,000 is going up and I am sure with John’s help, on time and finished by June 19, 2019.
When I asked if you had picked up the phone and facilitated a deal with John, your answer was “No!”
Another deal was rushed through and signed and later changed. Another sign of no leadership and not working to get the best deal for the campers and the community. Another hands off approach that could have gone wrong badly and the community just getting a second hand deal and a building that was not build for the future. John Ross showed fore-sight, not you! Steven Byvelds’ sign is on his front lawn, not yours.
The Iroquois Marina can be seen from here as well and the mix up about their building and discontent with the boaters could all have been prevented with asking the right questions and good follow up. Neither was done. You surely have to be held responsible for some of this mess.
Then we come to the Carman House. The place where my sister has had an apartment for 28 years. We asked for two leaking windows to be fixed. The cost would have been $500 for both. That was 20 months ago. Nothing has been done till this day! That is your responsibility! You hide behind the fact that you are related to Elly. Well, we do not visit each other, are not invited to each other birthdays, Elly hardly knows you and has never had a meeting with you. As the saying goes: “With family like that, …”
Your staff never contacted us and refused any meeting at all, until October 12. Council spends lots of money, not your money, the communities money! Let me count you the ways. More than $10,000 in court costs that were totally unnecessary if someone had just picked up the phone. Two studies of more than $14,000 each. You have spend more than $38,000 for a project that cost only $35,000 to fix everything.
As far as we were concerned, you only needed to spend $500 to fix the windows to satisfy our needs that could and should have been paid with the rent money.
Two studies were ordered. The first would fixed everything and bring it up to code for $35,000.
There is no legal reason found that the building is unsafe to live in and that the tenant could be evicted legally. Only by an inspection done by staff that was put on the door, one hour after our first court date when Staff was afraid they were losing. On the second court day, even the judge questioned the legality of that eviction notice. We were told to ignore that notice. Notice has been gone for months.
After all the articles in the press, council’s reversal of the eviction notice, accepting of the $35,000 renovation cost, direction to staff to start fixing the building and the apartment, another bomb went off: Another staff decision that indicates that they are not correctly supervised by you. Staff decided on their own to ask for another unnecessary $14,000 report that was not okayed by council but now will be “justified” as legally needed by staff. The eviction notice is once again in force. Not on the door…but will be enforced!
We received lots of promises from [CAO of South Dundas] Shannon Geraghty and Don Lewis and also some very disturbing suggestions. Change from tenant to “intern”, remove the apartment front door and locks, not paying any rent for three months…put all her belongings in storage. And move out until all renovations are done and the building is signed off by, surprise, surprise: Mr. Don Lewis. So with a simple letter she can be evicted? No real answers, nothing in writing, just us agreeing to some vague promise that everything will be okay. Trust us!
And the total character of the Carman House building will be changed forever! No concern for the historic interior.
We are so sick and tired of this hassle. This is the fourth time that we are told that eviction needs to happen.
If we are being forced to defend ourselves again, we have to hire another lawyer. After consultation and explaining the sordid mess we found a lawyer that is willing to take this case on a ”You pay when we win”. The reason I explain this now is that, when we do not get a solution we have to sign and there is no return button. Do not blame us!
And that will be very expensive. This is not an idle threat either. $350/hr from Ottawa, to put one court day from verbal cassette to paper file will be $16,000 a day, so two days will cost $32,000. Whatever it takes to win at a big cost to the community. Is that what you want?
Just before the meeting started, you directed council members by email that they were not allowed to attend this meeting, neither were the press. We were not informed at all of your demand. Why did you do that? What is there to hide? What is being done by staff, with your knowledge that other council members are not allowed to hear, nor the press? And you excused yourself because you are related to the tenant? As was brought up at last weeks All Candidates meeting, it looks like a vendetta from staff to the tenant. It certainly feels like it to us. There is no common sense reason to put the tenant, the Carman House building, nor the community through this. Why?
This whole Carman House building issue has become a big mess.
After council reversed the court decision, it was your job to direct staff to bring the Carman House up to code. You failed. Nothing was done. The two leaking windows are still leaking, 20 months later. Winter is coming, the election is here and we need open and effective leadership. My vote, and I hope there are other people that are tired with this mess, is for Mr. Steven Byvelds, Mayor; Bill Ewing, Deputy Mayor; Archie Mellon, Councillor; and Joyce Latulippe, Councillor. These are the people that will be working as a team and have proven this over and over, for the well being of South Dundas.
Editor’s note: The writer originally sent a letter that ended with his endorsement of Steven Byvelds. He says he intended to include additional names for other positions on council as well; these have now been appended to the letter.