Letters: The ugly side of Bill 19

The proposed quarry site, currently a sunflower field and abandoned farm site. A barn and a house on the site were demolished this spring.

Geralyn Wichers needs to be commended for her in-depth reporting on the Lilyfield Quarry controversy. After all that has transpired in the RM of Rosser, one has to wonder what part of “no” the quarry developer has trouble understanding. Now, under Bill 19, we face the prospect of the ruling Conservatives’ proxy, in the form of the Municipal Board, stepping in to, “relieve the municipality of its administrative burden.” An unelected group, hand picked from the party faithful, but apparently totally unbiased and immune from political pressure.

There is no question that the need for gravel will be ongoing. Perhaps it is time for some serious forward thinking into a large-scale quarry in an uninhabited part of the province, with a significant portion of the hauling by rail and/or barge. More expensive? Probably, but if the developers can’t justify that, they have a non-viable project.

We have a parallel circumstance with the recent council decision in the RM of Grassland to decline a proposal by HyLife for a factory hog barn. They too, under Bill 19, face the potential of the proponent appealing to the Municipal Board to overturn the decision. The reeve made it clear that the project simply did not have significant economic benefit to the municipality, given the costs and relatively small and declining tax revenue from the barn. I don’t doubt some of the near neighbours also had something to say about the stink!

So we have two cases where the local municipal councillors, democratically elected, doing due process through conditional use hearings etc., concluded that approving these developments was not in the municipality’s interest. Along comes the unelected Municipal Board, armed with Bill 19, to do the bidding of the province and force these developments through.

From my perspective Bill 19 is an utterly undemocratic piece of legislation, designed to undermine our system of local government. I look forward to the day it is repealed.

My advice to the Municipal Board – rent the big hall, you are likely to need it.

Jon Crowson
Hamiota, Manitoba

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