Property Rights Conference Report - Sept 2012
On the weekend of 15th and 16th of September 2012, I was fortunate enough to be invited by MP Scott Reid, and MPP Randy Hillier, to a Property Rights Conference in Ottawa. The Conference was conducted by the Institute for Liberal Studies (Canada), and sponsored by Giant Tiger among others. Attendees, in my opinion, fit into three separate categories, The first, and strongest being the Academics, who genuinely were trying to make a difference. The second, of which I was a part, were those who were seeking information, and the third were those who had been wronged, and were seeking a solution to the problems. The Academic group consisted of such notables as Dr Russell Brown, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Alberta, who spoke on how the Supreme Court gutted the compensation section of the municipal expropriation act, and Dr Peter Jaworski, from the Institute for Liberal Studies, who spoke on Bylaw Bullies, and how Local Government (being Municipal Councils) ruin lives. I will add at this point, that rubbing elbows with Academic, does not make me an Academic, anymore than standing in the Bush will make me a Tree, but listening to their lectures, hopefully some of the content will rub off.
Property Rights is a term that is generally misunderstood, or completely dismissed by many, and is ever confused by the many folks who comment on the subject. To clearly define property rights seems to me to be at the root of the problem. Property right can take many forms, real property, such as land, property such as money, property such as intellectual property, and property such as the fruits of ones labour, all fit into the category of Property Rights. The Conference dealt with type of property that is real, the type you have a deed for, what you stand on, and what can be seen and felt, and that, is property, that is in no way abstract. Real property goes to the very roots of life, if you choose to grow food you require property, if you choose to worship you require property to assemble, if you choose to have shelter you require property. Chapters 7 and 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, talks about property, then why do Regulations and Bylaws continually deprive us of the use and value of our property, and defended by the Supreme Court I might add. While the Charter talks about loss of use and enjoyment, many Land Use Planners through land use planning deprive many of the use and enjoyment of our property, and get away with it. The Federal Government has itself sets up situations that deprive folks of property rights. First Nations that live on Reservations have no property rights, the very land they live on, worship on, attempt to build a lifestyle on, and claim to be their own, is in fact owned by the Federal Government. Some Reservations have set up a form of leasehold that allows the sale of leases to others, but in the end, the property still belongs to the Government.
I could go on about things that have happened in the realm of property rights, such as what is happening as we read this. The Province of Ontario, has, and will be declaring wetlands as “significant wetlands”, and declaring a buffer around these wetlands as prior use areas, and turning the wetlands over to the Conservation Associations to regulate ( a third party). Should you own property that includes one of these “significant wetlands”, then some of your property will become sterile, and virtually worthless for resale, without any compensation to you. This comes under the guise of Regulations. Under the guise of Bylaws, is a Power of Entry Bylaw that has been enacted by many Ontario Municipalities. Using this Bylaw the Municipality of Clarington sent a Bylaw Enforcement Officer onto the property of Peter Jaworski’s parents, and charged them with a Bylaw Offence that had something to do with operating a Trailer Park and Camp Ground without a licence. What was happening was, Peter Jaworski was holding a session on property rights for interested folks, on his parents property, the Municipality appeared to take umbrage with this assembly, and used the Power of Entry Bylaw to have a Bylaw Enforcement Officer enter the property unannounced, take photos of vehicles, and licence plates, to be used as evidence in a Court case, should his Parents not pay the fine attached to the offence. The case was dropped by the Municipality days prior to the Court date, but no compensation for agitation was ever offered to the Parents.
Dr Mark Milke of the Fraser Institute has authored a book entitled “Stealth Confiscation”, that has many cases such as the above included. The book deals with how Governments regulate, freeze, and devalue property without compensation, for those interested, a very revealing read.
The entire Conference was an eye opener for me, in the realm of property rights, and how we (and I mean North Frontenac Council) must do a better job when passing bylaws that deal with land use. We must develop a system that has checks and balances built in when dealing with land use issues, and not enact bylaws that could infringe on Human Rights, or Charter of Rights issues. The Conference should be on the Institute for Liberal Studies (Canada) web site under Property Rights Conference 2012. The Institute for Liberal Studies is an oxymoron in itself, it has nothing to do with the Liberal Parties that are a part of out Political Landscape, but small “L” liberal, dealing with studies that expand our horizons, and attempt to deal with many problems that we in Canada seem to encounter. Reid and Hillier will attempt to introduce Legislation into their respective Governments that will enshrine property rights into our Constitution. Their attempts will be scrutinized by many Constitutional Lawyers, both for and against a Constitutional Amendment, but if successful will bring some order to a very murky situation.
The fact that offshore invertors have more property rights than Canadians in Canada, leaves me to really wonder what our Governments do to protect Canadians property rights, or even if we have property rights.
Mayor Bud Clayton
The Mayor's Letter below was sent to all property owners in August 2011 with the Tax Bills and is also available in pdf format here.
Letter from the Mayor - July 2011
Along with your Tax Bill comes a short message from your Mayor. First I would like to address the frequent power outages we experience in our area. We as your Council can do very little about these outages as they are the responsibility of Hydro One. What we can do is to advise folks of our 72 hour self sufficiency plans; that is in the event of an emergency, such as a power outage, along with no telephone service, we should make plans to be self sufficient for 72 hours. To do this one should make plans with neighbours to check up on one another, particularly those of us who are elderly.
The Township has moved in a somewhat different direction to date, with more emphasis on Road Maintenance than on Road Improvement or Road Construction, and this seems to be working for most. Cost savings have been achieved through a different way of thinking and approaching difficulties. Examples are the Salt Containment at the Ward 1 Garage and the rehabilitation of the Folger Road Bridge, to name a few.
Council had the task of receiving an Organizational Review commissioned by the previous Council. This has required a number of meetings to fully digest and to partially implement. The work on this is still ongoing as Council has adopted some measures to enhance the working environment for the well-being of all our employees. To add to the workload the Official Plan and Zoning By-law Reviews; Asset Management; and Crown Land Stewardship Program Enhancements have been ongoing. Many thanks must go to the Staff members who are involved with these processes, as without them the whole process would have been more time consuming and difficult.
We are not complaining; we just want you to know that we have not been standing still. It has been a busy six months since Council took Office; however things seem to be coming together with some plans for the future. A War Memorial to our Veterans is planned; the 200 acre MVC land at Canonto Lake will be rehabilitated for hiking and recreation; the Beach at Palmerston Lake will be cleaned up and new facilities placed; a repair of the Clar-Mill Community Hall on Buckshot Lake Road is about to take place; and yes, resurfacing the bald spots on Buckshot Lake Road and other areas will take place in the very near future.
Public consultation has taken place and will continue to take place on matters of importance to all of us. We on Council welcome advice from our Ratepayers. Those of you that have Internet Service should be frequent browsers of our Web Site. I am told that it is one of the nicest and one of the easiest to navigate through.
With respect to permitting future growth and development on Private Lanes the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, has required the Municipality to provide further justification to demonstrate consistency with the Provincial Policy Statement, prior to the Ministry approving the Township's Official Plan Amendment. This may stop some development; however, Council will continue to work with the Ministry, to consider what works best for our municipality, while respecting the environment and public health and safety.
Our Recycling Program has been quite a success! Our Waste Disposal Sites had 20 years of life left in 2002; however, 9 years along we now have 29 years of life left. The success belongs to you who recycle as we on Council along with Staff can only provide the program.
The Ompah Fire Hall/Ambulance Base is an ongoing task. Councillor Inglis and I have been working diligently with County of Frontenac Councilors and County/Township Staff to try to bring this project to life.
On Sunday, August 21, 2011 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM I will be holding a Mayor's Reception at the Ompah Community Hall. It will be a time to come and meet the past, present, and future leaders of your Township. In addition, you can enjoy some refreshments and conversation with your neighbours.