Caledon: Creating a Climate of Truthiness

On the evening of Monday, October 23, 2017, at the Caledon Centre for Recreation and Wellness, Regional Councillor Annette Groves held a public information meeting, attended by Regional Councillor Barb Shaughnessy.

At that meeting Regional Councillor Groves informed a small group of attendees that the taxpayers of Caledon were on the hook to the tune of $70,000+ dollars to provide a private transportation service to bring workers from Brampton to the new Canadian Tire Facility in Bolton. In response to a question from the audience about warehousing rumours, she further informed the group that a local farmer’s gift of land to build a medical facility was being jeopardized because the Town was negotiating multiple use options. Not only are both of these pieces of information false, one of them is prohibited from public disclosure because it is reportedly the subject of ongoing private in-camera negotiations by Council and is therefore prohibited from public discussion by the Town’s Code of Conduct.

Unfortunately, this transportation misinformation and disclosure of private Council matters were seized upon by certain supporters of Regional Councillor Groves and circulated on social media in a series of rants against the Town that bordered on a “burn the witch” mob mentality. More unfortunately, neither Groves nor Shaughnessy made any attempt to correct this misinformation, nor did Groves make any apology or retraction. Instead she went into print on November 9, courtesy of an inaccurate news report by Matthew Strader for Metroland’s Caledon Enterprise, Strader’s second such inaccurate report on the October 23, 2017 public meeting. In the first he got his information off social media sites, a very reliable source for “fake news.”

That first news report on November 2, 2017 highlighted the misinformation on the “private transportation” issue in which he failed to contact both the Town and Canadian Tire for clarification. In the second, he failed to contact former Mayor Marolyn Morrison for clarification on the erroneous and misleading statements provided by Mr. Bryon Wilson and current Regional Councillor Annette Groves. Had he done so, as any responsible reporter is required to do by the Canadian Press Code of Ethics, he would have discovered the following.

Transportation Issue: in 2010, the Town entered into an agreement with Brampton Transit to extend Route 30 Airport Road into the Tullamore Industrial Area within the Town of Caledon, with a total of six trips per day. The cost of this venture was $48,000 with monies to be recouped through ridership fares. Nothing at all to do with the Canadian Tire Facility in Bolton, and $20,000+ short of the amount now being erroneously circulated by Regional Councillor Groves’s friends on social media. A quick email to Joscelyn Dosanjh, the public relations and media contact at Canadian Tire received this response in a few hours:

Canadian Tire very recently piloted a shuttle bus service for employees to and from our distribution centre that is fully funded by Canadian Tire Corporation. We successfully began operations at the DC and are planning a more formal grand opening in the spring.

So, not only is the shuttle service to the new facility totally funded by CTC, the Bolton operation is quietly up and running at 100%, with nary a complaint.

Regarding Strader’s second erroneous report on November 9, a quick email to former Mayor Marolyn Morrison, whose contact information is easily available (so clarification by the Editor of the Enterprise could have been quickly achieved) produced this result, for the record.

The actual size of the original land offer was actually 16.35 acres, and it wasn’t an outright gift – it was conditional on a severance deal – a quid pro quo arrangement. Next, the Town has no jurisdiction over the approval of hospital or medical care lands – not expected in Caledon until 2041 if our population growth projections hold true. Also, the minimum size of land to be considered for a hospital is 50 acres.

Now, Bryon Wilson’s claim that Morrison, according to Strader, “was the first to turn down the offer, or want nothing to do with it” is perhaps clouded by time in farmer Wilson’s memory. In a quick fact checking email, I received this comment approved by Marolyn Morrison for publication:

I definitely would say that [the 17/11/09 Strader report quoting Wilson] is totally inaccurate.   Bryon Wilson told me to keep it confidential until he was ready to move forward, which I did. For him to say I turned the offer down is a complete misrepresentation and he didn’t offer 20 acres, he talked about 17. I do not understand why he would fabricate such misinformation.   What is he trying to do?

And more to the point, what would be the purpose of issuing and reporting so much false information?

Further, after contacting the Region of Peel, I received this information from a very helpful Legislative Services. In Bryon Wilson’s original letter to the Region of Peel dated September 26, 2016, he offered 16.35 acres as a “gift” with strings, as well as a request to have 55 acres of his property in the north portion of Option 5 to be included in a ROPA/OPA settlement boundary being negotiated between Peel and Caledon.

In the same Sept. 26 letter, the true purpose of his “gift” in exchange for a severance package was revealed with this request: “Dividing the property will allow me to move on with my succession plans which need to happen soon as I am 66 years old. If they reject this, I will accept this without complaint. I have been trying to do this for four years and would greatly appreciate any help to get a decision one way or another.

In a second series of offer letters on November 13 and 15, 2016. Mr. Wilson removed those requests, but increased the size of his “gift” to 20.05 acres. All on public record at the Region of Peel. That search took three days via the dedicated staff in the Legislative Services Department, who revealed to me that the only time this came up at the Region of Peel was when a letter was mentioned as correspondence in an agenda. They could find no record of it ever being discussed in public sessions, as claimed in Strader’s article.

Well, Bryon Wilson, the reality is that by 2041 you will be either be 91 years old or composting, and the factors determining the location of an urgent care/ambulatory facility in Caledon may favour a different location entirely. The reality of that decision will have nothing to do with a former Mayor or the Town of Caledon. And in this current state of global chaos, who knows what kind of a world our children will inherit in 25 years. How could we have possibly predicted 25 years ago that our children would be taking pictures on a cell phone and instantaneously sending them to us from halfway around the world.

At least we can help to ensure that the world we live in now is governed by principles other than power, profit and corrupted politics. We can ensure that our Press upholds principles of accuracy, integrity and honesty. We can ensure that citizens who spout unsubstantiated gossip are ghosted. Now there is a succession plan worthy of the next generation.

Lest we forget: if there is no truth in words, there can be no understanding among peoples. It’s time to take back the higher ground.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

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One thought on “Caledon: Creating a Climate of Truthiness

  1. Considering Councillor Groves previously demonstrated lack of understanding of an issue (hydrogen fuel technology), and Councillor Shaunessy’s official sanctioning for her disregard for the Code of Conduct, I find this report to be a much more reasonable and probable description.
    The transit myth came up about two years ago, and the Town took pains at that time to explain what it was and why. As I recall, these same two councillors did not help then, either.
    Furthermore, this is not the first time that the Enterprise has been called out on their inaccurate reporting.
    Regarding the land donation from Mr. Wilson–and in addition to the other reasons outlined–I can very easily see why the Town is refusing and wants nothing to do with it. The location is already part of a very heated and intense planning debate headed for the OMB. Councillors Groves and Shaunessy both know that. They also know it is not in either of their wards.
    Aside from the privacy and “in camera” issue, making any exception in this case would set a very dangerous precedent. It would “open the flood gates”, with no hope of closing them. Every following exception request would be accompanied by the argument, “You did it for that one, why not mine?” Our already ham-strung planners would be forever wasting their time while developers would become the defacto planners. We already know from experience that developers make poor planners at best.
    The Town is quite right to refuse–at all costs.

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