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EDITORIAL: Do-over overdo

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown attempts to reason with a number of residents who live in the area of Sherwood Road. In June 2019, council approved a bylaw amendment that allows a second asphalt plant to be built in the city, namely the West Royalty Industrial Park and Sherwood Road. - SaltWire file photo
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown recently attempted to reason with a number of residents at a meeting over a zoning amendment that would allow a second asphalt plant in the Sherwood Road area. - Dave Stewart

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s a great motto for how to live your life.

It’s not a great policy for Charlottetown city council decisions.

This is where we stand now with council’s 5-4 decision on June 21 to amend a zoning and development bylaw to allow an asphalt, aggregate and concrete plant in the so-called M2 zones on Sherwood Road and the West Royalty Industrial Park.

At the request of a group of opposing businesses and residents, Mayor Philip Brown asked council last week to reconsider its decision.

Yes, apparently final council decisions are not so final after all but potentially subject to do-overs. Who knew?

Stuck in the middle is Chapman Brothers from Souris who are looking to expand their business and build an asphalt plant off Sherwood Road near an already existing one.

Councillors already voted on this matter. A decision has been made, and Mayor Brown was wrong to make the request for a do-over.

Imagine if you were one of those councillors who voted with your conscience to allow the amendment, and now you’re being told your vote and your opinion were meaningless and didn’t matter. So, you’re going to have to vote again and hopefully get it right this time – whatever that means.

If some new information came to light that may have made councillors vote differently, then the request is understandable. We certainly don’t want councillors making decisions based on insufficient or false information.

But that isn’t the case here. The only basis for the request is that opponents didn’t like the outcome.

By making the request for a do-over without extraordinary circumstances to do so, Mayor Brown is potentially throwing the credibility of council under the bus.

What happens if another vote does take place, and instead of a 5-4 decision, another councillor decides to support the amendment and the new final vote is 6-3? Are we going to have another do-over, and then another, and another, until the vote finally swings the other way?

That clearly isn’t how a democracy is supposed to work.

In the case of a tie, Brown has already tipped his hand a bit to say he would vote “in favour of the environment,” but we’re still unsure if this means he would vote against the plant.

Regardless of your position regarding the asphalt plant, it’s fair to ask what happens next time if this doover vote is allowed.

Let’s say a new residential development comes before council.

A vote is held to allow the development. But wait. A group of opponents doesn’t like that decision and wants a do-over.

Let’s not make this the new norm for council decisions.

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