Editorial: Opening Pandora’s Box

Who made the final decision to not collect DCCs from farmers building on their land?

Developer Allan Bott opened up Pandora’s box when he filed a Freedom of Information request regarding the old DCC bylaw 3106, and all the following attempts to quash it. His questions are numerous, and echoed by the current mayor. Did a bylaw pass without council really understanding what they were signing? Did the agricultural community really sway staff and council so strongly that they agreed to disregard their own bylaw? If that did happen, how did the issue stretch on for four years, with several unsuccessful bylaws following in the first bylaws wake? Who made the final decision to not collect DCCs from farmers buidling on their land? And finally, who saw this mess and finally put a stop to it? It would seem that the collective voice of local farmers of that day were stronger than those elected to lead the community. But as both Bott and Mayor John Van Laerhoven have said, we’ll have to wait for answers. Whatever answers we’re given — and we trust that answers will be forthcoming — the fact remains that the municipal bank account is about $400,000 short. That dollar figure isn’t going anywhere. It can’t be collected now four years after the fact. And with a new bylaw in place since 2009 that does not set out road DCCs for farms, the amount can’t grow any bigger.  Maybe it was the right choice in the end — to not charge farmers thousands of dollars for upgrades to their farms. After all, they provide us with the very things we need to survive. We need them. But the community also needs to know that those elected to lead them are following the bylaw they vote on, that they are paying attention to what staff is telling them, and that they follow proper process year after year. Kent’s next council meeting, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m., should include a staff report based on Bott’s delegation at the last meeting. Hopefully then we’ll find out who fumbled the ball, and why.