Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Montague Council : The Fire Is Out

Well, I went to tonight's council meeting expecting some sparks to fly around the Page issue. The council chambers were completely full at least 20 minutes prior to the meeting and by the time things got underway there were about 20 people standing out in the hallway. Foolishly I thought this might be due to the Page issue; I should have realized that there is one thing even more important to Montague residents than The Lawsuit - and that's hunting.

Most of tonight's meeting was taken up with presentations on behalf of hunters regarding two issues before Council: Whether to allow Sunday gun hunting in Montague (Council voted to ask MNR to pass a regulation enabling this) and what to do about the current bylaw restricting firearms discharge within 450m of designated plans of subdivision, schools, etc.

To a man (and woman) the audience was pro-hunting, which meant that the presenters were preaching to the choir - at some length. Council eventually decided to review the firearms discharge bylaw at their April 3rd meeting. To accomodate the expected crowds, this meeting will take place at Rosedale Hall, subject to availability.

Bill Eckersley told the meeting how he encountered a group out gun hunting on Sunday while campaigning for the last election, asking "Should I have called the OPP and lost a vote?" Bill's definitely a politician; the more I watch him, the more artful I think he is. The fake "I'm just an ordinary English bloke" shtick is a cover for an extremely shrewd political operator - even if he does tend to go on a bit.

So... the moment of truth regarding the Page matter came, with Murray Hackett advising Council that the decision to re-open discussion rested initially with John MacTavish. He decided not to discuss the issue, saying it was time to put the whole thing behind the township. No other councillor disagreed, and that was that. The issue really is closed, over, done like dinner.

The rest of the meeting was routine housekeeping stuff - severances, a policy on charitable grants (only organizations directly serving Montague will be considered) and a policy on rental rates for Rosedale Hall. Mundane, dare I say boring? Can we truly hope for boring council meetings in Montague? Oh happy day....