This post is brought to you by the agenda for the latest meeting of Brantford city council’s “bla bla bla whatever we’ve called the thing we don’t want to call annexation”
committee task force.
I’ve linked, but it’s hardly worth it since the entire meeting was in-camera, under the auspices of security of the property of the municipality and potential/proposed/pending acquisition or disposition of property/lands.
On the former, I won’t quibble because in previous failed rounds of boundary adjustment negotiations, discussions have included real property owned by either the City of Brantford or the County of Brant such as local distribution company utilities (aka hydro companies). On the disposition/acquisition? Legally I’d lose a contestation of that clause, but in a boundary adjustment/annexation, unless the city were to purchase land beyond its borders, this is moot. Land owned by X or Y, being moved from municipality A to B, is not “acquired” property as far as I’m concerned.
The bigger irritant on this is that while Ward 4 Coun. Richard Carpenter is not on the task force, he has already asked, in committee of the whole and council, that as much of the discussion as possible be conducted in public. There are few secrets here as the city and county are dusting off discussions that ended in 2009. Councils leaked like a sieve (from what I’ve been told) at the time and since, so there are few “big” questions that aren’t reasonably in the public domain.
The owners of all land beyond the city borders is a matter of public record (you can head on down to the land registry office beside the courthouse with a credit card and for $11 a pop, it’s all yours). I would wager coffee on most if not all of that land being owned by speculators or developers, waiting for the day when the boundary moves and those lands can be serviced and developed without going against local and provincial policies. Given they’re going to squat on that land and rent it out for crops or whatever until the boundary moves, let them take the risk of selling too early or too late should their land(s) come into the realm of possibility to become part of the city.
The city is driving this process— it’s the one that says it needs to push out its borders into Brant in order to develop a greater range of so-called employment lands. Without those additional employment lands, there’s negligible increases in taxable assessment and the services the city can reasonably afford to offer will only continue to diminish. There appears to be more effort put into growing assessment in this manner than increasing the assessed values of lands within the city’s current borders, but that’s a whole other post that I’ve kind of already written.
In the spirit of open and transparent government, the city should be far more judicious in how these meetings are run. Everyone has the right to consult a lawyer in private and everyone has the right to buy and sell things without the whole world knowing what’s going on. However these boundary discussions are about much, much more than that and as much as possible, council and its committees, task forces, etc. on this topic should be as open as possible.