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Mar. 31, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Editorial: Rand Estate battle is far from over
Rand Estate battle is far from over. (File photo)

Our editorial last week about a particularly poor argument from the town’s lawyer in the court case over the Rand Estate caused a few readers to question The Lake Report’s motivation.

We would like to clarify that the point was made because it was the town’s lawyer who made the assertion that there was no evidence that council would ignore a potential ruling by the Conservation Review Board. It is imperative that we all hold our town’s elected officials and representatives to a high standard.

What could have been included last week is that some of Solmar Development Corp.’s arguments also lacked credibility — but to us that’s to be expected from lawyers who specialize in development advocacy.

The point was, and remains: to make a bold statement knowing it is wrong in a court of law is shameful, and we shouldn’t, regardless of our personal stances on any one issue, allow the town to weaken itself by making arguments that aren’t grounded in fact or reality.

It only makes the town, and the lawyer who said it, look disingenuous.

Having listened to all the courtroom arguments over two days last week, it’s not a surprise the court ruled in favour of the town and SORE (Save Our Rand Estate).

But it’s also a battle that is far from over.

Costs still need to be determined in this case, and there are other cases involving the town and SORE that are yet to be determined.

And further to that, the court conceded many of these issues in last week’s case are judgments best left to the Conservation Review Board, which can now start the process of decision-making.

The true issue at hand is whether our town council is capable of operating in good faith. If council receives expert recommendations that there in fact is limited historic value to much of the Rand Estate, will it accept that advice?

We know there is resident pressure from a vocal group to preserve heritage attributes on the property. We know the current council was elected mainly on that issue.

The thing we don’t know is: Does our council understand its role is not to target individual developers, but bad plans?

If the Conservation Review Board declares there is no historic value to most of the property, there will be a serious need to question the validity of statements from SORE, as well as the group’s underlying motive. Is it solely heritage preservation, or is it partly NIMBYism and concern for neighbouring property values? After all, most members of SORE live in close proximity to the proposed development. Would council ask those questions?

On the other hand, given the way the legal decisions have gone thus far, if the conservation board agrees with SORE’s position, after all the acrimony, will the town and the developer be able to find a middle ground that satisfies everyone’s concerns? No one wants to see these buildings or that property become an abandoned eyesore.

How will this all play out? Time will tell.

editor@niagaranow.com

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