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Holyrood councillors not ready to make nice with mayor over brewery comments

By Mark Squibb | Jan. 21, 2021

Members of Holyrood council criticized Mayor Gary Goobie Tuesday for expressing his concerns to The Shoreline last week regarding a mailout for a brewery application that Goobie said was fast-tracked and that overstepped the boundaries of an informative brochure.

The mayor was not in attendance for the scolding he received from some members of council. When asked about Goobie’s absence, CAO Gary Corbett noted simply the mayor had indicated he was unavailable for the meeting.

During a roundtable discussion at the end of the council meeting, each member of council took a moment to air their grievances.

The first to speak was councillor Kim Ghaney, who had voted in favor of the brewery application.

“In relation to the article in The Shoreline where there were comments made by the mayor, council would like to express that our views differ from those made by the mayor,” said Ghaney. “This council fully supported staff through this application process and a detailed response will be forthcoming to the public in the coming days and weeks.”

Councillor Sadie King, who also voted in favour of the application, said she took offense to the article’s headline.

“I was a little bit disappointed by the article in The Shoreline. You didn’t have to read very far to get what the article was going to be about, because all you had to do was read the headline,” said King. The headline in question read ’Take off the beer goggles’ former Holyrood councillor advises current council.’ The reference to beer goggles was a quote from Mark Lane, a representative of the Concerned Citizens of Holyrood, who was interviewed for the article.

“None of us are here looking though beer goggles, as far I’m concerned,” said King. “We all come here with clear heads. And in this case the majority of council did what they thought was best for this town. And I’ve been on council quite a while, and this is the first time in all my years that a mayor has not supported the decision of council. I was told, when I came on council, that a decision of your council, your majority, is a decision of council whether you agree or not, you support it. That didn’t happen in this case. And the hardest thing I found about the article was the damage done to the staff and the community, not to us councillors – we can take it – we’ve taken a lot over the years. But our staff certainty didn’t deserve what was said about them.”

Councillor Jim Joy, who also had voted in favour of the approval in principle, also criticized both the mayor and The Shoreline.

“I was told by the mayor that everything is on hold, that nothing can be done, until after the appeal is dealt with. Despite this, I was very surprised to see the detail, on this proposal, which was made in very elaborate form, in this week’s edition of The Shoreline,” said Joy.

“The write up in The Shoreline was, in my view, a misrepresentation of the facts. And the criticism towards staff and council was totally unwarranted and wrong. This certainly is not how the mayor should conduct or report business of the town.”

Councillor Kevin Costello, who had voted against the approval in principle, expressed his support for the town’s staff who had prepared the brochure and shepherded the application through council.

“I also support council’s response to the article in The Shoreline,” said Costello. “I didn’t want to not say anything.”

Councillor Roger Myette, who also had voted against the brewery application, said he too was surprised by the mayor’s comments in the paper. “Especially (those) towards our staff,” said Myette. “Because the appeal is in place, nothing happens. All discussion stops, all work stops period. For him to go to The Shoreline, I don’t know what happened, but it shouldn’t have happened.”

Deputy Mayor Curtis Buckle said he echoed the other councillors’ statements, and that “we need to be accurate on what’s put out there.”

Goobie, not being present, could not speak in his defense.

And though the mayor was absent, there were roughly 10 members of the public in attendance who shared their disapproval of the application. Following the meeting, one audience member hurled an expletive at council. While members in attendance could be heard to say they disapproved of the expletive, many members of the public did speak to councillors and CAO Gary Corbett, some quite vehemently, about their disapproval of the brewery’s approval and the loss of some of Holyrood’s festival grounds to accommodate it.

“The brewery is a great idea. But at the festival grounds? No. The festival grounds is a public space, paid for with public money, used by the public for certain activities, and we’re still putting money in there. If you want to move the brewery anywhere else, that’s a great idea,” said Jim Miller, one of the residents in attendance.

He said it was important for residents to attend the meeting and voice their concerns.

“I think what we did was make ourselves known to council, and say, ‘Look, we’re going to work together on this, but give us a chance. Let us know what’s going on, so we can resolve the problem, so everybody walks away happy,’” said Miller. “We don’t want to see that land sold. It’s a great idea to have a brewery, but use a commercial space that’s already zoned for it… Holyrood is a beauty place to live. So, lets let it grow, the way it should grow.”

There were two pieces of correspondence that the Town received that CAO Corbett noted would not be read because they related to the development application currently being appealed. However, a resident, on the way out of the meeting, handed The Shoreline a copy of one of the letters.

“Many residents, myself included, have been shocked and disturbed by the proposal to sell the festival grounds since we first became aware of it in September, 2020,” read the letter, which was signed by Kathy Corbett.“I was recently encouraged to see Gary Goobie’s statements in last week’s Shoreline, critiquing the Town of Holyrood’s Dec. 23 proposal communication update,” the letter concluded.

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