Vincent Family Discouraged as City Refuses to Answer Simple Rink Rebuild Questions by Jamie Gilcig – JAN 9, 2015

Truck to plow vincents JAN 5 15CORNWALL Ontario – Brian Vincent is feeling discouraged.  The family was happy when a new group came together to help rebuild their family rink.

A meeting was requested by the group for Thursday morning with Bill De Wit, the city manager who attended the initial break down of the boards as ordered directly by Cornwall CAO Norm Levac in spite of the family’s request for a variation and attempts by at least two councilors to further investigate options.

The city had given the family ten days to take down the boards after a former Councilor, Glen Grant, helped expedite the complaint, but most of those ten days were holidays and most of their phone calls and emails were not returned.  It almost felt that it was rigged that way?

While expecting an exchange or at least some answers the family instead saw policy and heavy equipment in front of their home on the 5th.

Mrs. Vincent and Councilor Justin Towndale were interviewed by Sun News  TV guy Brian Lilley at the Vincent home recently and talk about some of the issue.

Sun video

As you can see there are more questions than answers at this point.     We (I am a member of the group to rebuild the rink) after not getting a reply in the morning from Mr. De Wit received an email from him stating that this now has to go through CAO Norm Levac.

It was boggling as the questions were very basic and simple.  My questions are outlined below in blue.

Hi Mr. De Wit,

It’s very saddening when a city manager cannot return communication in a timely fashion. We’re all busy.  We all have schedules.  I sent you a message through the city website last night.
I have left you two voice mails this morning.   I have tried calling Stephen Alexander, Norm Levac, and Mayor O’Shaughnessy.
Nobody seems to be answering their phones?
If you are too busy for a meeting perhaps you can answer clearly a few basic questions, today, as the timing of the weather is crucial for a successful result.  The questions are below in blue.
Your heavy machinery went out of its way to not touch the boards or ice pad.  The boards as they were, were removed.   The ice pad is still in place although fractured.  Is the ice pad a violation?
Will the City of Cornwall take any issues with the securing of the ice pad on the Vincent’s property via snow or hay as mentioned by Mayor O’Shaughnessy even if some of that surface is on property owned by the city?   To note the Vincent’s paved driveway where they park is also  city property.
Do you have any issue with a snow/hay wall that supports a piece of wood that is not affixed to any surface?
Are there any special requirements that the Vincent family rink needs to meet to enjoy their rink without further grief from the City?
Is there anything that you can think of in your capacity to prevent us from saving the ice surface?
We need an answer before the end of business today please as our team needs the cold weather.
Thank you for your time, and timely assistance.
Mr. Levac did not answer those questions yesterday.   He has not answered those questions as of press time.  The Vincent’s and the group have lost out a night of rink building and there are only six weeks or so left of the season.
Roland Besner, who ran for council, put it best on Facebook.
There should have been some compassion somewhere that would have allowed this situation into Spring.
Listen carefully to Laura Vincent when she speaks of the due diligence done last year ahead of time and also of the 2×2 spikes that were only 4 inches into the ground and apparently in contravention of the by law !
I know I helped take some of them out.
Those questions were also sent to the mayor and council.  Instead of council realizing that this was an opportunity to put some make up on a shiner they have simply turtled while talking about a tax increase of over 5% in the upcoming budget wrangling!
Vincent Rink JAN 5 2015Mrs. Vincent responded to the delay.
Definitely discouraged and beyond disappointed. They were voted into council to listen to and represent Cornwall residents. With the exception of two distinguished and dedicated Councillors, all other members have ignored our simple questions.
Council was handed an opportunity to to regain some positive attention for Cornwall and ‘right’ a ‘wrong ‘; however, they are choosing to ignore our questions.
Our ultimate goal is to provide our children with a rink on our property while respecting bylaws and ensuring all parties are satisfied.
While the vast majority of the city, if not of Canada are in support of the Vincent family there are some that are following the line of City Hall and taking to social media.
Graham Greer of Barstool prophet fame took to facebook.  Of course Mr. Greer and his wife have really good jobs that many have claimed they got more because of patronage than merit or experience.
Graham Greer spinning
The Vincent family have done nothing wrong.   Nothing.  They checked with utilities.   The spikes entered the ground no more than Mayor O’Shaughnessy’s election or real estate signs.   What should be investigated though has been this entire process including who signed off on the complaint.  As for the use of the land; well frankly if you mow the grass and maintain the property then you should have some use of it.  A temporary ice pad in Winter is not against the by laws as they are written.
When confronted with the work order, and told by by law officer that it was political with names mentioned they appealed to a councilor whose own child skated on their rink; David Murphy.
The ten days they had were mostly holidays.  The Mayor told them they could have extra time yet the trucks were there on January 5th as per the order.
The mayor went on CFRA radio and accused Mrs. Vincent of mounting a facebook campaign.  She did nothing of the sort.  She appealed to Councilor Murphy on facebook (who’s since stopped trying to help the family) and the media, including this outlet and others have run with what has become a National story.
It’s as though the Vincent’s are being re-victimized.  First they lose their beautiful rink.  Then they get vilified as City Hall and their supporters like Mr. Greer try to spin the story to curry favour.
I think Councilor Towndale hinted at it in the Lilley interview.  Cornwall is being painted across Canada, not so much by what we the people want, but by what a narrow group wish.
Hopefully Mr. Levac will answer those four simple basic questions as our group is planning a ice block building party for Saturday January 10th at 1 PM.   We have to build up snow walls and freeze some ice blocks so that the rink can be balanced.
The next week’s weather is critical if the rink is to be rebuilt.    One strange argument put forth is that an ice sheet can’t be on some of the land that belongs to the city, which is silly because in Winter snow and ice are on most of our properties.    The Vincent’s actual driveway is on city land.
If Mayor O’Shaughnessy has slipped and hurt himself when he visited the ice rink before Christmas  on the City land what would the issue had been?
You can’t legislate common sense.  And the biggest irony is that they neighbors across the street, the Houle family that own the local Petro Canada and National Rental office on Vincent Massey, headed off to Florida for their winter break.   Imagine being part of a group to kill a kids rink and then enjoy the sun?
For those that want to be a part of the group to rebuild the rink you can email  Because the city removed all the snow around the rink we might need some extra.   Oddly enough the Freeholder, Seaway News,and smaller media locally have not covered the rebuild story.  Is that simply because this writer is part of the group?   Is it for fear of losing city ad dollars?
See what happens when common sense isn’t used?   Because at the end of the day none of this should ever have happened.  If there hadn’t been a political abuse of power then there would have been no media stories.
What are your thoughts Canada and please sign our petition and vote in our poll.  Your voice does matter.


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  1. I wish you luck for the rink building party. Hopefully the ice blocks or hay won’t contravene any city bylaws. But will it be cold enough for any water used to freeze? According to the forecast it’s only supposed to be -10ºC tomorrow. Not exactly rink building temperatures. Just ask the company that maintains the Rideau Canal “rink.”

    As for Bill de Wit passing this on to Norm Levac, you said it best yourself “We’re all busy. We all have schedules.” While I agree this should be dealt with can you really expect them to drop what they’re doing to deal with this? We don’t know what else they are dealing with, do we?

  2. Author

    Hugger when we pay people Sunshine list salaries or near the Sunshine list basic questions should be able to be answered. Otherwise why designate the positions as managers? Bill is not a low level CW worker. He’s an experienced intelligent manager. This is what I mean. Political treatment of a non-political situation.

  3. I agree that basic questions should be answered. But we don’t know what was going on at city hall. Perhaps there was something more urgent that had to be dealt with. When we know those answers then we can find out why the questions weren’t answered. Political treatment of a non-political situation? Nope, this has very much become a political situation.

  4. Thank you for your work on this Jamie, and shame on my old friend Graham Greer. We played hockey together as kids. When we built our Bainsville community outdoor rink, without permission, ( ) on unkempt township land, we had the same idiotic arguments from pencil-pushing bureaucrats and dithering councillors (one of the most resistant is now an MPP). Gotta fight to defend old-fashioned can-do attitudes and support grassroots community spirit. Keep it up!

  5. The new mayor said his top priority, as outlined in his campaign, was to improve transparency at city hall.

    ”We have to clean up transparency and accountability of council,” he said. “We have to be more open with the public.”……..When is it going to start?

  6. I’ll give you a good example of dealing with government. As many of you know I used to work for the federal government before I retired after almost 37 years. Many times I would be working on a project assigned by my manager or director with a set in stone deadline. Then, true to fashion, my manager, director or at times the director-general would ask me to work on another project with a set in stone deadline that conflicted with the other project I was working on. Now most times it was easy to decide which project to work on, the higher the person asking came first. But if the two projects had the same originator I learned to ask which project they wanted me to work on and which project should be ignored for now. I did not want to have the ultimate “you didn’t finish my project on time” discussion AGAIN. The point being what appears in government to be easy on the surface at times is not easy. It’s a fight of priorities most of the time.

  7. Author

    Thanks Shawn. One should never have to create a by law for Common sense. Hope to see you come out Saturday and help rebuild this lovely little rink. The more the merrier and I’m hoping that our local Tim Horton’s brings out some hot cocoa and coffee for the volunteers!

  8. I know your busy like crazy Mr Jamie but a small story about the brutal murder of Journalists in Paris would be nice. To some degree they were like you
    Not afraid to take on the larger issues

  9. Author

    Mel I’m working on that, but there are special security issues for me here in Cornwall to work through as well.

  10. And I shouldn’t worry about any more complaints, that crank neighbour goes south for three months every winter.

    Too bad the big loser couldn’t suffer the happy sounds of kids playing for a few weeks before leaving the country.

  11. The team of O’Shaughnessy and Murphy are an otherwise capable pair of city council members. Why on earth they dug their heals in on this issue heaven only knows.

    They have given Cornwall an international black-eye. Learn to pick your fights men!!

    The pathetic and dishonest explanation that underground utilities were threatened (although none were) masks their bending over backwards to please a well-to-do and self centred old crank.

    Why did this member of the absurd Chamber of Commerce feel so entitled? Why did two otherwise level headed councillors paint Cornwall the colour of stink again?

    …Surely not because of campaign contribution$?

  12. Oy! This whole thing gives me a headache and I don’t even live in Cornwall anymore!

    So the irritable crank that complained owns a busineas and is also a snowbird…

    As a business owner myself, I feel it’s integral to get along with EVERYONE you meet! I’ve instructed my staff Many times to be of whwhatever political stripe our clients are; this way, you won’t alienate any clients. When you are “off duty” believe wjatever you want, when you are “On-Duty” you are agreeable with the clients.

    My advice: boycott the Petro-Canada that he owns, permanently!

  13. Growing up in the village of Williamstown was a kids dream. All the boys would get together and play shinny. We’d shovel a rink on the Raisin River, on the Kraft pond, in the fair grounds, the Township Hall..the Williamstown fellas would even travel to Bainsville to teach Shawn how to play on the rink he had in the woods. lol. I don’t ever remember having boards (would have been nice, but not needed)I believe Graham means well Shawn.. PS, was I not the captain of that hockey team? I still have a pic from the Freeholder of the Williamstown boys playing on the Black River when we were kids..will never forget. The Stanley Cup was played right in my backyard!

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