So I Went to the Permit Me Meeting in Cornwall Ontario. By Jamie Gilcig

October 27, 2022 – So I went to the Permit Me meeting at Echo Trends in Cornwall last night. It’s a small group who are upset at permit abuse by the City of Cornwall Ontario. Essentially the city abusively enforces Building Codes which leads to heavy cost and time burden to those who are not in their chosen circle.

The permit team at City Hall is also a hot mess. Most of the staff with talent have left and the young uns tend to “do what they’re told.”

This has led to people like Aaron Bell of Rothmar hiring PR firms, and suing the city as well as Wyatt Walsh who has built a triplex that he can’t finish filing a suit.

At the meetings the horror stories were repeated. Permits granted and pulled. Threats made that if you didn’t do exactly what they said they’d drown your project. Threats of forcing multiple engineering reports that add huge costs and time burdens.

Frankly it’s not new. That the meeting took place in the former Truffles burger bar was not an irony lost on this writer. The former owners of Truffles had stated that they were told that if they didn’t drop their ad from this newspaper they wouldn’t get their patio permit. The Port theatre were told that if they didn’t pull their ad on CFN (which we freaking donated to help as yours truly is a filmmaker) they wouldn’t get their liquor license.

When confronted city officials tend to use probable deniability and argue over “interpretations” of code. End result is tax dollars used on legal and businesses being delayed or dying.

But it’s like our deathly wait times at hospitals now. People only seem to care when they are the ones waiting 15 hours to see a doctor while in pain instead of being proactive before.

This is a subject that CFN has written about for over a decade. The owner of Echo Trends is screeching now simply because she’s having permit problems. When she lived across the street from me she was a horrid neighbor and boycotted CFN.

Another business owner complained that she took her issues to the Seaway News and Standard Freeholder seeking help but was given an ad rate card. She complained about them not doing a story for her.

But media outlets have to survive too. While the City initiated a boycott against this newspaper that they pushed others to do so starting in 2011, both the SN & SF desperately need city dosh. And frankly all business owners should advertise their businesses. It’s important, not just for marketing, but when they need editorial support it’s easier to provide it when a media outlet can actually have the resources.

It costs nearly $500 to write a proper piece of journalism in 2022. That’s not cheap. You don’t go to a restaurant and ask for a free meal on the proviso that you’ll buy it if you like it. Media don’t owe anyone to write a story.

We used to do real actual restaurant reviews. The standard there is of course you pay for the meal and don’t say you’re doing a review. If a resto likes what you did though, they better comp you a meal if you choose to return at a later date. That never happened a single time in the area. Another outlet was actually demanding free meals to write reviews which is not how it’s done.

This writer had a now defunct coffee house rave about how someone from Ottawa commented on the review we wrote and dropped into their establishment. They never bought an ad, or even sent over a free coffee. They are now long gone out of business.

People talk about shopping local, but it’s truly important to advertise and support local media, because one day you truly may need local media, or you have to spend thousands as Aaron Bell of Rothmar has on PR firms, plus legal. If he had better media relations he may have not had to.

Mr. Bell was at the meeting last night as was Mr. Walsh as both are suing the city. The leader of this permit group sounded like something from the Domestic Terriers in Ottawa demanding the GG remove the government. He and Ms Echo Trends clearly don’t understand what they’re dealing with or frankly what it takes to get a result.

Bad people don’t just step down and give up what they fought for powerwise.

The only way to change things is to change them. I know. I’ve beaten City Hall in Cornwall multiple times and have the scars to show for it. You remove one corrupt politician or toady and they get replaced by another.

When asked I said that the group needs to focus on one or two key issues first and win them. They needed to get the support of some of the downtown heavy business hitters. They needed to create leverage and team build. I was told by Ms Echo trends that I was being negative.

Again, why decades of corruption in Cornwall have flourished is simply because people there just refuse to work together. They have no backbone. They wither just as many of my friends and clients in Cornwall did when the City had me falsely arrested when I ran for mayor in 2014.

The only way Cornwall can get better is if enough people want change and work together. It’s that simple.

And tragically it most likely won’t happen. I attended that meeting as I saw a glimmer of possible light.

Scott Campbell is naive at best or an utter fool at worst to think his list of demands to the city has any chance of traction. As for Suzanne Prosser Dexter, owner of Echo Trends, she’s been around long enough to maybe finally realize that all those years she was fine with what was going on in Cornwall simply have come to roost on her and her business. That she’s complaining now is frankly grossly hypocritical.

From over 50 (according to him) people attending his first meeting there were barely about a dozen last night. Their group seems to simply be Mr. Campbell and Ms Dexter.

People have to pull together. Not only when they need help, but when others do to.

A community is only as strong as their weakest link. I went to this meeting as a local business owner with experience in dealing with the city. I was prepared to help. Offending those who have achieved success is not the way to win. For this writer the meeting was a failure.

Printing stickers will not change City Hall. Only working together and building change will. Business owners attitudes have to change and people have to stop being such utter illiterate, intolerant thugs and bullies in Cornwall Ontario.

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