Water and STRs: The straws that broke Tony Mintoff

·5 min read

‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’, is a misattributed saying granted to physicist Albert Einstein. People rarely look into source material unless they are passionate about a topic.

Tony Mintoff is passionate about the residents of Tiny Township, their water quality, and the right to peaceful enjoyment of one's property.

He also suddenly resigned from Tiny council two weeks ago.

As a former fire chief and then councillor for Tiny Township throughout the past 10 years, Mintoff’s claims to be a layman during council meetings were contradictory to his methodology of pouring through technical documents to ask hard, relevant and easy-to-understand questions of experts outside his field of knowledge.

That changed earlier this month when Mintoff submitted his resignation as a Tiny councillor as well as vacating the committees for airport commission and the short term rental (STR) task force, with just over a year left until the 2022 township elections. The move left council opening the council seat for appointment instead of hosting a costly election process, while temporarily selecting Coun. Gibb Wishart to the committee vacancies.

The resignation of Mintoff was instantaneous and unexpected, prompting many people in the community to question if the snap decision was related to health issues. Days later, Mintoff responded with an open letter on his personal Facebook page, where he reaffirmed his good health to the public while explaining the reasoning behind his sudden departure.

MidlandToday caught up with Mintoff to ask a series of questions, which have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Resignation

On the topic of his personal life, Mintoff responded that the past week had alleviated much of the frustration he had felt over the previous months but that he still had mixed emotions.

“I did not discuss my feelings or intent with any of the other council members,” said Mintoff, admitting his frustrations were likely apparent to council and some senior staff. “It wasn't a cold, snap decision; rather more of an ‘aha!’ moment where I finally acknowledged to myself that my strong efforts were not producing the level of results that would justify continuing. Albert Einstein's definition of insanity comes to mind.”

As a retired individual, Mintoff responded that he would continue to be a sideline advocate for solutions to what he perceived as the two biggest quality-of-life issues facing Tiny residents: “aggregate extraction and washing activities in a known environmentally sensitive area (at French’s Hill), and the elimination of problematic (STR) operations” which in his opinion were “in violation of Tiny's existing zoning by-law”. The unsatisfactory handling of these two ongoing issues were Mintoff’s inciting reason for departure.

French’s Hill

Regarding French’s Hill near Wyebridge, Mintoff equated the aggregate operations' risk to the clean water Alliston Aquifer as similar to “the Site 41 fiasco,” noting that regional MPPs have shown little interest in the matter for which “we need to take this fight to the lawn of Queen’s Park”.

“I'm hopeful that my decision to resign will encourage Tiny's residents to become better acquainted with the environmental issues being created at French's Hill. Had it not been for the COVID public gathering restrictions over the past year, I'm convinced that residents would have flooded the council chamber to express their dismay and to demand stronger actions in opposing any further licensing or expansion applications at this site,” Mintoff stated.

Short-Term Rentals

Problems with STRs are so new that municipalities across the province have been forced to adapt or create bylaws to regulate their existence, and Tiny is no exception.

However, Mintoff said that grandfathering existing operations or permitting them as legal non-conforming or non-complying wasn’t needed, as “the situation is simple. Enforce the current zoning by-law. Short-term rentals are not a specified permitted use in any established zone in Tiny.”

Council established a STR task force to further explore ways of addressing the issue, which Mintoff vacated in belief that provided recommendations wouldn’t “properly address this huge threat to numerous neighbourhoods."

Mintoff also made the claim that “previous staff reports on this matter (STR) have not, in my opinion, provided council with the objective, unbiased information required to make informed decisions.”

Beaches

When asked about beach disputes within Tiny, Mintoff responded that it would be too costly for the township to handle the complicated issue that was started 200 years ago with the initial land surveys.

“Some owners can demonstrate that they own to the water's edge,” said Mintoff. “It is well-known that many encroachments on township property currently exist, including structures. Having them all removed, if even possible, would be an exhausting and expensive process.”

In Conclusion

Stating that many residents are unhappy with the current council roster, Mintoff admitted being “very interested in seeing who council appoints as my successor”, and predicted that “a number of new faces” would represent Tiny Township resulting from the 2022 municipal election.

However, Mintoff has bowed out of the political arena, choosing to advocate with the people rather than for the people.

“I have no plans to seek any political office at this point. Passion is a double-edged sword. Some people appreciate it and some see it as being aggressive or confrontational,” Mintoff said, humbly thanking the outreach of support he received since the resignation.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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