A city lawyer regrets the tone of comments he made at a waterfront development committee meeting this week.
In an interview Etienne St-Aubin stood by the comments in principle, where he called into question the appointment process for the committee and also questioned the desire for increased development on the waterfront.
“I regret the tone that suggested I was casting aspersions on people and their character,” he said, adding he wants the committee membership to remain intact. “And it was not my intention to join forces with those who would (disparage) their reputations.”
Among other comments at the meeting, St-Aubin suggested “there is a lack of vision that seems to be prevalent in this committee.”
St-Aubin’s comments earlier this week were met with disappointment from a pair of city councillors who are also members of the committee.
Councillors Denis Thibault and Glen Grant told Seaway News they hoped St-Aubin would be more careful in the future.
“It was a shock, there’s no question about it,” said Grant in an interview. “Unfortunately that happens a lot at these types of functions.”
Thibault was of a similar mind.
“When you’re dealing with politicians take your best shot,” he said, adding volunteer committee members should be spared some of the rhetoric. “I don’t think that was called for.
“That was a lack of good judgement.”
In an interview St-Aubin characterized the city's waterfront as a "precious" resource and said more needs to be done to market it to those from outside the community, as well as create greater avenues for use for those who live here.
"We've got to stop thinking in this community that some hero on a white horse will ride in and make good things happen," said St-Aubin. "Some people think development is that answer, but I don't agree with that."
The committee meeting on Tuesday was a chance for the general public to comment on how they think the city waterfront should be developed moving forward. The sessions quickly became a flashpoint for opinions and controversy as more than 300 people on both sides of the issue – those wanting to see more development and others looking to protect specific portions from changes – dug in their heels.
Through the open houses, residents were asked to provide feedback on possible development opportunities for the eastern parking lot area of the Cornwall Civic Complex as well as Lookout Point, the former oil tank lands and the T-ball lands east of Marina 200.
The committee is now shifting its focus to redevelopment of the oil tank lands and it appears the nearby baseball and t-ball areas will be spared any changes.
The parking lot east of the civic complex is also likely to remain unchanged.
In a statement following the public session, waterfront development committee chair Lee Cassidy welcomed the debate.
"The committee was thrilled with the turnout and the lively discussions that took place," she said. "Clearly, the community has a keen interest in the waterfront.”
For those who weren't able to attend one of the sessions, the questionnaire and related information is available on the city website until June 29th. Residents can click on the 'Waterfront Consultation' graphic on the homepage of the city website (www.cornwall.ca) to access the questionnaire and information.