EDITOR - TODD LIHOU: There needs to be a chair for Chuck at chemical tank meeting

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Is this a sign of things to come? Or are we simply getting our hopes up for nothing?

Regardless, it has been days since construction crews could be found working at the site of a pair of chemical tanks being built on the Cornwall waterfront.

The calcium chloride tanks, which flew under the radar of nearly all of us for weeks, created a huge stir before Christmas, but very quietly work on the project has slowed to a veritable crawl.

In fact the snow and ice that has piled up at the entrance to the work site suggests it has been weeks since anyone set foot on the property.

The thinking among some of the players at city hall is that Trillium Distribution has pulled its workers off the site until after a meeting takes place next week.

The meeting, which comes a day after Monday's council meeting, will include Mayor Bob Kilger and city administrators, as well as representatives from the company and the federal government.

But one fellow, as of press time, is missing – Chuck Charlebois.

Charlebois represents the not-so-silent masses in Cornwall who want the project stopped. Sure, city council agrees with him, and there will be municipal representation at the meeting – but can you think of a better person making arguments against the tanks than a man who has bled Cornwall blood for as long as Charlebois?

And Charlebois is hardly an attack dog, so let's put to rest any concern about the meeting crumbling into a shouting match. That could still happen, but it wouldn't be Charlebois' fault.

The former city councillor is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the history of east-end Cornwall, and has worked tirelessly for years to beautify that area of our city. Dr. Avi Friedman, a McGill University architect and an expert in urban revitalization, considers Charlebois to be a close personal friend who knows what he's talking about.

Charlebois has officially made a request to be part of the Jan. 14 (next Tuesday) session.

City administrators threw Charlebois a bone of sorts, when his name was added to the agenda for city council's regular meeting scheduled for Jan. 13.

At that meeting Charlebois will lay out his criticism of the project, and will ask councillors if he can attend the meeting that takes place a day later.

It looks to me like it's the city's way of giving Charlebois a chance to offer his thoughts, without pulling out a chair for him at a private meeting between the other players.

Sources at city hall have told me there is a concern that if they say yes to Charlebois, then what is to stop an agency like the chamber of commerce from making a similar request…and then the issue becomes where to draw the line.

And there are some rumblings out there that Trillium would be upset if Charlebois gets a spot.

But the issue, once again, boils down to transparency.

The city, federal government and a slew of others have worn plenty of egg on their face to this point when it comes to keeping the public informed. Despite the fact that the issue should be how to stop the project, people are still looking for someone to blame, and many are still demanding to know who knew what, and when.

They've got a point, too.

So if a guy like Charlebois is left on the outside looking in during next Tuesday's meeting, it will only create more concerns about transparency instead of allaying those fears.

Critics charge there has already been too much that went on behind closed doors at city hall during this term of council, so perhaps this year (which just happens to include an election) there could be a bit more openness.

This meeting is a good place to start.

Organizations: McGill University

Geographic location: Cornwall

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