New Municipal Board Overruled RM in Favour of Conservative Donors

October 2, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB - The fact that the Pallister Government's newly-created Municipal Board overruled the by-laws of the democratically elected RM of Rosser in favour of an applicant whose team has donated over $91,897.25 to the PC Party shows the process can't be trusted and needs to change, says Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface.

In 2018, the PCs passed Bill 19, which allows businesses who want to develop quarries or large-scale operations to appeal to a quasi-judicial panel that can then overrule elected councils and residents.

The first test of the new process came this summer. For years, the RM of Rosser and its residents had opposed the development of a quarry, saying it would be disruptive and damaging to existing businesses, including farms. Supported by residents, the municipality passed by-laws limiting the development of the quarry and won their case in court.

After an application by Lilyfield Quarries, which is owned by Munro Construction, the Municipal Board overruled residents and the RM, and the quarry is going ahead.

Two of the Municipal Board's three members are PC donors: George Orle QC, and Rick Borotsik, a former PC MLA and MP. According to the National Post donations database and Elections Manitoba Financial Returns, Orle donated $2,732.50 to the Manitoba PCs. Borotsik donated $2,920.50 to the PCs.

Last year, Lilyfield Quarries owner Colleen Munro donated $1,500 to the re-election campaign of Minister Ron Schuler. Between 2011 and 2019, Munro donated $16,685 to the PCs. Munro's lawyer, Charles Chappel, donated $6,306.25 to the PCs.

Michelle Richard, a consultant supporting the quarry's bid, was the PC candidate for St. James. Richard raised $63,253 for her campaign from a who's-who of developer donors including Sandy Shindleman, Colleen Sklar and Taras Sokyluk.

"This is a terrible precedent and a terrible process. The PCs have created a system so their donors can override democracy and the courts," said Lamont. "They are presenting a false idea that steamrolling local councils is for the benefit of everyone, when it is not. Some things should not be for sale."
Lamont said the involvement of Michelle Richard is concerning because her consulting company, Richard + Wintrup claims it is:

"not bound by convention or structure.... We will start with the concept of economic development and not land use regulation... We commit to starting with the inquiry - how does your project support an economic development objective? Is your vision aligned with the economic development vision of others? Does the regulation line up? If not, is it feasible to change it?"

Lamont said this vision of "the economy" depends on developers and companies being able to ignore democratically passed laws, regulations.

"It should not be radical to say that in a democracy, growing the economy shouldn't depend on trampling and undermining rights. The PCs are about to bring forward other bills that seek to strip governments, elected officials and citizens of their say. Manitobans need to know what they are going to lose before it is too late."

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