Grimsby Citizens For Responsible Growth

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NewsNow: Resident Threatened With Charge Under Elections Act For Sign

According to an article in the latest NewsNow, one resident was threatened with charges under the Elections Act for displaying a sign that was classified as an “election sign”.

The sign in question says “Who Speaks For The People of Ward 3?”

The Town’s “Sign By-law” 97-45 (link here) is the current in-force By-law regarding signs and it defines an election sign as follows:

There certainly is no municipal, regional, provincial or federal election underway nor does the sign appear to support a candidate or political party. What the sign appears to support is the exercise of Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or simply “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression”.

It is not an absolute right, as Section 1 of the Charter can curtail rights with “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” on the freedom of expression. For instance, the pre-COVID adage of “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre” serves as an example.

In this case however, should the resident decide to pursue a Charter case, Town administration and their legal team would be hard-pressed to prove that the sign By-law can revoke that enshrined right. Section 1 of the Charter sets a very high bar.

Interestingly enough, one of the Town’s legal team, Mr. John Mascarin, co-penned a legal brief in 2002 entitled “Is The Writing On The Wall For Sign By-Laws In Canada?”. In that paper, the authors reviewed a then-recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on signs and how Charter rights and municipal sign By-laws interact.

“Given that the sole purpose of municipal regulation is to place limits on the means of expression, applicants have had little difficulty meeting their onus of showing that there has been a prima facie infringement of their rights.

The difficulty from a municipal lawyer’s perspective is that, once the
onus has transferred, justifying limitations in a sign by-law is extremely difficult under the rigorous s. 1 test.”

You can read the entire paper at this link here.

The current sign By-law dates back to 1997 and since that time there have been significant decisions that affect the enforceability and application of this type of By-law. Perhaps it is time for Council to look into this specific matter and bring this document into conformity with legal practice and judicial standards.

You can read the full NewsNow article at the following link:

NOTICE: Ward Boundary Review ZOOM Meeting – January 26, 2020 @ 5:30 PM

While it came to our attention just recently, it is still worth noting that the Town is having a public meeting (via Zoom) for it’s ward boundary review. To ensure adequate representation in local governments, municipalities will regularly review their ward composition.

If you would like to have a say on how your area should be represented at Town Hall for the next election, tonight is your opportunity to have your say. Only a handful of people have registered for the meeting, so residents are encouraged to participate.

You can register for tonight’s event (January 26th @ 5:30PM) at

NOTICE: Committee of the Whole – Fifth Wheel Development – November 09, 2020

The Committee of the Whole, and subsequently Council, will be taking another and perhaps final look at the Losani/Fifth Wheel re-development on Monday night. The agenda has some reports from the Town’s Planning Department and their outside consultant.

You can read the agenda at this link:

Note: The agenda was published late Friday afternoon (3:45 PM), after the 12 Noon deadline for delegations. Anyone wishing to speak on this development is advised to immediately contact the Clerk’s office for their request.

Tune in on Monday @ 6:30 PM via Facebook Live or at the Town’s livestream of the meeting at:

NOTICE: Open House – Casablanca Inn Redevelopment – November 3, 2020

The group redeveloping the Casablanca Winery Inn will be holding a public “open house” event on November 3, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, you simply can not drop in but must register for a slot.

The event will be held in the Lakeside Ballroom of the hotel between 4:30 PM and 6 PM. You can register for one of the 30-minute slots by:

Telephone: (905) 738-8080 Ext. 278
E-Mail: Alyson Naseer –

There is a maximum of 25 people per slot and are reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. Please RSVP before attending.

How They Voted: Main Street East Heritage Conservation District Study (Nov. 2 Update)

Photo Credit: Google via Google Maps

UPDATE: Council sent the Study back to the Heritage Committee for refinement and tidying up. It will receive final consideration on December 21. The vote to refer the study was the same as below.

Heritage was front and centre on the agenda of Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Specifically the discussion revolved around the Main Street East area and a proposed Heritage Conservation District Study.

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NOTICE: Casablanca Inn Development – Virtual Open House – September 24 @ 6PM

The Town is hosting a “virtual open house” tonight (September 24) at 6PM for the proposed development on the Casablanca Winery Inn lands.

The deadline to register to speak at the Zoom meeting has passed, but you can watch the livestream on the GCFRG Facebook live page by clicking this link here or the Town’s live stream at:

Besides writing the Town correspondence, there will still be one more chance to publicly participate in the process and make your views known. The proposal still needs to undergo a statutory public meeting at sometime in the future (modified for COVID-19 safeguards of course).

You can find background material on this development on the Town’s “Current Planning Applications” under the “4 Windward” Tab:

NOTICE: COTW/Council Meeting – September 21, 2020

Council is back in Chambers for their first regular meeting under the “Committee of the Whole System” aka COTW. If you aren’t familiar with COTW, essentially the old Committees have been dissolved and now all of Council will consider most matters together.

Their first agenda is quite full, 408 pages worth of material to be considered and as with any new change in governance structure, there may be a bit of a learning curve with the new Procedural By-Law that was passed earlier this week.

Let’s dig in!

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