September 10, 2020
Residents Take Legal Action Against Puslinch Township alleging Flawed Decision Not to Change Offensive Street Name
Puslinch, Ontario – April 11, 2018 – A group of Puslinch area residents have launched an application for judicial review of Puslinch Council’s decision not to change an offensive street name. The application alleges that by following the results of an unfair and biased voting process conducted by residents on the street itself, Puslinch Township failed to exercise its authority under the Municipal Act, improperly delegated its responsibility to make a decision, and unlawfully fettered its discretion.
The private street, called Swastika Trail in Puslinch, Ontario has been an issue for debate since last fall when residents raised concerns about the offensive meaning of the name and the obvious discomfort experienced when referencing the street addresses to others. Puslinch Township then asked the Bayview Cottagers Association (BCA), which includes residents of the private road and surrounding roads, to put the issue to a vote.
The application alleges that at a Council meeting on December 20, 2017, Council simply adopted the results of the November 1, 2017 BCA vote despite being informed that the BCA vote was rife with bias and not carried out in accordance with the BCA’s own rules. The application also alleges that the BCA notice circulated about the vote contained one-sided information designed to influence voters to keep the name, and avoid any inconvenience of updating their street address, despite a decision by Canada Post to change postal codes in the area that would require updates anyway. Further, the application alleges that all members in good standing of the BCA were entitled to vote on the matter but only an arbitrary subset of its members were provided notice and permitted to vote at the meeting, a decision made by executives of the BCA in favour of keeping the name.
“This started as residents advocating to change a street name in our Township that is offensive and associated with hatred, and yet it evolved into an issue of accountability and fairness because the Township acted unreasonably and failed us,” said Randy Guzar, one of the applicants in the lawsuit. “The Township didn’t have to accept the flawed vote of the Bayview Cottagers Association, they could have investigated the process and its procedural failures and overturned the result. They could have independently determined to change the street name or put the matter to a referendum and allow all Puslinch residents to have a say, but they refused to use the responsibility and authority given to them to take appropriate action.”
Following the Township’s December 20 Council meeting, residents concerned about the process and how the decision was reached, formally requested a meeting with the Township to discuss the improprieties of the voting process and the unreasonable decision to accept the BCA vote. Puslinch Township refused to discuss the matter further.
Residents have tried everything in their power to work with the Township to make the right choice in the public’s interest. Exhausting all other options, the applicants have taken legal action demanding accountability and fairness from Puslinch Township seeing this as the only avenue remaining.
(This is a news release that was sent to PuslinchToday)