By Rhonda Massad
Michael Van der Linden resigned from Senneville village council, March 27. The District 1 councillor is the second councilor to quit after the Nov. 3 municipal election.His emailed resignation followed in the wake of District 4 Councillor Martin Gauthier bailing out during a special municipal council meeting in March.Although Gauthier blamed the demands of municipal office on his time as his main reason for stepping down, the departures reflect open tensions on a badly divided city council.
Though both Van der Linden and Gauthier supported Jane Guest in her bid to be elected mayor, Van der Linden subsequently lost confidence in Guest after she won. He joined most of the council in calling for her to resign in January.The following month, council put on an unexpected show of unity. It voted unanimously to bid to buy a 60-acre swath of mostly undeveloped land owned by the Crown.In an interview beforehand, Guest acknowledged that all her political opponents wanted to implement new guidelines as to how that and other local land would be developed.
However, she told The Suburban that there were divergent views as to precisely how this ought to be accomplished.The ensuing clash has split the community, as have other questions about how village taxpayers’ money ought to be spent.Van der Linden resigned after Canada Land rejected Senneville’s bid.Elected officials had wanted to pass new municipal bylaws beforehand, to limit the buyer’s options to develop and use the land.Hamstrung from passing new restrictions, the split might now put the buyer in a position to develop the land according to Senneville’s much less restrictive existing bylaws.In the meantime, Senneville must hold byelections in May to fill the vacant village council seats.Mayor Guest declined to respond to The Suburban’s repeated requests during the past two weeks for her to talk about the issue.“I am not prepared to speak on anything right now,” she wrote in an electronic mail reply to the newspaper’s queries. “Rest assured, you will be kept abreast of any news of interest on Senneville when there is something of significance to report.”