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The Stouffville Sun Tribune, like any other newspaper, has a moral and ethical obligation to check their facts before they print
A recent letter to the editor by Musselman’s Lake resident Kayt Barclay prompted the MLRA to look into the allegations and figures presented in this letter. We were surprised upon doing some basic research how wrong this letter was and how the figures presented as fact were not even close.
Here is what the Tribune “ Letter Of The Week” says and what the MLRA has uncovered through interviews with Mr. Alec Cloke, owner of United Soils Management and by information gleaned from the Town’s website.
First of all, whether this letter was a deliberate attempt to mislead the public as the municipal elections draw near, Ms. Barclay will have to address that issue. Despite the letter’s allegations, Council and Town Staff are protecting the interests of the community and are working on what could easily be called the Gold Standard of Fill By-Laws in Ontario. They have had the benefit of working with one of the most reputable fill operators in Ontario, Mr. Alec Cloke and United Soils Management. There are numerous random tests done on the soil coming into the United Soils site on Ninth Line with the exact location of where each truck dumps its load being tracked and duly recorded via GPS. Should there be any problems with any soil, the offending excavation company would be immediately banned from dumping any additional soil and the suspect soil in question would be dug up and removed from the site. The MLRA executive has personally visited the site on several occasions and we were very impressed with the safeguards that were in place.
Now the letter goes on to say “the suggested cost for dumping fill per truck was $1.75” Nothing could be further from the truth and if the paper had checked the minutes of the meeting, they would have found the dumping fee is $1.75 per cubic metre of fill. As there are 10 cubic metres of fill on the average truck, this amounts to a fee of $17.50 per truckload – not $1.75 as indicated in the letter.
As far as the unnecessary comment about Councillor Bannon,“I cannot understand why he would not want to give back to our community.” Councillor Bannon has done more for this community than any other resident. He organizes and runs numerous family and charity events. He works diligently on Council to ensure Ward 2 receives its fair share of tax dollars to improve the community with road improvements, a new community park, lake water studies, dump closures and the list goes on and on.
The letter continues a hollow verbal assault of Mr. Bannon with..“The community around these sites will be left with problems if they arise – and no money to fix them if Mr. Bannon has his way.” This ignores the fact that Town Council and staff, as part of the agreement, has insisted that United Soils put up $1,000,000 cash for the Town to keep in reserve to ensure adherence to the strict bylaws. United Soils is also required to carry $5,000,000 worth of environmental insurance.
The problem with erroneous letters such as this is that they mislead members of the public and present their personal views as fact. In this case, they obviously were not. Newspapers have a moral and ethical obligation to check their facts before they print. If they had done their due diligence and had performed a basic fact checking as we have done, we are sure this letter, so full of inaccuracies and untruths, would not have been published but would have been relegated to a blog post on some obscure basement blogger’s website.