‘Pisses me off’: SD&G councillors not impressed with lawsuit ‘threat’ over impending sign bylaw

SD&G Coun. Jamie MacDonald (North Glengarry). (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G – A number of councillors with the United Counties of SD&G say they won’t be governed by threats as they look to regulate billboard and digital signs.

It comes after a law firm for the South Dundas Waterfront Development Corporation and Patricia Theriault sent a letter to the county accusing council is enacting the law in bad faith and unfairly targeting their client.

The bright, animated sign along County Road 2, east of Iroquois, has drawn complaints from neighbours.

The county has put off passing the bylaw until it provides a response to the law firm but Planning Director Ben de Haan says they are confident with the bylaw that has received a “thorough and extensive” legal review.

But councillors during Monday’s meeting made it quite clear they’re not impressed with the tactic.

“We should be prudent, have our lawyers look at it, but in the end for these people, I don’t think suing the taxpayers of SD&G is a prudent business plan. We can’t be held hostage by people that keeping telling us they’re going to sue us. I’m get tired of this kind of tactic and it literally pisses me off,” Coun. Jamie MacDonald (North Glengarry) said.

Coun. Tony Fraser (North Dundas) says the county “should not be governed by threat of being sued. We know what is right.” His counterpart, Al Armstrong (North Dundas), added that threats are an “ill-conceived offence.”

Ben de Haan adds the bylaw is for all digital signs in SD&G and this particular company has a “fundamental difference of opinion.”

While not disagreeing with his counterparts, Coun. Stephen Byvelds (South Dundas) concedes they are “looking at one sign in particular” and dealing with an “owner that seems intent on doing whatever.”

“Is it a nasty letter from a lawyer? It certainly is. Is it a big shot lawyer? It certainly is. It’s still just a bunch of words,” Byvelds said. He still wanted county legal advice behind closed doors because a lawyer would pull video of the council meeting to use against them.

“I’d rather have a fair fight than an unfair fight,” he said.

Following council’s discussion, the intent is to bring the bylaw back at the next meeting to either pass or not pass the bylaw.