Mayor questions legality of SD&G driveway bylaw

Construction work on County Road 18 in St. Andrews West on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis questions the legality of the county removing existing driveways under a sweeping bylaw passed in 2017. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LONG SAULT – The mayor of South Stormont questions whether the United Counties of SD&G has the legal authority to arbitrarily change the size and configuration of existing driveways on county roads.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Bryan McGillis says the situation facing St. Andrews West homeowners is absurd. “To me it’s ridiculous. The people paid for their driveways to be like this and they were conforming to the standards at that time prior to 2017. No, they’re legal non-confirming as far as I’m concerned.”

McGillis wasn’t on county council when the bylaw to regulate entrances and piped ditches was passed in 2017 and says he never would have supported it the way it’s written.

“I think the counties should be talking to their own solicitor because there’s going to be some consequences to this,” McGillis says.

Among other rules, the bylaw gives the director of public works “sole discretion” and a reserved right to remove any entrance to a county road in order to comply with the one-entrance rule for residential properties regardless of how long it’s been there.

“I don’t think it’s legal. I don’t think they can do that. Just because a council sits there and says something doesn’t make a bylaw legal. They can pass it but as far as I’m concerned, it’s totally illegal,” McGillis told Cornwall Newswatch.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me what their reasons are behind it. I think it’s totally ridiculous and I’m going to be bringing this up at the next meeting,” the mayor added. The next meeting of county council is Monday, Sept. 20.

A request to grandfather in oversize and horseshoe driveways was defeated by Warden Allan Armstrong, who cast the deciding vote after council was tied. County Coun. Lyle Warden wasn’t at Aug. 23 meeting, leaving an even number of councillors to cast their votes.

“We have to work with the public. We do here at the township. If anybody from South Stormont wanted to extend their driveway or fill in their ditch, we allow them to do that but of course they have to pay for the engineering and what not,” McGillis says.

“There’s no common sense to it, what they’re doing. I’ve always been a supporter of the counties but the bureaucracy and the red tape is getting to be too much.”