Skip to content

What you need to know about Monday’s city council meeting

Sarnia City Council meetings are online for the foreseeable future as a precaution, Mayor Mike Bradley says. It’s a health and safety issue related to the Municipal Act.


A homeless encampment at Sarnia's Rainbow Park is rapidly increasing in size. Glenn Ogilvie photo

Citing the failed attempts of other municipalities to seek an injunction to remove encampments, city council turned thumbs down Monday on a similar application to the courts.

Coun. Terry Burrell and Coun. Bill Dennis were the only council members who supported an attempt to get an injunction. It would be helpful “to ensure the city has all our ducks in a row,” prior to evicting 50 or so campers in Rainbow Park, said Burrell.

His motion was lost in a 6-2 vote. Coun. Dave Boushy was absent.

Coun. Chrissy McRoberts said she couldn’t support an injunction because of a scenario described by city solicitor Randi Kalar.

Kalar explained that numerous municipalities in Ontario have applied for an injunction and spent close to$200,000 to hire legal counsel and get through the process, only to have the injunction rejected. It also generally takes about 10 months, she said.

McRoberts said she’d prefer to spend $200,000 on assistance for people living rough. “Let’s get the port-o-potties in there,” she said. 

She also criticized Lambton County, which is the level of government responsible for housing. The county “continues to push off folks that can’t be helped easily,” said McRoberts who is also a county councillor. “I’ve asked lots of times what Lambton County can do. There are folks not suited to shelters and outreach is all that is happening,” she said.

Coun. Anne Marie Gillis pointed out that other municipalities have been denied an injunction because they couldn’t prove they have “accessible” beds for people living in encampments. 

It’s not good enough to say there are shelter beds available for the homeless. The courts require beds that accommodate very specific needs, such as couples, pets and serious addiction and mental health issues.

“It doesn’t seem to me that we would be successful in (getting an injunction),” Gillis said.


At Coun. Adam Kilner’s request, city councillors who also sit on Lambton County council are going to ask that the county provide portable washrooms for the inhabitants of the Rainbow Park encampment.

On Wednesday (June 5 starting at 9:30 a.m.) when county council meets, all five city reps on county council need to be a unified voice on the issue, said Coun. Anne Marie Gillis.

“Please vote to support your city on this issue,” she said.  The five city/county reps are Mayor Mike Bradley, Coun. Chrissy McRoberts, Coun. Dave Boushy, Coun. Bill Dennis and Coun. Brian White.

Together, they have 15 votes and will only need a few other supporters from rural Lambton if they vote as a team, Gillis said.

“I know this is a challenging issue,” said Kilner. “But if we don’t address public health in a more meaningful way, this will be a larger problem.”


Aamjiwnaang officials issued a notice to residents Tuesday, warning of “extremely high” levels of benzene, forcing the closure of buildings, including the band office, located across the road from the Tashmoo Ave. facility. Journal photo

Despite Coun. Bill Dennis’ assertions that he knows people in industry who say the Aamjiwnaang call to lower allowable benzene emissions is “politically motivated,” city council voted 7-1 to back the Aamjiwnaang First Nation effort.

Council threw its support behind a letter by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that lobbies federal and provincial officials to take steps to ensure “that Ineos Styrolution remains shut down until such time as a permanent documented remedy has been implemented.”

The First Nation – which is located within Sarnia city boundaries – called for Ineos’ styrene plant to shut down April 16 after benzene spikes were detected by monitors and several Aamjiwnaang members became nauseous and dizzy.

Dennis was the only councillor at the meeting to vote against the motion. Coun. Dave Boushy was absent.


Suncor Agora. File photo

Mayor Mike Bradley was infinitely clear Monday about how much the Suncor Agora at Centennial Park bothers him.

“This project from day one has been a failure,” he said. “…Why don’t we just go back to ground zero and start all over again?” Bradley said the stage built in 2017 for $1.2 million, faces the sun, provides no cover for audiences, has been rejected by user groups who can’t access the stage, and is better off replaced.

Several on council agreed.

It’s a good idea to do a complete overhaul, said Coun. Adam Kilner.  Meanwhile, some  shade is sorely needed.

“Bulldoze it down,” said Coun. Bill Dennis. 

“We should talk to users and ask what they need,” said Coun. Chrissy McRoberts. She suggested leaving most of the structure and “repairing” it.

Council voted in favour of spending $25,000 on design work that will produce some shade at the facility sooner rather than later.


Nothing formally occurred but Coun. Chrissy McRoberts suggested the city pursue a Multi-Use Recreational Facility (MURF) located alongside Clearwater Arena.

It’s the perfect location, she said, citing ample parking, two existing ice pads, a nearby YMCA and a lot of open space and public washrooms. 

Coun. Bill Dennis asked how council could elevate a discussion about a MURF after the initial excitement about one seems to have faded.

CEO Chris Carter answered that it was best to leave it until 2025 budget deliberations.


City council chambers were empty Monday while the meeting was held on Zoom.

Details are scant but the mayor has said that meetings are online for the foreseeable future as a precaution. It’s a health and safety issue related to the Municipal Act, he said.

The city is waiting to hear back on an employment matter, Bradley added.

Meantime, Coun. Bill Dennis posted May 18 on social media saying he is named the respondent in a workplace harassment complaint and that he will be included in the investigation. 

A special meeting May 23 and a strategic planning session May 13 were also held online.

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free