"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday, 28 May 2016


It's impossible to list differences between then and now. Or even choose among the major changes. Most obvious ,with widest impact, is development. And money. 

When I became Mayor, the Ontario Water Resources had just ruled the sewage treatment facility 
at capacity. Only twelve more residential permits could be issued. 

Development is the life blood of a municipality. 

At the time, I wondered how OWRC could  be so specific on liters of sewage flow. 

The country was still in the throes of a downturn in the economy due to the oil crisis. Farmers deposited loads of the stuff at the banks. They had taken on debt for modern machinery. Small businesses weren't making enough to cover their over-draft at the bank. Interest rates rose by double digits on debt. The town was hard pressed to keep taxes from rising even standing still.  

We borrowed and bought Jack Wood's farm at the south end and developed a showcase industrial park. It's not exactly how we planned it but the debt got paid in short order. Prestige lots close to Yonge Street could be sold without the profit factor.

In 1969, when County School Boards were created, the town rented Church Street School to the 
Public school board for $1.00 a year. The idea was, when it came time to build new headquarters 
they would be in Aurora. In 1976, election year, the town and board moved into a beautiful new joint administration building on Wellington Street. 

But first, to free up the spectacular location,we  had to move the works department to Scanlon Court. 

The works yard was the biggest  blight in town. A couple of rusty old quantset huts, Piles of dirty, used winter sand, rusty metal collected from all  over and stored until Christmas, and a raggle-gaggle collection of vehicles and equipment. 

So in a couple of years we had a new administration building,a new works building,pre-fabricated,no architect, and oh yes, we tripled the size of the library and started a showcase industrial park. 

Wellington Street was reconstructed by the Region. New underground services,sidewalks, 
lighting and tree planting  were all installed and funded by the town. 

When I was defeated in 1976, my predecessor the late Dick Illingworth  suggested I had gone too far too fast. 

I knew that wasn't the reason. 

What I remember now is the great excitement  of working, staff and council together, and so much accomplished in such a short time. 

In my first term as Mayor ,we completed a Business Improvement Area in the downtown block as well. It was follow through from the intent of the  previous council. Our new planning department was the main resource for that project. That's a story in itself. 

This post took off on its own direction. I'll get back to the difference between then and now another time.


Anonymous said...

I think you are right about development making a huge difference. When I first moved here, councillors could drive around Aurora and be seen in no time at all. it was quite common for one to drive by and stop to talk to people on the sidewalks or in their gardens. The pulse of the town could be quickly felt. Now there are so many competing sectors, most of them vocal in their demands. I would not wish to be a councillor now, nor any other politician. Some rain would be nice, though.

Anonymous said...

The Harris gov't planted a lot of bad memories to grow. Sometimes they are even worse than the really stupid ones nurtured by those who blame the single term NDP for all their woes.