"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

Monday 15 October 2007

Round and Round it goes. Where it stops nobody knows.

Bonanza night included another give-away. We had a presentation of a new and ambitious plan to regain the purity of Lake Simcoe.

It involves an expenditure of millions, with Aurora's share $400.000 over six years with an annual contribution of almost $67,000. A verbal motion was instantly approved in principle to hand over the dough.

The speed of the motion left me with my jaw hanging open. No time for reflection. No judgement on the merits of the argument.

Just...... “Yes sir. Yes sir. Three bags full, sir.” Lickety-split, Councillor MacEachern moved the request be approved in principle and it was .

I was not silent. I noted the premise of the presentation was flawed. I observed the Region is the responsible Authority for financing thr Conservation Authority and we provide the Region with the money.
I took exception to the link made between "the most populated" to "the most polluted and contributing most to the degradation of Lake Simcoe".

In the first place, Aurora and Newmarket's population does not outnumber Barrie and Innisfill. Our sewage effluent goes to Lake Ontario via the Big Pipe. Barrie's and Innisfill's goes into Lake Simcoe
Aurora and Newmarket have been creating Storm Water Management Ponds for the past fifteen years, to keep road and roof pollution out of creeks and waterways. For the same purpose and even longer, we have been replacing open ditches in older subdivisions with storm sewers .Property -owners have paid and will continue to pay a hefty price for these efforts. New home-owners pay within the price of their homes for the storm water ponds in their neighbourhoods.

I objected to the suggestion the people of the two towns are responsible for the degradation of
the lake. Cook's Bay. Cottages, turned into permanent homes ,clustered along the lakefront have septic tanks that flood in the high water of spring. As a consequence, the lake bottom is ooze, not sand.

A treatment plant had to be built at Alcona fifteen years ago because conditions almost to Lefroy were a serious health hazard.

Holland Marsh can't grow as much as a carrot without a ton of fertilizer.and it drains to the Lake.. Farm manure and fertiliser washes down from thousands of acres on hills surrounding the lake.

Heaven knows, we have problems enough to solve, without people who know better disseminating faulty information and a council that swallows holus-bolus every morsel of clap trap that's fed to them and without waiting for a full discussion and staff input into the validity of the request agree to a payment of $67,000 a year. It adds half a percentage point to the tax bill. .
Normally, I would hold my arguments for a council debate. But that did not happen. So, my only option is to tell the tale. Let the people decide if their interest is being served.

Friday 5 October 2007

How Not to Keep the Books Straight

This year we awarded a contract for $991,000 give or take a dollar for a new road on Knowles Crescent. There are 51 homes on the street. That's about twenty thousand dollars added value per house. We've been carrying out the renewal of infrastructure for a number of years now and paying for it out of general revenue.

Cost has balanced out across the community. Before we started this program, we were reconstructing and replacing underground services in the old part of town and everybody shared in the cost for that program. So... it has been fair and we have grown our assets.

Neighbourhoods built in the late fifties and sixties had semi-rural roads. Open ditches provided drainage and culverts under driveways. Road surfaces weren't much more than a sheet of asphalt thrown down like a table-cloth. Driveways were loose gravel.Only front yards were sodded.

Neighbourhoods have matured and the new roads really do add to real estate values. Many of us look forward to our turn, having had the chance to see how fantastic the improvement.
It seemed that's how it was going to be on Knowles Crescent until the curbs were installed.

There was still a layer of gravel and asphalt to be added but it looked like three or four driveways were so high and the road bed so low, that never the twain might meet.

Then the proverbial element hit the fan. Nothing said could assure a few residents the matter was well in hand. E-mails started flying, talk of legal action, a meeting with the Mayor, a court reporter present and a transcript prepared.

Out of that came the hiring of a consultant to consult with residents and explain the process. It cost $6,500.

To no avail. The consultant did not have the authority to give what these few decided they had to have. More talk of legal action.

The contractor, with two weeks left to complete the job, was ordered to stop.

Councillor MacEachern held a meeting with the disgruntled residents. Subsequently a delegation appeared at council with a list of complaints and demands.

On the spot, a much scribbled upon document from Councillor MacEachern was placed on the overhead and council, without ever having a document in hand, indicating what they were approving, made yet another $65,000 available to satisfy the demands of a few ...however reasonable they may or may not be.

In addition, the delegate, Ms. Bartolomeo asked for a “go-to person” to be named and that it not be the Town's Director of Public Works. She asked for Councillor MacEachern.

It was a bonanza night for demands from the public purse. Another resident staked her claim, in the name of her neighbours, to plan the landscape of Vandorf Sideroad. $6,000, not in the 2007 budget will be spent immediately on bushes and vines. There is a further invoice for $76,000 for the upcoming budget to fullfill that lady's wish list.

Last year, the town spent in excess of $2 million realigning a creek and constructing a road with a sufficient base to carry the weight of heavy industrial traffic. Vandorf is the designated route for truck traffic. It has been for thirty-six years. Residential streets in town are not designed for the purpose. Why would they be?

Now, I understand residents living south of Vandorf Sideroad have avowed their intent – the truck traffic will be removed. As we have had an election since they first raised the issue, we have no way of knowing as of this moment who may have promised what to the residents.

No doubt all will be revealed in the fullness of time. Stay tuned.