"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

Tuesday 23 February 2010

New Information

It's surprising what gets uncovered when questions are asked. I received a spread sheet on regional councillors' salaries and benefits. But not on conference expenditures. Also disclosed was remuneration for members of South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority.

Councillor MacEachern receives $480 a year.There's something funny about this.. A regional councillor sitting on a board, is not entitled to be paid in addition to the regional salary. I believe our regional councillor should be the board member. Councillor MacEachern was appointed by Mayor Morris.

Yesterday, I received information without solicitation. During the nineties, the Province increased conservation authority over lands in the flood plain. At the same time, they down-loaded the cost of the expanded operation to the municipalities.

The program is funded out of regional coffers.

I did not know that.

This is a biggy.

The innformation came from a Land Use Council situated in Sunderland, Ontario. Slightly to the north-east of us.Their concern is about the "disconnect" between conservation authorities and the municipalities they"serve"

Now, there's the problem . I have been labouring under the misunderstanding they were being governed and funded by the province. I thought the Province was paying almost all the cost and keeping tabs on their activities. Seems they are no longer.

If they are not and we (me) are not ....who is?

I mentioned a while ago about the Chairman of the Conservation being in Australia for a conference to receive some rinky-dink award. The Chairman is a Councillor in East Gwillimbury. Last week I learned the Chair's salary is $60,000. a year.

If our regional rep should be the conservation member. So should East Gwillimbury's regional rep.There should be no salary of $60,000 or $480.paid to anybody.

Susan Walmer is no longer Chair of the Environmental Committee. But she is a member and involved in other environmental activities. As well as being Chair of the Oak Ridges Moraine Trust. All of which takes on quite a different complexion with the new information .Ms Walmer came to Council during budget discussion with a recommendation for a "Management Plan" at town expense for lands we neither own nor control.

We budgeted for three of those. One in Sheppard's Bush ,one for the Ann Bartley Smith lands and one for lands on the eastern edge of town transferred to the Oak Ridges Moraine Trust of which Susan Walmer is Chair.

Ms Walmer has an office in a house on Sheppard's Bush. The question of rent is unknown at this time. Does Ms. Walmer collect remuneration. Is the job volunteer or what?

Those houses used to be privately rented out.

No more.

Why bother if the municipality is paying the freight? We provide all external maintenance. And pay in taxes for whatever other costs there are.

The Land Use Council is alarmed by the activities of the Conservation Authorities; the
affect on the tax rate; land values and mortgages.

Seems maybe nobody is watching the store.


walt said...

When you say it is funded out of "regional coffers" do you mean York Region, Simcoe County and Durham Region in the instance of the LSCA?

I could understand the downloading IF and only if a conservation area tends to be in one county/region. In the case of LSCA, though, it may be that the interests of the three regional/county governments may not necessarily enmesh.

As for the rinky-dink award (the Theiss Riverprize), it was for $350,000, which in my books ain't rinkety-dinkety. I do question $100,000 of that money going to some "twinning project" that will bear small fruit, if any, but at least the other $250,000 is going to fund regular watershed management. I'd swear these stupid twinning projects do nothing but allow politicians and governmental staff to get to fly somewhere new at taxpayer expense, but I digress.

Anyway, I've always been surprised that the LSCA maintains its offices in Newmarket - I wonder how the good folks of Simcoe County feel about their absentee landlord.

Anonymous said...

the title of one organization to which you refer is Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, not South Lake Simcoe. it has expanded and evolved over time. it was once the Upper Holland Conservation Authority i believe. not necessary to post my comment, i just thought you would like to appreciate the info. thanks