"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 30 June 2012

Eenie Meenie Miny Mo

On Tuesday the contract was awarded to service the Leslie Street Lands. 
The estimate was $6 million dollars. 
The bids were in,Including  contingency, the award was $7,1 million.
I had understood the land sale netted $6million. I asked where we would borrow the extra $1.1 million for the servicing.
Bulk Barn will be paying a proportionate share. 
The Chief Financial Officer informed Council when the funds came in from the sale of  the land. the land sale fund would be sufficiently  replenished.
On Friday, Council received an e-mail from the town solicitor informing us the deal had closed as expected and $5,452.million had been deposited in the land sale account.
It's not $7.1 million but I will have to wait until July 4th to discover where we will be borrowing the cash to pay for the  servicing contract.

One potato,two potato.three potato.four.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Hey Ho ..The Merry O...No":

Sorry to be so slow. Are you saying that the soccer field has been ok'ed but that there has been no decision made on the Bulk Barn deal? I thought only Councillor Gaertner disliked that one. No one is driving the Aurora bus. Soon there won't be any passengers either.

The Bulk Barn deal closed on Friday.There's another story to tell there. 
Councillor Gaertner did not vote  for the Bulk Barn Deal. The jobs were not good enough. They are a mix. The  majority are head office with a number of warehousing jobs . There is room for  expansion.
The company is coming from Richmond Hill. Most employees are expected to come with them so they are not new job opportunities but that does not rule out  future opportunities  for Aurora residents.
The  application not decided on Tuesday is a new development on the south side of Wellington opposite Smart Centre between Leslie and the 404.
It is a mix of office and retail. and will be new jobs. Councillor Gaertner doesn't like the ratio I guess office jobs in that proposal aren't good enough  either.. On Tuesday, the Mayor and Councillors Gallo and Ballard  joined the Councillor and  tied the vote. Up to that point, there was no indication the vote was even close .
So,The Town still needs to make make a decision.
I'm not sure what jobs would fill the bill with Councillor Gaertner and  her supporters. Nor can I guess why the other three voted as they did. 
Teaching jobs in the proposed separate high school didn't make the grade for the Councillor either   Regional Police headquarters was voted down as well during recent history but not by this group.
But there was great enthusiasm for the Strategic Plan on Tuesday.
Councillor Gallo stated it raises Council's decision- making process to a higher level. We  no longer need to concern ourselves with  "minutaea " of  the town's operation.
It was just an hour later he voted in a tie against a recommendation to approve a development application worth $65million involving hundreds of hours of staff time, several discussions by Council and no doubt hundreds of thousands of dollars of private resources.
If the question at the next Council session is to refuse the application and it passes, we will be staring into the maw of an Ontario Municipal Board Hearing we can't hope to win but will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs to defend.the indefensible .
We have been there before.
Council authorised tenders be called for the artificial turf  field. 
The estimate is $1.4 million. We will not know the full cost until 
the bids are in.     

Hey Ho ..The Merry O...No

There's lots of time during Council meetings to do random figuring. 
Presentations and delegations last Tuesday took  one hour and twenty minutes.
Council did not complete the agenda until almost midnight. 
Overtime to complete the agenda  equaled time spent making presentations and  listening to delegations.

As the clock moved closer to midnight,  recommended   for approval , was  a development application which had taken months, several debates, hundreds of  staff hours and a mint to process.
It's a sixty-five million dollar development project.It will undoubtedly increase the assessment base by that amount. 
The previous Tuesday the vote to approve  staff's  recommendation  was seven to one.
The Mayor was absent.
Councillor Gaertner was consistent in  her argument that retail jobs are not as good as  office jobs andshe voted against.
As the clock came closer to midnight a recorded vote was taken
The Mayor and the Three Caballeros, Gallo, Gaertner and Ballard voted against the staff recommendation.
Councillors Abel,Thompson,Humphryes and Pirri voted in favour. 
I had left the chamber at 11.15p.m.
The vote tied. A tie vote is stalemate.
It is a non decision .. 
The Planning Act requires Council to make a decision.
The recommendation  must return to the Council table once more for a decision to be made. 
It will not happen until mid- July. 
Three more weeks of the construction season.  Without certainty.
The option is an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board which the Town  cannot possibly win.
Shades of the near-distant past. 

Robbing Paul To Pay Peter

When I left the Council Chamber at 11.15p.m. on Tuesday,,several weighty items remained to be decided.
One was $450,000 for an exteded  contract with a company   because the unit price was favourable.
It was discovered this year,the company had been  providing the same service to the Town of Newmarket for ten per cents less. 
Doesn't that make you feel  warm and protected all over ?
The service is cutting open perfectly fine sewer pipes to insert fibre glass lining which, in theory, is supposed to prevent  ground water from seeping into the pipes.
The purpose is to reduce sewage flow to the York Durham  trunk sewer and allow  more capacity  for development.
We have just now learned is there's no way to prove the practice is effective. We have been doing it for ten years.
No way to measure  ground water in the first place let alone that it actually enters  sanitary sewers.
We installed  storm sewers throughout the town to take away ground water. 
Regional  municipalities have been doing  the relining stunt for years. They are probably doing it in Durham Region as well.
Millions  have been spent already.
Yet when I asked the previous Tuesday how much ground water was being prevented from entering the pipes, the answer was, they have no way of knowing.
The Region is planning to spend more millions to find out,
 I called the item from the  agenda on Tuesday  to ask for a recorded vote.
I didn't expect  support to reject the recommendation.

$325,000 is a full point on the tax rate. Taxes were increased 4.5 per cent  or thereabouts in 2012
Another item on the agenda was a recommendation on what to do with the surplus from 2011.
Supplementary assessment in 2011, was twice as much as forecast.
Revenues from planning application fees were higher than anticipated. Combined,. the surplus was in excess of a million.
The Chief Financial Officer recommended it be tucked away in a reserve fund for a rainy day. 
Regulations used to be, a municipality can not budget for a deficit or a surplus.  We could not ake more in taxes that th cost of providing  services.
If a surplus happened,.it had to be applied to the next year's budget in order to ensure it was returned to those who had overpaid.
.Taxes were increased again this year by a rate that surplus would have wiped out. 
I think last year's contract for the cockamamie scheme to re-line sewer pipes to prevent ground water seepage was about $900,000. If it hadn't been spent, there might have been no increase in the taxes last year either.
It's one of the changes I notice between now and times past. 
No Council  or administration would have given a minute's thought to tucking away millions of dollars in surpluses into a reserve fund
to maintain  high annual tax increases 
It would  have meant certain defeat in the next election.   

Friday 29 June 2012

What Decision Was Made.

The  question has been asked. 
As noted  the  meeting was a  marathon. The agenda was already heavy with weighty  items. 
The Mayor presented  a couple of dozen certificates separately to young people who painted  picnic tables Each group posed  from  two directions.
Council and staff were an appreciative audience for a large part of the time allotted to deal with  town  business. 
I have suggested  presentations requiring only the Mayor's presence would be better held at another time. They could be  accompanied by a reception. 
Directors are entitled to time off- in- lieu, or pay for time spent at Council meetings. I suspect time spent  at Council meetings contributes  to many a four day week.
We  also had six delegations on Tuesday .We listened to rugby and soccer enthusiasts lecture about how far behind we are in providing facilities for ever growing numbers and inform us once again how much advantage  there  is to artificial turf.
One and a half  hours of three  and a half allotted time to deal with town business was taken up before we  started.
The decision was made to call tenders for the $1.4 million project to install the artificial turf at the community park.
It includes  additional cost of work to shore up an existing pond and exporting a mountain of  soil  from the site at $278,000.
We learned   it is not possible to forecast when the new storm water pond will be in place.
On Wednesday night, at the public planning meeting.the Consultant the 2.C. planning area, in answer to a question, said it would be possible for the storm water pond  in the new development to be built ahead of time.
The Conservation authority  must be  involved in the decision
 How much engineering is required to determine the appropriate location, I do not know. 
But the question was asked. Nothing hung on the answer . So I  take it at face value. 
A quarter of a million dollars is worth saving with nothing but  time involved.
It's a quarter of a million dollars the project doesn't have to cost.
It's development charges that can be used for a project of equally high priority.
I don't know what a skate board park costs.
 I've seen one in Georgina.
 It doesn't look cheap.
 But $278,000. would surely buy a lot of concrete. Space from the erstwhile storm water pond is also valuable in the scheme of things.
There is still time,under the circumstances, for  a change to be made. 


Wednesday 27 June 2012

This Is Not A Complaint Bureau

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Myth or a Legend":

As you said yesterday....

"Poltics...How She Is Played"


"A commitment had been made by the Mayor behind the scenes, with perhaps a few close associates in the know.
Enough to ensure the vote."

Is this not how politics is played? Seems to me that SIGs know how to play the game better than those on your side of the equation do.

Good for them to making sure they got what they wanted. If those that oppose stuff like the fencing of a park, or sidewalks on an unused street or agreements with historical buildings took a page out the AYSC's playbook they may be able to affect the changes that they want. Instead they try to complain through social media which in the majority of cases is preaching to the choir


I shall take the last part first.
Complaining is not what  happens here.
Here is where the story is told. 
We well  recall what happened in the last election because  people had been  kept informed. 
The last Council  did everything you recommend. to be  re-elected. They  used town staff to alert  special interest groups when Council looked like it may make a decision not in their favour.
The specific instance I refer to  is the traffic calming plan in the norh-west quadrant
Councillors allowed themselves to be persuaded in the face of the onslaught. Almost $250,.000. of town resources were spent.
The responsible parties  are  no longer playing a part in our political affairs.  Now we are contemplating undoing the horrendous mess  perpetrated upon the neighbourhood
The point is, there were no rewards at the polls when the term ended.The former Mayor we learn from recenyt e-mails had an excellent realtionship with AYSC.
It was no protection from  repudiation and humiliation. 
Social media was  with us then too. I do not recommend the old style of politics of using town resources to pander to this group and that to ensure re-election.
It can't be dressed up the way it used to. 
Four years is but a blink of the eye.
The case builds.
A new election will be upon us soon. 
I  shall  drum my fingers if I like. You are not the boss of me.
But I may look for a pad so as not to distract Councillor Abel from the pattern of his thoughts.

A Myth or a Legend

I left the  meeting at 11.15 P.M. Not a minute too soon..As I calmly washed my hands in the washroom. ,a sudden and unexpected thought raced through my mind.
Snowhite and The Seven Effing Dwarfs
Imagine if I'd given voice to that during a public  meeting.
How inexcusable!
But the fact is ,after a  four hour talk marathon  there is always the possibility  the roof will cave
Our job is  to  discuss and decide town business with utmost civility and restraint. We must agree to disagree while being mindful of the feelings of others.
Refrain from casting aspersions on the motives of colleagues.
Generally speaking, behave like paragons of virtue and pillars of society.
Last night was a surfeit.
Presentations to the young people who painted park picnic tables
were followed by six delegations.
Many heavy decisions needed  to be made.
 $1.4 million dollars  to increase the soccer field inventory was a decision that hung in the balance.
With the Mayor absent, the vote had previously tied.
The  soccer people were out in force to support their cause. 
The argument expounding the merits of artificial turf was repeated several times. 
We've done it twice already.
Council was admonished for lagging behind in the supply of fields..
Secure in the company of friends,Councillors on the side of the angels,took jabs  at the opposition.
Not the best way to win friends and influence enemies.
Councillor Abel in a flashback to a past he did not share, disparaged political decision making.
He waxed lyrical about the need to care for young people  and spoke of  hardships  when his children were young.
I countered with memories of a time before development charges.
Capital projects were financed by debt.
I had three boys playing hockey, two on rep teams at different times 
There was no arena and then there was one... It  meant rising at five on Saturdays and Sundays and driving all over to wherever there was  space to rent. 
Councillor Abel complained I distract him while he is speaking.
I  occasionally drum my nails on the table.. He says I only do it when he has the floor.. He could be right. I don't notice I'm doing it  much  less when.
I begged his pardon .
He was not  much mollified. 
Of course the dice was cast on the soccer field vote. .
The Mayor had already  met several times with soccer executives and   Director to discuss the  problem and assured the Club  the Director  was "diligently"working on the solution.
A commitment had been made by the Mayor  behind the scenes, with perhaps a few close associates in the know. 
Enough to ensure the vote.
The report however revealed difficulties.
Construction now means a quarter of a million dollars more than it would later. 
How much later is not known.
Soccer fields are  a high priority.in the Master Recreation Plan. 
A skateboard park has equally high  priority
New soccer facilities have been provided while the need for a skate board park languishes. 
Development charges have been collected.
But skateboarders are not the same young people, Councillor Abel is concerned about.
They don't have an adult executive to plead their case
They're a bunch of ragamuffin kids  trudging  around town in pairs, with a  board  under one arm or on a shoulder. looking for a place  to rock.The same kids  who might be carrying a kit bag a couple of years from now.
They find  places. They  damage  property. 
Yesterday, I heard about them careening down the incline of Kemano Road, at risk of speeding into the path of oncoming cars on Aurora Heights Drive.
But they are not on our radar. Oh Dear me, no.
                   Mirror, Mirror on the wall
                   Who is the fairest of them all

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Poltics...How She Is Played

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Easy Peasy":


You can view the AYSC financial statements on their website, in plain view for all. There is mention of prior questionable accounting practices there. All under executive and management that are no longer with the club, but have influence with other sporting bodies throughout Aurora and with our town. If you read through all the reports from AYSC you can get a better feel where the club sits now.
Both sides, right?
Absolutely right. Thank you for the information.
I  twice published the comment  from the AYSC member whose family  coached for several generations, were familiar with    problems of the past, how things  have  changed and that the house is being brought into order 
I thought  it  was important for people to know. 
I knew something of how things were before.  People tell me things. 
Not being  a member of the Association, there was nothing I could do.
Change had to come from within.
I know people in the community who will be relieved to know  things  have  changed and  continue to evolve for the better.
Opportunity  for additional  soccer fields was lost in  2010 when work on the multi- use field at the Stronach Centre was left unfinished,
Stimulus funds would have paid for  two thirds of the "shovel-ready" project.
But there were other priorities for that Council
Had  grading  been completed while the heavy equipment was on  site,  soccer fields would have been  there.
Two thirds of the cost  would have been paid  with Federal stimulus funds..It's worth repeating.
After creating  public controversy and opposition to the project 
because of  the estimates, Council's great thrust  then had to be to bring the project in  at less than the estimates. Even the ball diamond wasn't finished  as it should have been.
That's how politics interfere with  the job being done properly.
It's happening again.
We  just completed, at great expense, another artificial turf facility at St Maximillian Kolbe High School  Those things are freaking expensive.
Our funds, the board's  facility.
A good deal.
With hardly had  time to catch our breath, Council is being hustled to borrow another $1.4 million for the same purpose.
If the vote goes through, the Mayor will no doubt be a shining hero 
to some of his friends. 
Not to all.


Monday 25 June 2012

Whatsit ?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Time Has Come":

What a rude awakening! It's as if Aurora was under siege. We've mislaid a Museum and a Park. And now our kids are getting shafted. Will it never end?


Bless your heart!There's nothing rude about it.
It didn't just start.
It's not about to end.
It's the ordinary everyday business of  municipal oversight.
Despite Numbered  Policies, Provincial Regulations, Master Plans,  Official Plans, Strategic Plans and Precedents, we are a human community like any other.
Competing interests compete.  Every day and  all the time. The struggle to survive and do well is ongoing. For some it's harder than others.
Nine people from different backgrounds sit around a table,with  different skill levels, trying  to make decisions that are fair to all.
It's better if everybody at the table can agree that's why we are there. If the common objective is acknowledged, half the battle is won.
There really isn't room or time for jabs at each other.
Nowadays with televised  meetings and I hope,the internet to bring it all into people's homes, not much  can be hidden.
We are not compelled to see things from the same angle. If we listen to each other, we  have a  better chance of gaining a wider perspective.
If our audience  understands more of the  particulars, we can enjoy the tension  together. 
Council's job is to exercise judgement. Professional advice is not  the whole answer. 
Last week, I watched Bill Moyers interview an author of a book about the American  economic system and how it has failed. He wasn't a Republican but when he was asked what he thought of President Obama's handling of the financial crisis he had this to say;
"The President is an academic. He trusts the experts"
He raised his hands, as if that said it all.  I think it did.
I  believe he meant the President does not trust his own judgement.
There are opinion-makers who believe Councillors, being elected without experience, must trust the experts and simply do what they're told.
I am not one .  I have known too many "experts"  They vary.
Decisions we make are matters of judgement.
After we have heard from  the competing interests, ad I applied what we know and listen to each other, it all comes down to comes down to the tightrope of making a judgement.
Judgement is individual.
When you've done it often enough and made a few mistakes while you were at it, you get good at it.
It's like learning to ride a bike.You fall off a few times and then you get it .
If you never do it and rely completely on " experts " the decisions will not stand up to scrutiny.
You will never find your balance.
There will be no place to hide. .  

Easy Peasy

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Priorities May Be Skewed":

"Now we know 30% of AYSC membership don't even live in Aurora."

No, we have one person speculate that the rep teams are comprised of that percentage. That supposition doesn't include the more numerous house league teams.

That's  an easy one. Tomorrow when the office opens, I will call and inquire when the last audited  statement was filed with the Town.
I've never seen one  before. I understand they are required to meet the town's requirements  to receive the town' s  resident user fee.
A small  percentage of non-residents is permitted for minor sports organizations to be eligible.
It's some time since I had that discussion with the Director so I am a little hazy on  details.
At the time, AYSC was  registered non-profit  and had to file audited financial statements with another level of government. 
There was some question  about whether or not they had filed the required statement with the town, or whether the statement claimed to have been filed was the required statement for the other level of government. 
I was assured  the required  statement with the town was eventually filed.  I never actually saw it. I accepted the Director's assurance.. 
It's several years ago.
The question never arose again.
Until now.

What Cause?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Less You Know":

The Town does not pay the taxes (except the York Region portion perhaps)that you cite. It simply writes off the receivable. However, it looks good for your cause.

Here's what I know about the Legion and  taxes. 
Business complained to the government about unfair competition from Legions in the catering  business because they do not  pay property tax.. 
The Federal government is responsible for Veteran's Services. The Province is responsible for property taxes.
So,which ever one was responsible made the decision  to pass the decision on the Legion paying taxes,  to the Regions to decide.
York Region decided there should be no change.
It means  the Region  gets its cut of  Legion taxes, paid to them  by the town.
The Board of Education gets its cut of  Legion taxes from the Town  
On the books, Legion taxes are shown as paid. The Town  takes  funds from general revenue and pays the Region and the Board of Education and of course, receives no share itself. 
In effect, local business  provides employment, contributes to the local economy, pay taxes and a share of  Legion taxes who are competing with them for local business.
 These facts I have learned from speaking to people in the know in the municipal tax business. I have that access.
In the meantime old soldiers do die and veterans are fewer on the ground. Legion services were scant recognition of the sacrifices made by Canadians during World War 1 and 2.
If you weren't there you have  no idea.  
I am not citing things for ' my cause"  I am  providing information 
to people who  might  have an interest but never  a reason to ask.
I think  it's  good for people  to be informed about town business.
I don't know a reason to be coy about it .
In Aurora ,we have two buildings on Legion property whose taxes we are carrying.
They have water and sewers, fire and police protection. Garbage pick-up  and snow plowing and  lit road  access to their property. Soon they will have sidewalks on both sides of their street.  I'm not sure if they are billed for water and sewer service but I do know they don't pay for any of the rest of it.    

The Time Has Come

The deluge I anticipated has not materialized. 
I am re-printing the comment below because it signifies so well 
how things have changed. It provides insight and information we could never have had or been able to use without  social media. 
I have known  Aurora Youth Soccer Club is serving a far larger area than Aurora. I did not know the extent. The name is a mis-nomer.
I've heard of people ousted from the executive for daring to speak against  their policies. 
I knew about the glossy magazine because I receive  a copy. . I have a sense of what these things cost and the revenue raised from   advertising.
I have an idea of membership dues and know they mean millions of dollars  are being handled by the club.
I knew about  rental of  a suite of offices because a request was made to the town to lend money to adapt them for the club's  use. 
I knew about the office staff, the foreign tournaments and the expensive coaches because it was all proclaimed in the magazine.
None of  it resembles in the slightest any other minor sports organization in town that struggles to keep dues reasonable.
There has never been an argument with staff , the club is anything but a thriving business.
But when it came to resisting demands for increased  facilities, arguments were limited because  there were  no percentages.No concerns expressed by parent members.
That has changed.Things always have to get worse before they get better.     

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Incoming Deluge":

I am from a soccer family and coached for many years with AYSC. We have watched the club grow and change over the years. We have seen expensive programs and fancy soccer schools and high profile coaches command most of the clubs budget for years. The previous board of directors and management staff promoted a Doors Open policy for the club to include anyone who wished to sign up to the club, not just Aurora residents. Almost a if you come, we will build it mentality, and developed a fine friendship with our past mayor. Field space became difficult to acheive with the growth of the competetive division of the club. We have 10 age divisons, both boys and girls that support 2 or even 3 representative teams that all need lit full size fields to play on. If you had to poll all the competitive teams, you would find over 30% of the players are non residents.
We field as many teams as towns and cities 5 times our size. So that is a club problem, and not a town issue at all. The current AYSC does NOT support the glossy magazine and the shinanigans that went along with it. It would be in councillors best interest to realize that the current folks running the AYSC are completely different from the past management. Thank God. If the club actually reigned in on its number of rep teams, we may see the need for fields dropping in the near future. Time for the club to look really hard in the mirror before running to the town for more field

Priorities May Be Skewed

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Let Both Sides Be Heard": 
If the fund is in deficit, can they still spend it in anticipation? Not on my budget but Council appear to have different rules. The current crop came in to cut & reduce spending limits established by the past one. They should keep that in mind. Clock's ticking & taxpayers are watching & listening.
The fund is in deficit. Development charges are paid when building permits are issued. Funds will be available at that time.
In the meantime, at last  accounting, there were  $13 million  in the Cash-in-lieu of parks reserve fund which can be borrowed .
Cash -in-lieu  we take when new construction does not create a need for  new facilities:; that is  commercial or industrial buildings. It generates a slush fund. 
Development charges are calculated on facilities needed as a result of the new growth. It could be vehicles and equipment and buildings for fire and works. 
It can't be for general maintenance .
Municipalities used to be able to use 100% of the funds for new facilities. The regulations now allow only 90% to be used. 10%
has to come from  town resources. The cash-in-lieu  fund can be used but we haven't.
We can also encourage  users to pay the 10% . Minor Hockey has added a surcharge to memberships to pay for new ice facilities.
AYSC are paying the 10% for the artificial turf field at Sheppard's Bush. 
It cost $600ks. The parks department saved $400ks by doing much of the work to put it in place.
I didn't hear the same deal was made for the field at St  Max High .  So, probably not. 
Here's the thing,  $1.4 million  is recommended for still more soccer facilities without reference to  other needs that might take priority.
Now we know 30% of  AYSC   membership don't even live in Aurora. The club fields many more rep teams than other towns twice  our size. And that's what creates pressure on existing fields.And the club is a commercial operation demanding more and more public facilities be provided so they can grow their operation. 
I think we have to ask ourselves, what other facilities are we not providing  while this club  gets everything it asks for using house league  kids, squeezed off the fields to make way for multiple rep teams, as the excuse for their demands.
We have a serious problem with kids and skate boards. 
Thirty five years old  now at least, skateboarding is not a fad. 
Serious  damage is caused to public property because they don't have a place to do what they do. . 
Is it time to provide a real skate board park? What would it cost? Where should it be?  How long has it been in the master recreation plan with development charges collected and the need  shoved aside because they're not organized like other minor sports ? 
They don't have an in with the Mayor. 
And Oh Yes, they're unlikely to be able to muster several hundred votes at election time to buy and sell the politicians.

Define Bizarre

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Political Imperative ? Not":

The Director also attended secret meetings in the company of the Mayor with the Center. To pretend he is not a main player is totally bizarre. Even if his seat at the table is not occupied, his presence is real and palpable.

Who are we hearing from now?
Someone else who attended secret meetings with the Centre Board the Mayor and the Director?
That would have to be a member of the Centre board I think. 
Who is pretending the Director is not a principle in the matter of   negotiations?
Not I
Who was the principle in the original negotiations? Nobody knows. 
Files are destroyed.
The Director has been directed by this Council to  carry out  negotiations for a new arrangement with the Centre board.
It may well prove to  be unproductive from some perspective.
But the only bizarre aspect is the original  unsustainable agreement  this Council has continued to honour with the centre board.

What Do You Know

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "That Damned Elusive Pimpernel":

I bet you still have staff on the payroll who are swearing to support the old regime.
With what is going on around the South-East corridor I have no doubt a Heritage staffer is still engaged on the Ex-Mayors behalf.

What's going on in the south-east corridor. Pray tell.
We  have one heritage planner on staff. I am fairly certain she is not engaged on anybody's behalf  let alone the ex-Mayor.
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion apparently has a court date for June 26th 2012 , for the Conflict of Interest charge filed against her
to be heard.

The Less You Know

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Political Imperative ? Not":

Should the user pay?

This has been a question often asked but never satisfactorily answered.

A long-time neighbour has paid property taxes on their home for over forty years. They are childless. And yet a large portion of the tax they pay goes toward the cost of education. Is this fair?

What about the family four houses over with four children, all in university now. Their property taxes are about the same as those of the childless couple. But their four children travelled through the public school system, each for 13 years, counting kindergarten. So they received a huge benefit in comparison to the neighbour. Is this fair?

A similar question can be applied to municipal facilities, be they soccer fields, swimming pools, parks and roads. Is it possible to assess a user fee for these? Would such fees be fair?

It seems that this is a question without an equitable answer.

There is an answer. Not equitable though.
For a number of years the Province has been absorbing increases in education taxes Their intention was to reduce  the burden of taxes for education . In response to demands from municipal politicians. It means the Province has complete authority.
No noticeable reduction in taxes occurred  though because council is advised  the intent was to leave more room for the municipality to tax for other programs.
It seems Councillors are all so well off  they can't imagine taxes being a hardship. Doesn't matter how the assessment base grows or senior leels of government hand over as share of this and that, we just keep jacking the taxes up.
We are putting money into reserve funds so that people who live here twenty ,thirty or forty years from now won't have to pay as much in taxes for what it costs to maintain the facilities built for them by us. 
There are user fees for most  municipal facilities. Except when waived for people who make a request. Usually a group  claiming  to be special or a charitable or non-profit organization.
It means a higher total for the charity by the amount of the user fee or more money in the pockets of a non-profit organization. 
Some groups pay no fees. The tennis club, lawn bowling club, men's soccer club. 
The  Legion is on the books as paying taxes. They don't. It's a transfer from town revenues to cover  their regional and education taxes and forfeit our own share.
The Legion has  two buildings on the property and they lease  part of the parking lot for school buses which  are privately owned.
The town bought a portion of their property from them a number of years ago to use for soccer fields. 
Then somebody came up with the brilliant idea for a public private partnership to erect a bubble to  accommodate soccer year -round.
Taxes on that are $50,000 a year for the twenty year term of the agreement which relieves the private operator of all taxes. 
So the town pays those taxes as well. 
An agreement with the Legion allowd access to the bubble  across their parking lot. I hear they put  chain across it to prohibit 
Now  you know a bit more than you did before. Sometimes it seems you may be better off not knowing.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Balance in All Things

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Political Imperative ? Not":

"Unless of course, you take the matter in hand, as you have before, and let Councillors know what you think of the plan."

How exactly is that different from the "Incoming Deluge" (which you maligned) in favour of the proposal?
The incoming deluge has not yet materialized.  Instead  an informative comment was received which shed  a more in- depth  light on the issue than  presented to Council.

When a pressure group organizes to influence a Council decision in their favour, as is their right,  there is only one way to counter-act the pressure.

It  is for citizens at large to be alerted to the  vested interest decision  being contemplated by Council  and  provide the opportunity to get their  oar in the water fast.

All is fair in love and war and pressure  from citizens  for   extravagant expenditures  that pander to special interests
and counter pressure from the opposition. 

The social media provides for timely intervention and I exult in being the messenger .

If  pressure is sufficiently intense, the most well-meaning politicians will  buckle. They need to hear strong representation from the community with  support  to follow their best judgement.

When a one-side argument fills the air waves and channels of communication, it sounds like the only argument.of what the people want.

 Getting the other side of an argument is  called balance .

 I stand  consistently for balance. The former Mayor was wont  to refer to it slightingly as "  modus operandi "

It's something else I do not apologise for.       

Political Imperative ? Not

Thanks for your email. Our staff check the fields regularly, so, if you could advise on the specific field (s) that need work it would be a big help.

 I know that when I was an AYSC coach, the fields owned by the public board (for example Aurora High & Williams) were usually the ones that needed the most TLC.
Mr ..... and I have met with the AYSC executive on a number of occasions to discuss the availability of fields and he has been working diligently on filling that need. Indeed, the approval for multi-use field is coming before Council on next Tuesday and you are most welcome to come to the meeting and express your views.
Indeed, any member of the public is welcome to come to any Council meeting and express their views on any subject. To suggest that the AYSC has not been allowed to express their views to Council is incorrect. In fact, I have encouraged a number of groups, including the AYSC, to come to Council so that we are aware of your plans. I continue to encourage this

I have re-printed this e-mail for a purpose.

I've no doubt the Mayor responds to all citizens e-mails. As he should . Councillors do not always receive copies.

I was already frankly suspicious of skullduggery .

The Mayor notes " the Director and myself have already met with AYSC executive a number of occasions to discuss the availability of fields and  the Director has been working diligently on filling that need"

He refers to approval coming before Council  on Tuuesday and  urges the club supporter to come to Council and express her views

Shades of  the campaign fought  by the Culture Centre Board and the  circuitous route taken at the Council table
by the machinations of the Mayor, Councillors Humphryes and Thompson.That vote was supported by Councillors Gallo Gaertner and Ballard. 

Nobody made a comment then about strange bedfellows.  

Several indices can be taken from the Mayor's e-mail.

First the frequent meetings between the Mayor and the Club  have borne fruit. The Director has been working diligently to solve the problem of a shortage of fields. 

There is recommendation to Council for expenditure of $1.4 million dollars of funds from a reserve fund in deficit, for a second artificial turf surface within a year.

Whether or not these facilities are a priority at this time had not been determined nor was direction given by Council to proceed along these lines. 

The issue has never been brought forward.A significant step bypassed.

It seems  the decision to recommend, supported by four members of Council and the Mayor, could be deemed to have been made out of sight and sound of Council.

In the Mayor's office.

It's a theory I have formulated from another recent recommendation to Council that  the town budget  $100,000  for a sequicentennial celebration. .

Instinct stirred. The recommendation seemd to be initiated by the Director.The angry, frustrated  reaction of the Mayor belied the fact  and bolstered my suspicion.

When all was said and done, only the Mayor and Councillor Pirri supported the recommendation. I believe Councillor Pirri spends more time at the town hall than any other Councillor. He may have been a party to  pre-discussion. 

A hint of political connotation in a previous recommendation was noted In a public meeting. Eyes met and I knew.

The Director is extremely conscientious  about the line he may not cross. He never intervenes in  political debate. Never answers a question unless directed to do so by the presiding member.

He received his training, at the hands of a veteran Clerk  in another municipality.  Was banished from  Council meetings for a period in his early days, for speaking without permission to do so.

Ironically and unfortunately,politicians without experience may  corrupt the process, unwitting of the line that may not be crossed by either side.

It is not an unwritten law. A clause in the Code of Righteous Conduct sets out clearly  that the administration is employed by the Town and takes direction through resolutions of Council.

No single member of Council, including the Mayor,has authority to direct the administration.

The former Mayor corrupted the process.but good.  There was no hesitation to dominate.The administration offered no resistance

There were no illusions.  it was her way or the highway.

I  do not suggest history is repeating itself. 

But ...the Mayor's e-mail to the soccer club supporter  clearly  indicates  personal involvement in resolving a problem presented  as a shortage of facilities.

No doubt kudos are earned from the executive of the Club through successful intervention on their behalf.

Except .... Council's  authority  cannot be protected by abuse of the  authority of the Mayor's office.

The current administration is clearly comfortable with the  Mayor's participation in their side of the town's business.

They are  accustomed  to that face.

It appears he  may not be the only  Council  member who find security therein. As long as they form a majority, there is safety  in numbers. 

The community on the other hand, may take no comfort in the situation.

If a recommendation to spend $1.4 million to meet  the demands  of the Aurora Youth Soccer Club is  the result of complicity of friends in the right places,,there can never be  assurance of even-handed decision making.

There is  an absence of integrity of process.

After reading the  e-mail,there is no doubt of how the Mayor's vote will break the tie at Tuesday's Council meeting.

Unless of course, you take the matter in hand, as you have before, and let Councillors know what you think of the plan. 

It is readily agreed  the Aurora Youth Soccer Club is a private business. It does not function like other hand-to-mouth  minor sports organization  in town.

The  third comment in the post below verifies resident members  of the club have  issues with Club policies.

By no means are they satisfied resident needs are prioritized.

Private soccer schools,numerous rep teams in every class,.
expensive coaches ,glossy magazines and associated shenanigans, 30% non-residents membership, all swallowing up a disproportionate share of club resources are cited as the problems creating excessive demands for more facilities from the town. 

Residents who already know something of the history of this club will be glad to realize  there's a fresh wind blowing through the corridors of that power structure. .

Aurora Councillors would be wise to take something from this exchange.

How the tie vote resolves itself on Tuesday will be interesting to watch.

You're welcome. 


Saturday 23 June 2012

We May Be Streaming Next Week

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "First Letter..My Response..The MAYOR'S RESPONSE":

It is unfortunate that meetings of General Committee are not recorded for public viewing. If they are, where does one obtain access to same?

Minutes of Council and General Committee meetings are no doubt factually correct but do not reflect the discussion and debate that occurs. And unless there is a request for a recorded vote the voting by individual councillors is never known. Another most unsatisfactory situation.

Evelyn, you are the only source of much that transpires at meetings of our elected representatives. And occasionally you make a mistake. A video recording is the only faithful and accurate source of information.

In this age of communication and technology wizardry, why can't the town provide this service, and probably at very little cost, through their Communications Department?

It is extremely frustrating to watch from the sidelines while the expenditure of millions of taxpayer dollars is being discussed, debated and voted on, without a clue as to who said what.

Can you please bring this matter before the next Council meeting on June 26? Thank you.
Stephanie,Cheyene and Abigail have taken Mickie the dog out for walk. When they come back I will ask Stephanie about making the print larger.
I asked about getting Council on utube during Tim Jones' last term in office. I was told the proper term is streaming the meetings. 
I have asked several times since and on Tuesday night we had a gigantic screen on the floor behind the Council table.
There was a message on the monitors about visitors in the chamber being able to get a password if they would like  to participate.
I have no idea what that meant. Can't for the life of me think why people on hand during a Council meeting would need a password
or how they could participate. 
The agenda was huge  There was a report on the program. The  screen had to do with making  the  new service.available but there  were so many items to deal with and so many not dealt with, we didn't deal with it.
I hope  it means people at home will be able to follow Council and Council in committee at  a time of their choosing on their own  computer ..
People who are not on the internet will not be able to avail themselves. It's a six months trial and the first two months will be  during the summer recess.  The trial  is to  cost $7,500 for six months. 
We should be able to get a full explanation of how it works on Tuesday at Council .
I expect it to be approved. It's just too bad the first two months will be limited opportunity to put it to the test.  

First e-mail..My Response..The Mayor;s Response and still another e-mail SE

The following are e-mails received and sent in the order presented. I have published all because of how the picture changed as  information came forward.
Aurora Youth Soccer  Club is not like any other minor sports  association I have ever seen.
Looks like they might have established another nice friendship in the Mayor's office. 

 I am a resident of Aurora and a volunteer and parent of two children that play soccer at the Aurora Youth Soccer Club.  My daughter Christina plays on a competitive team and my son plays on a house league team.  We have lived in Aurora for 10 years and have been associated with the AYSC for over 7 years.  We are proud that our kids can play soccer in Aurora.  We have noticed over the years that several fields are in disrepair and that there is a need for more fields .  Further, I understand that a lot of the fields are in such disrepair that we could no longer host the Aurora competitive tournament in July.  The girls were always very proud to be the host this tourney in Aurora.  I have been told that the AYSC has requested for more fields to deal with these issues and that the AYSC has not been allowed to demonstrate this need to the Aurora council.  Given that the club has 4,000 kids playing soccer I would have thought the AYSC would  be able to be heard by council.

There are lots of benefits to soccer …one of which it will keep my kids in shape and off the streets in their young teenage years.  It is a great outing in the summer and I would not want any kids in a Aurora to not be able to experience this great sport.

Unfortunately, I cannot make the council meeting on Tuesday due to soccer games.  But, I hope that you will hear the AYSC’s proposals  at the next council meeting.  Thank you all for making Aurora a great place to live.

Thank you for your e-mail and your expression of  appreciation for the facilities Aurora provides for young people to play soccer.
I myself am proud of the service provided to young players. I know parks staff take great pride in providing the best fields in the Region.
A few years ago, we added our first artificial turf  to our inventory at Sheppard's Bush.
This year we entered into an agreement with St Maximillian Kolby High School  and  another artificial turf facility  has been built on  their property at our expense.
I believe you have been misinformed about the condition of our soccer fields.
We have an agreement with an operator of a bubble which provides space to  your organisation 
Over the term of the agreement Aurora taxpayers will have paid  taxes to York Region and the Board of Education in  excess of a million dollars for a year round facility that benefits the Aurora Youth Soccer Association.The bubble is erected on town owned land.
I am not aware the  Association has been denied an opportunity to address Council on the issue of providing  further additional fields this year.  
The association  continues to grow  despite your assertion of a shortage of fields. 
They offer professional services including coaching and  tournaments in distant lands. They publish a magazine. They have  private office facilities and a corporate staff complement. 
You note in your e-mail, you anticipate  Aurora Youth Soccer Association will be heard by Council on Tuesday.
I look forward to the delegation.I expect yours may be the first of a flood of e-mails suggesting the town may be failing youth soccer in Aurora. 
I assure you it is not the case
E-mail response from the Mayor. 

 Thanks for your email. Our staff check the fields regularly, so, if you could advise on the specific field (s) that need work it would be a big help.

I know that when I was an AYSC coach, the fields owned by the public board (for example Aurora High & Williams) were usually the ones that needed the most TLC.

Mr Downey and I have met with the AYSC executive on a number of occasions to discuss the availability of fields and he has been working diligently on filling that need. Indeed, the approval for multi-use field is coming before Council on next Tuesday and you are most welcome to come to the meeting and express your views.

Indeed, any member of the public is welcome to come to any Council meeting and express their views on any subject. To suggest that the AYSC has not been allowed to express their views to Council is incorrect. In fact, I have encouraged a number of groups, including the AYSC, to come to Council so that we are aware of your plans. I continue to encourage this
Anonymous comment to the post  on both sides should be heard. 

I am from a soccer family and coached for many years with AYSC. We have watched the club grow and change over the years. We have seen expensive programs and fancy soccer schools and high profile coaches command most of the clubs budget for years. The previous board of directors and management staff promoted a Doors Open policy for the club to include anyone who wished to sign up to the club, not just Aurora residents. Almost a if you come, we will build it mentality, and developed a fine friendship with our past mayor. Field space became difficult to acheive with the growth of the competetive division of the club. We have 10 age divisons, both boys and girls that support 2 or even 3 representative teams that all need lit full size fields to play on. If you had to poll all the competetive teams, you would find over 30% of the players are non residents.
We field as many teams as towns and cities 5 times our size. So that is a club problem, and not a town issue at all. The current AYSC does NOT support the glossy magazine and the shinanigans that went along with it. It would be in councillors best interest to realize that the current folks running the AYSC are completely different from the past management. Thank God. If the club actually reigned in on its number of rep teams, we may see the need for fields dropping in the near future. Time for the club to look really hard in the mirror before running to the town for more fields.

Off Wth The Raggle Taggle Gypsies OH!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Let Both Sides Be Heard":

Isn't it funny who you are often voting along with lately...
Let's take a look at that and determine what ,if anything, there is to make of it.
I do not  nor have I ever discussed Council  business prior to a meeting. I am not averse. The opportunity does not present.
What I  say and how I vote is decided in the course and at the end of a debate.
I  arrive at an issue with a strong leaning. I make my case, listen to the opposing argument, respond  if  opportunity presents  and cast my vote.
If my argument has influence, that's  gratifying. It's mine and everyone else's reason for being there.
Two people speaking along the same lines, lends strength to an  argument. One picks up allies wherever one finds them.
I don't make deals beforehand. I don't need support and I don't want to renege.
I don't count  votes.Once the  question is decided  it makes little difference where the numbers were..
Staff reports are clear and direct. I don't them to be defined.
.I spend very little time at the town hall. I steer clear of inordinate influence. 
If I  need clarification. I ask and receive . Explanations are, clear, succinct and fulsome.
I never ask anyone how I should vote.  
Sometimes I make mistakes. I seldom dwell on them. I don't feel
compelled  to wear sackcloth and ashes. 
Expectations of myself is to do the best I can 
Votes on Council are often unanimous which are not notable.  It simply means the issue is not contentious.
A tie vote is interesting. It only happens when a members is absent.
The question is left hanging about how it will go when the decision must be made.  A tie vote is not a decision.
But if a tie vote happens at a council meeting , it raises the question of re-consideration.  
There is a tendency to "team" around the Mayor. It's not unnatural.  Councillors  hang out together.at various events. They  mainly hear views compatible to their own. Doesn't mean they won't change their mind if they hear something they didn't think of  before.. 
There is a  a distinct possibility of that if they have to hear from  someone who has been around since Methuselah 
They do listen.
Aurora Council is not split into factions. 
Not have enough time is available for informal exchange before we go  on stage ,in the public eye, under the microscope and are compelled to make decisions as we speak. .
The almighty thrust towards vaunted  openness and transparency comes at a price. That  price is not being able to exchange ideas informally and out of the glare of publicity where everyone has to demonstrate rapier skills or die. 
So people meet in bars and coffees shops in smaller numbers and   form conclusions and  alliances hard to renege.
I watch it, I recognise it. It does not disturb me because however uncomfortable  they make things for themselves, Councillors do vote for what they believe is right. 
I include all Councillors.
If Councillors Gallo, Gaertner and Ballard find themselves voting with me , I sincerely hope it causes them no embarrassment because it disturbs me not a  whit.     

Let Both Sides Be Heard

About the  $1.4 million project not recommended  for approval  at next Tuesday's Council meeting. 
Location is  west of the Stronach Recreation Centre.It's completion of a sports campus. It could have been done when the baseball diamond was constructed in 2010. with a two-thirds stimulus grant from the Federal government. The administration  had other priorities and an application was not made.  
BTW, Frank Stronach paid two million  for his name to be on a facility constantly referred to by an acronym. If I were a rich man solicited to pay for my name to be on a public facility,  the practice of  using acronyms  would not entice me.
But I digress. 
The site has a mountain of soil, It started when the centre was constructed, Hills had to be leveled for the baseball diamond and the mountain grew. 
Hard estimates for a diamond on that site,were over a million. In large part due to contours of the site. A great hullabaloo  was created when the estimate was presented.   A previous estimate for a diamond without an identified site, was $600,000.Former Councillor MacEachern, chairman of the Recreation Advisory Comittee undertook to determine cost of a ball diamond elsewhere was much less. 
After public opposition was established ,the master plan priorities came to the fore. The  imperative became how to satisfy needs and at the same time convince self-generated  opposition  that the forces of  all things righteous  were triumphant in beating back  the forces of extravagance. 
Only in politics, you say.
The project was truncated and we are now dealing with  the consequences. 
The mountain of soil and leveling of hills are a large  part of  the cost to complete the sports campus.
A storm water management pond that can and should be relocated is on  site. 
Future  development  west  will accommodate drainage of the site. The mountain of soil could be used to fill the pond. Saving the cost of  exporting it.. 
Land would increase for recreation purpose. 
Cost of  moving  the mountain and works to stabilize the pond  is estimated to be $278,000.
Cost of  another artificial turf field  is the big ticket item.
Staff time has already been expended in detailing plans  and estimates . 
The sports campus would be completed, A worthy objective
Development charges and Cash in Lieu reserve funds would fund much of the work.
But the DC fund is in deficit.
Artificial turf is a huge investment. There are advantages  But it would be the second  funded this year.
In  time, we don't know when, the storm water pond will be relocated and a quarter of a million dollars for the project will have been  unnecessary.
We are currently negotiating with Ontario Real Estate, an agency of the government, for a lease  for  fields on provincial lands.
So, the issue becomes a matter of  judgement; whether the  need is pressing? What the competing needs are for available  resources?
Votes to proceed  last Tuesday were Councillors Abel,Thonpson,Humphryes and Pirri. Voting not to proceed at this time were myself, Gallo,Gaertner and Ballard.
A tie vote is a defeated vote.But the decision is still to be made. 
The tie-breaker would have been the Mayor's vote.
The community influenced the vote on spending $100.000 on a  year long celebration of the sesquicentennial.
The community can influence this decision too.
Pressure  has already started for the project to proceed 
Let the other side be heard.
Let the judgement be even-handed.   

Incoming Deluge

Council has received the start of a likely deluge of e-mails filled with misinformation about condition  and shortage of soccer fields
and disappointment that Council may not approve  an expenditure of   $1.4 million dollar  at Tuesday's council meeting.
The vote was tied. The Mayor was absent, Depending on community input the vote could  change one way or another on Tuesday.
The new  facility would be our third artificial turf surface the second in a year.  A new one has just been completed at St Maximilian Kolbe high school. 
Built on school property, at our expense, it  adds significantly to the  field inventory. Artificial turf means the play season is extended by months. It can be played in all weathers and accommodates more games in a day. Maintenance is substantially less . It costs a million dollars to build. 
The first one was built at Sheppard's Bush.  $400,000  was saved using the skills of  parks department employees.
The soccer  program  is provided by Aurora Youth Soccer Club. Our correspondent informs us there are  4 thousand  youth  members with parent volunteers. .A tournament  in July will not be hosted this year because of a shortage of soccer fields.
The club operates out of  privately rented facilities, has a full staff complement and professional coaches .Teams participate in tournaments world wide.  A glossy magazine is published annually.
It's not like any minor sports association I know.
My son coached soccer in Barrie for a while. He told me the kids played on sand. 
My daughter  coached baseball in Newmarket. They brought a team to play a game in Aurora . The baseball  diamond was picture perfect. like manicured.  They didn't get to play it because the Aurora team didn't show  and the game was forfeited. 
I know  the town  parks department take tremendous pride in what they do. Facilities  provided  are second to none.
A few years ago, a fence around soccer fields in the vicinity of schools was recommended to prevent abuse and misuse. Council shot them down. 
After a downpour, soccer fields cannot be used without causing damage that takes weeks to repair.They are not allowed to be used in these circumstances. 
I know that. Management of Aurora Youth Soccer Club know these things  better than anyone else.
AYSC has the same right as anyone to input to  Council to approve a new facility. 
But to  misinform parent volunteers  to pressure   politicians to approve a $1.4 million dollar expenditure on the basis of misinformation and  in the face of  serious concerns  is not acceptable..
I  have a sense  Aurora Youth Soccer Club has  serviced  a far greater area than Aurora for many a long year..
Parents should perhaps turn their attention to continued growth of the Club that squeezes their children out more than a shortage of  tax supported facilities. 
And Oh Yes! We have that money pit  bubble behind the Legion  that provides year-round access to soccer facilities
Erected on Town  land, over  the term of the  much touted public/private partnership  agreement of twenty years , it will have cost the taxpayers of Aurora  a million dollars 
We pay taxes  to the Region and the Board of Education on their behalf.. The use  became commercial  as soon as the bubble was erected.  The agreement  provided  the operators would pay no taxes.  So the town is stuck paying taxes not anticipated when the agreement was signed. It seemed somebody anticipated. else why  the clause about non-payment. 
Management of the Aurora Soccer Club Association are  aware of these factors. They lobbied for that Soccer  Bubble Agreement.
They apparently enjoy a substantial benefit from the deal. 

The Times We Live In

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "That Damned Elusive Pimpernel":

5:41, maybe Cllr Buck will feel sorry for you and delete your comment. Such stupidity must be really embarrassing for you
It's the thing about being anonymous , nobody needs to feel embarrassed about anything they write because nobody knows who they are. The only name known is mine.
Here's what I know. At least two people in Aurora bear the same name.
One is the treasurer of the Culture Centre. The other is not.
The latter was born and  grew up in Aurora. 
I remember her leaning over the side of  her mother's shopping cart in  Larry Rubin's beautiful brand new I.G.A.store  on Yonge Street.
It was the first in- store bakery supermarket and the place was filled with the smell of freshly baked bread just out of the oven. 
Jean Strange was behind the counter in the coffee shop. She made the best tuna salad on brown sandwiches, bar none.The coffee shop was  meeting place for old codgers.
Heidi was a beautiful round child  with  a shock of white blonde hair and rosy cheeks on a porcelain skin  
Her  hair and complexion were likely a gene from her Swiss grandmother whose  hair was like a small white cloud enveloping her head. Grandparents  came to Canada  to help out when Heidi's Dad was  starting up St Andrew's gas station. They pumped gas while Fritz did car repairs and provided  towing  service. night and day and  in the winter.
The grandparents lived in the cabin on  the north side of the station.
So  Heidi grew up to be an earth mother, a vegetarian, a  writer of long letters to the editor , a ceaseless campaigner for universal love and peace and protection for the environment.
All good things. 
A product of her times.  .