"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

Sunday 31 August 2014

Just giving you the facts,Man

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Best Laid Plans gang aft agley":

Wow...I didn't expect to be called a liar councillor buck..this is the first time I've visited your blog and I posted a harmless comment about why I think a new building is warranted and it's said my comment is fishy...I came to the works yard to speak to the supervisor after receiving a bill in the mail from the town for the emergency works when my sewer backed up. He took me to his office to show me the camera footage to prove to me that the issue was not on the town side. Nothing fishy about it. Maybe you should ask Mr ------if he had buckets in his office catching water from the leaky roof and then perhaps apologize...

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 30 August 2014 23:45


You were not called a liar. I don't know who YOU  are. You did not convince me. I was not persuaded Parts of  your story  did not add up. Details in your second comment were not in the first.

I have removed the name of the works foreman from your comment. Staff do not like their names bandied about on the web..If it comes through anyway, I will have to remove the comment.

 I  am providing you a second opportunity to clarify your remarks.

Your initial support of need for new accommodation was redundant. There has never been disagreement about need to replace the facility.

Your reference to "developers' money" being used to a pay for the facility is also facile.You have been misled.

Part of the  cost will be paid by revenue obtained from development charges. Part will be financed by debenture debt.

Method  of payment is not a serious concern for me. I believe cost should be spread over the years  benefit is received. I do not support the theory I should pay higher to keep taxes lower for the next  several generations of  property owners.

Neither do I believe buyers of new homes   of should pay ninety per cent of new facilities.

Old home purchasers do not pay development charges

The Mayor says it is the price of admission to live in Aurora.  I don't agree.  I am not calling him a liar. I  just don't understand how or if he thinks

In the initial comment,you sent kudos to Council for the decision  to replace  facilities and paying with developers money. You reduced the issue to need and ready source of funding.

You may have been persuaded to that simplistic view.

I may not be able  to convince you the project has been grossly mis-handled at excessive cost to taxpayers.

But I cannot allow your lack of understanding to influence others.

The building is being constructed on a curve on the heavily travelled  Yonge Street Bypass.  It requires two  roads to the site costing hundreds of thousands of dollars extra.
A million dollars more  to remediate the site including architect fees.

An extra floor of office space at another million dollars plus architect fees with no use identified.

Highest level of energy conservation is provided  regardless of cost.But we miight get an award from the Mof E. Don't know whose office Ella that will hang on.

Trees  and grass are to be  planted on the roof of the building ,plus an expensive irrigation system for maintenance.

A shelter for vehicles  and storage for heritage salvage are not included in the project.Both would have served a better purpose than an empty floor of office space or trees,grass and irrigation on a roof.

The current site has been sold privately. It should have been offered  to the highest bidder but that. did not happen.But that was the decision.

Now my friend, I may not have convinced you. But you cannot claim you were  not fully informed of the facts of the matter.

I will not expect you to call me a liar either. An apology would not mean much either.

Saturday 30 August 2014

Sticks and Stones

If someone uses my blog  and posts a comment intended to convey a particular message.and  asks me to publish it.

I do as he/she hopes I will.

 I analyze  the comment. I find I  cannot accept what is written. I say so.

I explain   To the writer and the readers why I cannot accept the account of the event recounted in the comment.

Am I calling him a liar. Or  am I simply saying  I am not persuaded that happened as you.
 told it.

I feel no obligation to a pass on to my readers a story I do not believe myself.

Am I calling a faceless individual a liar. Or am I simply exercising my right in stating my disbelief.

Furthermore the story is perfectly pointless.

No councillor has argued the forty year old pre-fabricated building designed by the manufacturer to meet the town's needs is adequate or in sufficiently  good repair.

So  why does anonymous  wish to deflect attention from the real controversy.; design over-build, location  of  site, cost of remediating site,late-timing of decision and other pertinent. factors.

If  a supporter cares to address these  questions and justify the late decision I would certainly be glad to publish that argument.

There's room here for a  difference in judgement.

Including why they felt obliged to fill  the Council vacancy in time to  marshal another vote for their side.

And set up an elaborate process encouraging eighteen residents to accept. an invitation to
compete when  no competition was ever intended.

I sit  in the ring itself.

 I see all the tricks and dodges and  repeat strategies. I have the blog to give the play by play.

Social media is something to which today's politicians have yet to become accustomed.

 I do believe it is here to stay

The Best Laid Plans gang aft agley

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "See How Blind Mice Run":

Has anyone been in the building on Scanlon. I was invited to a meeting a few years ago about my sewer back up. Sitting in the supervisors office with four buckets catching the rain from outside. Do we expect people to work like that? The building is falling apart. Kudos to council for taking the leap on the developers dollar.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 29 August 2014 20:18


'Tis the season for examining  entrails and reading signs and portents.

Something is fishy about the comment above. It requires in depth analysis. 

A meeting in a supervisor's office about  a sewer back-up would contribute little to solve the problem. 

 A works crew sent to the site with picks and shovels would be a better option. And more likely.

To be at a meeting when the Supervisor was encircled by buckets catching rain falling
al around him  seems equally odd.

A connection between sewer back-up and rain falling in Scanlon Court can probably be dismissed. 

An invitation not an off-site meeting with the Supervisor could be telling.

Nah..that's less logical than logical. Unless the Supervisor wanted  to be seen working indoors with raindrops falling on his head.

That's not sensible either. Why would he not just budget for  a new roof ? 

Or ,if there was  no peer empathy for his plight, invite the Mayor to visit on a rainy day. 

Or, if the Mayor refused,  invite a sympathetic Councillor.

It never happened in that sequential order.

The solution had to wait until the parks department could be turfed out of ideal town-owned property to solve a problem for the Department of National Defence.

Then a site across the ravine from the Town Hall was purchased and two floors of office space are being built with no need publicly identified  or  established, known only to a few but not acknowledged until the time is right.

Like ....after the election. 

It could be managed with an administration and a Council majority working quietly secretively,hand-in-hand, cards kept close to vests,moving this piece and that, until all comes together and the paying public are effectively bamboozled.

It seems though  with  contrived comments planted like the one above, they may  yet not be quite

Thursday 28 August 2014

My Call

When a resident enters public debate with  political criticism , they are not seeking privacy or obscurity .

A negative reaction is to be expected

Not necessarily in my space.

Enough about the former Councillor .

I will pick the topic for the week-end.

Thomas had a doubt too

I had to read the story  all the wy through twice on the snow tretementn facility to confirm I had attended the meeting.

The headline was decision delayed until a different location can be found.

The award of a contract  for  a treatment facility  for melting snow was before Council.

The  vote tied.

It did not pass.

The contract was not awarded.

 No direction went to staff to find a new location. No indication of decision delayed.

A treatment facility  for melting snow  was not approved.

Eight members were present  at the meeting.  All gave reasons  for their vote. Seven were quoted

Expense of snow  removal to a  holding place or melting spot was not part of the debate  nor the contract.

Yet there it was in the story along with a powerful  impression the matter had  again not been

After the previous Council meeting  a story about affordable housing emanated.

A  site plan was recommended for signatures if the Mayotr and Clerk.

Councillor Gaertner raised a quuestion about affordable housing.
The planner responded with a range of prices.
I was not planning to speak but the idea the prices were affordable triggered a response.
I noted the Town to the north had been successful with affordable housing by providing the Region with land for sites.
Aurora has small sites available. I cited  a  partcularly suitable site.

Councillor Abel called a point of order. The Mayor upheld the point Little was added to the debate.

When the story appeared it ended with  Mayoralty comments about how willing the Region.

A small note sounded. More of a clunk than a ping.

Paranoia is never so severe  than around election time. I waved  away the suspicion.I have seen nothing to indicate hostility.

I don't register as a candidate until  I have to. Until the end , I am a Councillor completing my commitment from the last election. These last clear opportunities are precious.

I am not looking for contrivance in news stories.

And yet...and yet....and yet ???

Wednesday 27 August 2014

See How Blind Mice Run

AnonymousAnonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Story": 


"...getting paid peanuts."

Seems that Evelyn has no problem with her salary. In a later post on this blog she says:

"Do the job best you can and for the least possible cost"

She is happy with her salary!

Sounds to me like a recipe for disaster in the world we live in now. Any time that I go pricing something - home reno projects for example - I throw out the lowest price and throw out the highest price and then work with the ones in the middle, I have not been bitten once.
Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 25 August 2014 15:20 has left a new comment on your post "The Story":

I'll take the bait.

Completing a project successfully  at the lowest possible cost, is not about doing it on the cheap.

In a home renovation  for example, it might mean  doing some of the work yourself.

In a town project it should mean  determining precise needs and maintaining control over the size  of the project.

Eliminating an extra floor of office space for which no need has been determined would  save a
million plus architect fees.

Foregoing tree-planting and grass on the roof and the irrigation system required for maintenance would save upwards of another  million including architect fees.

Office administration  for public works will continue to occupy space in the town hall. But the town hall is said to be overcrowded. We spent  three hundred thousand on plans for an addition that had to be cancelled.,Now we are building  two floors of office space jus up the road from the town hall One of which a need has been identified

Except for maintenance of vehicles , the work of  public works and  parks is done in the community.
So why all that office space ?

The recent audit report showed a greater level of  work  contracted . Why do we need  increased space.

Should space needs not decrease .

If the kids leave home does the family need a bigger house?

An appraisal on development lands in town put  the value  at I $750,000 an acre.The property was offered for competitive bids.

The winning bid was $1.5 million an acre.

The town sold the property on Scanlon Court privately. It was fully serviced in an ideal location  plus a railway easement.

The joint site was amply adequate for public works expansion. It was sold for less than the site purchased in a very bad location that needs two  chess roads and a million dollars worth of remediation.

The  tender call for the new facility  permitted optional pricing. Without vehicle shelter. Without heritage salvage storage.

The contract awarded  excluded both to stay within original  estimates.

I will not repeat my arguments about the calamitous lack of judgement exercised  in leasing the hydro property to the national defence department. Who knows we may yet see it used as a prisoner if war camp for Russians.

 It could have  accommodation  heritage salvage storage and town  archives handily.As well as indoor space for construction of a park furniture. WE have the artisan skills.

In the new facility we will continue to provide free accommodation to contractors and  Oh yes.....instead of the bro Bronze standard of  Energy Conservation  recommended by staff , Councillors went for the gold.

There will be nothing to show by the time of the election.

But ....to the winners go the spoils .

A photo -op has been scheduled   featuring  key staff  members,contractors  and architects . Mayor and Councillors  have been invited  by staff to attend if they so desire.

So there you have it my friends.  A synopsis of  Project  Joint Operation Centre.

With, I suspect the addition to the Town Hal thrown in for good measure. Scanlon Court would not have been nearly so convenient.

Mayor Dawe  and Councillor Thompson were appointed by Council to provide  financial oversight of the scheme.Who else might have been privy is anybody's guess. But we all know how they voted.

Monday 25 August 2014

It's a Mad Mad World ...Much of it paid for by taxes

I  acknowledge my inclination is to be a bit of a Calvinist. Do the job best you can and for the least possible cost. The opportunity in itself is sufficient  self-satisfaction.I'm the one paying. I need to know I'm getting value for my money and if my neighbours feel good about my being on the job
that too is reward enough.

Just get it done and never mind the frills and furbelows.

There ere is barely a funded government agency I know that isn't spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on promoting itself.  High priced  ton weight glossy publications are a steady stream through the mail  the the Mayor and Councillors. Sometimes I get two copies.

Ordinarily  there's a department with a payroll to support the promotion.

It's all about making an impression. Convincing people they cannot do without this or that and always willing to pay.

Few would be so ill-mannered as to refuse an  award. Even  while wondering what is all the fuss about. And failing to understand, it's not about them.

It's about the politician  in the spotlight making  the grandiose and generous  gesture at someone else's expense. Even if with a brass coloured plastic medal or a paper ribbon or an office printer run-off  certificate in a cheap plastic frame.

Or an award from some Institute of Excellence that's raking in the dollars with ten or twelve thousand annual memberships.

And Oh Yes ....we have sponsorships...platinum,gold, bronze......another excuse to hand out public money and  have it sound  as though there's value in the process.

Even the  team that didn't win has to receive a runner-up trophy. When the kid finally leaves home,boxes of them have to be disposed of...surreptitiously.

People buy larger homes to accommodated the spoils of victory here, there and everywhere.

The Story

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Retrospective":

Evelyn...there's got to be more to this story. How the heck did they justify giving you this 25yrs service certificate 3 yrs late? You're a lot more gracious then I would have been. I would have told them to take it and

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 24 August 2014 18:57


I don't really know if there is more to this story. I don't put much store on government awards.

I think we are awash with awards .When so many are awarded  how meaningful. an they be?

I don't know how it was received at the Town Hall. It's a generic certificate with a space for a name to be inserted.  No dates are recorded .The name of the Minister of Municipal Affairs who was no longer Minister by the  time I received it. The Minister resigned from Provincial  politics to challenge the Mayor of  Brampton.

MLA Frank Klees was not present.

The Mayor's administrative assistant asked if I wanted to invite friends and or relatives .

My daughters came but they didn't need an invitation. Which is just as well because the Mayor just handed it to me  and that was that On to the next item on the agenda.

The certificate is in a plastic frame with a  Made in China  sticker still stuck on the back.

The town clerk,who is no longer with us, said  the people at Queen's park didn't want to send it up in December because  of the trial going on in Newmarket. They sent a letter acknowledging my eligibility but not the certificate.

I thought that was weird  considering it was a civil trial.

Actually, it surprised me they were paying that much attention. It meant they had to have noticed what was going on when the gang  cooked up the complaint against me under the Code of
Conduct they wrote that prohibited a Councillor from speaking critically about a Council decision.

Then they insisted on  a contract with an Integrity Commissioner with a termination clause. He apparently told the lawyer ,the clause denied him independence and was a deal breaker but signed it anyway.

Then he made a decision that their complaint was "entirely political" and dismissed it.

They tried to fire him before the decision could be distributed but he beat them to the punch.

So the Clerk, who only  ten months before  had accepted the appointment with the town , provided her resignation instead on the day she distributed the Integrity Commissioner's decision to  the person complained about in public form, in newspapers, on the world wide web , on television,  as a matter  of record in a public meeting.

That's another anniversary  The first week in August 2009 .

Another Pesky Faustian Deal

Greetings Mayor Dawe and Aurora Council,

I believe it was on April 8th, 2014 that Mr. Downey told the Council he would produce in one month a revised Stuart Burnett Park RFP for the construction of a covered tennis facility. In early summer, I learned that Mr. Downey would produce report document which would contain recommendations to Council on how to proceed with creating a revised RFP. Also, there was mention of gaining input from the tennis community on what specifications should be included in the RFP. The AuroraCommunity Tennis Club (ACTC) was and is eager to provide input and advice on the design of the new RFP.

With the published story in yesterday's Aurora which detailed the closing of the Timberlane Athletic Club, I'm reminded that it is now almost 6 months since Mr. Downey promised a revised RFP (or Report). Our ACTC members are asking me about the status of the Stuart Burnett Park site and many of our members are hoping to play winter tennis at this new facility.    

I realize the election is consuming a lot of the Council's attention (and staff?) however the tennis community is eager participate in contributing to the revision of the RFP and having this project move at a much faster pace. Is there a reason for a delay in designing the RFP that we are not aware of? If so, an explanation would be appreciated. I would like to inform our membership and the broader tennis community in York Region about the timeline for completing the RFP and approximately when we might see construction of this much needed facility.  

Brent MacKinnon
President, Aurora Community Tennis Club


I thought I would share the correspondence with you rather than just tell you about it . I  wonder if your reaction will be the same as mine. 

Mr McKinnon refers to a commitment of the Director of  Recreation on April 8th  to reproduce an RFP for a covered tennis facility. Therein lies the puzzlement.

The Director   in fact  had recommended an award for a  contract to provide a covered tennis facility  in Stewart  Burnett Park on April 8th. 

The site was not useable for anything else because of proximity to the baseball backstop. Covered by a dome it was  the perfect placement for. indoor tennis. Wouldn't cost the taxpayers a dime. And tennis  aficionados would have what they wanted. 

Tennis players were in the Council Chamber when the recommendation was made.  They were not recognizable as such. Not carrying rackets or anything like that. It only  became apparent when they left after Council's decision not to award the contract and give the Director different direction.

It seems the Tennis Club didn't just want a covered facility. They want the town to provide a  permanent structure, with foundations and all to replace Timberline private tennis club.

A Bubble with all amenities ,provided by a private contractor  was not what  they had in mind .They are prepared , as noted by Mr.Mckinnon to sit down with the Director and give precise instructions
About what will suit their purpose.

 imminence of the election is noted in Mr Mckinnon's  letter.

Now we know the candidates for the Mayor's office. We know Challenger I takes proprietary interest in tennis . I think he plays. He supported the last idea of using hydr reserve funds to build a unique facility  in Fleury Park flood plain.

The building design  would allow sides to  be raised and flood waters to rush on by and convince the Conservation Authority that building in a flood plain was perfectly acceptable.

On April 8th , in more or less typical fashion, after all the man hours and expense  of preparing specs, calling for RFPs , analyzing  and adjudicating proposals, deciding on the best and recommending to Council as directed by  Council  the Contract was not awarded . A Council  majority, in their collective wisdom, bulldozed the lot and re-directed the director to pick himself up, dust himself off, and start all over again.

Thence Mr.McKinnon's inquiry.

Toronto City Council is having their last meeting today. According to the media,it could take five days to get all outstanding items completed before the deadline . Before the lame duck  Council is unable to decide on matters of substance .

Of course ye ken, we have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss  an acquisition of property.
A motion with a whole bunch of whereases  was presented by Councillor Abel to enquire  about availability of  the Queens's York Armouries  hundred year old drill shed in the town park that QYR
decided don't suit their purposes so we turfed out our parks department to make room for them on a property that  a  space needs consultant  we paid  said we should keep for our own purposes.

So now we are meeting behind closed doors again,ironically on the anniversary of that deal to talk about paying the blighters  for land they have had use of for a hundred years, also on an anniversary,
got for nothing from the town all those years ago.

With patriotic fervour, Aurora  made the land available for training of men to fight  and die for their country.And they did fight and died in two wars and since.

Now without uttering a word  about it in the open we are discussing a price to get it back. 

At staff   level of  course. 

Your Council has no role to play except to say.  ,,, yes sir,yes sir, three bags full sir.

Saturday 23 August 2014

A Retrospective

Every time I drive  on Yonge and pass the vacant site of  United Church I feel good about the town we share. The old Church is gone but something beautiful remains.

A Banner  reads....Thank You Aurora For All Your Love.

Yes we do have unhappy people in the community. Life is tough and some make it harder for themselves. But  far more feel good about themselves and have much to give.

I need to re-read the report  about the Joint Operating  Centre and tell you why I think the cost is horrendous and does not serve our best interest.

The decision has been made and  The Auroran Poll says 75% support the decision?

I am not persuaded.

I didn't vote in the poll. I didn't call and ask people to vote against it. Both had potential to influence the result.

If my blog numbers are an indication, people are drifting home from summer expeditions.  The poll  numbers could have ben as few as twenty or as many as a hundred. Either would have been insignificant in the grand scheme of things. As noted. My blog gets more than 200 comments in a week.

The deed is done. . I  won't pose for a picture with the winners. It doesn't feel like a win to me.

I don't have to pretend to like it.

I didn't get to pose for a picture with the sign for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Park . Though my motion proposed  the tribute.

Did I tell you about the award handed  to me  by the Mayor from the Province of Ontario for twenty-five years of public service. Twenty- five years were actually completed in 2011.

At the end of  2014 I will have completed twenty-eight years  service on  Council. I will have been
elected ten times  by the people of Aurora. Appointed  for nine years by the Province to the Social Assistance Review Board and three on York Region Police  Services Board.

Aside from  recognized achievement ,which it wasn't, I think experience and knowledge might be considered an asset, which it isn't.

Probably because  self-promotion is a  skill I lack and it's too late now.

I received a comment from anonymous that he "would sooner. be pushing thirty than eight

Councillor Pirri  recently challenged my argument salt and snow do not co-exist with an e-mailed excerpt from Wikipedia that they do if the temperature is low enough. In debate he accused  me of providing "false" information.

In Southern Ontario winter temperature is not low enough .

I received a comment  " I would rather be pushing thirty than eight

Someone else offered the argument education is more  important than age. Can't say I 've  heard the equation  offered as a definition of judgement or wisdom or even plain old  common sense.

And having been thirty and eighty, I would note the option does not presents itself.

Another comment was accidentally deleted....that I "just like putting a burr (pun intended)  under someone's saddle "

I was sorry to lose that one. I am prepared to admit to the element of truth. I do find it difficult to resist seizing with great appetite ,an unintelligent comment made by a politician at whatever level.

I think it is the essence of democracy and freedom.

I admit, I crave the  opportunity far more than a framed certificate presented three years overdue.

As if they really didn't want me to have it or let anyone know they gave it or  have any respect the people who kept choosing me to represent them.

There's Room For Difference

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "ASK and Ye shall not receive":

Cllr Buck, I'd like to respond to Mr Watts' comments:

"What I find "rather curious" 12:51 is your insinuation that a standard requirement of a login to comment on a wordpress site has "suppressed engagement" opposed to merely establishing the types of engagement that are allowed."

No, Mr Watts, no "insinuation" here - I plainly pointed out the incongruity of saying one thing and doing another. (BTW, apparently, certain WordPress settings allow 'Guest' comments as well as anonymous ones)

"If you expect all websites to adhere to the same comment policy you're setting yourself up for 

serious disappointment."

Oh, so there isn't a "standard requirement" for log-in, after all? Right, some do and some don't. No need to worry about the risk of "serious disappointment," though. I reserve serious reactions for serious matters; perusing the Internet doesn't count.

"I hear you, you don't want to login to comment on my site."

Yes, and I hear you - you don't want any feedback unless you can vet the commenter before any approval to publish. For someone always banging on about 'engagement,' you certainly don't encourage it. Don't you want anyone countering your criticisms or parrying your pronouncements? Judging from past episodes, that's understandable, I suppose. 

"You're the only one that seems to have a problem with that."

Well, since you can't prove that particular negative - you have no way of knowing how many people, wishing to leave a comment, may have balked at the log-in. There have, in fact, been mention made here on this blog about the log-in requirement of yours. If memory serves, the same unfavourable 

observation was expressed on the Aurora Citizen blog.

"The fact that Clr. Buck approved your comment here illustrates that engagement on your own terms was in no way suppressed proving that "engagement" doesn't suddenly ground (sic) to a halt because you choose to take your ball and go somewhere else."

Since we're discussing *your* blog, what does Cllr Buck's have to do with anything? Yes, she does 

'suppress engagement' in that she doesn't publish every comment, but this is an open forum, for the 
most part (and I thank her for that). Yours, however, is little more than a monologue. (Frankly, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with the ball analogy)

"What is even more curious is how you consider 296 comments "A dearth of comments"."

As most of your posts go uncommented upon, should I dispute that number? How many blog posts, over how many years, resulted in that total? Is that including your previous blog on Posterous? Are you somehow factoring in Twitter responses? What is the ratio of posts to comments, I wonder?

That being said, 296 is a paltry sum - yes, "a dearth." Just consider this blog (with a similar focus, so probably a similar potential audience); Cllr Buck published well over 200 comments in the last week 

alone. She doesn't approve all comments, and it is supposedly the 'summer doldrums,' with an 
assumed less attentive following, but that is a healthy number - that is "engagement"!

"By all means point us to your website that allows for anonymous commenting so we can judge your vastly superior level of engagement."

Again, we're discussing yours - well, one of yours; how's the AHA! one coming along? No, I don't have a blog, which means we're pretty well at the same level of engagement, doesn't it? It also means that when it comes to actually doing something versus just criticizing, parallels could be drawn.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 21 August 2014 11:53


 I did not have access yesterday.. I ironed instead.

The above comment  refers to  difference between my Blog and Christopher's and differences there are.

 CW writes like a teacher  complete with  reading assignments. 

I'm a politician with the intention of sharing  my. experience . There's a lot to share and never enough time. Is don't have computer skills and I don't polish my writing. There's so much to tell and never enough time. 

I  do repeat....mostly by intent. Moderating comments  takes time . Engagement  is what it's about  and  we seem to be  getting better at it. 

Other than visits and views I don't check numbers. I am impressed by the figure given in the post
And it doesn't include the comments I don't publish for various reasons. None because of  disagreement with the comment.

The election is pending.  The blog will not be used by candidates or their supporters.

My observations will be judged . And that's a given.

My blog and Chris's are not the same because we are nit the same. There's room for both.

Blunt and emphatic references undoubtedly offend some people. No apology needs to be made. I know my rights.

I pay the going rate.

Always have .....always  will.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Too Late They Learn

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "It's not all bad":

The problem with the perception of retailers that have come and gone is
looking at them in an isolated way.

Evelyn lists Aurora Home Hardware, True Value, Canadian Tire as examples
of "local" businesses that have learned to survive. But, what she fails to
see or acknowledge, all of those examples are franchises of much
larger "corporate" operations. The local retailer is able to leverage the
buying power of the corporate entity. As a tradeoff, they sacrifice their
ability to set prices and policies. At some point, a corporate manager
reviews the viability of an outlet and if it is not profitable, they will
cut it loose in a heartbeat.

Looking at the Aurora downtown there are very few independant retail
operations. They tend to come and go with regularity as the owners try new

As far as the suggestion that councillors should have retail experience,
that is not a realistic expectation. If a councillor has common sense and
is willing to listen to the electorate (including the small business 

operation), they can be much more effective. But, when you have councillors 
that claim that they know better than anyone else, you have a recipe for

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 21 August 2014 08:46


Home Hardware   IGA,IDA are all Associations  of independent  business operators.

An  advantage of being a  Councillor is the opportunity to learn something about the lives of  people 
And business in the community. 

The late Mayor John West was partner with the  Aurora group that established Home  Hardware  in Oak Ridges.  John was generous in sharing his experience

The owners of Aurora Home Hardware and customers of many years would be surprised to learn that they are not thought of as owners and responsible for the success of their business  with the same
friendly faces to greet customers looking for advice.

The same can be said I'm sure of Mac Fleming's which became much more than a paint and wallpaper store over the years and took over the store abutting.  Caruso's.continuing business over a hundred years is a testament to commitment.

No, I have not spoken to any of the owners. I think it can be assumed if a store opens it's doors every  day, it is still in business  Along with  all the other signs of course.

I do not pretend to know all it takes to  operate a retail store,or publish a newspaper, manage a police department ,operate a hospital, provide recreation programs ,operating a theatre or any of the myriad
activities that contribute to people's lives in a community like ours.

But I can tell you this .......a Mayor or Councillor who doesn't learn something of  lives of people they serve , after four years in office, is a person who  hasn't much interest in  anyone but himself.

Elected office is nothing  else but privilege and status to that person.

Like Michael Ignatieff  ....until the night before the election....when he knew he had lost and understood why.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

It's not all bad

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Business does not thrive by chance":

Realistically, you can't expect small downtown stores to thrive when the town is encouraging big box stores on the outskirts. I don't fault anyone, this is called progress. The big box stores have the inventory, the displays and sometimes the price. Service at some is good and others poor. Parking in the huge paved lots is generally always available at no cost.

The once personal barber shop and hair dresser are in the franchise and mall mode too. This is also apparently progress.

Down towns all across the province see ups and downs as new retailers give it a try. The failure rate is unfortunately quite high.

I think it is all about small retailers looking for that special niche. The town cannot offer much other than clean safe streets and of course parking. 

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 20 August 2014 14:58


Our town is a perfect study. Malls were built north and south Each within a fifteen minutes drive. 

One business moved to  the mall. It lasted a few years. Other business owners retired after a bit. 
Department stores  in malls stopped selling  some products ;yarn shops,fabric stores, hats.

Simpsons and Eaton's disappeared  and a numbers of others.

Life time careers  and occupations disappeared with the free trade deal. Severance packages were invested in small business and franchises. Franchises disappeared.  Some were scams in the first place set up to cheat people with severance packages.

Some businesses survived the onslaught. They got better at meeting the competition.

Aurora Home Hardware. Mike Evans True Value Hardware. Canadian Tire. Mac Fleming Paint and Wallpaper and Beautiful  Home Accessories obviously  learned  how to survive. The Hardware store in Oak Ridges started up by an Aurora group in the worst. If times and survived until the best of times.

Caruso's, the oldest of them all, still open their doors every day. Phyllis still does beautiful flower arrangements.I received one recently

A town can support business  without corporate welfare.

 Exorbitant fees for small changes are not helpful. SIgn Bylaws that  require  massive application fees and politicians to approve.

Clubs that pay no taxes  competing for  available trade and politicians who turn a blind eye .

Certainly a town and business can  and should work together.

At the very least business should ,like residents , feel the town is more than a bunch of bafflegab.

Business does not thrive by chance

Someone commmented my  reference to North Bay was from thirty years.ago. You will notice as you grow older how fast the years run into each other. North Bay may have changed.

It's been some years since indoor malls have stopped being built. Many towns never had a mall.

I drive to Collingaood  a few weeks ago. Passed through  many towns on, the way. Main Streets are as they always were with chains  and privately operated business side by side.

Picton  for one. I  always look for the local bakery. In my seaside home town,there were more bakeries, sweetie shops , Italian ice cream parlours and fish and chip shops than anything else.

But the story I remember from North Bay was , how a privately operated  dress shop differed
from  a mall chain store.

First the store owner-operator knew. her customers personally. When she went to the seasonal and annual wholesale shows, she shopped for her customers. And when the shipment arrived  customers would receive a call from the dress shop telling them ; "I have something that is you"

I don't know if that was true of every store. But it certinly sounds plausible and N extraordinary level of service. No mall chain store buyer could compete with that.

But indoor malls  haven't been the norm for some years. Can't say I've noticed how many exactly.
Certainly Canada Mall had it's ups and downs , and many changes. It put the kibosh on many small
business in Aurora. Shopping in the mal was n expedition for the family. It also proved too expensive  for  store operators and the crowds in the heat if summer or depth of winter were not necessarily
shoppers.I have heard of business allowed to stay though they couldn't pay the rent because the mall couldn't afford to have empty stores.

That's plausible too.

But things change even in small towns as so many people younger than I are fond of telling me.

Gas and  car insurance costs are heavy. Condominiums outpace single family homes. Families
are smaller or non-existent.

For forty  years, the town has known, downtown would  recover unless  people returned to live in the centre of things.

It has been happening for the past fifteen years. North and south of the centre block.Dozens of new business  thriving in new buildings  built to blend .And done so well it's my hard to tell.

Some  have not succeeded . Maybe because they did not study the market. Or didn't have enough financialbacking to see them through.We also know operating a smal business has never been easy at any time. They need all the help the town can provide.

We spend enough.  But I am not convinced we spend it well. I  don't believe the strategic plan is helpful. The  Promenade Study ,while proposing  millions in spending proposes also propose controls
that  could only be conceived by politicians made mad by power.

A  town department's function is described  as "retention and expansion "

I tell you ,without a hint of a lie, I have never seen  any effort whatsoever in that direction.

Unless of course we are talking about spending millions on real estate for a crazy heritage theme park
Or millions more in a giveaway to establish  a university satellite within our midst.

Like all we need to do is throw money at these things and something is bound to happen.

The post for to-day

I may be at risk of spreading myself too thin. I commented on a post on Chris Watts Blog yesterday. I've done it before but not successfully.

This time I was successful. Having done it once I commented on a second post.

I have comments to my post that require me to rummage through the list  of time posted to find  the reference.

I just had one that required rummaging through a previous list to determine a second reference.

It's just  getting too complicated.

I can't spend  time doing that and writing a post each day . It has to be one or the other.

The  other is just writing a post.

And that's it for to-day.

If a lived by the sea  and could, I would go for a walk. And let the wind blow my mind clear.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

North Bay in the eighties... Aurora in 2014

I came down Yonge Street  again this afternoon, about 5 pm.  From Wellington.

It looked even better  to-day with a different view of the former hardware store. It's reverting back to two stores.

Aw Shucks blends in  better than ever.  The United Church parking lot has a couple of planters defining the edge. There' a friendly  banner on the site saying ..... Thank You  Aurora,

Can't help thinking if  the site  could be used. for public parking it would provide an opportunity
to discover if  off street  parking would make difference. Although the street certainly seemed busy without it. The planters and two cars in the parking lot make  it more visible.

I looked up at the dress shop window  as I passed and fervently hoped  the satire is doing well and survives until the condos are occupied.

The property that was to be a Montesori school is for sale.  Sale of the parcel immediately to the south fell through becasue iHeritage Designation made financing impossible.

The most spectacular site of all is the War Memorial Garden. At the south entrance to the business area it creates a great  gateway. Iyt speaks volumes about the town.

Macdonald'sl one side and a fish and chip restaurant on the other are set nd back so
neither detract from the green that dominates the space.

I've  always, meant to visit Gabriel's  Cafe. I hear he makes a very nice sandwich. But any time I stopped he was closed.

I might drive up from the south end to-morrow and check out the  east side. I  need to take a closer look at the construction  on Centre Street corner.

Councillor Abel made a motion directing staff to find a way to penalise owners who fail to develop
vacant sites.

There are two sites in the hollow,vacant more than fifty years. One is the old arena site. The arena burned down. The town sold the property.  I think the creek crosses Yonge Street  there and drainage pipes make. the site obviously  a difficult to build on. It would  be ironic if the town fined an owner for failing to build on a site originally sold by the town

Just north,  a long-time ago owner demolished a small old frame house  without. asking anyone.

 He was never able to re-build  because most of the site is in the flood  plain. I imagine that owner would welcome a building permit rather I than a fine.

I look forward to reading the staf report on  Councillor Abel's initiative.

I wonder if it will  refer to town owned property on the VictorIa Street side of library square

None So Blind. As Those Who Will Not See

Yesterday the comment was made about the flower planters on Yonge  Street. I drove down in the early evening.

Noticed posts for hoardings in place around the old IGA site. That's a large space. Condos are proposed. Lots of potential for pedestrian traffic. Acess and egress on Yonge  Street. Close to the
Yonge Wellington intersection. Something will have to give.

Gigantic  crane over the Yonge / Centre construction site. Still happening.

New facade obviously being prepared on the true value hardware site.I hear the shed behind has
New framing inside and my accommodate a couple of boutiques.

Condos are planned on the site next to the old town hall.

The hood will be transformed.

None of it at public expense.  No tapping into the Community Improvement Plan  adopted recently by Council. All of it contributing new revenues to town coffers.

Like the nice dress shop  down in the hollow. Reminds me of North  Bay.

Once ,between  SARB hearings, I had time to window shop on the Main Street. I noticed particularly four or five privately operated shoe stores just on one side of the street. The display windows were a delight with quality  Canadian brands of shoes I hadn't seen for years.

Men's and Ladies and  Children's  wear shops  abounded.

Council has referred hundreds of  thousands of dollars of spending to the next budget for the purpose of " revitalizing" the downtown. Replace sidewalks with patterned concrete. Build it and they will come is the obvious logic.

Talk of  "revitalizing" downtown has become a mantra that hasn't change in fifty years.

It's as if if they never really see the downtown. We know they don't live here. The town hall is off the beaten track. Maybe they  avoid it because of  congestion at the Yonge /Wellington intersection.

But Councillors live here? What's their excuse?

Don't hold your breath

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "About grants ,user fees, policies and waivers":

I like the " Forest " area being touted to purchasers without mentioning the wheeling & dealing going on to have the entire thing declared off-limits to those living there. 

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 18 August 2014 14:

I have a story to tell  about the woodlot referred to above but first something else occurred to me about user fees.

They are set by bylaw. So...there can't be a waiver without. an  amendment to the
bylaw. We have  never ever processed an amendment to the use fee bylaw to provide a waiver to the fee.

Now....if  user  fees were adopted as a policy, that could  be ignored. In fact ,if  Councillors  are unaware of the policy, there is no requirement to inform them or follow the policy

In the last term, there was a policy prohibiting elected members from retaining  and instructing legal counsel  but it happened anyway.This Council adopted a new policy without mention of the fact the policy already existed.

A couple of months ago there was an e-mail to Councilors about cash being paid  in lieu of
vacation  not  taken. The vacation policy  allows vacation to be carried forward a year but not
payment of cash in lieu. It happened anyway.  The CAO  responded to Council that  he had approved it.

Now back to the woodlot.

There's the Oak Ridges  Moraine Act. It's provincial legislation. A  town planner received training about how to interpret the Act.

We have the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation and the  Oak  Ridges  Moraine Trust and I have never been sure why.  We no longer  have the specially trained planner . He has been re-assigned  as Special
Program Manager in the CAO's office.

The McLeod woodlot was legally transferred to the Oak  Ridges Moraine Trust. It's a process
whereby a land owner can obtain the value of a property from government in the form of tax relief.You have to be loaded to be in a tax bracket sufficient to be liable for that level of tax.

A  condition  of the transfer was no public access  allowed for  ten years. It's understood  all trees of value were sold and removed before the transfer.

As something or other in the Moraine Trust, Susan Walmer  became officially in charge of the property. Not sure of that's a paid position or volunteer.Ms Walmer was a  volunteer member of the Environmental Advisory Committee in the last term.

Also the former Mayor's campaign manager.

In the last term, at the request of the trust ,the  town signed a maintenance agreement for the property. We don't own it, have no access to it and no authority to use it. But somehow or others it was deemed appropriate that we should be  financial  responsibility for its maintenance.

In July, after a lengthy absence, Ms. Walmer delegated to Council to inform the town of a  problem. People are dumping litter in the area.

The property is fenced on three sides. Ms Walmer wants  the  fourth side fenced for complete security and  enclosure.

Oak Ridges Trust has not yet constructed access or paths in the forest that would encourage  public use when the ban expires.

The delegate gave no indication of when that might be.

The developer is not wrong about there being access to a forest. It just looks like Ms Walmer does not intend that to be any time soon.

Monday 18 August 2014

ASK and Ye shall not receive

PostedAnonymous has left a new comment on your post "We all have our rights": 

When is the deadline to register as a  candidate?


O.K. I have a link to the Town's website on my blog. 

I thought of referring the commenter to the link.
I dislike  searching the town's web site.?

Last Tuesday Council  received a report about  the new website ,describing it in superlative terms. 

I said I wasn't comfortable with the self-congratulatory tone of the report. I preferred to let people tell us what they think of the service rather than tell them what to think of the service 

I daresay some would hear that  as negative. Positive,I suppose, would be vociferous  participation in the cheer-leading squad. 

I noted the Communications Department  has a budget of $600,000. And asked if the web site would 
produce any cost savings.

The reply was negative . 

The advantage of the new web site was better service .

I went into the web site. In the slot where it asked: what are you searching for.?
I typed in.... deadline for candidate registration for municipal election. 

Back came the  non answer:  No results found. 

I understand the deadline is September  12th. I wanted to confirm. Didn't
want to give out the wrong information. 

But from the town's website no such insight was forthcoming.p

About grants ,user fees, policies and waivers

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "We all have our rights":

Some groups get their fees waived . Others do not. I think you can expect every one of them to make the attempt to slip past. It is up to Council to make each decision and this Council lets most organizations slip by. I would like to see more consistency with reasons given about there maybe being a one-time need to help out.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 18 August 2014 08:43


But  every one of them don't.  They pay the fees .

Dozens of  groups in Aurora volunteer in numerous areas. They know the  policy. They are consulted  on user fees and  believe  it's applied equally.

But it's not.

There is a grant policy with approved eligibility.  Decisions are made at staff level.

 If  an application is not eligible, the applicant can bypass the process and delegate to  Council.

It's  a golden opportunity for political magnanimity. Dole out taxpayers dollars like a philanthropic organization.  Like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

As long as those  picking up the tab are paying little attention, it's a safe gambit . Applicants know a good  thing when they see it and  money fairly sails out of the town coffers.

This term has not been as bad as  last .  Groups and individuals came from all over for free facilities to raise a bundle at no cost.

Sometimes it almost seemed they had been invited or at least the word had gotten about.

During the futile debate on Church Street School ,Councillors received e-mails from  culture cravers from farther than. Orillia and Waterloo when it looked like the new Council  might retrieve the facility for its original intent.

Now ask yourself how the Culture Centre fits into the policy of grants and user fees.

Costs  of construction of facilities are paid with tax resources or development charges. New homeowners pay ninety per cent of the  latter by a tax hidden in the cost of their homes.

Facilities are not used by all.  The policy is  for people who use them  to pay costs of

The greater use,the more reasonable the fees.  More down time in a facility means higher user fees.

Commercial  or outside users  mean more reasfees for local groups.

Fee waivers increase the burden.

I don't understand  waiver  requests from fund-raisers. Hundreds of  residents participate in fund-raiser.   Thousands  are raised. The user fee represents barely a fraction of the whole.It might A donation  to a cause might be $42,000 rather than $44,000.

Revenue to keep  user fees reasonable is reduced by that amount. From thetown's lerspective, why is that sensible.

Take that $750,000  cheque given to the Mayor for the hospital by  2C developers in Aurora.

Were they asked  to pay it over and above millions of dollars of development charges ?

Did someone suggest it would be good public relations? Why do they need good public relations?

WHoever was responsible for the initiative, it was not Council.

Does the Region  include hospitals in development charges. Why would they? Health care is a provincial responsibility.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "We all have our rights":

Why are you so offensive ?

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 18 August 2014 10:04

Sunday 17 August 2014

We all have our rights

The Chamber of Commerce serves it's members. It is not a branch  of the municipal corporation.

Its affairs are private..  It  was the first successful organisation after many unsuccessful attempts.

It is self-sufficient and independent and adds vigour  to the community.

I know little of Chamber business but support the various events including the annual Home Show.

I bought a scooter to be able to attend the street sale. But  the crowds are so dense, the scooter
creates a problem.

I am a taxpayer.  I believe the Chamber should pay the fee to use the Stronach Centre for the Home show in 2015 and  every year thereafter.

lf I don't  want to pay for something, I claim the right to say so.

As a Councillor, I have the same right as every other taxpayer and also authority to speak for them.

Furthermore, since I have the means, it has been my practise, using whatever language I choose ,to alert taxpayers to  unreasonable  demands and excessive spending. So  that they too can let their Councillors know what they think about it.

That's the job.   I asked  for it. I like it. I think it's worth doing.

Public Business

Yesterday was a dreary day. Not much accomplished. Thank goodness for the blog and the chit chat.

I published the hostile comment to illustrate the form.  Angry reaction to a blunt and straightforward 
response is not uncommon and Lord knows, I've been doing it long enough to become accustomed. 

I sent an e-mail recently to the manager of the Chamber of Commerce after the request for a waiver if fees for facilities for the Annual Home Show. 

I asked if any thought had been given to  reaction of taxpayers. What might they think of being asked to provide free facilities to a money-making venture of a private operation. 

Ask them to provide free facilities. Then  ask them to pay admission to facilities provided at their expense. 

The Chamber if Commerce is about promoting local business. Good will towards potential customers should be an important consideration. 

Asking taxpayers to pay  the fee for facilities for a highly profitable private event might not be the best way to go about that.

I never received an answer to my e-mail. Maybe the manager was insulted. 

I don't understand that. My job is to represent taxpayers interest. It is not to be doling out funds paid for service,  to whoever makes outrageous demands for selfish interest.

I know an election  is pending.  It's  the norm  for candidates to be kind and generous.

A waiver of  the fees was suggested by a Councillor before the request was made.

For all I know, it may be where the idea originated.

I've never been inclined towards giving taxpayers money away. I would rather not collect it in the first place, than take it to dole out to whoever has the brass to demand it. 

Now we have social media it's easier to convey why I think the Chamber of Commerce ought to be  ashamed to request taxpayers provide free use of public facilities for a highly profitable venture. 

There would be no Home Show if  the town had not built facilities that could accommodate 
such events. User fees do not cover capital costs. 

Come to that , there would be no Chamber of Commerce  either, if the town had not made accommodation  possible. 

Taxpayers do not  owe the Chamber a free ride. 

I do not expect this post to be a comfort to  the Chamber of Commerce. 

 Anger or embarrassment ...perhaps. 

But .....if the unreasonable demand had never  been made,  a bare-knuckle response would  not be the response.

Insult. ..certainly not.

Cause and consequence .

Saturday 16 August 2014

Is there a principle involved?

Tyler Barker has left a new comment on your post "As I Was Walking Down The Street":

I don't always agree with you but shouldn't Council be on equal footing with staff at the very least, why isn't the mayor inviting everyone isn't he the head of the town, so to speak

Posted by Tyler Barker to Our Town and Its Business at 16 August 2014 11:2


Tyler, before I answer yours,  I have a query for you to answer. It is a long outstanding puzzlement.

Why are you compelled to qualify your agreement with a point I make.

I do not require agreement. I simply state my position. But the compulsion to state non-agreement concurrently with  agreement has me non-plus.

Qualification  denigrates agreement. It is grudgingly extended. Shame or embarrassment is implied. Or fear of being judged by association. I experience it regularly and I would like to understand .You might be the one to think about it and  provide an honest answer.

You are partly correct in your reference.  Elections are the process whereby we govern ourselves.

We , being the community, elect a Council to represent us in our authority.

We are the stakeholders... the shareholders....we have invested our resources...we make our homes here and raise our families in this place

We are in charge. We are the collective who own this place.

Staff  are accountable to us through Council. They are our employees.

The principle has been frustrated during this term. The Mayor perceives accountability from staff as "micro-managing"

He does not permit the exercise of authority. Beingmore comfortable following than giving direction.

Like the last lot, with a Council group content to follow like sheep though he has but one vote like the rest of us.

The invitation from the CAO and Director  for a photo  on a vacant site with a contractor, and an
architect  is , in my opinion, to create the illusion the project is  fully endorsed by Council.If everyone attends ,all smiles, a photo tells a thousand words.

Councillors in opposition are disrespected by staff.

I believe the initiative is political and staged for the benefit of the supporters.

No doubt the Mayor will wear the  town's Regalia, the Chain of Office to provide meaning to the occasion which it does not otherwise have.

Your instincts are  partially right Tyler. Staff are not equal to Council in authority. They are accountable to Council.

It would be logical to conclude staff were directed to create the diversion.

In the circumstance, it would be difficult to discern staff accountability  as opposed to Council authority.

High Taxes...Spent Extravagantly...Are Universally Resented

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Missed Opportunity":

How does the hydro building lease "cater to the elite"?

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 16 August 2014 08:07

 The  question  needs to be asked of those who did  the deed and those who have continued it.

The people who believe the needs of  Queen's York  Rangers are more important to the community than the needs of the town herself.

The ones  who believe a debt of  $27 million could be justified by providing the Rangers with a new home while the old one continues to occupy a key corner of our town park and is now being offered  for  sale to the financial benefit of the federal government.

Had we sold the Hydro property, we would have realized a substantial asset, gained annual assessment revenue, added jobs for residents and  had one less property to maintain.

All of which is forfeit with a forty year lease without a termination clause

Now tell me again,  the community's interest  was served. And I will tell you!you are out if your tree.

And let me tell you again...when it comes to taxes ...there is no  elite

There is a common understanding that government should not collect taxes except for services required,  endorsed by the community and provided at an efficient level.

The higher the taxes, the lower the value, the greater the  common resentment.

There is no society strata  that supports nin- com-poopery

There was a time, Queen's York Rangers  officers were part of our community,most of the cadets were  our own children and  the Mayor of Aurora was honorary colonel. The Rangers were part of  the town's volunteer sector.

The Mayor  no longer has that distinction. Cadets  are bussed from Keswick. The  Armories that cost  the town so dear, no longer even bears the  town's name.

A Missed Opportunity

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "As I Was Walking Down The Street":

Could the renting of the Hydro building been all a plan for the Parks and Public work dept. to get their brand new building?  Interesting  thought.

Posted by Anonymous to Our Town and Its Business at 16 August 2014 00:23


Every now and again,I almost come to the conclusion it's not reasonable to expect people to be interested in the nitty gritty that exist between the lines in politics. I wonder if I'm wasting mine 
and everybody else's time by repeating the  details every time the picture evolves further.

Then I get a comment like the one above and I know I'm not.

Leasing the hydro building had nothing to do with the works and parks department's need for new facilities. 

The building  and yard was perfect for the parks department?  They had the artisan skills to build park furniture better than any. And all the space they needed in the yard for storage of  heritage salvage. The property had the capacity for future growth.  The office was being used for storage of  town

With the parks department  accommodated in the Hydro property,the site on Scanlon Court was big
enough for the works department to be rebuilt  with space to spare for future needs.

We had retained a space needs consultant. He advised the hydro property was needed for exactly how we were using it. We paid for that advice with taxpayer's money and ignored it in the haste to accommodate the Queen's York Rangers.

There never was  a need to buy and remediate a new site . Never the need for $27 million of debt.

The plan to  kick the parks department out  and lease the  hydro building  to the Rangers was the same as the one to pirate Church Street School away from the museum and give it to the "culture crowd."  Both were done in the same secretive under-handed way.

Neither plan  ever more than puerile politics by a gang of no-minds who believed catering to the"elite" was the  yellow brick road.

They never understood the community they served.

Who would have thought  the  process would dredge up a second group similarly ill-equipped
But without the evil intent?

In four years no effort was made to correct  the problems created and less still  was accomplished  save for a ton load of flim-flammery.

The photo of the Mayor  last week receiving a cheque for $750,000 from land developers;It was for the hospital . Why was the Mayor receiving it? Whose feeble  notion of promotion was that? Was that   using Town resources for political purpose? I think so.

A  second photo planned of an empty site with the CAO , the Director of Infrastructure and.

Environment Services  a contractor ,an architect, a candlestick- maker and any other hangers-on who want to get into the picture;  is that not also using town resources for political purpose?

A couple of months ago the Director of  Legislative  Services recommended a Bylaw prohibiting the use of town  resources for political purpose. The idea was rejected. I could not see what town resources  there were to be abused.  I never would have thought of such blatancy.

Remember the radio interview I told you about with  Michael Ignatieff. He had written a book about losing the election . He acknowledged not understanding until the night before the election...that it wasn't about him. ...it was about the people who were looking to him to help them with their problems.

He  publicly admitted he never understood until he faced the reality he had lost the election.

He blew the opportunity that came his way.

Friday 15 August 2014

Tender Tootsies

The previous post went up at 1.05 pm.

At  1.16 pm.  Incoming explosion of profanity declares no interest in the hydro building part of the post .

Methinks he/she doth protest too much.

As I Was Walking Down The Street

Yesterday I met a  young woman in Costco who grew up in Aurora and is now raising her family in East Gwillimbury.  I was in the line-up at the cash register. She spoke to my daughter Heather  and. asked  her to tell me how much she enjoyed watching Aurora Council on T.V.

 "You make good points" she said.

It was nice. Every politician  needs  re-assurance we still speak for the people who elected us and even some who don't live within our borders.

To be sure ,my family keeps me grounded  and the circle here, small as it is, keeps us in touch. You, know what I'm thinking and I hear back.

I also  receive  comments from  those who do not appreciate frankness but. take advantage of the opportunity I provide to let me know.

Here's a thing. .. just off the press .....An e-mail from  the Mayor's administrative assistant and two more  from the Mayor with the same message

An invitation for  a photo opportunity has been extended from Mr. Simanovskis, Director of Infrastructure and EnvironmentL Services and CAO Neil Garbe ...

Wait a  minute.....I have to go back and see how it's worded,

It is for a photo on the empty   site of the  future  Joint  Operations  Centre  with the Contractor, the Architects   The Director , the CAO and whoever else wants to attend.

That is verry verry interesting.

An invitation from staff  to celebrate a decision made by a bare majority of  Council to spend  $27 million of  your money on a garage and works yard.

An invitation from staff to Council.

Yesterday a question was posed  here about staff being accountable to Council.

I hadn't gotten around to answering it.

Maybe this juxtaposition does it for me.

In a matter of days,  registrations will close and all  will be candidates on An equal footing.

At least two candidates  are vying for the Mayor's office.

One supported the project. One didn't

Now staff  arrange a celebrity photo for themselves,the Contractor and the Architects and  invite others to attend. Maybe they will have bagpipes and dance a jig for the audience.

Is that political?  Or not?    If not what is the purpose?

What other reason  can there  possibly be for a photograph of an empty site and the main beneficiaries?

I've been in photos of a sod-turning. But this isn't that.

This is a photo of Director, Chief Administrative Officer,Contractor and Architects .
And whoever else may chance accep the invitation.


The Mayor, wearing the Chain of Office will stand to one side as a guest of the Principals in the grand scheme of things .

As a coincidence , at this time in 2010 , the town was  informed of a lease signed with
the  Department of National  Defense for  Queen's York  Rangers  to take over the hydro building.

The  parks department had  previously been evicted despite a consultant study  of space needs indicating theMunicipality needed the building and the site.

The Chief  Administrator was commended on that occasion also for successful negotiation of the lease.

That  decision triggered the need for the new site for  the works department.

In  the election that followed ,weeks later, the incumbent Mayor and others were defeated.

After the defeat  an amendment was made to the lease  with the Mayor's signature but without Council approval.

Now here we are four years later almost  on the anniversary of that previous decision

Thursday 14 August 2014


I can't allow staff to be criticized on the blog. It's not fair. They  can't defend themselves.

I' ve  deleted  comments that offend that principle. If any have slipped through ,let me know.

Anybody notice  Thunder Bay had a temperature of 9% to-day. Northern Ontario does not use salt.

Leksand , Sweden does not use salt .

Temperatures  are much lower than Southern Ontario .

Salt is not  effective.  In Sweden ,small sleighs on cutters are pushed ahead like a stroller to navigate on icy streets.

We've had a lively exchange  this week and that's great. Connsidering how many people are out of town.

History Keeps Repeating Itself

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "It's Hard To Keep Track":

"Many staff hours were spent re-writing an agreement that was entirely contrary to the municipality's interest."

BUT... the staff are not there to determine what is the Town's interest or not. The staff would have spent many hours doing something else instead. This is piece of fluff to help you make a point about something that happened a long time ago and is not on the table now.

Something that councillors - present and future should remember. Talking about how much time staff spends doing their job is moot. Staf are paid to work 5 days a week / 7.5 or 8 hours a day. With exceptions for vacations and holidays, they show up to work and do "something". That something can be writing documents for a project that is misguided or a project that is the best thing for the Town. The fact is, their time is paid for - EVEN IF THEY DO NOTHING ALL DAY. To say that $x was spent doing documents for the hydro building is an insult to my intellegence.

The only time that staff costs should be brough up is in the case of overtime. Overtime should be used when there is a specific deadline and the job can't be done to meet it.

However, there used to be a joke about municipal workers. "Why don't municpal workers look out the window in the mornings? Because if they did, they would have nothing to do in the afternoons".

Stick to the real facts and stop trying to pad your argument with fluff.


Tuesday night was gruelling The meeting went from 6 pm until 11.15 pm . 
But that was not all.

The issues were significantPreparation to debate  mega millions in spending 
is tense .The greater the price tag,the greater the tension.

But that was not all. 

The comment I have chosen to feature above reflects a point  of view which I do not share but is
not unusual.

On one notable occasion former  Councillor  Kean used it when outgoing Councillor MacEachern moved for  a re-count after the 2003 election.

I had come in ahead of incumbent Councillor David Griffith by about forty-nine votes.After a fourteen year absence.

Former  Councillor MacEachern had trouble accepting the result. After my registration,  she
had withdrawn as a candidate because she had better things to do like spend time with her children.

Despite an estimate of $21,000. Councillor Kean argued the re-count  was not a cost to taxpayers  because staff were being paid anyway.

The Councillor was certain of his logic and aggressive in its presentation. Just like the commenter
above. More than once he complained  the Council meeting were eating into his drinking time At the