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

Tuesday 21 June 2016


On page 12 and 13 of last week's Auroran Brock Weir provided two separate narratives of the same topic. I just finished reading the  second story for the second time on page 13. I read the first story on page 12 , twice before.

It occurs to me  anyone taking the time to read both all the way through, could have trouble finding the logic. 

The second story spans twenty years. It twists and turns and things are left out. 

 $3 to $4 hundred thousand have already been fed into the gaping maw of consultants  by this council and another $2 hundred thousand is poised to be tossed down the chute, good money after bad, at the meeting of June 28th. That's $600 thousand for Councillors to gain clarity or avoid making 
a decision. Whatever the reason, not cheap at any price. 

The topic is a wild life reserve that doesn't exist. It never has and grows less than likely with each passing year, though   a million dollars has been included  in the town's capital budget every year for the next five for construction  of the project. 

It has been a dream of David Tomlinson,a horticulturist and landscape architect resident. He believes it's going to happen. 

And yet. 

From his narrative , reported in The Auroran, it seems ,with an additional  $200  thousand, a total of $600 thousand will have been spent by Council with absolutely nothing to show for it.  

Mr. Tomlinson has contributed thousands of volunteer hours. Like the tennis club spokesperson, he is convinced his expertise and the town's  authority is sufficient to persuade the Conservation Authority his plan is viable and should be approved. Policies  of the Conservation Authorities  should be set aside or " modified"

He also believes  a couple of million should be scooped out of the Hydro Reserve  to make his dream come true. 

Well, why not?  Council has set precedents.

 6 acres of development land  have been transferred from private to public sector for a park within1 kilometer of two other fine facilities  in the Mavrinac neighbourhood. The land cost millions plus legal fees. Construction of the park is estimated at another $1.3 million. 

It's an outrageous extravagance that can never be justified. But it can be used to rationalize similar
future lack of logic. 

No figures were ever provided for  loss of assessment revenue to show consequential  loss of earnings for the town, forever and a day. 

As nineteenth in the top twenty-five places to live in Canada, it seems the only apparent problem Aurora has, is finding ways and means to spend money to prevent urban development in an urban municipality. 

But Mr. Tomlinson notes other new and practical problems in the way of realizing his  dream.

 Council it seems has had secret discussions on  his request the town buy two acres of development land to prevent "catastrophic" impact on the wildlife reserve  if the land gets developed. Despite the fact Mr. Tomlinson has approached the developer and obtained agreement to sell to the town at market value...no decision to purchase  has been made by the town . A development application for the entire six acres has been made by the rightful owner. As is his right. 

It appears Council may have  made a decision not to purchase without informing  Mr. Tomlinson or any of the rest of us. 

From the beginning, it has been determined the Wild Life Reserve will not be accessible to the public. 
Mr. Tomlinson avoided that reference in his narrative. Though he did speak if the trail in the wrong place.  

Enclosed  as it is ,by homes,residents,children,cats and dogs, such a prohibition would likely prove difficult to enforce. A fence,electrified or otherwise armed, may  not be willingly accepted by taxpayers who have paid $5 million plus another $3 million to acquire land and pay consultants. Every bit as difficult to enforce as a wild life reserve would be to maintain in an urban neighbourhood. 

$200,000  has already been spent by this council  to establish feasibility of Mr. Tomlinson's original proposal. The consultant hired agreed it was feasible "providing a few non-legally binding Lake Simcoe 
Conservation Authority policies were modified." 

Well that was hardly useful. 

Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority is unlikely to modify policies because a consultant, paid by the municipality, has declared its  authority  to be  not "legally binding". Until now , challenges to conservation authority are not familiar in municipal circles. Membership in Conservation Authorities are are municipalities themselves. 

Developers, on the other hand ,would certainly rejoice to hear policies in place for more than sixty years relating to protection of flood plain lands are not intended to be enforced and are not "legally binding".  Nesting places for birds hardly takes precedence over human habitation but nobody challenges that either. 

As Chairman of Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority, Aurora's Mayor may find himself compromised by the circumstance.

So...what we have here ...are two separate narratives that do not come together at any point. 

A Council, over six years has spent $400,000 on consultants and prepared to spend  another $200,000 next Tuesday , to  justify a decision which according to Mr Tomlinson ,will be  "catastrophic" to a Wild Life Reserve

In the unlikely event, the Conservation Authority modifies policies held fast for decades; the plan envisaged by Mr. Tomlinson would cost the town millions for land acquisition alone. 

Public debate has never been held about the merits of the plan. 

 A realistic estimate of cost has never been publicized.

 Acceptability and practicality of a Wild Life Reserve, enclosed by a fence to keep people out, abutting urban development, has never received whole-hearted support of anyone but Mr. Tomlinson.

Brock Weir did well to separate the narratives. The two stories could never come together to make a single tale. 

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