"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

Friday 26 May 2017


My friend Councillor Mrakas has updated us on Facebook onthe status of the United Church rebuild 
proposal. The town's decision is not yet made but the item has been referred to the 
next general committee meeting. 

The Councillor is supportive and provides his rational. 

Tom is in  his third year serving of his first term on Council. He works hard and  provides a channel
for communication with constituents. Also offers information and his position on issues. It's. A mark of respect for those  he serves. 

In response I have to say on some issues, mais non, mon ami, Je suis disagree .

There is little about the United Church site that lends itself to senior living. 

At the time Seniors can be expected to be out and about, traffic is heavy on Yonge Street.  
Exhaust fumes are not good for health. Traffic lights barely provide enough time to cross.  

Amenities are few . Public green space is sparse and the site even less adequate. 

A retirement centre is the last thing likely to revitalize the core. It is not a better use of retail space. 
Seniors are not shoppers. 

The need cited  is not there . Retirement centres are probably second in growth only to the construction industry . It's a lucrative business and resources come from sale of seniors' homes.

What happens in York Region when seniors outlive their stash and York Region has to provide 
beds for the outcasts ? 

Council  is being coy about designation under the Official Plan. Completed in 2010 ,the Promenade Study ,was adopted in the Plan during the last Council term. The area is designated as a "Culture Precinct".  I'm fairly sure the "culture" referenced is not a community of elderly. 

The Planning Director has budgeted millions for fancy sidewalks,heritage lighting and street 
furniture. Build them , they will come and  shop and sit to rest from their  frenzied efforts of 
shopping in the block , wave to drivers and breathe in pollution. 
We've heard much about the sacrosanct Official Plan. This proposal requires a change in 
designation with  little to commend  it. Certainly no municipal interest. 

The library was built on Yonge Street twenty years ago. The library got busier the downtown did not.
Stores continued to close. 

Park Place Manor , with a huge presence, was built thirty years ago and still the downtown is moribund.

 Density Intensification  has been referenced . 

The purpose of provincial policy is to bring people on or near public transit routes to cut down on vehicular traffic and reduce urban sprawl. 

Seniors are not commuters . Crossing Yonge Street at the lights is a time challenge . 

There are no  good arguments for this proposal .

Council would do well to review the recent application for a Montessori  school in the vicinity with 
all the same details and difficulties. Thousands of hours were spent seeking ways and means to realise the project.In the end, it came to naught. The last thing mentioned were  soil tests.  

Construction is possible in most soil conditions. The question is one of  feasibility of cost and returns.

Furthermore, an Official Plan designation for high density multiple residential, is exactly what it says.
Nothing in the Plan designates a particular proponent. 

Monday 15 May 2017


Forwarded: nothing to indicate I can't  share. I can't resist. 
President Trump was in the Oval Office when his telephone rang. 
"Hallo, President Trump, " a heavily accented voice said. "This is Archie, up 'ere at the Harp Seal Pub in Badger's Cove, Newfoundland, Canada, eh? I am callin' to tells ya dat we are officially declaring war on ya!" 

"Well Archie," Donald said, "This is indeed important news! How big is your army?" 
"Right now," said Archie, after a moments calculation "there is myself, me cousin Harold , me next-door-neighbor Mick, and the whole dart team from the pub. That makes eight!" 

Donald paused. "I must tell you Archie that I have one million men in my army waiting to move on my command." 
"Wow," said Archie. "I'll have at call ya back!" 
Sure enough, the next day, Archie called again. " to acquire some infantry equipment! We have two combines, a bulldozer, and Harry's farm tractor." 

President Trump sighed. "I must tell you Archie, that I have 16,000 
tanks and 14,000 armoured personnel carriers. Also I've increased my army to one and a half million since we last spoke." 

"Lord above," said Archie, "I'll be getting back to ya." 

Sure enough, Archie rang again the next day.. "President Trump, the war is still on! We have managed to git ourselves airborne! We up an' modified Harrigan's ultra-light wit a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four boys from the Legion have joined us as well!" 
Donald was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. "I must tell you Archie that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've increased my army to TWO MILLION!" 
"Jumpins, Lord tunderin! Two million, ye say!!" said Archie, " have to   call youse back."
Sure enough, Archie called again the next day. "President Trump! I am sorry to have to tell you dat we have had to call off dis 'ere war." 

"I'm sorry to hear that" said Donald. "Why the sudden change of heart?" 
"Well, sir," said Archie, "we've all sat ourselves down and had a long chat over a bunch of pints, and come to realize dat dere's no way we can feed two million prisoners." 


Senior Scholar
York University

Wednesday 3 May 2017


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "GUEST POST ON VIMY RIDGE": 

I wrote the original post Evelyn. Thank you for publishing it.  

The Great War was a terrible time. I think more so than WWII. It was a time when technology was being tested but still "old school" tactics and weapons were being used.  

The airplane had only existed since 1903. Only 12 years later flimsy contraptions were being used to find and photograph the enemy, shoot down the enemy or bomb the enemy. Meanwhile, old-style trenches extended for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Most of them filled with mud, water, rats and death. The machine gun was a recent invention. No longer did you need to be an accurate shot, all you had to do is press the trigger and move it left to right and back again. The Germans created the first weapon of terror.... mustard gas. Put into artillery shells or just in canisters that were opened and let travel on the winds. Of course, this brilliant weapon was not lost on the allies, they developed their own gas weapons. 

Part of the success of the Vimy battle was attributed to the artillery barrage that "crept" in front of the troops. As the shells fell and exploded, the troops moved behind them. After a period of time, the guns were adjusted to shoot a little further, and then the troops moved up behind.  

I visited France and Belgium two years ago. If anyone needs to understand the horror of this conflict, you only need to drive along any road in the Calais area. You can be driving along and a small cemetery appears. In some cases it may be as small as 10-15 headstones. But, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains every one of these cemeteries. The grass is immaculate. Dead flowers are disposed of. Broken headstones are replaced. At the entrance to every cemetery, there is a nook with a door. In there is a binder with a catalogue of all those buried there and in needed, a map to help find the grave.  

The Vimy memorial itself, contains the names of every Canadian solder that was killed but their body never recovered. The names go all around the structure. To further bring some reality to the area, the grounds of the park area where the memorial is located have not changed substantially in 100 years. There are craters from the shelling. Signs and wires tell you to not go into those areas because there is still unexploded ordinance there. Inside that area are sheep grazing. It is more pleasant to pick up exploded sheep than exploded people.  

Travel a little further east and you go to the Town of Ypres, Belgium. Google Ypres and look at the pre-1915 photos and compare to 1918. The town was levelled. They rebuilt it and you would never know what savage destruction was here. On the east entrance to the town is the Menin Gate. A large structure that contains the name of every Commonwealth soldier that was killed but who's body was never found. Thousands of names.  

A final thought. Driving down those roads and you come to a cemetery. The headstones for the allies are bright white granite. I happened by a German cemetery. All of those grave markers were black. Think about the imaging of that. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 3 May 2017 at 14:27


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "STEALING FROM PETER TO PAY PAUL IS NOT A FORMULA F...": 

Most Aurorans have known for years that the land base requires going up with buildings. Still the politicians hark back to years ago when urban sprawl was possible. A couple of our councillors " get " it, but the squabbling will prevent meaningful decisions. Cllr Abel looks for a fight on every issue and Sandra blows with every breeze.

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 3 May 2017 at 08:29

You know, that's not true about limits of the land base. When Aurora is built out to the boundary, the Province will simply expand the boundary : probably to the east.

Already no division exists between our town and Newmarket. Fire protection is shared. Police, transit, water, sewers and planning authority are all regional. As is education. 

As long as the federal government continues to encourage immigration and as long as immigrants 
are  drawn to the GTA , demand for housing will continue to grow. 

Public investment in infrastructure is in the GTA . No effort or incentive is taken to direct newcomers to less dense regions and even sparsely  populated areas are being vacated in favour of the GTA.

Housing is an essential part of the economy. 

All things spring from the housing industry. Furnishings,gardening  implements ,furniture and supplies and automobiles.

The retail industry needs a market. Hospitals with expensive technology need to be centralized . 

Most people like to be where people are. 

They will continue to arrive and towns will continue to grow. 

Aurora will be a amalgamated with Newmarket and  the new town will not  be called Aurora. 

It will be a sad day but only for those of us who knew how it was. 

I can't believe how many believe that Aurora will stop growing when infilling is complete. The 
Province created new  boundaries in 1971 .They will do it again when the need arises. 

We will have wards then for sure. Aurora will be a single ward and we will have one or perhaps two representatives in the new town. 

Forty-nine per cent of the electorate will turn out to vote if there's a mayoralty contest and nineteen 
per  cent if there isn't. 

Like always. 

On the plus  side, we might bring  back industries that left with the North American Free Trade 

Tuesday 2 May 2017


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "WAR HAS NO WINNERS": 

to 19:33 and 18:40....

The "Nation Building" that occurred at Vimy is a topic that came up a lot over the last few months in preparation for the centennial, however I think you must go back 100 years to fully understand the rationale.  

In the first few years of the Great War, the Canadian units deployed in France and Belgium were under the control of British Army Generals. They (as well as other Commonwealth units) were considered mere extensions of the British Army. Vimy Ridge was the first battle that all four Canadian divisions were combined into a common force. The "nation building" was really the unification of these units. After the successful battle of Vimy Ridge the British High-Command realized that the Canadians can be a force on their own. To that end, there eventually was the assigning the Canadians a leadership that was Canadian too. No longer a part of the British, they were a force of their own.  

Back on the home front in 1917, the success of the Vimy battle was seen as a successful unification of Canadians from all corners of the country. Also, remember that all of these men were volunteers - there was no conscription at this time. 

As some background information. My Grandfather and great-uncle (his bother) both came to Canada from northern England in 1905. Both were married (my grandfather with 2 daughters) enlisted into the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) in late 1915. They shipped out to England in the summer of 1916. In January 1917, my grandfather was wounded in a battle south of Vimy that was meant as a rehearsal for Vimy. He missed the Vimy battle, but my great-uncle fought and was wounded at Vimy, and continued with all of the major battles for the rest of the war and even served in the occupation forces post 11/11/18.  

It is unfortunate that the current political talking heads try to wrap themselves in a flag and talk about nation-building when they really do not know what they are talking about.

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 2 May 2017 at 12:22

Monday 1 May 2017


I Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "STEALING FROM PETER TO PAY PAUL IS NOT A FORMULA F...": 

I can already see the wind out of the sails from some members of council. There will be a few who will not be running next year, and a few who will who shouldn't.

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 1 May 2017 at 13:20


Again my finger didn't tap precisely. The comment was rejected though my intent was to 
publish. I hope the writer didn't mean to suggest Councillor  Mrakas should not be a candidate. 
He works hard at the job and he's the only one who puts himself out there on Facebook. 

Every time he does and I engage with him, his friends think he needs to be defended. I think he's perfectly capable of holding his own. 

I have to say this though. When I was a new Councillor, only myself and Pete Miller were new and 
sat at the bottom of the table. Bill Johnston had been clerk/treasurer forever. When he told council what we could or could not do, there was never any argument. 

He sat at a small separate table. If council was going down the wrong way he slipped a note across to Mayor Clarence Davis at the time. 

We soon learned decisions were not made based simply on personal opinion. Principles and 
precedents and policies were regularly cited and respected and judgement exercised.

Staff provided the continuity that made sure lessons learned in the past were remembered and applied. 

If a bylaw was proposed, Bill Johnson knew if it had been tried elsewhere and whether or not it 
had stood the test of a court challenge. There were many times more municipalities in
Ontario than now, and municipal staff kept in touch. 

There was no shame in being a new Councillor and needing time to learn. Everyone was helpful.
The community was encouraging. They had made an investment. 

Former Councillor Grace Marsh asked once how a Councillor was supposed to know all 
that was needed . I answered it was not possible and one had to rely on staff for guidance. 
It was true at the time.

One by one experienced professionals who had kept the municipality on an even keel were replaced.

Council no longer functioned as it should. Recommendations from staff took a circuitous route. Councillors no longer had the benefit of referral to policies, principles and precedents, Municipal Act regulations and their intent on the decision-making process. 

Decisions were made, then council was informed. 

It continued beyond the Mormac regime. Councillors are at an extreme disadvantage. For the most part it suited the new Head of Council just fine. 

He needed to win the trust and earn respect of Councillors at the outset. He didn't even try. 

He didn't even try. 

I note he often finds himself in a minority of two.  

Now he pays the price. 

Unfortunately the town also pays a price and is equally poorly served. 


I had a wee back and forth with Councillor Mrakas on Facebook last week. It started with the
Councillor's post, from his perspective,of  news of a  tender for the  6 acre  Mavrinac park . The bid is apparently a third over estimate.Combined cost of land and construction is currently expected  to be $5 million. Even those who pushed for the land to be purchased by the town said they would not expect the town to spend that amount. 

I opposed transfer of the land from private to public purpose. Full cost is still neither disclosed or acknowledged. 

Legal  fees to extort the acquisition are not listed. 

According to the town's master recreation plan, the neighbourhood  is better  served with parks than most. The legal  process for acquiring  land and resources for a park were already satisfied by the subdivision agreement. 

Forfeited Revenue  from potential development represents an expenditure. 

It is anything but efficient financial management. II

In his own words Councillor Mrakas believes the  town is better served  with more green space than with "legoland housing" and cites studies to  show growth does not pay for itself . Every $1 of development revenue  costs $1.30 to service.  

Tax increases despite new assessment are certainly contra- indicated. 

Growth is not to blame. 

Council without a glimmer of its purpose  is the clear and evident factor.  

Numerous examples  of senseless extravagance highlight  gross financial mis-management during 
the last three council terms.

Mavrinac is only the most current. 

The park planned for the erstwhile golf course development is another.

Hallmark Cards property has changed from private,revenue producing, to public ownership. 

Acres of land around the railway station have been taken out of revenue production to hold hundreds of cars coming in to town to be parked every day. 

Queen's York Rangers occupy a town property with a  thirty year lease. The town has all the responsibilities of landlord.  If that isn't an outright f---g gift, I am a monkey's uncle. 

The town parks department was evicted  from the building to make room for QYR. That created  the need for a new site and architect -designed  public works and parks facility.

  It's built but incomplete . The project was mis-managed from start to finish just like the one immediately previous. We still don't know the eventual cost. Two of the officials  responsible  have already flown the coop.  

Council has asked for an audit to determine where the fault lies.

 " It lies with thee, dear Brutus" it was a mess from the start.They had to appoint a citizen to fill 
a vacancy to get the vote they needed.  

The Culture Centre's continues to siphon a million dollars annuallyfrom town coffers. 

If it's so damned popular why isn't it paying for itself? 

The Promenade Plan adopted  six years ago  at considerable expense has contributed nothing but gobbledigoop to downtown revitalization: zero, zilch, nada, nothing ,Amen my friend. 

The list is endless.Councillor Mrakas doesn't know half of it. Their ideas of financial efficiency in municipal management continues what the Mormac cult  introduced. 

Taking serviced land out of development is absolutely counter-productive . 

Soaring costs have far more to do with fungal growth between the ears of those  responsible 
than it ever has to do with growth of the municipality.