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

Saturday 30 May 2020


Anonymous entices me to talk about amalgamations  and  why voters tolerate political behaviour. Political conduct is not tolerated ,it’s dictated by voters. But nobody ,it seems,  wants to talk about function of a  fire department as exposed by a  fire fought in Aurora last week.

Fire Chief Laing is a sensible straightforward director. He doesn’t play games. When he stated to the media that the building was a “teardown“ after three  days of  three fire departments working triple strength to extinguish it, he wasn’t being coy. He was stating a fact, and the fact is ,all that effort and expenditure was for nought. The same result would have been  achieved with no effort at all.

A  single incident cannot  of course be used to argue fire  protection is not needed. Another fire
might involve a town house complex or condominium  building and lives  more likely to  be at risk. But  this one is  enough to give us pause . When it costs more to extinguish a fire in an uninhabited building than  the building is worth , the question must be asked: Where is the logic?

It reminds of a fire in Etobicoke that  obsessed me for months. A full fire crew died. A  funeral parade was held to honour  their courage. They should not have died. The parade was a cruel farce; to obscure colossal error  in judgement, for which no-one was called to account.

The fire was in a warehouse. The second in days. Contents of said warehouse were massive rolls off absorbent  paper stacked to the ceiling. No lives were involved. An individual wearing firefighting gear did try to inform the process. His efforts were dismissed. He was just some meddling guy running around wearing a firefighters helmet.

Firefighters had no need  to be inside the building. Only property was involved. The community does not expect firefighters to risk their lives to save property.  But they were in the building and the crew leader did order a ladder propped against the stacks to take the hose deeper into the fire. They obeyed The absorbent tissue  was  already fully absorbed and  collapsed. The guy in the helmet was doing his job. He tried to warn them. There was no escape for the crew . They  suffocated in  a mass of soaking wet tissue.

 I lost sleep over such senseless horrifying loss of life and the farce that followed.I couldn't  stop talking about it.

Fire Services was the first committee I  chaired during my first term of office. Ours  was a Volunteer  Brigade with a full-time Chief elected by the brigade and appointed by Council. Only one committee was lower on the totem pole... Bylaws . .. Pete Miller and myself were the greenhorns.Volunteers ran their own show. Bylaws were the business of the Clerk/treasurer. I did not understand  how little
influence  the chair of the Fire Committee was expected to have.,

It occurred to me  a fire department should have up-to-date records  of all manufacturing processes in industrial buildings . That was years before firefighters lost their lives  in Etobicoke.

I also thought  it was not sensible  for men over forty-five to be hauling hoses with high water
pressure around  the site  of a fire.A volunteer who returned to work at the works  department after a fire call, had a heart attack and died. He was forty-five years old.

Aurora bought a second-hand ladder truck from Etobicoke fire department.. Periodically  substantial sums were spent on maintenance but the first time it was used was on a Mutual Aid call in Newmarket. Just  think about being up in the air, out at the end of one of those things waving about over the flames of a building on fire. It would surely have felt like  a marshmallow stuck at the end of a pointy stick.

No wonder Etobicoke sold the sucker.

Friday 29 May 2020


I’m encouraged by response to my last blog. Anna’s was first responder.  She provided  the link to my blog , in her blog. An anonymous friend found  the idea of selling municipal firdepartment.lock,stock and barrel interesting. He hadn't read about it  anywhere. He understood why it would account for my not being elected if the story got out. He  advised me to check my facts before making statements like

I don’t have to check my facts. If I’m wrong I will be corrected . Of that I’m sure..  I’m certain  my readers are now better informed about the sale of the 407 Ontario Toll Road than before. It wasn’t a sale.It was a long-term  lease. Premier at the time of lease was not Bob Rae. It was Mike Harris who signed the deal.

I don't mind if a person wants to be anonymous but I don't think he’s in a great position to criticize politicians for being short on courage.  I was not a candidate for election. I was an incumbent who was defeated. While I was a Councillor, I was a member of the Joint Fire Services Committee . It puts me in a very good position to know it was proposed.  It was my idea. I put it forward. It would not be recorded because it was not a resolution. It was not a resolution because there was no  seconder.No-one on that committee likely to second such a proposal.  I put it forward alright.More than once. I liked knowing the effect it undoubtedly had on everyone sitting at that table

I’ve never heard anyone in support of amalgamation either ,who expects to lose his job. Logic dictates amalgamation reduces expenditure.Practice  proves it doesn’t .

Reducing administrative costs by the number of Chiefs presiding should reduce over all expenditure. But management positions  increase in number, costs more and government  loses control  altogether.

Government is a clumsy tool at best. Politicians do tend to be skittery  and obsequious. Full-time firefighters inherit status from Volunteer Brigades. They are our local heroes.

There are no more or less courageous people in government than anywhere else in society.

But I really do believe Fire Chief Lang’s comment that what was left of the multi-million mansion
is a “tear down “ should give everyone pause for thought.

If , after two days of fighting the fire, three fire departments involved, three million plus dollar
pumpers ,custom-built in the U.S. , twenty one firefighters, twelve police cars and officers, Fire Marshall of Ontario and sundry other department  vehicles, all cost more than the building was worth to put the fire out , an argument certainly could have been made to let the building burn to the ground.

Think about it. If it’s going to cost more to put  the fire out than to let it burn ...why bother?

While I wrote that last sentence, a picture  of my grandfather came into my head. he was a coal  miner. The first labour member ever elected  to the UK Parliament went from our riding in Ayrshire.

Grampa was in his  rocking chair by the fire, having just heard  an item on the 6 p.m. news.
Coal miners had taken a vote to strike. The rom was full...grannie and aunts and likely my mother and one sister at least. I was a teen-ager but it seemed his eyes met mine as he shook his head in disapproval of the union vote .

It didn’t happen for decades yet but when it cost more money to bring coal  out of the ground than the value of coal , mines were nationalized  by  a Labour government, Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher was able to close  down the industry without a revolution of the French Variety.

Sunday 24 May 2020


A magnificent mansion ...under construction ...atop a hill ....in Aurora burned this week. Three fire departments attended, three pumpers filled with thousands of gallons of treated water, three crews of firefighters (21), various other fire department vehicles, including on from the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office, and 12 police cruisers. I’m not sure if that still means two men cruisers. The photo Anna Lozyk Romeo posted showed pumpers hooked up to hydrants, meaning pumpers needed re-filling to fight the fire or to return to the fire station full.

Anna's photo was not what reminded me of a proposal I made as a member of the joint fire committee. I suggested municipal fire departments should be sold, lock, stock and barrel to the insurance industry. The rest of the committee and fire officers looked at me as if I had horns on my head and quickly changed the subject. It may have been the reason I lost  in the next election.

No...the reminder came from the newspaper story Anna copied in her blog. The story was lengthy. At the end came a quote from the Fire Chief. “It’s a tear down” he said.

That stunned me. If the object had been to spend the greatest amount, they could not have done better. If the object was to save the building, they could not have done worse. If no department had responded to the call, the fire would have burned out and not needed to be torn down.

The response should have been...burn baby burn...exorbitant as it is, the cost of fighting that fires must be staggering. Three multi-million dollar pumpers. Twenty-one firefighters, hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated water at exorbitant regional rates. Fire halls equipped with sleeping, recreation and cooking facilities to save a residential unit five times bigger than an ordinary family might need.

Since I made that proposal, there’s even more reason to give it serious consideration. Is any building worth the cost of dousing the flames?

The Region has contracted out care for the elderly to the private sector where  costs by employees to less than twenty hours, so that, they have to work at two jobs to make a poor living. The Premier who changed welfare to workfare for single mothers to compel them to take minimum wage jobs is now Chairman of the Board of Chartwell , the for-profit company, who have had to be subsidized by the Ontario government to the amount of $4.00 an hour.

Municipalities contract out parks maintenance. Those employees work side-by-side with unionized workers and receive none of the benefits. While elected officials , who are not employees, work away quietly, reducing their numbers, so that they can h all the benefits of unionized employees.

NDP Premier sold the 407 into the private sector after a previous government spent  horrendously to construct it.

And Ontario toys endlessly with the idea of selling Liquor Control shops into the private sector so as not to have to deal with a most powerful organization......Ontario Public Services Union...and they mantain silence, in the face of it, to protect existing members.

Thursday 21 May 2020



 Given all your years in politics, why is it that people are less engaged with politics and their representatives? Voter turn outs are always astonishing low during an election. Which means during the 4 yr term, nobody besides interest groups are engaged to what's happening in their riding or municipalities. I could be wrong, but I don't believe that was the case 30+ yrs ago”.

Despite many changes, municipal voter turnout doesn’t appear to have changed much since I was a first time candidate. An acclamation for Mayor’s usually means voter turnout will be as low as 20%. Without a mayoralty contest, it seldom reaches 50%.

There was a time, before my time, only property owners were allowed to vote. Several eligibility changes since then have had little impact on percentages. 

Women had been given the vote. Adult children living at home were added to the list. They didn’t own property, nor pay municipal taxes. They had no stake in local business affairs. They paid taxes to both senior levels of government if employed or drove a car. 

Since they didn’t own property and services to property were charged to owners, logically non-owners had little interest in municipal elections. Percentage of turn-out would be deflated by the addition to the list. The municipal voters list was compiled at the local level. Two people knocked on doors and recorded names and numbers.

My interest in municipal politics started with the purchase of a home. I’m living in it still. Local school boards and the Hydro Commission were also on the ballot. Water rates were collected by the Hydro Commission. Hydro rates were separate from taxes. Water was a flat rate less than $10 monthly. 

Recreation was organized by volunteers. Recreation Commission was composed of representation from sports organizations, a member of Council and a Director of Recreation whose main job was arena manager. His role in recreation was to advise, help volunteers find space for activities and suss out whatever grants might be available from senior levels of government. A non-elected Board managed the arena to ensure operation was self-sufficient Property Owners had a right to vote on money bills. There were no lot levies. Capital projects were financed, part by fund-raising, mostly by debenture borrowing. It was a big deal.

If residents of a particular street wanted a sidewalk or other improvements, they paid for it. It was a Local Improvement Tax and I believe the legislation is still on the books. 75% support of the property owners on the street is required for approval. 

During my first term, voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years old. Reeve Jimmy Murray. argued if young people were old enough to fight for the country, they were old enough to vote. They didn’t ask for it. I don’t believe they used it. The impact grew the voters’ list but not the votes.18 to 21year olds are unlikely to own property or pay property taxes or have an appreciation of their impact. 

Other changes have contributed to loss of interest in municipal politics. The four year term didn’t help. Before my first term, municipal elections were held every twelve months...then two in 1967....then three...then in 2006, four year term was introduced and the voters list taken from the national census. The census has a record of all residents, including immigrants not entitled to vote.

I asked the clerk, who is also elections officer, about the risk of including people not entitled to vote. He didn’t think it was much of a risk since people who were not citizens knew they were not entitled to vote. I did not agree. But if he was right, it was another group on the list that had no right to be there. It meant % voter turnout would be further skewed by numbers, for one reason or another, unlikely to vote.

Growth of high density rental housing deflates turnout percentages. A person who owns a home, sells it and moves into an apartment is likely to continue to vote. A new resident with a one year lease is unlikely to have the same interest. A job change can easily mean a change of address...right out of town.

Delegation status and advisory committees are useless entities....or nonentities...in my opinion. Only elected members are accountable for decisions made and they can’t share blame.

In my opinion, committees and delegate status were created for illusion of purpose. An accessible Mayor or Councillor can far more easily convey public opinion and it’s their job to do so. 

Councillor Gaertner firmly believes Council must do what the people want. Despite different
positions taken at the Council table, it somehow escapes the Councillor’s attention there is no way of knowing what all of the people want all of the time. That’s why we elect a council. But her belief allows her to be on whatever side is making the greatest clamour or both sides and as we have seen, guarantees re-election. The same applies to Councillor Humfreys. 

Another significant change in my time was media coverage. The Aurora Banner and Newmarket Era were privately owned when we came to live in Aurora. The Toronto Telegram was owned by a man called Basset. A printers strike against the paper lasted several years. Basset folded the paper. He didn’t sell it. He bought the Aurora Banner. The Era changed hands as well. For several years, both newspapers had editors who were former municipal journalists...Bob Buchanan and Dave Haskell. Buchanan was editor of The Banner for a year before taking an editorial position on town affairs. He felt it took that long to be sufficiently informed. He attended all council meetings, reported on them and eventually wrote editorials.

He lived at 100 Wells Street and walked to the office every morning...in his element...playing the role of  small town editor in a Norman Rockwell illustration. He had found his pot of gold. 

The first time I rose to speak in a council meeting, I read from prepared notes. He diplomatically informed me that prepared notes did not have a place in debate. The object was to persuade by response to the motion and comments made by others in the debate. It requires homework in preparation, skill and practice, quick wits and agility. One has it or one doesn’t. It’s not the be all and end all.

Good sense, consistency, equity and integrity are key principles. All the rest follow.

This post is no doubt tedious for some to read but I was asked and I am delighted to respond.

I was asked earlier to write more stories about my childhood. I do that regularly on a blog of
memories on my birthplace.  One of these days I may gather a few.

Thursday 14 May 2020


We learned something new from a comment. Condo buyers pay $10.20.30 thousand dollars extra for a parking space. If they discover they don’t want it, they can’t sell it because nobody else wants it. I can see that. I can see how a single mother might not be a car owner and shelter without parking would be less expensive to build and more affordable to rent.

Councillor Gaertner must know of neighbours in her social housing project who do not have cars. I know they’re there.

I can see how public transit use would grow and not be trundling around town like a phantom, in the evening hours. Especially if government made funds they didn’t spend on highways available to put public transit fares within reach of every pocket.

When we came to Canada, TTC fares were 25 cents adult and ten cents a child. Every day in summer we went on two street cars to Kew Beach at Waverly Road and spent the day. We were there before the locals in the morning and didn’t leave until the last rays of the sun left the beach in the. evening. Street car fare was all it cost to enjoy the summers there or the Island or the beach at the end of the Queen Street line, at the beginning of Scarborough bluffs.

Life was good. And it wasn’t costly. Which was also good because we were a one income family. We came to Aurora and of course had to have a car. Because subdivisions were built with the car in mind. A good part of the post war economy was built around the automobile. The other, as it still is, around the homebuilding industry.

Commuter transit was non-existent. As were the 400 series of highways. Car pools were the transit mode of necessity. A man with a van provided a shopping delivery service. The baker called and milk was delivered. We picked up the mail at the post office. People got to know each other in the line-up.

Aurora was dry. Richmond Hill had the nearest liquor store. The Beer Store was equally distant.

Things have changed. And changed again. Councils were elected every twelve months...then two years then three ... and now a Council term is four years.

Zoning became the rule rather than the exception. It’s typical of government. Clumsy. In constant need of amendment to suit particular circumstance.

Aurora population was 7500 after Regency Acres was completed. Council was composed of a Mayor, Reeve, a Deputy Reeve, and five councillors.

The volunteer community was alive and well and augmented the town’s budget. They provided social, cultural and recreational activities. Funds were raised to help build the Community Centre, the library, and to keep fees down for minor hockey so that every boy in Aurora could afford to play. The town had a Volunteer Fire Brigade and a thirteen man police force. All of whom lived in the town. Their kids went to school with everybody else’s kids. It mattered.

1967, Canada’s Centennial was the first year the town’s budget reached a million.

Everyone understood the connection between debt and taxes. Every effort was made to raise funds to keep town debt manageable.

Water was a flat rate at $7.50. The only reserve fund the town had was the Water Reserve Fund. We borrowed from it occasionally. We built an additional bay to the fire hall with a loan from the Water Reserve. I think the fund was $18,000 most of the time.

We had a Recreation Commission, an Arena Management Board, Planning Board, Library Board and Hydro Commission and local school boards. Hydro Commission members and school board trustees were elected. Other boards were appointed with specific authority under Provincial Law.

Library board members were appointed by school boards.

Millions were not extorted from developers to be used for specific purposes and no other and to swell the cost of housing.

Yes sir, things were very different. Councillors were hands on and accountable. Nobody had ever heard the expression “micro- management”.

It means only the Mayor gets to decide how and what advice Council receives.

Councillors received copies of all bills paid during the month.

There were other changes which in my view were not beneficial but appeared to be so for political

Wednesday 13 May 2020


I just had a thought. What if...zoning was changed from a requirement of X number of parking spaces per unit of residential housing units to O parking spaces, starting with Wellington Towers and the condominiums already built at Yonge and Centre and those the on the west side of Yonge.

What would be the result? Well....for a start, only people who choose not to own a car would buy a unit. Would that be a good thing? Bear with me. I’m thinking this out as we go. I can’t see it as a bad thing. Maybe some units don’t use parking spaces now.

People buy condominiums in the city centre and rent apartments in the heart of things because they want to be a part of the new elite. People without cars.

Not having a car would encourage new and thriving retail in the vicinity of the buildings as was the original intent. There’s nothing intrinsically bad about not owning a car. Some might argue no car is better than a hybrid vehicle. There’s nothing uniquely sensible about requiring developers to include space for an owner’s car and a third of a space for a visitor.

Car rentals could become part of the mix in the retail section.

Highways are very expensive to build and maintain. During week days, a thick yellow blanket of pollution is clearly visible hanging over the highway routes from north, west, and east of Toronto. It can’t be good for people living in residential buildings that line the highways.

What if governments encouraged people to live without cars instead of imposing exorbitant taxes to reduce the carbon footprint. It couldn’t damage whats left of the auto industry any more than Brian Mulroney’s free trade deal did already.

What if government were to use the money no longer needed to build highways  to reduce the cost of public transit?

What if people didn't have to worry about buying space for two family cars and space for guests Cars to park when thinking about shelter for their families.

The more I pursue this argument the better I like it. Imagine if not having a car could keep a family out of debt. Allow Mum to stay at home and nurture her children. Allow children to be at home and receive the nurturing necessary for emotional development. Allow government to provide assistance to stay-at-home Mums or Dads at a fraction of the cost of child care centres.

Who knows, considering the short time it takes to raise a family and how precious it is, parents might actually discover it can be quite rewarding.

We might see kids playing in the playgrounds that cost so much to build and parents cheerfully engaging in pleasant chattery about this and that. Maybe about how the town is managed and who’s doing a good job. You know, stuff they don’t have time for when both parents are going out to work.

Now...I know everybody’s circumstances are not the same. I do not suggest a new zoning category reducing or eliminating requirement for parking in every circumstance.

But verily, I do believe it could make a difference. In even more ways than mentioned here.

Monday 11 May 2020


Another story perfectly illustrates a problem with our town’s business operation. It happened during the Dawe administration but was a carry over from before. The town CAO came from the Region during the administration prior to Dawe. I believe he was manager of statistics in the Region’s CAO office. I’m not aware of any experience managing a municipality. $75,000 was included in several budgets for education after appointment. He enrolled in something called Institute for Excellence, aced it, and received certification in excellence.

A 20 year lease for the Hydro Building to Queen‘s York Rangers and eviction of the town parks department was enacted. Parks built a gazebo there. Picnic benches and garbage receptacles, all to our own sturdy design were constructed during the winter months. A dismantled barn was stored in the yard; heritage salvage. The clerk used the office building to store records. The parks department could have handily transferred to the hydro building, leaving the entire site at the end of Scanlon Court to expand the works department. Making the joint parks and works boondoggle completely farcical.

Councillor Gaertner gushed her appreciation of the CAO for accomplishment of the lease to Queen’s York Rangers without specifying why.

Public Works handled renovations to the Hydro building to suit the Rangers’ purpose. Final cost was never public. As landlords, the town is responsible for building upkeep and insurance. Then the town paid half a million to the federal government for a contaminated shed occupying a corner of the town  park for over a hundred years.

Rent was presented as an asset. Forfeited market value of the property, tax revenue and opportunities for employment were not presented as an offset.

During the Dawe administration the lease was extended from 20 to 30 years.

The Municipal Act requires public property, rendered redundant to municipal needs to be so advertised. It must then be offered for sale in competitive bidding. That advice was never conveyed   to Council. The Chief Financial Advisor was not asked to report on merits of leasing the property versus realizing the asset or continuing use for the parks and other needed purpose.

Leasing the Hydro property was never a legitimate option. The Municipal Act requires that a property redundant to needs must be advertised as such and sold to the highest bidder.

You can’t give away an asset worth millions to a pal. Well, they did.

I never believed gifting the Hydro property to the Rangers was the brainchild of the CAO. I have did not believe Aurora property owners had a responsibility to save the Rangers from the oblivion intended by the federal government.

I had no appreciation for the deal. The Town's interest was not well served.

The blog often takes me off on a tangent.

Another story from the Dawe administration was to be the pillar of the post.

Frank Stronach had a parcel of land approved for servicing. ..75 lots...I think. It was to be sold by auction.

The CAO recommended the town acquire the land for recreation purposes. Market value was cited as the cost. Of course the cost was more and the implications far-reaching. Paying the cost of land with all approvals and servicing units available, ready for shovels into the ground was preposterous.

Real estate deals can be discussed out of the public eye. The deal never happened and the discussion never became public. It was never clear where the direction came from to pursue the purchase. In the circumstances, I assume prior discussion in the Mayor’s office for it to get to the council table.

The arguments against it were real and several and terribly obvious. The town would forfeit development of seventy five lots and tax revenue from seventy-five new homes. Changing the designation would move the property from asset to liability....a switch from black to red in the accounts columns.

The CAO had no argument in response. He was in the difficult position of defending a recommendation that probably wasn’t his in the first place.

But that’s not all.

The Planning Act requires the municipality to process an Official Plan and update it every five years.

Master plans, prepared by consultants at an average cost of $100 thousand a piece for various public services are based on needs forecast by the Official Plan.

Firehalls, recreation, schools , equipment, stuff like that are part of the calculation for lot levies which must also be updated every five years. As public planning board, Council is kept busy, talking and talking and talking at public meetings. After listening to developers and their experts talking and talking and talking about their plans, after the planners have read lengthy reports with comments from all and sundry about merits or otherwise of plans and the public are invited to say what they think about the plan.

OMG thousands and thousands of hours of endless talk, round and round it goes into the planning process. Thousands of hours of payroll time go into planning proposals that produce absolutely nothing in the end. The whole exercise is about multiplying the value of a property without any actual physical changes.

Somebody has to pay for it...Guess who my friends?...It’s you, that's who...and future owners.

You can’t take seventy five lots out of the Official Plan forecast without scrambling the whole shebang.

Nothing would be the same. The idea never got off the ground.

For all practical and economic purposes, it should never have been on the table in the first place.

But it was how much of the Council’s time was occupied during the Dawe Administration.

And before.

Saturday 9 May 2020


In the stats, views are down. Obviously because I wasn’t critiquing Council’s zoom meeting.

Y’all know I need no encouragement to be wicked. But you gotta admit, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I tuned into the meeting because I understood the Chief Financial Advisor, was to advise on the financial impact of the Library Square Project. That didn’t happen.

Instead the advice was how lockdown would affect the budget. From my perspective, I thought it should save resources.  If suspended service reduced revenue, it followed non-employed employees
would be laid off. That didn’t happen.

Instead, a $2 something million dollar deficit is forecast. To be funded from a reserve created from over - taxation imposed in past decades years to “stabilize” taxes when a new firehall gets built from lot levies but has to be staffed with money raised from property taxes.

Municipal law does not permit budgeting for a deficit. The reserve fund dodge was devised by a previous Chief Financial Advisor to get around the Municipal Act. If you can’t strike a budget to take less money than you need, you can’t strike a budget to take more and for the same reason. People who pay for service must be the people who receive it. You can't return the money if they leave town before the funds were spent. The Chief Financial Advisors of all the municipalities and the Region have meetings, to come up with strategies, and a common front. If a Councillor challenges a recommendation....the Chief Financial Officer can name various municipalities doing it. In Aurora, it’s mostly Richmond Hill that gets cited. The strategy never fails. Councillors are usually assured by what everybody else is doing. Like a flock, right.

We shall pause and ponder the point at this juncture. It’s the kind of thing that got me a reputation for being a bit of a stickler and a fuddy-duddy forby.

For more than a century, town management was under the authority of a Clerk/Treasurer. Initially the same individual. When speaking to money management he was the “Treasurer”. One word.

Now, we have a three word title: Chief Financial Advisor. It takes 3 times as long to say, 3 times as long to type, 3 times as much space on a page, 3 times as much paper to accommodate. 3 times as much energy to copy.

In every sense, it costs 3 times as much and serves no useful purpose.

It indicates more than one advisor. You can’t have a Chief, if there are no underlings. Is that good to know?

Not to worry. Richmond Hill is doing it. They have four times the population. I hesitate to guess how much larger the geographic area with numerous small rural communities contained within. The relatively small town of Aurora has the same number of Chiefs as the sprawling municipality of Richmond Hill. Does that make sense?

When I started this post, I intended to write about the stupidity and hypocrisy of the non-decision on the Wellington Towers Development site plan, led by Councillors Humfreys, and Gaertner with hemming and hawing Councillor Gallo insinuating mud into the waters without really saying anything.

Instead, the financial deficit created by Covid 19 was the topic.  Council was informed of its impact. Other than use of reserves, ill-advisedly collected, advice was neither offered nor sought on how to offset the loss. Not only did the Treasurer forecast a deficit without a cut in costs, in a different area of town business, Council potentially added considerably to the deficit with anticipated cost of hundreds of thousands to defend the indefensible before the OMB.

I have never operated a business. I have raised seven children. At the same time I served as an elected representative and appointed public servant over several decades of my life. My education with two terms as Mayor and nine as Member of a quasi-judicial review board is more than that offered in any university.

I do pay attention to detail needed for accomplishment of any degree of success. Undoubtedly, I did not manage all well, all of the time. But I do know how.

Our Town’s Business is not well managed. It’s no way to run a railroad.


Saturday 2 May 2020


In again. ..out again...on again ...off again. Round and round the mulberry bush....0n and on it went , the non- debate about an imponderable number of parking spots in a development proposal.

The same points repeated over and over and  over again with no attempt to follow procedure and no calls to order. Seven people around the table and not a one sufficiently proficient to get the Councillor off the spot.

It started off with a heartfelt expression of regret because the development was close to her heart being rental n’all and some of it assisted. Then on went the fan dangle about how many spots the bylaw called for,  how many were being provided. After endless  repetition and motions to reconsider which the clerk informed required a two thirds majority, which it did not receive  and eventually a motion to re consider the reconsideration which did not receive the required two-thirds majority ,   the Mayor volunteered that the application would undoubtedly proceed immediately to the formerly known, Ontario Municipal Board, if a decision was not made within the time limit. Which would be, the very next morning.

But oh my , the ladies already knew that and the decision was not difficult. Council had to ensure existing  tenants, they would not be inconvenienced or lose parking spaces by the construction.

Like the town has such unlimited domain .

We’ve  seen it all before.

A few years ago , in a subdivision at Bayview, a new owner of a million dollar  mansion needed his lot graded to lead drainage away from his house. It was the last remaining feature before occupancy permit could be granted.A tree had to be removed.An abutting owner liked that tree. He claimed he bought the neighbouring lot because of it  and objected to its removal. He collected signatures and petitioned council. The right to be able to enjoy that tree with their coffee in the morning was their
earnest contention. I am not making this up. It’s what we have become.

Dear lord, what a moral dilemma for Councillors Gaertner and Humfreys but hthey never doubted the decision. Over and over again  they claimed responsibility to protect the property owners rights . But not the rights of the tree owner.  Oh Dearie me, no. It was the other fella’s rights they had to protect with much  weeping and  wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.
I did make that last bit up. It’s called poetic licence.

The developer tried every computation possible to meet the concern. The owner  had sold his previous home and despite being owner of a brand new million dollar mansion, he was obliged to move his family of teens and pre-teens into a motel for Christmas. But none of that touched  the hearts of the morally bound Councillors.

The final solution  called for a virtual plantation of mature trees before the neighbour backed down from his  totally selfish and unreasonable demand to retain the tree.  At last the ladies were rescued  from the moral high ground of protecting the interest of “the voters”

Councillor Gaertner and Gallo were the only survivors of the Mormac regime. Replacements for the regime proved just as febrile.

The Mayor of this day stayed apart from the fray.He may have voted for thevtrees remkval but he certainly provided no leadership in the face of the farcical.

Rules of procedures,properly applied would have prevented the three ring circus .And it’s where lack of experience and competence or courage in the chair  always fails the day.

Here we are , several council terms distant  and still haunted by ghosts of our relatively recent ignominious past.

Nothing much changed despite clear intention of the voters.

Friday 1 May 2020


This blog was started more than twenty years ago. At the back of my mind, I always felt lack of comments meant slight interest in the subject matter . I read numbers indicating fantastic success of other blogs. When I left Council last time, I thought I should change the focus.

I tried. Now and then...here and there... but I couldn’t make the switch. My critique ,in parts of Council’s Tuesday  Zoom meeting scored higher numbers than  before. When checking “traffic”  ,I noticed a line indicating “Comments awaiting moderation”.   I’d never seen it before. I had  never clicked on the line that brought it forward. When I did, lo and behold, I discovered numerous unpublished comments going back several years.

There are definite hazards in operating  a computer with a limited understanding . I may have stumbled over most. The first was the worst. I paid thousands of dollars I could ill afford, to create a Web site. Then discovered it wasn’t needed to publish a blog . By then I learned initial outlay was not the last: annual fees of thousands were necessary maintain the domain.

Anyway,  too late now to publish the comments. Some were never relevant. People in other lands with no competence in english saw the chance  to comment as opportunity for a schille.  They would never have been published. For the rest , I can  only offer my apology with explanation as noted.

I promise to do a better job and I am thrilled to see more interest in the town’s affairs than  previously realized .