Deciphering Mayor Farbridge

The recent  breakfast conducted by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce heard that Canadians do well at invention but“suck at commercializing that invention.”

This from a guy who should know, Kirk Roberts, executive director of Innovation Guelph.

His statement was echoed in part by Erin Skimson, Director of business development office of the University of Guelph. She said the universities of the country are brilliant at research but not stellar in development.

Then we come to Mayor Karen Farbridge, a participant on the panel. In an astonishing reversal the mayor admitted that the city was not an easy place in which to do business.

“The city must closely examine its core business and be committed to real change not simply to “tweak around the edges.”

Well mayor, there’s been a lot of tweaking around the edges in your administration for the past five years. Two independent consultants have warned that the city is not an easy place to do business.

Why is that?

Folks, it’s an attitude problem that the majority in two councils holds about business, and a reluctance to see free enterprise flourish. It is strange because three members of the last council were independent businessmen. All three supported the Farbridge majority. In the current council there are three businessmen, two in the opposition ranks and the other a soldier in the Farbridge majority.

When the mayor speaks of a “commitment to change” one wonders how this new approach occurred in view of past performance.

Is it the fact that so many senior managers have left the city during her term of office?

Could it be that the city has operated without a Chief Financial Officer since last May? Correction: They hired one in September but he resigned in a week.

There appears to be a breakdown between city council and fellow elected officials in neighbouring communities where responsibilities are shared. There is a feeling of animosity between these folks that is palpable in intensity.

If you can’t get along with your neighbouring partners how can city council respect new businesses wishing to set up shop in the city?

The red tape and rules that new businesses must surmount are all under the direction of city council. Can’t tell whether its envy or just being ornery, or an abuse of power.

But here’s the bottom line: The ratio between commercial and industrial  (C/I) assessment and residential assessment has barely budged since the Farbridge council was elected in 2007. The C/I is stuck at 16 per cent while the residential ratio is 84 per cent.

This translates into a stagnant growth in the city for the past five years.

The people who elected this council are in that residential category.  What they must consider is to elect a council that will encourage development the city and decrease that C/I ratio to at least 75 per cent.

The only way to do it is to adopt and execute aggressive, responsible business development policies.

With the mayor unable to fill a key staff position in her treasury department and losing two top managers in the planning department, plus a change in Chief Administration Officer, there does not appear to be a commitment for change.

It is a failure of management. The responsibility lies right at the top in Mayor Karen Farbridge.

She claims attracting talent and fostering a vibrant arts and culture life and improving infrastructure is the bellwether of her administration. She goes on to tell her audience that city government must strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection.

When you fail to grow economic development how do you expect to protect the environment?

More bike lanes, Sleeman Centre time clocks and city hall ice rinks?

This administration has grown old and directionless. It is devoid of meeting the real challenges of our city.

Yes Toto, we are reminded this is the same old Guelph

1 Comment

Filed under Between the Lines

One response to “Deciphering Mayor Farbridge

  1. Craig Chamberlain

    Stronger than expected employment gains coming out of the US, while Canada east of Manitoba is stalled. Let’s hope change is embraced, and that the Mayor isn’t just playing for time with her comments, waiting for some of the improvements in the US economy to make things look better here. Best that we move forward now so that we are best able to take advantage of an improved domestic economy.

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