Posted September 6, 2013
It comes as no surprise that Mayor Karen Farbridge is advocating abolition of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Because of her absolute control of her council, the OMB thwarts her because of her Loony Tunes ideas that frequently do not serve the community as she sees it.
Her reputation at Queen’s Park considers her one of the most litigious municipal leaders in the province. And she has the legal bills to prove it. The biggie yet to come is the cost of the Urbacon (new city hall) lawsuits in which judgment is due this fall.
If ever a Guelph council needed the OMB, it is over the past six and one half years. All governments are subject to checks and balances something absent in the Guelph administration.
Her worship is frothing over the hold-up of her natural heritage plan in 2010 that has been tied up at the provincial level and in the courts. You will recall this was a council decision to designate private lands around the edges of the city as natural heritage. This would freeze any kind of future use of those lands if approved.
One of the more stupid ideas was to oppose building of a student housing project at the corner of Gordon and Stone Road. The city planners joined with the university and a neighbouring housing development, to stop the project to be built by Abode Varsity developers.
The OMB tribunal saw through the facetious arguments opposing the development and ordered it to proceed. Why did the city oppose development if the off-campus student multi-lodging houses, sprinkled throughout single-family zoned areas, created a searing social problem among property owners?
This will be a major election issue next year particularly in Wards five and six. Two councillors who are employed by the university represent Ward five.
The irony is that the city plans to license these student-lodging houses with the costs passed through to the student occupiers. It fails to address the behaviour problem that is frustrating legitimate owners in the affected areas. When police are called, most of the time they are told there are no officers available. The law cannot be enforced so the neighbourhood loses its natural state of peace and quiet.
This is a Mayor who has overseen an administration that has forced developers to leave the city because of the red tape involved in doing business. There are 43 approvals that a person must complete just to build a house.
In one case, an individual building a small house requested the city to cut the curb at the driveway. Shortly after, a crew arrives broke up the existing curb and poured a new one. Days later, another crew arrived and cuts the curb. Cost to the owner, $600 for this city service.
While only one example, it illustrates the level of civic management incompetence that thrives in a city where there are few checks and balances.
Thank goodness there are some checks and balances at the provincial level to put the brakes on when needed. The most important check in our city is at the financial management level.
Allowing overspending its budget for the past four years in a row with an accumulated deficit of $24,771,000 reflects a desperate call for control and responsible leadership.
Abolishing the OMB would be a disaster for Guelph under it present leadership. For the may to complain about the legal costs to the city to argue its case to the OMB is laughable. Those hearings are self-inflicted as the city tries to force its misguided views on the taxpayers. Look inward Mayor.
The scary part is Mayor Farbridge has another 12 months to force her policies on to the city and its taxpayers with more social engineering and special interest projects that could end up costing millions.
You don’t have to look too far. The waste management complex on Dunlop Drive has sucked up more than $39 million in just 72 months. Add the cost of the waste collection system of more than $15 million, that fails to serve 6,400 households, and you get the idea that some really bad planning has occurred.
The reason the OMB exists is to protect the taxpayers from its elected representatives making the kind of mistakes that has brought this city to its financial knees.
We can only look in the mirror to see why this happened. With only 36 per cent of eligible voters voting in 2010, we got the government we deserved because two-thirds of those eligible did not bother to vote.
The new GrassRoots Guelph citizen’s organization is determined to inform and influence more citizens to vote in October 2014.