The Mayor speaks and it’s all potatoes with no meat or gravy

Part One

Posted November 10, 2013

The vision-laden lady who runs our city dropped a ten-page state of the city speech on the breakfast meeting of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce last Thursday morning. It’s not known how many attendees ordered bicarbonate of soda following the bundle of bromides trotted out by her worship.

It was a clumsy presentation that was loaded with wordy, long-range visions of what she had accomplished in laying the groundwork for making a difference in Guelph. Unfortunately, she offered few nuggets that actually affect her taxpaying subjects.

I’d like a dollar every time she used the word “innovation” in her presentation.

Let’s dissect some examples of the mayor’s pitch to the Chamber of Commerce.

“Our view is that Guelph’s competitive differentiation is founded on four spheres of community experience,” she stated. And, here they are:

Economic opportunity and prosperity

Social justice and wellbeing

Environmental stewardship and sustainability

Culture and Heritage

Then she added, “We are successfully striking a balance between all four – that is our value proposition. That makes a great city.”

Value proposition. Really? Does she mean it is a “dynamic collaborative mechanism to balance the books”?

Let’s drill down and look at the facts and try to interpret mayor-speaks.

Taking Economic Opportunity, how does the mayor explain that the assessment ratio between residential (84per cent) and industrial/commercial (16 per cent) has not changed in her seven years in office?

Now there is another new initiative announced to retain and expand business in Guelph. The bottom line is that while the city promotes building housing, the administration is unable to increase the industrial/commercial assessment because it loses business as new businesses come in. Also there has been a population gain that puts pressure of the city to attract new business just to maintain the status quo ratio. Maybe it would better serve the residents if the mayor should explain why the assessment ratio hasn’t budged in seven years.

Let’s look at the second “sphere of community experience,” Social Justice and Wellbeing. Question: how many affordable housing units have been built in the city in the past seven years? In view of the mayor’s belief that the ground work for prosperity has been laid, why is it necessary to still have a food bank to feed those who cannot afford food?  Most people don’t understand why the city spent $1 million on a “wellbeing” promotion that asked a selected group of citizens to fill out a 20-page questionnaire. It even asked if one attended religious services. This so-called initiative innovation puts Guelph above the madding crowd in the future?

The third “sphere of community experience” is Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability. To attain this dodgy initiative, the city spent $53 million on a $33 million organic waste processing facility that is three times the city’s wet waste requirements for the next 20 years. It sold two/thirds of its capacity to the Region of Waterloo. Then it imposed a $15 million curbside cart collection system that does not serve more than 6.400 households. The balance of the capital spending was on improvements at the waste management plant on Dunlop Drive. Who are we? Mother Teresa?

Finally the Mayor cites “Culture and Heritage” as the fourth “sphere of community experience”.  We presume she refers to the $16 million spent renovating the derelict Loretto convent into a new city museum. She does not mention that the proposed new downtown library has not been built in her seven years in office. But council did spend $5 million to demolish some stores on Wyndham Street to provide an entrance to the library that was never built. That’s the most expensive parking lot the city has ever created. The whole issue of what is worth spending money to preserve heritage sites has grown into a contentious debate. Most people in the city feel there are many more priorities the council should be working on such a reducing taxes, curtailing spending and fixing the student housing problems in Wards five and six.

The speech goes on to brag about how the city policies have created a Guelph that will prosper and be in the forefront on a number of municipal issues. The aim appears to become a world-class city in energy, environmental services and wellbeing, whatever that means.

But at what price? The litany of spending by this administration to achieve its member’s personal self-serving interests is appalling. We cannot change what has already been done, but citizens now have a voice that will speak loudly in the next 11 months to restore openness and transparency to the people’s business, install intelligent cost controls, and address those issues that matter to the people.

Join Grass Roots Guelph and the growing numbers of people who hunger for change,

Tomorrow: Part two –   More Green eggs and ham



Filed under Between the Lines

7 responses to “The Mayor speaks and it’s all potatoes with no meat or gravy

  1. Heather

    Yes I must agree, particularly on affordable housing units. Farbridge was too busy letting student housing take over Wards 5 & 6. Affordable housing? Even if these houses in those wards were used for low income families, they couldn’t afford it. A student pays $500 per bedroom and use of house for rent.Most have 5 students in them. That is $2500/month.What low income family could afford $2500/month for housing? That’s a large mortgage payment even if family rented out basement. I would much rather have families in my neighbourhood than students! Students are basically noisy pigs in general, disrespectful of other people’s property and think they own the world.Really tired of sharing my space with them against my will, which includes my driveway! They just don’t get it and the City does NOT care about the homeowners one little bit.But keep on paying outrageous taxes and grab our hard earned money is ok? Not in my books. Time for residents to get together in front of City Hall and protest this latest tax thought of 3.36%.We are after all still in a recession and outlook of Canada’s economy NOT looking so good. I can’t afford to live here anymore.

  2. John or Marilyn Como

    Right on, Gerry. Keep up the good work. Not that it will affect any major changes in the foreseeable future. It’s all about the money, and the poor and downtrodden do not factor in the equation. Waste and stupidity are key factors in the political arena, and even if the city came up with a brand new mayor and Council in 2014, it’s rather nave to expect real improvements. John C. Como P.S. Hope to see you at the public meeting yo discuss the proposed new budget on November 28, 6-8pm.

    Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 15:47:01 +0000 To:

  3. phelan

    The mayor is quickly running out of people she can baffle with her bulls#$t…we are onto her and the numbers that are on to her are rapidly increasing…you will not be missed Mayor Farbridge …nor will your accomplishments or lack of ever make the annals of Guelph other than the fact that you were in deed the worst mayor this city ever had. Whenever my family members see mismanagement and poor financial strategies in any business or financial undertaking anywhere we call it a Farbridge moment and we all know exactly what each other mean when we pipe out the word Farbridge. Paul Phelan

  4. Peggy

    I really have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said by Gerry and the other people commenting on his article. I agree with all of you.

  5. boomer

    I feel sorry for the people who actually buy into what her worship is selling. Read between the lines people and you’ll see the term “baffling with bull!@#$”
    Transparent govt. my a**. Hiding the truth whenever possible of ‘spinning’ it is more like it.

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