Posted January 5, 2014
The following is a statement, reproduced exactly, from a well-known civic political action committee laying out its 2014 principles and goals for the next election campaign in October.
Remarkably, the statements closely parallel what the City administration under Mayor Karen Farbridge and her supporting cast of councillors, will exploit when the campaign gets underway.
It is just a regurgitation of the past ill-defined policies that have seen our taxes balloon by more than 28 per cent in seven years. Or the 77 per cent increase in water bills while usage declined. The prediction of a 42 per cent increase in electric bills in the next three years while city pulls out a dividend from Guelph Hydro each year.
Taxpayers are facing huge increases in their tax bills due to excessive employee costs including benefits; demands for spending on a new police headquarters; a downtown library; a south end recreation centre and building a new riverside park on the site of an existing commercial centre.
Are you better off today than you were, even three years ago?
Remember where you read it first. The worst is yet to come.
A Vision for Civic Governance in Guelph
1. Innovative and effective engagement of the community in civic matters – Moving beyond ‘informing’ and ‘consulting’ to truly collaborative and community-led decision making at City Hall
Translation: Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984. See how “informing” and “consulting” is moved out of the way to make room for a “collaborative and community-led decision making at City Hall”. However you make sausage meat, it’s still the same old baloney. When words such as “innovative” and “effective” and “collaborative” creep into the vernacular, trust oozes out the window.
2. Bold and visionary city planning and growth management – Retaining and building upon Guelph’s unique character and natural and cultural heritage while pursuing sustainability through preservation of Guelph’s built heritage
Translation: Spend most of our money on the downtown area at the expense of other parts of the city. Secondary thrust is to protect at any cost the loosely defined natural and cultural heritage of the city. How many Mitchell and Wilson farmhouse crises do the taxpayers have to endure? The heritage preservation society has created full-time jobs for many.
3. An enhanced ‘triple-bottom-line’ approach to decision-making and investments -Recognizing the relative value of environmental protection and resource conservation, social well-being and equity, and high-quality jobs through economic development
Translation: Maintain tight control over which businesses are allowed to establish in Guelph. Impose rules and regulations pertaining to the environment, resource conservation, social well-being and high quality jobs. Those very issues are why the city administration has not grown its industrial/commercial base from 16 per cent of total assessment in seven years. The remaining 84 per cent are residential taxpayers, the major source of income for the city.
4. A strong commitment to the local – Local arts, food, media, business and water resources
Translation: Pander to the minority and single issue interests to maintain power. Reminder, we are part of a global economy and must recognize this fact for the betterment of all citizens.
5. Dedication to a high quality of life for Guelph citizens regardless of income – Through a diversity of affordable housing and programs
Translation: Don’t build affordable and subsidized housing but concentrate on approving expensive downtown condo developments. This council is so spacey about building single-family homes that only 152 were allowed last year. Remember the 2006 Farbridge pledge to stop urban sprawl? She succeeded.
6. The highest level of accountability, transparency, openness and effectiveness
Translation: Let’s take them one at a time:
Accountability – that’s when you hide the facts and figures from the taxpayers such as the cost of waste management.
Transparency – That means holding meetings in camera and covering up the details with slanted press releases.
Openness – See above. Never hold a meeting with the public that you cannot control.
Effectiveness – The holy grail of the Farbridge administration is its mission to collectivize the City of Guelph with is its long range ten and 20-year operational plans.
In a society that is moving technology at the speed of light, does it make any sense to make these long-range plans effective when the growth of human knowledge doubles every five years?
No, the Farbridge administration is only thinking in terms of yesterday. Who are they to invoke these schemes on us without regard to the enormous changes occurring already in our society?
These are questions to be asked when voting day arrives October 27, 2014.