Has the time arrived for civic disobedience to get council’s attention?

Posted January 16, 2014

Sometime this March, city council will be asked to ratify its approval of the $34 million Guelph Police headquarters project.

It is a pivotal moment in our city’s history, when the majority of an unelected Guelph Police Services Board (GPSB) can dictate spending $34 million of taxpayer’s money. It will be spent on a project in which our two representatives on the board, Mayor Karen Farbridge and Coun. Leanne Piper collaborated to ram it through council.

And they did it using the excuse that the GPSB could force the city to approve the expense through appealing to the province.

Really? Is there was any semblance of political guts existing on our council? Why not tell the GPSB to go ahead, appeal rejection of the proposal to the province. Perhaps then some common sense would come into play.

Heck, the Farbridge majority on council had no qualms in 2011 about going to court to escape the alleged binds imposed by the Dufferin Wellington Guelph Public Health organization. The legal costs of that lost cause have never been revealed to taxpayers. It wasn’t helped when our Mayor sent a testy letter to the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews, demanding to allow the city to depart the composite health board.

That case was fought because the Public Health Board went ahead and approved a new headquarters building in Guelph and a satellite operation in Orangeville. Again, the Mayor and two councillors were members of that board.

There followed a marked disenchantment created between city officials and the two counties. In fact, the city members on the DWG health board refused to attend the meetings.

On the litigation front, our the city has not done well.

If council is asked to ratify spending $34 million, now is the time for citizens to let them know the majority is opposed. The evidence of the public’s objections is already there with the letters to the editors, complaints on the blogs and calls to councillors.

The one way to protest is to fill the council chamber the night the issue is presented and have speakers address the council, asking for an independent judicial review of the proposal.

The outcome of this protest will have a long-term impact in the upcoming civic election.  More specifically, it will force those seeking election to rethink their position and the consequences if they, as councillors, vote to approve the project.

It will also bring a measure of respect for the wishes of the people and not those unelected officials making demands on the public purse.

Yes, the time has come to say no to this proposal. If we don’t express our objection then we have only ourselves to blame.

Meanwhile, keep writing those letters, keep commenting on the blogs, and keep calling your council representatives.

This is a seminal moment in our city’s history.

Remember, you do have power. Now is a good time to exercise it.

Start by joining GrassRoots Guelph, and be part of a movement to bring responsibility, common sense and fiscal control to the management of our city. Drop into GrassRootsGuelph.com and join the cause.

Together we can overcome the management malaise that has gripped Guelph for the past seven years.






Filed under Between the Lines

6 responses to “Has the time arrived for civic disobedience to get council’s attention?

  1. laura

    A new condo development on Fife Rd is going to council on Jan 27. Note that city staff are recommending that the development should be approved on private waste disposal. How does the city expect to pay for it’s waste facility if city staff continue to recommend more housing that needs private waste pickup.
    Has city staff ever been directed by Mayor Farbridge and council to only accept condo developments applications that can be serviced thru city waste pick up? A simple solution to the problem – tell the developers not to bother bringing any new developments to planning staff if the development needs private waste pickup. Please design your condo complexes to allow city waste pickup.

    Here is a city staff members comments on the new proposed Fife Rd. Development and garbage pickup:

    “From: Chad Scott
    Sent: April 15, 2013 9:49 AM
    To: Al Hearne
    Subject: RE: 158 Fife – City’s Garbage Pick-up requirements
    Thank you Al,
    At this time I would ask them to mark it as private collection.
    As the dimensions are close to what we need to access the site, We would be willing to re-assess once the complex is completed. I would be looking for 6m wide on the road width (truck is 2.6 m) we still need room to turn, access the carts with the arm, etc. (from page 112 of Agenda)”

    My question— why wait until the development is approved???? Build the road to accommodate the garbage truck. and allow space for the bins system.

    • Laura: I share your view. The irony is that the Waste Management of this city don’t really care if new condo projects are designed to have access for waste removal. They just want to keep pushing what a great system they have forced on the public that doesn’t service almost 15 per cent of households and businesses in the city. If the target of the administration is to divert garbage from the landfill, it should start by collecting all waste in the city, not just some of it. This Fife Road staff recommendation comes from the top. The Downtown Secondary Plan demands that there be more residential development regardless of whether the garbage generated by residents can be removed by the city or not.

  2. Oracle

    It is sad that condo developments have to pay TWICE for waste removal services!
    Over 4000 condos pay twice for garbage removal – Once in their taxes and a second time thru private waste removal services. If this City led by Mayor Farbridge would offset the waste removal portion of the tax bill for those affected properties that would be fair. But socialists like Farbridge have no sense about fair play. This October is the voter’s chance to get rid of her social agenda

  3. Mary Heyens

    Thank you Laura, Gerry, and Oracle for these blog comments. I guess Chad Scott doesn’t have to worry where his next pay cheque will come from. Why re-assess after the building approval??? Shame on City Council for taxing the condos twice; I have relatives living in Guelph condos. City Council does not listen, they just don’t get it! Yes Gerry, the time has arrived for civic disobedience to get council’s attention.

    • Mary Heyens: Sometimes you have to smack the mule with a two by four to get its attention. The Farbridge ruling party needs a sharp lesson to realize it can no longer take the majority of Guelph citizens for granted. What is needed now is patience. This campaign is only getting started. It’s time to join GrassRoots Guelph. It’s the citizen’s organization devoted to informing the majority of citizens of the perils associated with re-election of any of the eight members of the ruling party led by the Mayor. Join the hundreds who have already signed up at GrassRootsGuelph.com

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