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.