The top ten reasons why Guelph citizens should vote for change 

Posted May 23, 2014

Number TEN – A bridge too low

This project is another example of the city building a project. They already admit they know large commercial vehicles would crash into the city-installed crash bars under the far bridge. That bridge is a symbol of a city administration incapable of managing. Their solution to erect signs warning truckers not to drive under the bridge

Number NINE – Bike lanes

With the number of adult bikers being in the minority compared to vehicle operators, why did council approve spending $13 million on bicycle lanes in the next ten years? Perhaps this is part of the Mayor’s strategic plan to mold Guelph into her vision. Question: does she drive a car or ride to work on a bicycle?

Number EIGHT – Lack of open and transparent government

Spending $100,000, the Farbridge administration hired an out-of town consultant to develop an open government plan. The trouble is, the plan is selective in its approach to reach consensus with citizens. It is extremely complex such as describing Guelph’s Open Government Action Plan: “Is intended to breakdown the work needed for open government into manageable chunks for the community in partnership with the city to put into action one project at a time,” said Blair Labelle, the City of Guelph’s general manager of technology and innovation. And all this time we thought he was the city clerk.

Sending out senior city officials to explain this clownish attempt to convince the citizens that the plan will contain their input is ludicrous and self-serving.

There is a simple and more economical way to accomplish this. Stop the closed-door meetings held prior to committee and council sessions. Only those issues as stated in the Provincial Privacy Act should be discussed in an in-camera meeting. Let the sunshine in!

Number SEVEN – User fees

So your water bills have climb by 77 per cent since 2007. Now the prediction is that Hydro bills will climb another 42 per cent in the next three years. These increases coupled with development fees, that have been doubled in eight years, has just about crippled any effort to attract industry and affordable housing to Guelph.

Number SIX – Downtown costs

Unknown millions has been spent by this administration to turn the Mayor’s foggy dream of a vibrant downtown. And it’s money spent at the expense of other areas in the city. Its attempt to bring residents downtown by giving huge tax breaks to developers, despite the weekend rowdyism and fouling of the streets that has not been cleaned up in eight years of office.

Number FIVE – Student housing

Again the city waffles on introducing a licensing bylaw with teeth, to curb the exploitation of homes in single-family sections of wards five and six by students. The current bylaws don’t address the offensive behaviour and failure of landlords to control their tenants. The police rarely act unless there is injury or violence.

Number FOUR – Waste Management

A drive into the Waste Resource Innovation Centre on Dunlop drive will stun most residents of the city. It is a multi-million dollar site that is overbuilt for the needs of the city for the next 20 years. It is reliant of waste from outside the city to pay for its operations. There is no accounting of the costs of building the complex nor its operations. The city says that information is proprietary, so citizens are funding the collection and processing of waste from the Region of Waterloo and Detroit.

Is this why Karen Farbridge and her mental midgets on council were elected?

Number THREE – Police Headquarters

You must remember that the Farbridge-dominated council has already approved spending $34 million, pending a review by city and police civilian staff to reduce the cost. The Mayor has sat on the Police Services Board, (most of whom are appointed by the province), for eight years. She told her council that the city had no choice because the Ontario Police Act can legislate the city to pay up.

Perhaps it’s the time to call the bluff and tell the Police Services Board we can’t afford it. Maybe it’s a good time to play that card when we’re in the middle of a provincial election.

Number TWO – Urbacon

This is probably the most outrageous example of mismanagement of a major contract in the history of the city. The judge lays the blame directly on the city administration. The city tries to blame some obscure bylaw that gives the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) the right to cancel contracts without consulting council. In this case it was Hans Loewig who did the dirty deed in September 2008 and is no longer with the city.

How convenient! Well Mayor Farbridge and her ten supporters were there and did nothing despite evidence during the trial that council was receiving briefings from the CAO. This case will ultimately cost the city millions. That’s your millions.

Number ONE – Taxes

Property taxes have risen by 35 per cent in seven years of Farbridge control of the city’s finances and operations. Things have not changed in 2014, with taxes increasing by 4.36 per cent when combining the council approved increase of 2.37 per cent plus the increase of assessment determined by MPAC, the provincial organization that determines the market value of properties in Ontario.

The crushing need for cash to meet the soaring costs of its agenda has driven this council and administration to milk every source in the city. Property taxes are used like a city ATM machine.

This is why Guelph, with one of the highest property tax costs in Ontario, is turning our city into a community where people cannot afford to live. It has become a place passed up by industrial and commercial developers because of a stifling city bureaucracy and development fees that have doubled in a few years.

                                                *            *            *            *

The major issue in the civic election is the stewardship of the city by Mayor Karen Farbridge. Her advantage in having complete control of council and staff with the support of a majority of unwavering supporters that has spanned eight years. The results are self-evident and the top ten issues produced here are irrefutable examples of irresponsible spending and mismanagement.

In the past eight months, there has been a determined attempt to deny, obfuscate and create band-aid solutions to problems, most of which were produced by the Mayor’s administration. See top ten list above.

This administration has learned over the years how to mask their spending mistakes and faulty programs. The dictatorial control by the Mayor and her fellow travelers has resulted in open season on the property taxpayer and all citizens requiring city services. The voter turnout in 2010 was just over 33 per cent of the total number of eligible voters.

This is a primary reason that GrassRoots Guelph (GRG) has challenged the Farbridge administration. The GRG is approaching its task in two ways: One, to inform and educate on the issues and concerns of the administration to increase the number of elegible voters. Two, to seek candidates for council who bring business experience and common sense to the party. Even Farbridge council supporter, Karl Wettstein, ruefully admits that council needs more members with business experience.

That’s from the horse’s mouth!

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7 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

7 responses to “The top ten reasons why Guelph citizens should vote for change 

  1. Jerry

    I agree with you Gerry but the problem is the damage is done and it is going to
    take probable decades to get from underneath this burden.
    But i now see the light at the end of the tunnel come fall.Maybe then we
    can have a vibrant,livable city.

  2. joe Black

    And the 30kph school zone cash grab.

  3. Paul

    Jerry is correct in that it will take about ten years to stop the bleeding that Karen and her free spending supporters caused in less than eight years!.
    However, Lest We Forget, there is also blood on the hands of James Gordon who created the Guelph Civic League whose goal was to get rid of the former Mayor Kate Quarrie and a majority of Councillors who were of a more conservative bent, This was done thru an underground movement and small coffee parties to tarnish some members of the 2003 Council.
    James of course is the NDP (No Damn Principles) candidate in the June Provincial Election. Think of what he could accomplish in bankrupting the Province! Guelph voters have to be reminded of why the Guelph Debt has DOUBLED in less than eight years!
    On another issue it appears that Councillor Piper is on the sh** list as she is prepared to stop or tighten up the off campus student housing rental Market in Ward 5. Her two Farbridge running mates are allegedly players/investors in this market! Is this not a conflict of interest for these two candidates? Great they are starting to fight amongst themselves.
    I appreciate your top ten List

    Paul

  4. Louis

    Another pointer is infrastructure , a part of Victoria road collapsed the other day. (Between Woodlawn and Conservation Road)

  5. Louis

    Guelph has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Also, Guelph has won numerous awards as to being clean, romantic, and bike friendly. Many other cities are nowhere near as nice as this place. I have lived in many cities in Ontario and I think Guelph is by far the nicest.
    There is no reason to change what is not broken.

    • Louis: You’re kidding, right? If not you ought to pay more attention to what this administration has done to our city. The post raises some of the issues of how Guelph has become one of the most expensive cities in Ontario in which to live and do business. And they still can’t manage the aging infrastructure.

  6. Mary Heyens

    LOL, Thanks Gerry for speaking the truth. Hopefully Louis has his eyes open a little wider now! Gerry, I like your TOP TEN LIST – EXCELLENT! Thanks Joe Black for mentioning the 30 KPH School Zone Cash Grab. All Guelph Residents want Safety First for their families, but, this 30 KPH is ‘over the top’ that will frustrate drivers to distraction and create different safety problems.

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