This is an election about equality and how to achieve it

Poated July 7, 2014

During the next four months, citizens of our great city will be asked to judge, ignore or participate in the election of a new city council.

It will be a testy and provocative campaign for those in power to protect their legacy of misstatement and determined vision of a city cast in their mold. It has not been without drama, secrecy and willfulness on the part of Mayor Karen Farbridge’s dominant regime.

Up from the ranks of those who now recognize that the forced direction imposed on the people in the last eight years, has resulted in excessive taxes and user fees, a denial of basic rights and services of citizens.

The result is an inequality of rights that allows a minority of citizens, functioning as progressives, to ride roughshod over the great silent majority. One of the reasons is the low turnout of voters on Election Day. In 2010 only 33 per cent of eligible voters bothered to vote.

We got the government we deserved because 66 percent of those eligible to vote didn’t turn up to cast their ballot.

This silent majority largely accepts the reasonable management of their city but is now awakening to the destruction of their rights to know and understand how their city is being managed. They have also witnessed the soaring costs of property taxes and user fees.

This destruction includes a measured and deliberate evasion of the citizen’s ability to understand decisions that affect them. They have been misled by a barrage of public statements, issued by the administration that portrays, a series of visions that are not shared by the majority.

Aiding the propaganda spewing out of City Hall, is a news media that rarely opposes the policies of the administration and has grown into an extension of the Farbridge- orchestrated information machine.

When did the citizens ask for a waste management system, that has cost more than an estimated $80 million, to build a Waste Resource Innovation Centre on Dunlop Drive?

This single project typifies one of the Farbridge visions to turn Guelph into a world-class manager of waste, energy reduction and environmental policies. The trouble is, the operating costs of her vision are shrouded in secrecy and no business plan has ever been produced for public consumption.

Two independent consultants that have judged the administration of Guelph is a hard place in which to do business. This difficulty is revealed in the decision to charge $250,000 an acre, in the city owned Hanlon Business Park. Compare that to Milton, that charges $66,000 for municipal owned industrial acreage, or Kitchener that charges a similar amount.

In eight years of the Farbridge administration, the percentage of industrial/commercial assessment is still only 16 per cent compared to 84 per cent for residential assessment.

There is a standing joke about Guelph’s failure to increase industrial assessment by officials in Cambridge, because that city gets Guelph’s potential industrial castoffs. The saying goes that when a potential industrial/commercial client is put through Guelph’s approvals meet grinder, they go down the road to Cambridge where the administration is more business-oriented and welcoming to proposals.

These kinds of arbitrary policies have caused a quiet revolution among the silent majority.

GrassRoots Guelph (GRG) is the only civic activist group consistently challenging the Farbridge governing party that has controlled city council for eight years. This is an organization that has a single focus: To challenge those current members of city council by informing the citizens and recommend alternatives.

The challenge will also consist of revealing details of city mismanagement, informing the citizens of events that have drained our treasure through ego-driven ambitious projects.

At the appropriate time, GRG will present a common sense, responsible alternative to the Farbridge agenda. It will outline how to get back to basics of providing services and taxes that all residents can afford. It will be a comprehensive plan affecting all the people, not just the minority.

As a political action group, GRG will work to replace the current elected officials with those who realize the out-of-control spending must stop. We must live within our means, yet still allow our city to grow and prosper.

The possibility that this administration may be re-elected exists. Only the people can prevent more of the same for the next four years.

Remember, if you don’t vote, you don’t count.

GRG adds to that by inviting people to join the only group of citizen activists who can change the way our city is being managed. For up-to-date information including, alerts and newsletters, drop into the GRG website, grassrootsguelph.com.

To join our growing membership, send your name and address to: GrassRootsGuelph2014@gmail.com.

Change is in your hands.

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