Guelph Civic League’s surrogate claims GrassRoots Guelph distorts the facts about the city’s administration

Posted July 30, 2014

There is a sure way to sense fear in politics. When the voices of the Farbridge left start tearing apart what GrassRoots Guelph (GRG) represents, you can smell the political fear wafting out of One Carden Street.

The fellow travelers supporting the Farbridge-backed Guelph Citizen blog, a surrogate of the Guelph Civic League, are now in full denial. The derogatory comments attack the facts presented by GrassRoots Guelph about the way the city has been managed. And it gets a personal at times, often hiding the identity of the commentator.

GRG is the only citizen’s activist organization that truly represents all the people. It is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has pulled back the screen of secrecy maintained by the Farbridge dominated council.

The facts contained in the GRG petition delivered to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing requesting an independent audit of the City of Guelph’s financea, was instrumental in causing the Farbridge council to pay a Toronto firm $100,000 to develop an open and transparent government plan.

That’s a fact

It hasn’t been easy digging into the official city statements to get at the truth. Regardless, GRG filed a well-researched and documented petition with the Ministry requesting an audit of the City of Guelph’s finances and operations.

The petition content was based on the Financial Information Report that the city must file with the Ministry annually. The report, basically a 400-plus page annual financial statement, in the past five years contained major discrepancies and misstatements that required forensic investigation and explanation.

Those are facts ladies and gentlemen.

For its part, the Ministry officials confirmed the GRG petition figures and data were accurate. The Minister, at the time, said she would not order the audit stating the two parties should resolve the issues presented, as they were “local issues”. She resigned shortly afterwards, giving no reasons why she refused the audit.

GRG has asked the Ombudsman of Ontario to investigate why the petition and audit was rejected by the Ministry. That process is now underway.

That’s a fact.

We know that the Farbridge administration, including her council cohorts, were responsible for firing the general contractor building the new city hall and provincial courthouse in September 2008.

That’s a fact.

Five years later, following a five-week trial held last year, the presiding judge found the city wrongfully dismissed Urbacon Buildings Group Corp. The company had sued the city for $19.2 million. Justice Donald MacKenzie’s full judgment criticized the city’s decision and the way it was handled. He also dismissed the city’s counter-claim of $5 million.

Those are facts.

The trial, by mutual agreement, separated the action into two parts; the liability part that has already found the city guilty. The damages part was ordered to be held within four months of the release of the liability judgment in June. That meant the damages trial must be held in October.

Those are facts

Then, without public knowledge, the city instructed the Hamilton lawyer who unsuccessfully argued the city’s case in the Urbacon liability trial, to ask the court to postpone the damages trial until after the civic election. The court denied the request and ordered the damages part of the trial to commence October 14. The taxpayers also financed this second action.

Those are facts.

Justice MacKenzie will preside over the damages trial in October. Now the smell of fear grows stronger every day as the Farbridge-dominated council senses a growing threat of rejection at the polls October 27. The city has admitted the potential costs to the municipality are not covered by insurance nor are budgeted.

Those are facts.

Who can forget the Farbridge-led attempt to get out of the Dufferin Wellington Guelph Public Health group, to avoid paying its portion of the new $17 million public health centre on Stone Road? That trial was also lost by the city and the costs of the action have never been revealed to the public.

Those are facts.

Yes, the citizens of Guelph are disappointed and angry as they now discovered how spending is out of control. Council just approved spending $34 million renovating police headquarters. Also, it is studying a $6.7 million project to enhance the St. George’s Square streetscape. Then consider the $32 million in subsidies to two contractors to build high-rise condos downtown.

These are facts.

The rush is on to spend on multi-million projects before the lock-down of capital spending September 1, due to the civic election. Most of this will fall into the hands of the next council. The new team will open shop with nothing left in the capital budget “envelope” to pay the Urbacon damages outcome.

Homeowners are seeing their property being taxed like a city ATM machine to pay the increasing cost of legacy projects that no one really voted for. The public trust in the Farbridge-managed city government is rapidly dissipating.

But then, they already know that because they have been conducting polls to feel the pulse of the electorate.

And that is factual.

GrassRoots Guelph is dedicated to representing the facts and informing citizens of the mismanagement of their affairs that has become the hallmark of the Farbridge council.

GRG is beholden to no one and its primary goal is to elect responsible and informed councillors. There is nothing tricky, no ulterior motives, just informing the people and urging them to vote on Election Day October 27. Change can only come from the people.

If you don’t vote, you don’t count.

For more information contact Drop into the GRG website at



Filed under Between the Lines

9 responses to “Guelph Civic League’s surrogate claims GrassRoots Guelph distorts the facts about the city’s administration

  1. james

    I’d love to know why you haven’t said anything about Cam? Seems a bit unfair considering he said the city was in good financial shape but I digress…

    • James: Wonder now how Cam Guthrie sees how well the city is being run in view of the Urbacon lawsuit result. I recall that he pledged to work for his W4 electors to rein in expenses and spending in 2010. Voting to approve spending $34 million for the renovation of a 60-year old police headquarters does not seem to square with that declaration. Maybe Cam knows something about the available money to settle the Urbacon damages liability that we don’t. For his sake, I hope so.

  2. Allan Mendleson

    To add to James’ comment, Cam also said he thought the province did the right thing in rejecting the GRG petition.

    • Allan Mendleson: As spokesman for GrassRoots Guelph, I can say that the financial data contained in the MMAH petition requesting an audit of the city’s finances and operations, was judged accurate by the Ministry officials assigned to investigate. In view of the Urbacon lawsuit judgment, the petition was the precursor to the depth of financial mis-management that permeates the entire Farbridge administration. They thought they were bullet proof. They weren’t. The real judgment comes on October 27 when the people can elect councilors who have experience, common sense and principled judgment. A team that will guide our city out of the fetid swamp of financial mis-management that the Farbridge administration has inflicted on our city.

  3. geo

    Cam Guthrie the financially responsible councillor votes yes to a $34,000,000 building renovation.
    Guelph loses the Urbacon lawsuit and no one is responsible.
    I hate to say it but I can now see why a lot of people don’t vote based on their belief that “they’re all the same and nothing will ever change regardless of whose running the show”.
    If it’s true that City Council serves no useful purpose save doing exactly what staff tells them to do can we at least get rid of half of them.
    What’s the only thing worse then having Maggie Laidlaw represent your ward? Having Maggie Laidlaw and June Hofland represent your ward.

  4. Ruby

    What’s the only thing worse then having Maggie Laidlaw represent your ward? Having Maggie Laidlaw and June Hofland represent your ward.

    A truer word was never spoken.

    Please save us from this pair of ninnies.

  5. james

    So basically attack everyone but the only ‘right wing’ candidate in the race. seems fair….I think you should go after Cam and his flip flopping more. Thanks

    • James: So you believe I give Cam Guthrie a free ride? I find it more important and vital to question the record of the Farbridge administration and its supporting cast. That’s what the people are now asking about and what they want to understand. The traditional media in the city chiefly offers rewrites of city hand-outs masquerading as news. What is really interesting is the silence of the left supporters of Mayor Farbridge and her seven cohorts over the Urbacon lawsuit judgment.

      They even attempted, using taxpayer money, to ask the court to defer the damages portion of the trial until after the civic election. They were denied and the people will be going to the polls October 27 knowing most of the city’s liability in dollars over this shoddy and mismanaged affair.

      For the mayor to “apologize on behalf of the city” for the cost over-runs and not accept responsibility for the decision that caused this mess, is the height of arrogance and irresponsibility.

      But that doesn’t stop this bunch. They approved spending $34 million on renovating a shabby police headquarters
      that should have been maintained in the past eight years. They are approving spending $6.7 million on renovating St. George’s Square. Then there is another $18 million for the re-structure of Wyndham Steer squeezing four lanes into two.

      But her record and proposed list of misguided projects goes on and our mayor has the unmitigated nerve to ask for re-election.

      Her misplaced vision of Guelph is not about left, right or centre political interests. It’s about secrecy, denial and a lack of financial thinking and management. It’s also about maintaining the public trust.

    • Louis

      James, why don’t you come back with something more intelligent to say but that is pretty damn impossible for a liberal supporter and a Farbridge supporter so why don’t you mind you business business or GTFO

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