Posted October 1, 2014
In Mayor Karen Farbridge’s recent election campaign newsletter, the copywriter sets the tone of the embattled mayor’s campaign. Under the specious claim that the election is about choices, it’s really a declaration of war on the “extreme conservatives.” It is those unnamed citizens allegedly ready to “slash and burn” all the so-called accomplishments of the eight-year Farbridge regime.
Who are these extreme conservatives, pictured with horns and cloven feet? Those who dare to question the Farbridge record of unfettered waste of the city treasure? Money misspent on projects that voters didn’t approve such as the $35 million organic waste processing facility. That’s the project that was built to process organic feedstock that was triple the tonnage required by the City of Guelph for the next 20 years.
The solution? Sell the excess capacity to others. Was this the intent of the Farbridge administration to overbuild a facility at the taxpayer’s expense? Build it for others to use and not explain the associated costs?
The newsletter states: “Financial stability and prosperity need not come at the expense of our friends and neighbours, or our future.”
Okay, let’s subsidize the Regional of Waterloo, organic plant contractor Maple Reinders, the farmer who bought some 3,000 tonnes of compost, or hiring a second shift at the recycling plant to process tonnes of Detroit trash.
Is this what the voters wanted in the 2006 election?
The Farbridge folks get their shorts in a knot every time someone complains about the taxes the city charges. Guelph’s property taxes are among the highest of the 444 Ontario municipalities. In eight years, Guelph property taxes have increased by 38 per cent. Compare that to the Consumer Price Index growth in the same period of just 17 per cent.
Why? Because the Farbridge administration’s record of spending money on projects that dilute its ability to create facilities that serve all the people all the time.
Examples include the millions spent on the downtown at the expense of other areas of the city. More interesting, is the money not spent in eight years on a new downtown library or a south-end recreation centre.
Both these capital projects were promised in the first Farbridge term in 2000/2003.
Guess a funny thing happened on the way to 2014. Promises made but never kept.
But hey! We spent more than $15 million over the $42 million city hall contract because the Farbridge-led administration thought they could kick the general contractor off the job and finish the project themselves.
The actual costs of that management debacle may never be known because the administration doesn’t want to reveal them as it will affect the re-election of the Farbridge team, the same ones who caused the problem in the first place.
Then we come to Coun. Maggie Laidlaw’s war on cars. The lady is obsessed with getting cars off the streets of Guelph to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions spewing from every tailpipe.
Her alternatives then become murky when asked to explain what happens to the operation of commercial traffic, emergency vehicles, taxis or buses?
The Laidlaw solution is everyone rides either a bicycle or uses public transit. In keeping with this dense environmental dream, Every time the city repaves a major street, the lanes are reduced to one each way, wider bike lanes and a centre lane for left-hand turns. It’s already occurred in Stevenson, SilverCreek and Downey Road.
This daffy theory would force seniors to either ride a bike, or trike or take the bus. Under the Laidlaw dream those folks have been thrown under the bus.
The Laidlaw theory is it’s the beginning of the end for vehicular traffic or continuation of the war on cars. Silly? You bet, and true. What better reason to give this veteran councillor a rest from the dreary business of selling a unrealistic dream.
Yes, this is an election about choices. The choice is another four years of Farbridge controlled management, or, to elect candidates who understand how a city should work and maintain services without spending mindlessly on self-serving projects.
The main issue is all about management. On that score, Farbridge and company rate an “F”. Yet they continue to sell their so-called accomplishments, ignoring the wasteful spending and management gaffes.
The Farbridge record is on trial Monday, October 27. Re-electing the Mayor and her supporters will be a repeat of the record of the past eight years.
Now we know how that turned out. Soaring debt, dubious decisions that wasted money, exploding water rates and hydro, and property taxes that are among the highest in its peer communities.
Regardless how they re-paint their political wagon, it still comes out red, red ink that is.