Posted October 7, 2014
Comparing Mayor Farbridge’s 2010 and 2014 re-election brochures there are the same four main themes:
Bringing jobs to Guelph
Let’s parse the first re-worked theme. In her 2010 the mayor promised to bring more jobs to Guelph. In 2014 she says 1,000 new jobs were created by three organizations. She does not explain job attrition, companies and businesses having left the city since 2008. She does not explain the more than 200 full-time equivalent city staff added to the payroll since 2010.
In fact, her administration, in eight years, has not increased the industrial/commercial assessment of 16 per cent of total assessment of all properties in the city. The remainder, residential assessment contributes 84 per cent of the property tax revenues. The ideal ratio is 60 per cent residential and 40 per cent industrial/commercial.
The facts are that her alleged job increases are way below the provincial average for similar-sized communities. Guelph’s unique location with ample access to major markets and an available, qualified workforce should see much greater growth with better management of the file. It remains a major economic blunder, publicized as “The Guelph Fatcor,” that affects every citizen in Guelph.
Putting People First
The Mayor pledged in 2010 to “making it easier for everyone to access the information, services and resources they need.” In 2014, under the same heading, the Mayor states that: “We completed Value for Dollar audits, identifying $3.5 million in potential savings of taxpayer’s money.”
Using the word “potential” makes one wonder how she skipped some of the following:
The internal audit that revealed in 2013, of $5.2 million costs of staff overtime and absenteeism, twice what was paid the previous year. That loss was not “potential”, but real.
Or how about the costs of the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health lawsuit initiated by the Farbridge Administration and lost? The city never informed the citizens of the legal costs and was forced to pay $10 million as its share of the new Public Health headquarters on Stone Road. Wonder which reserve account was used for that one?
Then there is Urbacon. That lawsuit has increased the cost of the new City Hall from $42 million to $57 million, (all city announced figures) with additional details to follow. That chewed up $15 million so far.
It’s hard to reconcile the mayor’s statement indicating potential savings of $3.5 million of the taxpayer’s money with reality.
Then there was the three week strike of transit workers. The administration could not even get the cost of the settlement right. It was really 8.8 per cent not 6.48 per cent as announced by the city. This was putting people first?
Investing and protecting our Environment
In her 2014 brochure, Mayor Farbridge claims that the “composting facility is back in business, helping to divert more than 2/3 of our residential waste from the landfill.”
The $34 million composting plant, financed by the citizens of Guelph, is still not operating at its processing capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year. In fact, when a load of compostable material is dumped in the plant, if there is any material that will not compost, the entire load is delivered to the landfill.
Even materials such a glass in the recycling plant are broken up and transferred to the landfill.
Linamar must remove all its wastewater at its expense and ship it to the landfill. Yet still pay for the waste water service through their property tax bill.
Then there are more than 6,000 residences and businesses that must pay private contractors to pick up their unsorted waste and then it’s shipped to the landfill.
And who would have dreamed that Guelph would be processing recyclable materials from Detroit. So much so that the city had to hire a second shift at the Recycle plant to handle the volume. But at what cost?
The millions that the Farbridge administration has spent of the Waste Resources Innovation Centre is a case of a council gone wild spending the citizen’s treasure. Most of the development planning decisions and operating costs have been kept from the citizens.
Investing in Our Neighbourhoods
Her 2014 brochure applauds “doubling the bike lanes, built new parks (?), added new trails and started community gardens”.
If the mayor is privy to any polling re bike lanes, she will be surprised to learn that the greater majority of residents are not supportive. In fact, her administration has done more in eight years to restrict vehicular traffic by removing lanes that have been repaved, and failing to build downtown parking garages.
To applaud such downtown developments as Market Square, the Guelph Central Station and the Civic Museum is disingenuous at best. What she doesn’t talk about is her failed promise to build a new downtown library (the library chief recently gave up and has moved to Windsor).
The Central Station is a planned disaster with no parking and limited shelter. The $16 million civic museum was nothing but a political move to save a derelict building in the name of heritage and promoted by Coun. Leanne Piper. The building had horrific cost overruns and bears little resemblance to the original with a giant glass façade. The city has yet to release attendance figures and operating costs.
Another four years of this political magical mystery tour orchestrated by Mayor Farbridge, will result in soaring taxes, and user fees. There will be more of the same manipulated dreck the citizens have had to endure in the past eight years.
Ask yourself: Is the Farbridge goal of being the greenest city in Canada fit into your civic priorities?
No? First, fix what’s broken and give the Farbridge Field of Dreams a rest.
We can start by fixing the sidewalks, potholes and do something about that damned Wyndham Street underpass that that the Farbridge administration screwed up.
Discover New Directions- Guelph and a plan to bring the city back to the people. Details are in the Thursday Tribune for the next three weeks.