Posted November 4, 2914
It’s not often that GS praises the Mercury but in the Monday editorial page, the paper printed a balanced and carefully dissected review of the past civic election.
The premise was based on labelling that played a prominent role in the campaign. Specifically it spoke to the labelling of the community members as either taxpayers or citizens.
Here is a key quote in the editorial: “Seemingly there is less space in municipal affairs discourse for people to try and see things without hard ideological focus and labelling.”
Already there have been voices in triumph coming from the remnants of the Farbridge regime including Coun. Leanne Piper. She crowed that seven elected councillors from the ‘progressive’ party would control council with a majority.
Hold on, Coun. elect Karl Wettstein denied the ‘progressive’ label and said he was a Progressive Conservative when it came to labelling. It is refreshing to see that bloc voting may not be what Coun. Piper intends.
The Piper claim is not what the people of Guelph voted for when they supported change. The city just went through eight years of bloc voting by two successive Farbridge dominated councils.
The election result was clear. People voted for change and the ‘progressive’ leader, Mayor Karen Farbridge, was defeated along with councillors Maggie Laidlaw and Todd Dennis. Two other members supporting the Farbridge bloc, councillors Ian Findlay and Lise Burcher chose not to run.
By any stretch of the imagination, that represents a repudiation of the policies of the past eight years.
The best thing to happen now is to cool down and support the new council. There is a multitude of problems facing council, chief among them is a reconciliation of the city’s finances. This will require an independent accounting from trained experts. The result will provide the financial benchmark for the next four years.
Also this will guide all members of council to make decisions together that will benefit all citizens of Guelph.
It will require some councillors to bend their ideology and contribute to the city’s common good.
Surprisingly, there is much common ground among members of the new council. During the last term of the Farbridge administration, there was an effort to an open and transparent government. Also there was more emphasis on creating jobs, good jobs, established by new commercial and industrial development. The new council must review and approve policies that will encourage this kind of development.
The payoff is self-evident that will result in easing the burden of taxation on business and residential taxpayers.
There are differences in thinking about the direction the city should take in the future. That too is not a bad thing. It will take creative and cooperative action to modify the previous administration’s long range planning in a number of areas.
It goes back to the city’s ability to pay for the future while financing the past that remains a priority.
A most interesting situation occurred during the election. Despite the magnified differences fed by a barrage of claims, mis-statements and barefaced hostility, there is a shared view of ensuring that our city grows and prospers.
Let’s hope that our new council and city staff, step back, take a deep breath and decide to work together for the good of the city.
Keep in mind that four years is a long time to spend in a toxic and unbending atmosphere filled with recriminations.
The potential exists to become one of the most effective and admired councils that citizens can embrace.
We wish them Godspeed in their new mission.