Posted December 10, 2014
Just when you think the Farbridge era is over, the cousin of the Guelph Civic League, eMERGE, pops up spouting much of the same environmental material and “action plans” that the majority of Guelph voters rejected October 27.
Under the guise of bringing people together, the Farbridge-era supporters advocate reducing your carbon footprint, waste, energy, water and automotive transportation.
Translation: Sell your car and seek alternative transportation, such as riding a bike, walking or taking public transit; recycle to reduce waste; put a brick in your toilet tank; don’t water your garden, use a rain barrel; grow a vegetable garden and enrich the soil with chicken droppings from the coop.
These are, on the surface, viewed by the leftist minority as necessary to survive but are not a pragmatic solution in our civic society. One that is mostly dependent on revenues from property taxes and user fees.
It’s an agenda advocated by the ramblings of multi-millionaire environmentalist, David Suzuki. Who, it should be noted, endorsed our former mayor in her bid for re-election.
eMERGE is financed with your money through the Trillium Foundation, a provincial government fund to encourage public participation in civic affairs. It is an extension of 10 Carden Street, the non-profit offshoot of the Guelph Civic League. It received a grant of $135,000 a few years ago to promote all things “wellbeing” in the city.
eMERGE was started up about a year ago to follow through on the Farbridge administration’s war on cars by remarking major streets creating traffic congestion, dividing the community with forced management of waste, advocating sustainability, including eating locally grown food.
It is beyond coincidence that there was political motivation behind the timing of the start-up. It was a well-planned advocacy group, composed chiefly by supporters of the Farbridge manifesto to change Guelph into something it was not ready to accept. The identity of the eMERGE leadership is not apparent.
The former Mayor conducted much of the city’s business without public input. Oh, they would hold consultation meetings composed chiefly of her supporters plus members of the city staff dragooned to attend to beef up the numbers.
In many cases these so-called public consultations were a sham meant to give the illusion of full public support.
Two glaring examples come to mind. The decision to renovate the Loretto Convent on Catholic Hill into a civic museum was done behind closed doors without any public input. More than $15 million was spent in the name of preserving the pre-Confederation building that was located on property not owned by the city. The details of the property arrangement with the Roman Catholic Diocese in Hamilton have never been revealed. The end cost of the project is not known as there were serious infrastructure problems encountered during construction.
The second example is the multi-million dollar Waste Resource Innovation Centre (WRIC) located on Dunlap Drive. This was the crown jewel project of the former Mayor’s determination to turn Guelph into the “world class” waste management capital. The money was spent on the pretext that Guelph’s waste, and the Region of Waterloo’s waste and Waste from Detroit would be processed in the WRIC, thereby diverting waste from the landfill. Once again the secrecy of the deals made with organic water processing plant contractor Maple Reinders and its subsidiary companies, the Rizzo waste management outfit from Detroit, have not been revealed. Nor has the annual cost of running the WRIC.
The trouble is you cannot stuff these targeted ideals down people’s throats as the Farbridge administration did over eight years. The result was a huge waste of money through bad decisions that citizens will be paying for the next five years.
When eMERGE brags about Copenhagen soon becoming carbon neutral, you get a good idea of where this organization is heading. Guelph is not Copenhagen. For eMERGE to set arbitrary goals for reducing carbon, using less water and energy is the handmaiden of Farbridge reincarnated.
The recent Auditor General’s scathing report on the management of the province by the Liberal Government has its roots in Guelph. Mayor Farbridge artfully absorbed Guelph Hydro into the Guelph Municipal Holdings Corporation (GMHI) of which she was chairman. The hydro utility is worth some $175 milliohm and has been sending a “dividend” of its operations to the city. If the former mayor had been re-elected, it is likely the utility would have been sold.
Don’t be fooled by eMERGE’s slick propaganda and website. The people voted for change in the way our city has been run. It’s now up to Mayor Guthrie and the council to steer a new path that is progressive yet affordable.
That includes building a reputation that Guelph is a great place for new businesses to locate, offers new job opportunities, is a great city in which to live and is affordable.