The Weekender

The Niska bridge dilemma – Why do we have two kingdoms in Guelph? – Don’t use the “M” word when the dwarfs are in town – Letter of the week

August 1, 2015

Hey! It’s a one-lane bridge!

There were two reports in the Mercury this past week that clashed. One was a passionate plea in a letter to the editor from a citizen to leave the one lane bridge as it is. The opinion was because it has served the community so well. The other was a news report about a three-car collision on the Niska Bridge.

That multi-collision accident must have police scratching their heads figuring out why three vehicles tried to use the single lane bridge at the same time.

Guess in the horse and buggy era the bridge worked okay.

Progress can be so complicated at times.

*            *            *            *

Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. is the second kingdom running our city.

Going over the glossy annual report of the Guelph Municipal Holding Inc., that separate corporation reveals a dodgy element. The report states that it gave the city a “dividend” of $1.5 million in 2014 but reported a loss of $2.3 million. The report adds that in four years, it has sent $9 million in dividends to the city as sole stakeholder.

How does that work? The city is required to balance its books and cannot carry a deficit in its audited Financial Information Report filed annually with the province. Yet its wholly owned subsidiary corporation reports “a net comprehensive loss for the year,” of $2.3 million.

GMHI was formed in 2011 by then mayor Karen Farbridge and she stocked the board with her council cohorts. It was done for two reasons:

She did it to acquire the assets of Guelph Hydro that had a book value of $170 million. Secondly, to go off the city’s books to carry out plans for geothermal energy in the Hanlon Business Park and to service major buildings downtown. To do the latter, a new company was formed by GNHI to carry out this multi-million dollar project called Envida Corporation. It has its own staff.

Here are the crucial questions that GMHI should answer:

What are the sources of revenues that allow operating with deficits to pay a dividend to the city?

If this money is coming from Guelph Hydro, is this not a tax on electricity, a vital service to the public? The Ontario Municipal Act forbids municipal taxation of power and water services.

Why does Guelph need a separate corporation now stocked with more than 125 employees?

Why do the people of Guelph need a separate corporation that operates off the city balance sheet? Or indirectly, is the GMHI dividend being used to balance the city’s annual financial statement?

The report mentions that its sole shareholder is the City of Guelph. No, the city shareholders are the people of Guelph. Now you know why the city cannot build a south end recreation centre or new downtown library. The money has gone to fulfill the projects of the former mayor and her council cohorts..

The report’s so-called achievements include awards most of which the sources are unknown to the average citizen and social benefits that should be controlled by the city.

This corporation is a sham disguised as a long-term role of creating environmental and social benefits. It is the dream of a defeated mayor to operate outside the provincial municipal guidelines to promote her policies, not those of the people. And the people saw through it last October.

This is one operation that should be incorporated into the city administration.

Guelph doesn’t need two kingdoms running the show.

*            *            *            *

Welcome to the 2017 World Dwarf Games

Guelph will play host to the Dwarf games using the University of Guelph facilities in August 2017. In order to make some 400 little people competitors and their families comfortable during their visit, here are some protocols to follow: Never call a dwarf a midget. They proudly want to be called either dwarfs or little people. Always ignore a person’s height but admire their personalities and enthusiasm.

Bigotry, mocking or disrespect will not dwarf this event. Because, that’s not who we are. We should feel proud to host these games that will be highly competitive and entertaining This is our opportunity to show the world why Guelph is the Royal City.

*            *            *            *

 Letter of the week:

 Did Liz Sandals bungle negotiations with Ontario’s Teachers?

Guelph elementary school teacher, Doug Cook, made some waves this week asserting that Education Minister Liz Sandals has undermined collective bargaining with the teachers. Writing in the Mercury, Cook says the minister repeatedly fails to pay attention, and admitted she did not understand and was perplexed by the threat of a teacher labour strike.

Cook writes: She admitted to not being sure why elementary teachers left the bargaining table. “It just seems to be a general desire to have a strike,” she is quoted as saying.

This is how you bargain with workers? It stinks of arrogance and ignorance that does not belong in the provincial cabinet. Perhaps Premier Kathleen Wynne has detected a weakness in the management of the Ministry of Education. That’s why last week, she called a meeting of union and school board representatives to kick- start negotiations to safeguard the reopening of schools after Labour Day.

The premier admonished the parties to “not abdicate their responsibilities.” That also includes the participation of the Ministry of Education.

Trouble is the discontent coupled with distrust among teachers is deeply seated. With five weeks remaining before schools reopen, solving these complex and demanding issues has become a towering undertaking.

At this point, Liz Sandals, the government’s education leader who, in the past 17 months, has failed to resolve the differences and achieve a fair settlement with the stakeholders.

As each day passes, the threat of a province-wide teacher’s strike becomes a reality.

The premier needs to shuffle the cabinet and appoint a colleague with smarts and drive to effect a settlement, then restore the public’s confidence in the province’s education system. She doesn’t have to look further than to read Doug Cook’s letter in the Mercury.

Liz Sandals and her staff just can’t cut it.


1 Comment

Filed under Between the Lines

One response to “The Weekender

  1. bostoncollie

    So is it the fault of the Niska bridge for the accident, or a careless driver? The single lane span is just fine.

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