By Gerry Barker
September 4, 2018
I was sent a flyer from the Ontario NDP asking for support.
“There are a number of great progressive candidates running in this election who share NDP values,” the handout states.
In my opinion, this is nothing but blatant influence pedaling. A major political party with deep pockets and endless professional resource to force the outcome of our municipal election is conducting it.
After 12 years of holding the majority of city council, the time has come to end the NDP domination of our council.
It does not name these self-described “great candidates” but the flyer is asking to support them by volunteering, donating and meeting sign requests.
Presenting for your consumption, names of the Bloc of Seven that has dominated Guelph council for the past four years: James Gordon, Ward 2; June Hofland and Phil Allt, Ward 3; Mike Salisbury, Ward 4; Cathy Downer and Leanne Piper, Ward 5; and Mark MacKinnon Ward 6.
There are others running who are suspected NDP supporters to insure another NDP control of council. One additional NDP candidate is Aggie Mlynarz, running for Mayor and with no municipal governance experience. If she is elected, the NDP will lock up control of council for the next four years.
If you believe that these seven “great candidates” have worked diligently as city councillors on your behalf and warrant re-election, support them.
If, on the other hand, you agree that the NDP dominance of city council for the past 12 years has been littered with financial mismanagement, self-serving policies and projects including the Urbacon wrongful dismissal lawsuit, the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc (GMHI) multi-million dollar fiasco and the merger of Guelph Hydro with Alectra Inc.
Then: “Just say NO and let them GO.”
If you believe this, consider the following:
Revive the Community Energy Initiative that has already cost citizens millions chiefly through the GMHI that in 2016 loss $17 million. The 2017 report is not available but is estimated by experts to increase the loss to an estimated $24 million.
Increasing spending on bicycle lanes of major streets and trails resulting in squeezing many major roads causing increasing traffic congestion caused by a growing population. The active bicycle lobby does not contribute to these annual lane expansions but remain entitled to the free rude.
A promise made and a promise not kept
Going downtown? Where can you park? City council deferred a $700,000 budget item to buy new parking meters for downtown. Instead, it channeled the funds to a preliminary spending on the proposed $63 million South end Recreation Centre. This was promoted and approved by council on a motion by Ward 6 councillors Karl Wettstein and Mark MacKinnon, both part of the NDP Bloc of Seven controlling council.
Are you still driving around the block to find a parking space?
Closing down public participation
Suppressing public participation by conducting the people’s business in closed-sessions. In the first two years of the Guthrie administration there were 82 closed-sessions conducted by the administration. What were they talking about? We’ll never know because the minutes of those meeting are sealed.
Is the Guelph Hydro deal in the best interests of the people?
Here are the ten councillors who voted December 13, 2017 to approve the merger of Guelph Hydro and Alectra Inc: Mayor Cam Guthrie, Councillors Dan Gibson, Andy Van Hellemond (not running), June Hofland, Christine Billings, Mike Salisbury, Cathy Downer, Leanne Piper, Mark MacKinnon and Karl Wettstein (not running).
It is painful that the Ten ignored the public response to reconsider the Alectra deal. Fortunately, it has yet to be confirmed by the Ontario Energy Board. Given Guelph’s dismal record of managing the energy file, the outcome of saving this jewel of city assets is uncertain.
Playing the Reserve Funds Rumba
How council balanced the books by misusing reserve funds. Official documents show that under her management for five years, Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert, failed each year to balance the city books as required by law. This was because the budgets were overspent, it’s called a negative variance.
An example was the $8 million settlement with Urbacon of which more than $5 million was taken from three non-related reserve funds to complete the payment to Urbacon. To the best of knowledge those funds were never returned to the three reserve funds. What do you think?
Spending money on social engineering projects such as waste management, transit, injection clinics, Wellbeing programs, intensification of new housing, but nothing on affordable housing in Guelph that County Wellington managed. And let’s not forget the Wyndham street underpass botched reconstruction that denied large trucks that had crashed into the underside of the overpass.
Another way to drive up the cost of living in Guelph, raise taxes
Adding property tax surcharges – it’s a tax by any other name to fund failing and neglected infrastructure. The city staff has declared that the cost of updating the infrastructure in the city is more than $400 million.
Increasing staff does not justify the modest annual increase in population. Of course, certain staff increases are needed particularly in the three public safety divisions, police, fire and EMS. But needs under the past three NDP dominated councils do not necessary match those public safety needs but diverted staffers to support NDP self-serving projects of which the general public is not informed.
Why is the Ontario NDP interfering with our municipal election?
They are protecting their agenda that is part of the National NDP platform such as minimum wage increases, guaranteed annual income, pharmacare for all citizens, higher taxes, energy and environmental projects. In Guelph annual property taxes have risen, on average, by more than three per cent in the past 12 years. That does not include the two per cent property tax surcharge that started in 2017.
We believe it is the citizens’ time to express their views at the ballot box and “Just say NO and let them GO.”
These are just some of the priorities of the council majority if it is composed of NDP dedicated members. They drive the policies that were forged by the former mayor of Guelph that had resulted in the city having higher taxes than most of its peer group in Ontario.
The other day, I was told that inflation has hit the Guelph municipal candidates in which four years ago a ward candidate would usually spend on average up to $5,500. Today that has almost doubled.
Is it logical that to run for a job that pays $40,000, you have to spend $10,000? Yes there are other perks, most taxable such as honourariums for serving on some boards and committees.
The Mayoralty race in previous years has cost more than $80,000. Mayor Guthrie has the advantage of being an incumbent but also has a large following of friends and supporters. But even he cannot depend on those juicy cheques from various businesses and organizations that are incorporated.
Where does mayoralty candidate, Aggie Mlynarz, 28 year-old Fine Arts graduate with no municipal experience find that kind of money?
In my opinion, the Ontario NDP should butt out and stop using the City of Guelph as an incubator for grooming candidates for future higher office.
The definition of insanity: Re-electing these seven NDP councillors and electing an inexperienced mayor, is again like electing the same NDP council majority and expecting a different outcome
Just say NO and let the NDP GO!