Tag Archives: Premier Doug Ford

The 2007 Community Energy Initiative steered Guelph down the financial rabbit hole

By Gerry Barker

July 29, 3019

Opinion

Part Two of Seven

This part of the series outlines the objectives of the Community Energy Initiative (CEI) plan that was formed with excitement across a range of citizens when the non-elected consortium produced the future plans for the city. It was the beginning of the greening of Guelph.

The CEI was created by former mayor Karen Far bridge and supported by her majority on city council. As a result there were no checks or balances to question the decisions made by council for the following seven years.

The founding group was composed of members of the city administration, Union Gas, (now Enbridge), Guelph Hydro, representatives of business and Industry, University of Guelph, school boards and the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

Without doubt it was a blue chip group from many interest groups in the city.

Here are the reported CEI goals:

* Use 50 per cent less energy per capita

* Produce 60 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions per capita

* Encourage and facilitate community-based renewable and alternative energy systems

There is no estimate of the costs of these goals or details of achieving them.

The CEI report, at the time, said that the goals would position Guelph among the top energy performers in the world.

How has that worked out for you?

Let’s start examining goal One to use 50 per cent less energy per citizen.

Setting goals is one thing but forcing people to change the way they live is another matter.

In 2007, the Farbridge administration initiated expansion of bicycle lane networks on major city streets to help reduce dependence on fossil fuel emission by motor vehicles.

Piggy-backed on this goal was increasing use of alternative transportation, (bicycles) and public transit.

The first major project was installing dedicated bike lanes on Stone Road in 2009 by taking advantage of the tri-government infrastructure program in which Guelph’s share was one third of the $66 million approved by all parties.

That project cost $2 million. Then council approved a ten-year bike lane development plan, spending $300,000 per year. But here’s what happened:

The city embarked on resurfacing portions of major streets all of which were to accommodate bike lanes. Part of the individual projects was to shrink the road to three lanes to two for traffic and a centre lane for left turns. The shrinking included painting in bike lanes on either side of their freshly resurfaced road.

But this accommodation for cyclists did not extend beyond the portion being resurfaced in most cases. These include Silver Creek, Woodlawn, Stevenson, Speedvale, Woolwich, Victoria, Gordon, Downey, and Clair Road to name a few.

This attempt to provide alternative transportation, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was thwarted by a growing population that was 119,000 in 2007 when the CEI was approved, to 131, 000 by the last national census in 2016.

Does more mean less?

Accordingly, more people mean more cars, trucks and transit vehicles. That adds up to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The new housing enclaves of attached strip houses, low-rise condos and high-rise apartment buildings, has further exacerbated the building boom of new housing. Then add the undergraduate population of the University of Guelph that has expanded with 22,000 now attending.

Traffic congestion, intensification following new housing development and improving rail service to Toronto, These are factors in increasing energy use, not decreasing it when the CEI goals were approved.

The same events apply to the second goal of producing 60 per cent less of greenhouse gases per capita. The timing of this vision is not mentioned in these goals’ report. As it turned out, it was an open cheque book opportunity for city council to introduce personal ideas and projects to achieve these CEI goals.

WE now know that more people driving more fossil-fueled vehicles does not reduce the greenhouse gas emissions

Let’s follow the money

Who benefits from all this housing built in Guelph since 20017?

Well, the Chamber of Commerce should be happy with the growth of commercial business in the city. The building trades have prospered and last, but not least, the development industry and supporting cast of architects, town planners and lawyers who benefit from the housing and commercial growth since 2007

In Mayor Guthrie election financial report presented to the city, it revealed an interesting fact. The mayor collected some $86,000 for his campaign from people who did not live in Guelph. Most were developers and service corporations seeking access to the Guelph market. Of this group, out of the 100 individual and corporations who donated some 29 per cent were from the development industry. Most of the donations were $1,200, the maximum allowed by Elections Ontario.

Did all this development meet the 2007 CEI goals of reducing energy in the city by 50 per cent, or reducing 60 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions or facilitate and encourage community based renewable and alternative energy system?

WE now know how that last goal went. All it costs citizens more than $66 million with the failed Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. district enery projects.

The irony is that despite the loss of millions of dollars by two administrations, is that the remnants of the Farbridge eight-year social engineering adventure is why does the CEI still exist? Its premise and goals are still influencing today’s council.

How did all this lower energy use reduce greenhouse gas?

This part will explain in 2009 how the wheels falling off when Guelph Hydro announced its subsidiary, Ecotricity Corporation, reported a loss of $3,945,000. The report stated that the loss was due to declining extraction of methane gas used to generate electricity at the Eastview landfill garbage site. This is contributed to an “impairment charge” of $2,984,000 of the corporation’s total loss in 2009.

An “impairment charge” is an accounting term based on the amount of an investment is less than the carrying charge, then the assets are deemed to be impaired. The amount of the investment must be eventually written down to the recoverable amount, if any exists.

In 2014, Councillor Cam Guthrie defeated Mayor Farbridge. There was hope that reform would occur and civic sanity would arrive.

In other words, it’s Act Two of the Farbridge CEI legacy and citizens are all empty-pocket endangered species.

There is only one way out and that is to elect a council of moderate, thinking, and responsible candidates to change the menu and reform the administration.

Stay tuned to more information that will be revealed in future parts of the Guelphspeaks seven-part series on the pathological odyssey of corruptive practices. There are other examples of losses and impairment charges that slammed city finances.

Miss the introduction and Part One? All published parts are located in the Guelphspeaks archives located on the website and are filed post publishing’s usual comments are welcome

Next, Part Three: is  to be published August 1, 2019.

How irritated spite increased the cost of the new city hall by $23 million

 

 

 

 

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What does Cam Guthrie really want?

By Gerry Barker

May 27, 2019

Opinion

Is it my imagination or is Mayor Cam Guthrie seeking a higher calling?

It is becoming clear that the Mayor has an agenda to seek higher office.

Here is one example.

Last year’s jumble of the Progressive Conservation leadership debacle led up to the provincial election last June 7. In those uncertain times, Mayor Guthrie, actively campaigned behind the scenes, seeking the PC nomination by acclamation bypassing the nominating convention required by the riding association.

He had already announced that he was running for Mayor of Guelph in the October civic election. He said he loved Guelph and his job as Mayor. He presented his documents on the first day the civic election nominations opened.

In October, he won in a landslide against the NDP backed candidate who ran third in the provincial election. You remember that one that the Ontario NDP launched the fake “orange Wave” claiming the province was going to elect an NDP government.

Instead, the PC’s won 73 seats to form the government and Doug Ford became Premier.

As for Cam Guthrie’s secret ambition to be elected to the Legislature, the huge victory of Mike Schreiner, leader of the Ontario Green Party, saved Guthrie’s future. The Green Party spent $119,0000 to elect Schreiner who won with 29,000 votes.

By comparison, Mayor Guthrie’s official financial statement contained the names of 100-persons who donated some $88,000 to his 2018 mayoralty campaign.

Was it an accident or just good luck?

Call it an accident from which Guthrie could walk away and he kept his job.

The bottom line is, why did the Mayor disguise his intention to run for the Ontario Legislature as a PC? He is, or perhaps was, a well-known Conservative supporting both the federal and Ontario branches of the party. Why did Guthrie deceived the Guelph voters claiming he wanted to be re-elected Mayor while trying to get the nomination for another?

Mayor Guthrie has moved along in his path to high office. As a member of the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus he was elected chairman of the group.

This past week, the Mayor told Guelph Today that the provincial government policies “could” jeopardize building the South End Community Centre and a new Downtown library.

Earlier he commented that the Ford government was using stealth techniques to divert public attention.

“I am very, very concerned,” he said, commenting that so are most municipalities.

So what’s the actual beef here?

The Ford government has floated a proposal to lower municipal developers’ fees. This has thrown some municipalities into a tizzy.

Here’s why, and Guelph has been misusing developer fees for funding capital projects. That is not the purpose of developer fees. It’s about infrastructure connections, increasing public safety personnel and public services impact of new development.

“ Our priorities would have to be re-looked at and it would have to be filtered through an affordability lens of what our taxpayers could handle,” warning this could happen if the municipal developer fees are reduced by the Ford government.

The big problem is the South End Community Centre

Council has already tapped the taxpayers to start the preliminary planning and design of the centre to the tune of $3.5 million. That’s a commitment toward spending the estimated $63 million to complete the project.

Here’s a clue of how council spends your developer fees.

“To be blunt, the Mayor continued. “The taxpayers should not have to front these costs.”

He goes on to state that the new main library will cost more than $50 million and 35 per cent of that was to be funded through development charges. That works out to be $17.9 million to come from development charges.

Here’s the beef.

If indeed, the Ford government mandates lowering municipal development fees, that $17.9 million will increase creating a financial gap for taxpayers to pick up.

In my opinion this is smoke and mirrors. And here’s why.

The long-awaited downtown library is part of the initial estimated cost of the $300 million Baker Street renovation project. The plan is to have costs shared between the city and a private developer. This sharing arrangement details have not been revealed.

This project is to start in 2024 and will take six to seven years to complete. Best estimates is that will be 11 years from now.

The South End project is at least five years to complete once the financing is secure. Hello taxpayers!

Then the city is about to enter an auction of the reformatory lands, aka Guelph Innovation Development lands. The plan is to develop a 245-acre satellite green community that city staff has been working on since 2013. The cost of this is unknown.

Depending on the city’s bid, this is an international invitation to bid on the property owned by the province.

It is understandable of the fallout if the province reduces the developer’s fees.

What taxpayers need to know is why are development fees being used to finance major capital projects that are mostly far over the horizon in terms of years.

The taxpayer and those charged user fees cannot continue to pay for big buck projects when it cannot fix the pot holes or pick up the garbage in parts of the city.

Guelph’s tax rates have averaged more than three per cent per year for the past 12 years greater when compared to similar-sized cities.

Perhaps Guthrie has the right idea, move up and leave the problems to someone else.

 

 

 

 

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More front lawn politics: Guelph’s socialist advocates advance on Queen’s Park to protest policies of the Ford government

Bt Gerry Barker

April 22, 20

Opinion

Last week, in St. George’s Square downtown, the newly formed protest coalition to stick it to Premier Doug Ford held a “die in.” It was planned to embellish their objections on the front lawn at Queen’s Park. They will join fellow protesters that they are mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.

Okay, what’s their beef now?

Well, the point of this planned rally on the front lawn of the Ontario Legislature is to protest the Ford government’s alleged plans to reduce Healthcare services and Education costs. Editor’s note: The recent Ontario PC budget increased the Heal care spending.

Does one have to “die” before boarding the chartered bus to Toronto at the end of this month?

This is mindful of what occurred last Thursday in Washington. The Attorney General of the United States, Bill Barr, held a press conference in the morning to discuss the Mueller Investigation report. It focused on Russian interference in the 2016 election and obstruction of justice by the President, Donald Trump. The problem was the press or anyone else weren’t told what was in the 438-page report until 11 a.m. after A-G Barr’s non press conference was over.

Cart? Horse? Or is it the other way around?

Now, the socialist progressives are on the warpath to protest about important issues concerning all Ontarians of which they have no knowledge or expertise as to how government processes legislation. It’s the checks and balances of most democratic parliamentary legislative organizations.

If nothing else, it’s pure poetical theatre to embarrass the PC government. You will recall a while back that the NDP organized a similar rally to protest cuts to parents with autistic children.

It’s a growing trend in the Ontario Legislature. If you can’t beat ‘em in the house chambers, you can’t do it on the front lawn.

This coalition is composed of the Guelph chapter of the Council of Canadians, Ontario Federation of Labour and the Guelph Movement of the People.

Well, let’s bell this cat.

The parallel objectives between the New Democratic Party and the Council of Canadians is striking, so striking that the organization’s social goals are almost identical to that of the NDP.

Here’s their “About us” statement: “Through our campaigns we advocate for clean water, fair trade, green energy, public health care, and a vibrant democracy. We educate and empower people to hold our governments and corporations accountable.” Ah, they forgot advocating proportional voting and alternative transportation (bicycles).

Does that have a familiar ring with a local flavour?

The C of C says they have 60 chapters of activists across the country. That presents a formidable political support group for the NDP, you think?

Along come organized labour unions and their role in advancing the NDP agenda. They are a major political force in the management of Guelph.

Now that last one is a new one for me. Who are they, what do they do and what are they moving? Wonder who is paying for this magical bus trip to Toronto? The likely source of funding the trip is the labour unions that have deep pockets and have always supported the NDP.

Doug Ford has become a lightning rod for Andrea Horwath’s NDP opposition leadership. She has 40 seats; Liberals have 7 reducing them to a position where they are no longer recognized as an official party in the Legislature. Now, take the Green Party of one, our man in the house, MPP Mike Schreiner. He spent a record $119,000 to get elected in Guelph, now, what’s he done for our community in 11 months?

Reason, the Tories hold 72 seats and are the government

They were elected to clean up 15 years of Liberal governments whose legacy of wasted resources and favouritism will not soon be forgotten. For example, the five-year reduction of Hydro rates across the province, called the Fair Hydro Plan. It was financed with borrowed billions to pay for it over five years.

The Ontario Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, revealed this whacko re-election plan to reduce electricity costs in October 2017.

It marked the beginning of the end for Premier Kathleen Wynne. Ontarians are stuck with repaying those limited cost reduction loans when the five years is up in 2022. Predictably power rates will soar to cover the costs of that temporary Hydro Holiday.

The new government was handed a giant financial rock when it took over and quickly learned where the money was leaking. The government had no choice but to reduce overhead and they have set out to do it.

With the constant baying by the opposition NDP and its allies, the organized labour movement in Ontario helped trigger dissent and angst among the citizens, is an abuse of the public interest.

Why does the Guelph administration only pay lip service to public interests?

Full transparency and accountability is a lesson the Guelph administration needs to emulate. Spending more than $9.2 million, hiring some 19 additional full-time employees as recommended by staff without accountability furthers public distrust of the process. Who makes those decisions, council or the staff or visa-versa?

We can be sure of one thing, this council knows how to work behind closed doors.

For example, what did council do with that $18.5 million it received from the former Guelph Hydro when it merged with Alectra Utilities last January?

So the energy of this planned protest posse of Guelph citizens is focused, not on Guelph, but on Premier Ford’s provincial government.

This is what happened when a national political party seizes control over our municipal council. They have held that majority for more than 12 years.

As citizens, we failed last June and October to correct the imbalance of power that has dominated our direction and changed our city.

Instead, we have become over-taxed, isolated, and lacking diversified housing including affordable dwellings and detached residences.

As an observer and commentator of city operations, I have paid both a financial and physical price to inform the public and challenge the costs of the social engineering projects that all of us have been forced to pay for and endure.

I have written more than 1,000 columns on guelphspeaks.ca, Twitter and Facebook.

I remain baffled by the continued citizen support of the controlling progressives on council.

Only we can change course and by organizing preparing for the October 2022 civic election.

I will report more information on this later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It only cost Mike Schreiner $119,864 to buy a seat in the Ontario Legislature

By Gerry Barker

January 14, 2019

Opinion

Taking a look at the numbers of the recent provincial election submitted by Green Party Leader, Michael Schreiner, as reported to Elections Ontario.

All it took was a tsunami of cash for Mr. Schreiner to trample all of the other candidates in last June’s provincial election, using a boatload of money. According to Elections Ontario, the Schreiner campaign reported receiving income of $152,677.71

As reported in Guelph Today, Schreiner spent $119,864.14 to win the Guelph seat in the Ontario Legislature. He was the only Green Party candidate elected as a member to Queen’s Park. It is reported that the Green Party received some 285,000 votes across the province. It appears that Mr. Schreiner’s vote of some 29,000 in Guelph is ten per cent of the total Green Party vote cast in the province. That is impressive.

One cannot suggest that this was a stunning victory for the Greens. All he needs now are seven more Green Party candidates to attain the status of an official party in the Legislature to be recognized by the Speaker. Recently, he was quoted that he had developed friendships with an undisclosed number of PC members suggesting they may switch parties.

You have to ask the question: “ What’s in it for them?”

The Guelph Today report investigating the election finance’s story discovered that Premier Doug Ford spent $66,889.01 to get elected in the Lakeshore riding. His Progressive Conservative Party received more than 2.2 million votes, electing 73 members to the Legislature to form the government for four years.

Schreiner also spent more that Opposition Leader, Andrea Horwath, who reported spending $101,485.04 to retain her Hamilton seat and the NDP elected 40 members to the Legislature.

So, is there something wrong with this picture?

Let’s drill down into Mike Schreiner’s official financial report regarding his election submitted to Elections Ontario last September.

The Schreiner Reported Assets

His total campaign assets are $72,404.88. This is composed of cash, ($38,649.91), campaign reimbursement entitlement from 2014 civic election ($24,633.74), Accounts receivable ($1,739.90), inventory of campaign materials ($7,389.33)

Liabilities and Surplus

Accounts payable ($7,568.34), Surplus ($64,836.54 deficit). That balances with the Assets of $72,404.88.

Now here comes the interesting part under the title:

Statement of Income and Expenses from May 9 2018 to September 7, 2018

Income

Contributions                                              $58,090.43

Interest income                                                    $12.45

General Contributions at meetings                $10.00

Transfers received                                      $93,629.73

Sale of T-shirts                                                 $935.00

Total Income                                              $152,677.61

A peek at expenses

The summary of expenses includes spending $22,034.26 on salaries and benefits. Who were these paod staffers and what did they do? That’s slightly less than the total cost of the P.C. campagn supported by 14,000 votes.

Was this a case of Fort Knox against the madding crowd outside the moat, or an episode in the Game of Thrones?

Following the money, two figures catch my eye

First, the $58,090.41 in contributions does not name the contributors or the division between those donating more than $1,200 compared to those donating less. There is a specific rule about donations and contributions because some contributors do not want to be identified, but did all of them not want to be identified?

Did the campaign receive any ‘in kind’ contributions?’ This means supplying services instead of cash. Hypothetical examples could be supplying services such as courier, transporting personnel or being offered rooms or halls for for campaign meetings.

Second, the $93,629 listed as ‘Transfers Received,’ needs clarification in terms of large-scale funds transferred from where and from whom? It should be explained if for no other reason, than, to be transparent and open.

These are serious questions about financial statements such as Mr. Schreiner’s alleged association with Tides Canada. This is an environmental political action organization that has helped finance Green Party candidates in their bid to be elected to Canadian provincial governments, such as British Columbia. A province in which Tides Canada helped elect three Green Party members to the B.C. legislature.

When the grass grows, get out the lawn mower

The B.C. Green Party members hold the balance of power that supports the NDP ruling party. This has had a serious impact on the efforts of the environmental movement to halt reconstruction of the Trans-Mountain pipeline owned by the people of Canada. The renovation of the existing pipeline is to open the door to the Pacific markets for Canadian oil and natural gas.

Despite this, the environmentalists have successfully stalled the T-M construction paralyzing the process for one reason only: To halt production and export of Canadian fossil fuels to global markets.

Tides Canada is a subsidiary of Tides America that has a war chest of some $150 million to support a variety of environmental projects and sponsor political action.

Do you believe that funding of political parties and their candidates should be open and transparent? Mr. Schreiner spending $119,864 to get elected in Guelph completely smothered the financial spending of all the other candidates combined.

In my opinion, based on Mr. Schreiner’s election financial report, corporations or environmental political action committees may have helped finance the Schreiner campaign. What happens in B.C. has little relevance to the city or citizens of Guelph who are now represented by Mr. Schreiner.

But it did, as the Green party finally got a seat for the first time in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. It remains to be seen if Mr. Schreiner’s new role as a Guelph’s MPP will be beneficial to the 29,000 people who elected him.

Frankly, as a citizen, I believe Mr. Schreiner will be too busy beating his own drum to be an effective representative for Guelph.

Want proof? In all the years I worked at the Toronto Star, I never witnessed a lead editorial promoting an individual candidate as the paper did before the election. It endorsed Mike Schreiner, stating the electors in Guelph could make history electing him. And it did, with possibly a little help from his friends from far away.

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How Mayor Guthrie interfered in the Guelph P.C. campaign

By Gerry Barker

September 24, 2018

A year ago, guelphspeaks.ca received a tip that the P.C party was interested in having Mayor Guthrie as its candidate. Mayor Guthrie denied he was available and the matter disappeared. Until that is, when the election Writ was dropped by the Liberal government slated for June 7, 2018.

Prior to that, in Late January, the P.C. Leader, Patrick Brown, who Mr. Guthrie, is alleged to befriend, was forced to resign over alleged sexual misconduct. Across the province, P.C. riding associations were thrown into a tizzy as the party leadership had to redefined and hold a leadershuo convention that Doug Ford won.

In Guelph, there was a crisis in selecting a candidate because of interference from the Tory team inToronto.

And now, for the rest of the story.

I like to call it Pizza-gate for reasons soon to be revealed.

Guelph PC Riding Association President, Bob Coole, and his campaign team were interviewing and seeking candidates to carry the PC banner in the June election. A front-runner at the time was lawyer, Peter McSherry who dropped out. While the Association was working to set up a nomination convention because there were other candidates interested in running, a message came from P.C. headquarters in Toronto.

The gist was not to proceed with the nomination meeting because, without identifying the individual, team Toronto said they had a candidate and the nomination convention would possibly not be necessary.

The Tory riding association was confused and concerned about losing time to get a candidate nominated and organized for the June 7 election.

There was speculation of who the pre-selected candidate would be.

When asked, Mayor Guthrie steadfastly denied he was the one because he loved his job as Mayor and would be seeking re-election.

What the Mayor never revealed was the secret recruiting campaign that along with Coun. Dan Gibson worked to nominate candidates to support him if elected Mayor.

If this was a horse race, this action might be compared to hedging your bet.

Some of those team Guthrie candidates allegedly are members of the Lakeside Evangelical Church. Both Mr. Guthrie and Mr. Gibson are members of that church.

It is still perfectly legal but not above board.

Mr. Gibson admitted to this writer that he had spent weeks talking and recruiting candidates although their religious affiliation was not included in discussions.

Nor should a candidate’s religious affiliation be a factor in any election.

Unknown to the voting public was the Mayor’s political stick handling to become the P.C. candidate in the June provincial election while publicly denying he was seeking the nomination.

Unfortunately, the question of religious affiliation pointed out by some opponents of Mr. Guthrie, who charged him with creating a slate to favour his mayoralty.

What these people are claiming is nuts and blatantly untrue.

For eight years, the progressives left in Guelph ran a slate of supporters of then Mayor Karen Farbridge.

In my opinion, the chickens have come home to roost. The NDP slate of candidates are facing imminent defeat, based on the record of wasted millions on projects such as the new City Hall and the GMHI debacle, to name two. But in the past four years the progressive’s Bloc of Seven, held a majority on council and played a role of obstructionism and stalled necessary reforms.

Playing both sides of the street

Let’s return to the Mayor’s sabotage of the Guelph P.C. Riding Association’s abortive attempts to conduct a legal nomination convention. The P.C. headquarters team was complicit in creating the delay because it refused to confirm the identity of their chosen candidate. And they never did.

As a result of the Mayor’s action behind the scene, a nomination meeting was never held.

In the midst of the P.C. Association turmoil of uncertainty, Mr. Coole received a telephone call from Mayor Guthrie asking him to lunch and suggested they meet at a pizza restaurant located in a Stone Road plaza. In the course of that meeting, Mr. Guthrie said he was interested in receiving the P.C. nomination but only by acclamation.

Mr. Coole advised him that the nomination process involved other candidates and he could not recommend to his board the request by the Mayor. By now, some weeks had gone by and the P.C.’s had no candidates.

To fill the gap, the riding association attracted two candidates, former city councillor Ray Ferarro and a Rockwood veterinarian. The PC headquarter’s team interviewed both. But time to hold a nomination meeting had almost run out.

The new PC leader, Doug Ford, on a Saturday three weeks before the election, named Mr. Ferarro as the Guelph P.C. candidate among 18 others in ridings across the province.

On May 1st, nominations for city council opened with Mayor Guthrie and four new individuals signing up for council.

It became apparent that the Mayor was setting up a slate of supporting candidates who shared similar interests and beliefs.

But in doing so, he sabotaged the Guelph P.C. Riding Association’s efforts to run a fair and open nomination convention.

Unfortunately for Mr. Guthrie, blind ambition led to the P.C.’s getting hammered in the June provincial election. As a member of the Conservative Party, he is now considered persona non grata.

Voters have no choice but to elect Cam Guthrie as our mayor. If he struggled in the past four years dealing with a strong opposition, this next four years will not be any easier.

He must speak truth to power.

 

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The passing of logic and understanding

By Gerry Barker

August 27, 2018

On Saturday a great American statesman, Navy pilot and patriot, died.

John McCain was 81 years old and loved to be called the “Maverick.” His historic “no” vote to stop the total dismantling of Obama Care in the U.S. senate, ended the attempt by his fellow senators to finish the job.

Maverick indeed.

This week in Guelph Today, there was an opinion piece written by local blogger Adam Donaldson in which he described the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) annual meeting as “ much AMO about nothing” – cute. So its no wonder that one cannot take Mr. Donaldson seriously.

He said he interviewed Mayor Guthrie who was enthusiastic about the AMO meeting stating: “They (the provincial government), have been very welcoming, very open to hearing what’s going on in Guelph.”

The piece later on quoted Premier Doug Ford telling the AMO delegates that the government had no plans to further emulate the Toronto Council reduction (Bill 5). It would reduce it from 47 members to 25 matching the provincial and federal riding boundaries in the city.

Is Donaldson still smarting over the total defeat of the Wynne government and its policies by the Ford Tories? Guess he’s not been around to recognize the political reality of removal as the party that was in power for several years. .

Good grief! The Liberals were in charge of this province for 15 years. The Ford Tories have held the reins of power for less than three months.

But the Liberal media including my former paper, The Toronto Star, are doing a character assassination number on Mr. Ford while his cabinet members are still trying to find their offices.

The Guelph Today Ford wrecking ball commentary asks the question: How long will the Ford government treat the AMO with ‘gusto’ and how long will it last?

That will be four years.

The Wynne government used the AMO to reinforce its wacko energy plans that have driven the cost of electricity in Ontario to one of the highest in North America. That’s because the AMO is funded and supported by the party in power. A creature of the province, one may surmise, like the 444 municipalities in Ontario.

It’s one way for the party in power to control and manipulate the operations of its 444 supplicants. It’s also a convenient instrument to keep all those municipal councils in line with the implied threat of denying grants, favours and support.

There is nothing equal about all this. It’s done our way or our cooperation will disappear.

The election of Green Party candidate Mike Schreiner as our representative to the Ontario Legislature has isolated the city from provincial support initially. Schreiner is a party of one with no recognition as an official party in the Legislature.

His effectiveness under this situation handicaps his obligation to ensure the city is able to access the support of the various provincial departments now dominated by the PC’s.

Recently, there was a story published in the Toronto Star describing the movement of young families from Toronto due to the high cost of housing. The story mentioned destinations including Barrie, Kitchener, Cambridge, London and Kingston. There was no mention of Guelph.

Why was that? With respect, there are several factors. The first is that Guelph’s residential property taxes are among the highest in the province. The city is home to the University of Guelph that currently has a reported 22,000 students.

While there is great pride in the University, there exist huge costs to most citizens to subsidize the university such as infrastructure of utilities roads, transit, medical facilities, street maintenance including snow and leaf removal,

The burden of these and many other services falls on the property taxpayer of the city of Guelph. The University is the largest landowner in the city. Provincial legislation in 1987 decreed that in lieu of property taxes, the universities and colleges in Ontario would pay $75 for every full-time student attending for two semesters.

This arrangement has not changed in 31 years. Compared to citywide assessment of properties in that same period, using a base of the Consumer Price Index for inflation, the increases to city property owners is almost incalculable.

In 15 years, did the provincial Liberals ever consider fixing this unfair and costly archaic system?

By banging the drum to complain about the Ford leadership, look inwardly Guelph because the governance of our city in the past 12 years has neglected the basic fiduciary responsibility of the elected and senior management.

There are three major events that have cost residents dearly. First the $23 million additional cost of building the new city hall; then came the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. cover-up that so far, has resulted in a major write down of Guelph Hydro’s tangible assets plus a loss of $17 million in 2016. The third project, linked to the GMHI debacle, is the merger of Guelph Hydro with Alectra Inc.

You cannot walk away from these mismanaged projects and then announce a potential $350 million renovation of the Baker Street parking lot involving a partnership with an Ottawa company to commence construction in 2024.

Guthrie gushed that the prime tenant would be the new downtown library.

I am not against this proposal but question what is the taxpayer’s commitment to this project?

Oh! I forgot this is election time.

Meanwhile, the demolition of the Wynne government’s social engineering policies will continue because most voters rejected them by electing Doug Ford and 75 members to the Ontario Legislature.

 

 

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