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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

Are we on a sustainable path?

PRESIDENT’S REPORT – Are we on a sustainable path?

By Michael P. Seguin
As the year 2012 comes to an end, we should all be looking forward to a festive season and great expectations of hope and prosperity in the upcoming new year. Instead, we must consider the affects of a sluggish economy and, of course, higher than expected municipal tax hikes. The sustainable path to a quality and affordable life style that most of us envision is slowly evaporating away.
As we move into the 2013 Budget Process, one would expect restraint and some tax breaks. However, our local government seems to be moving forward under a ray of sunshine while we are asked to live under a dark cloud. The current proposals call for a 6.1% increase in your property taxes, a 23% increase in your fixed water charge, an 8% increase in the consumption water rates, a 14% increase in your fixed wastewater charge and a 2% increase in the consumption wastewater rates. What this means is that the average family will be paying another $188.00 in taxes next year. If this potential increase is not enough, we have been warned that service level enhancements may increase the property level another 2% or to 8.2% driving taxes over the $200 threshold.
The budget process is quite complex to explain in this short article. A BMRA Budget Review Committee has been put together to examine the details and will provide you with a breakdown and comments in future email blasts before a Public Meeting, sometime in January/February, 2013.
On a more positive note, the BMRA- STA Committee has been very active and has provided the Town staff with a number of quality suggestions in moving forward with a strong and effective STA Licencing By-law. Assuming that all goes well, we are expecting this by-law to be in place by March 31, 2013 or by the summer at the latest. We will report to you any changes in direction or attitude. You never know with this Council.
On the Planning front, the OP Review has basically come to a standstill. They say it’s about 8 months behind schedule. The Chair of the Committee, D.McKinlay, blames a high volume of public input. The Director of Planning and Building, D. Finbow, blames a lack of resources. I blame it on lack of “good planning”.
While the OP review struggles, there are a number of old and new developments in various stages of the approval process i.e. Windfall, Eden Oaks, Terrasan now Meridian, Telfer, Lora Bay Heights and the “Home Farm”. If approved these developments could potentially add another 1,500-2,000 residential units to the market between the years 2013-2015. Is this possible or just a “pipe dream”? I wonder how many of these developments represent “good planning”. The
Town appears to struggle with this concept (see my article about Planning Amendment being turned down). In order to assist our members in better understanding these developments as they move forward through the Planning Process, I want to form a BMRA Planning and Development Committee and will be looking for volunteers to be on this Committee – let me know if you are interested.
I would like to thank our Council for turning down a request by Clearview Township to speak out against a judicial review of the Walker Aggregate Quarry decision. The decision to move forward with a quarry expansion basically ignored the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act (NEPDA) and was challenged by many ratepayers in Clearview Township. The BMRA argued that a judicial review is a legal question and not a political one and we should not be putting the ratepayers of our community against the ratepayers of another community without Public process.
Finally, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the declining water levels in Georgian Bay. A continuous decline in water levels has and will seriously impact shipping, tourism, wildlife, natural heritage features and recreational boating throughout our region. We support all the mayors as well as the federal and provincial representatives of this region in lobbying both senior levels of government to help correct this serious problem.
If you have any comments regarding my statements, please do not hesitate to contact me through the web site, www.bluemountainratepayers.ca or by emailing me at mpseguin@roger.com.
As I have always said, and will continue to say, “you are the heart and soul of the Association and we value your opinion.
December, 2012


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