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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

Can council handle the tough decisions ahead?

PRESIDENT’S REPORT – Can Council handle the tough decisions ahead?

By Michael P. Seguin
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable summer. It was certainly a hot and dry one. Farmers complained, golfers complained and the Town complained again – why? – too many residents conserving water resulting in less revenue. As always, conservation = a need to increase utility rates to maintain the bureaucracy.
On May 26th, our AGM was held at the Marsh Street Centre and attended by 63 members and guests. For those that attended, they were treated to two excellent speakers, George Czerny, author and former publisher of the Enterprise Bulletin, and Dan Skelton, COO of Blue Mountain Resorts Ltd., who provided us with some interesting perspective on many issues and events affecting our local ratepayers. I can also report that the BMRA Board gained one new member for 2012/2013: John Leckie (from Thornbury-Lora Bay). John will undoubtedly add strength to the BMRA decision-making process and continue to give us better representation from both the east and west portions of The Blue Mountains.
While our AGM program was successful, I was very disappointed in our low attendance. The Board has agreed to change the next AGM to Saturday, April 27th, 2013, in hope of avoiding too many early spring conflicts and increasing attendance. Make sure you mark this date on your calendar for next year.
As you read the September Newsletter, you will note a wide variety of interesting topics and issues that will challenge our Council – how they handle them will determine their success or failure in their four year term ending in 2014.
On the building front, the new town hall was christened with a grand ceremony on July 4, 2012. High-priced politicians from all levels of government attended making statements like “the project helped revitalize the town”, “a Cinderella Story’ and “money well spent”. Too bad none of these politicians live in our community – their statements may have been different. In the meantime, the old town hall was dusted away so that there was no reminder of its “uncertain” benefits.
The Official Plan Review continues with a draft report to be presented sometime in late September. We will monitor the process very carefully, because in my opinion, the words “‘intensification” and “resort” found throughout the document do not provide for a “taxpayer-friendly document”. Planning and development issues continue to challenge the town without a highly qualified Manager of Planning to support the Director, David Finbow and his staff. We will also need to monitor a new Consolidated Zoning By-law that will be used by the town to deal with the everyday building issues and requirements.
Council has financially approved staff proceeding with a STA Licencing By-law Program that is scheduled to be in place by March 31, 2013. However, before finalizing the draft documentation, town staff has been instructed to conduct

stakeholder consultation meetings to determine the contents and how the process works. The BMRA is considered a stakeholder and we will follow the process until its completion. Relevant updates will be provided via email blasts.
On the financial front, the town is planning to focus on the 2013 budget and will be deliberating a number of major challenges including, once again, the existing service delivery and enhancement of both essential and non-essential services. Like last year, the two biggest challenges will be the “huge” financial costs and tax impositions associated with “Long Term Solid Waste Disposal Needs” and the “Water and Wastewater Financial Plans”. The Director of Finance & IT Services, Robert Cummings, states that based on last year’s projections we are starting at a 5.75% increase in Town levy over 2012. Water and wastewater rates are expected to increase a minimum of 5% each – but they want more. State tuned, we won’t know until November what kind of financial damage this Council wants to inflict on us.
Can this Council handle the tough decisions ahead? Well from where I sit (which is at most Council and Committee Meetings), there seems to be a lot of confusion, lack of understanding and disagreement between the wants (also personal agendas), the needs of the community and affordability. I sometimes see staff shaking their heads trying to understand Council’s intentions and directions. Personally, I think it’s time for a change and time to start preparing for the next election in 2014. Out with the old and in with the new. We can make a difference – yes we can!
As I have said many times before, our mission statement is clear and the BMRA will continue to monitor the direction of this Council and make sure they are “charged” and responsible to act in the best interest of this community. We will also continue to keep you informed through our new social network: twitter and facebook.
If you have any comments regarding my statements, please do not hesitate to contact me through the web site (info@bluemountainratepayersassociation.com) or send me a message via the Association’s mailing address. As I have always said and will continue to say, “you are the heart and soul of the Association and we value your opinion”.

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