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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

The 22 month plan!

President’s Report – The 22-month plan!

By Michael P. Seguin
The Budget Review Committee has worked very hard to breakdown the 2013 Budget process to determine how taxation works in this town. What they are beginning to realize is that no matter how much knowledge and experience they have in accounting and economic know- how, this town just does what they want. The town has a PLAN for everything these days, which involve ambitious, ambiguous and of course, expensive forecasting, which they continuously blame on the Province. What the province is basically saying, that without a Plan, it will be difficult to get funding for infrastructure and community services. The real Plan is to get money from the province but just in case, make the taxpayer pay – excess monies can always be directed to more wants.
In my speech on January 23rd, I asked Council to consider Plans that are more workable, easier to understand and deal with the economic realities outside the Town Hall walls. I asked Council to show more respect for the residents that live in this community and their ability to pay. I asked Council to dig deeper and start saying “No” to these large tax increases, or at least defer these increases until times are better. I guess what I asked for was too much, unreasonable and unacceptable to this Council. The staff asked for a 6.31% raise, and without any fanfare, very little discussion and certainly ignoring public comments, Council approved both their needs and their wants. In my opinion, the decision for the increase was made long time ago. The budget meetings (which no one was allowed to speak) were just mere gestures to the public to make it appear like an open and transparent process. The only time this Council listens to the public, is at election time – let’s start the 22 month Plan.
In other news, the OMB approved a revised Telfer “Adult Lifestyle Village “conceptual plan (3rd edition) consisting of 86-units on land-leases and located on the southwest corner of Napier and Victoria Streets in the urban community of Thornbury. Everyone at the hearing knew that a deal had already been reached by Council behind closed doors. Basically, the OMB hearing was allowed to proceed to provide “lip service” to the public. The Napier-Victoria Residents’ Group, led by Brian Nelson and John Corrigan, provided numerous concerns about the development and the greater planning issues regarding incompatible developments. The BMRA , in its role of monitoring and reporting on local and controversial planning and development issues, has provided continuous support to the local residents over the last two years. We have argued that this large scale “silo” type of development is not what we call “responsible community development” and certainly not an appropriate way of “planning a community”. Councillor Martin was also very supportive of the Residents’ group and the Association. I must thank him for sticking to his convictions in not supporting a Council that “provided no planning basis for
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approval of the revised proposal”. Martin also argued that simple compliance with planning documents does not deal with the issues of compatibility and the village character of the community. The most importance lesson we can take from this whole episode is that, collectively, the strong voice of the public prevailed over a long two year period in getting a number of positive changes, which in my opinion, would have just been ignored by this Council.
The struggle for “good planning” and a clearer vision for growth in this community is expected to continue shortly, as the Town tries to move forward with the Official Plan review and draft copy of the living “Plan”. We will continue to keep you informed – in my opinion there are some major issues and we will rely on your support.
On the STA Licencing By-law front, the town decided to have a workshop on January 30th to review all comments from consultations with stakeholders. It appears that the majority of the comments that were posted for review by Council came from operators not wanting regulations or a Licencing By-law. Notwithstanding their pleas to have this by-law stopped, Council directed staff to proceed to a Public Meeting on April 15th to consider final arguments in moving ahead with a final STA Licencing By-law.
In my “News Around Town”, I bring attention to concerns regarding water levels in Georgian Bay. I think you will start to hear more about this issue in upcoming blasts and Newsletters. This is a real problem that could cause municipalities like ours to react in haste and may result in taxpayers being the “one of the drivers that ends up dredging the harbour that pulls the big cart”. Stay tuned!
The Town is about to develop another level of bureaucracy – The Blue Mountains Affordable Housing Corporation. A Public Meeting is being held on March 4th to basically tell us how and when it will happen and to allow us more “lip service” before implementation. If you want to learn more, I advise you to visit the Town’s web calendar and go to March 4th and you will see the presentation. Many people are asking “Why are we in the housing business when many developers and builders in this community have failed?”
One important announcement: The 2013 AGM has been booked for May 4that the Marsh Street Centre in Clarksburg. Once again, this is an opportunity for our organization to branch out to other areas within The Blue Mountains and to strengthen our membership base outside the Craigleith area. Our mission is to continue providing a stronger and equal voice throughout our entire community. This will also be an opportunity to start the process of implementing our “22-month Plan” (2014 election).
If you have any comments regarding my statements in this a report and throughout the newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact me through the web site (info@bluemountainratepayers.ca) or send me a message via the Association’s mailing address.
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As I have always said and will continue to say: “You are the heart and soul of the Association and we value your opinion”.
My rating of Council’s performance in 2012 continues to be: C-
This is based on my attendance and review of the “bigger” decisions at many Council and Committee meetings, the increasing need for secret or closed meetings and lack of transparency, the non-willingness of this Council to debate issues , the general attitude towards public concerns and the failure to recognize and address the concerns of the taxpayer, especially after Public Meetings.
February, 2013
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