With municipal elections now underway and many of us struggling to select the best candidates for the task my thoughts go to why these candidates have put their name forward for what must be a largely thankless job. No matter what decision individual counsellors or council as a whole make there will be those that disagree, and some that voice their disagreement quite forcefully. There will be groups of citizens that come together to oppose or support this issue or that initiative who present to council their particular point of view. Counsellors must take all this into account and try and come to a conclusion that in their view is best for the Municipality bearing in mind that on many issues they are constrained by not only funding issues but provincial or federal constraints or mandated programs.
As I said a thankless task, so I thank those who have in the past,
are now, or are seeking to fill this important roll in making these
decisions on our behalf. That said lets take a quick look at some of the issues and
difficulties they have, or will, face in my own municipality of
The issues highlighted by the candidates in their flyers and at
all candidates meetings include:-
Accountability & transparency
upkeep and upgrades
Taxation & fiscal
Biodigester operating costs
and zoning issues
Accountability & transparency seems to be a recurring theme
through most (but not all) of the candidates 'platforms' with a fair
bit of focus on the Chatsworth Township Website which is for many of
us the only source of information on what issues are before council
at any given moment. In days long past when small local papers sent
reporters to council meetings and reported on them the following week
we had a largely independent synopsis of such things, this is no
longer the case, we must rely upon official documents published by
township staff. Unfortunately the minutes and agenda documents tell
us almost nothing of the details and are 'hidden' in PDF documents
which must be fully downloaded to find out that they do not contain
the information you are seeking. If council is to become more open
and accountable reports on council meeting and associated issues must
become much more comprehensive & accessible.
Policing costs is obviously a major item in the budget and we have
just learned that “The OPP billing formula means the township will
pay about 125 thousand dollars more next year, than the 772 thousand
dollars it cost for policing coverage this year.” This is one of
those thing that council can do little about other than continue to
question the criteria of the OPP billing formula, little is to be
gained in spending a great deal of time on fighting such costs when
council has almost no control over same!
Infrastructure upkeep and upgrades and Taxation & Fiscal
responsibility sort of go hand in hand it is a balancing act to
maintain our 'infrastructure' ( read roads & bridges &?) as
costs for everything increase whilst keeping taxes from escalating
but in most cases its a case of fix or maintain it now or see vastly
increased costs to do it later. This is another area where
municipalities are damned if they do and damned if they don’t!
The Biodigester........ any one who has been taking notice knows
this is the elephant in the room right now and whilst mistakes may
have been made when making the original decision, which was based
upon what can only be called incorrect and misleading information
provided by the engineering firm that first proposed this project.
That the projected annual surplus of $300,000 has turned into an
expense approaching that amount and that several pieces of equipment
had to be replaced a considerable cost shortly after it came into
operation says more about the engineering than the operation. What to
do now given the shared ownership with Georgian Bluffs is going to be
a major issue with the new council but I do note that “Ministry of
the Environment officials are prepared to declare the facility a
provincial pilot project”, what this means in regard to operating
costs and other issues has yet to be seen. For a detailed study of
this issue go to Trevor Falk's blog at
Finally on development within the township, or for that matter
within any rural municipality, the challenge is to bring in (or keep)
businesses that provide jobs, goods & services to local citizens
whilst still maintaining our rural look, feel & lifestyle that so
many of us value. I for one do not want to see development at the
cost of turning us into an industrial wasteland but if we are to
maintain our community as a viable place to live and work we must
have local jobs, particularly for our youth, or we become part of the
general rural decline.
So here is what I am looking for from the new council. An openness
to new ideas, working together to solve problems, more information
available to taxpayers, and more opportunity for more citizen input
because non of the issues outlined above are simple and no one person
or idea is going to solve them.
In other words Communication, Compromise, Consensus
PS. Today, Oct 17 is the last day to mail in your ballots however you may hand deliver untill election day Oct 27th.
A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.