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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chatsworth Election Results

Unofficial results courtesy Bayshore News

Chatsworth Mayor
Elected Candidate Vote % Incumbent
X Bob Pringle 1968 70.92 X
  Ron Smith 807 29.08  

Chatsworth Deputy Mayor
Elected Candidate Vote % Incumbent
  Terry McKay 740 26.49 X
X Scott Mackey 2053 73.51  

Chatsworth Councillors (3 to be elected)
Elected Candidate Vote % Incumbent
X Brian Gamble 1569 20.67 X
X Shawn Greig 1368 18.02  
  William Smith 149 1.96  
  Joshua E Eriksen 1047 13.79  
  Helmut Pankratz 719 9.47  
  Jerry Downey 1131 14.9  
  Trina Simmonds 327 4.31  
X Elizabeth Thompson 1280 16.86  

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Thankless Task?

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 Chatsworth, Ontario.

The issues highlighted by the candidates in their flyers and at all candidates meetings include:-
Accountability & transparency
Policing costs
Infrastructure upkeep and upgrades
Taxation & fiscal responsibility
Biodigester operating costs
Business development 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 http://shininglightonchatsworth.wordpress.com/.

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.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chatsworth Township Candidates - Eriksen

The following candidate has taken up the offer of the use of this blog to highlight Chatsworth Council Candidates on these pages and submitted the following text for publication, I invite other candidates to submit a short bio and statement for publication by contacting me via the email link in the sidebar. These submissions are published here as a public service, I do not necessarily endorse this or any other candidate standing for election.

Joshua E. Eriksen
*Born in Williamsford, Holland Township, and raised in Keady, Sullivan Township, Joshua has lived most of his 37 years of life on the family farm in the heart of our own naturally beautiful Township of Chatsworth. Enjoyed growing up out in the country, just south of Keady, balancing both academics and athletics at WHSS, then graduating at OSCVI, with work on the family farm. Earned the BAHon. double major honours in history and political science, with a criminal justice minor for pre-law at the Redeemer University in Hamilton Ontario. Has been political involved on various levels of election campaigns as youth chair, policy advisor, and campaign manager. Joined his father Gerven, who has over 25 years of service in the Real Estate profession buying, selling, and listing property here in the Grey-Bruce area, residential, farms, and all types of rural country properties in the surrounding area, at RE/MAX Grey-Bruce Realty in the Owen Sound office. Eriksen believes we as a municipality must remain competitive with those around us, while continuing to work in cooperation with our neighbours, thus we need to expand business to raise more revenue to pay for costly expenditures we have incurred over recent years. Chatsworth, with its naturally beautiful place at the heart of Grey-Bruce and the hub of Highways 6 & 10, can begin doing just that by returning back to its roots of fiscal responsibility right here right now today. Three points to start with have been identified below, we look forward to working on these goals as soon as Joshua's elected to council, as there is much work to be done to start building Chatsworth bigger and better into the 21st century.

Preserving Our Past
* Return to respecting the ratepaying citizen and their hard-earned tax dollars, while preserving our essential services without the waste and continuing the proud history and heritage of this township.

Protecting Our Present
* Allow our current businesses to grow within our towns, both attract more businesses and retain our population with economic development and job creation, while working with our farmers and their needs out in the country.

Preparing For Our Future
* Build and expand our tax base via a business park in Chatsworth at Highways 6 & 10 to ship consumer goods south to Toronto, Hamilton, and other southern centres, which can immediately bring economic growth for the town through job creation and strengthen infrastructure such as high-speed internet, which in turn attracts and keeps young working families in our municipality and rural schools much safer from any future closures.

Our Chatsworth 2.0 Action Plan
* Our Chatsworth 2.0 Action Plan for the future needs your support to make it happen, I humbly ask your consideration in allowing me 1 vote of your 3 choices for Councillor on Chatsworth Township Council in this municipal election, together let us build a better Chatsworth!

Message from Joshua
You get to vote for 3 people to sit as your councillors-at-large this municipal election in Chatsworth. Allow me to represent you as 1, as your councillor, I promise to do my utmost to put your matters of the community to council to start building a better Chatsworth together. I pledge to always be accessible to the public on any issue or idea, no matter what it is, that is my personal guarantee.