We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and that you are looking forward to getting back to work as much as we are. This has been an exciting formative year for your WBRA, and we are expecting to great things in 2020. Our local government has floundered so badly in the last few months; it’s difficult to know where to begin. The taxpayer funded politics of retribution continue to rule the day and Wasaga voters continue to pick up the tab. In this post we’ll be reviewing comments and questions received from our members over the last while. And your WBRA will do everything in our power to keep these, and other issues foremost in our voters’ minds as we work our way toward our next election. Thank you for your support!
Food For Thought:
Since the recent removal of the Main Street Market kiosks seems to be on residents' minds, perhaps a question as to why they were removed prematurely of any development plan? Why was the offer to purchase not considered? What is the council’s ultimate decision on the fate of the kiosks?
What is the town’s position on the downtown development plan? We understand the official plan is still in place, but has any action been taken or is the statement that “the OP is still in place” no more than lip service?
Since the mayor stated publically about the residents she spoke to and their excitement regarding the development of 340 main, gas station, hotel, restaurant, convenience store and roof top bar, has any further discussion been made with the developer? If the development turns out to be no more than another gas station will council continue to support this initiative?
This year’s budget sees large and expensive changes, and yet there is no indication of a business plan to offset increases other than the possibility of more residential. The residents are becoming tired of pulling more than their share for the load.
Your current Mayor and council won an election with no platform or plan other than to scorch the earth of what had come before. In a mere 15 months, they have systematically destroyed any chance of creating a vibrant town in the next 3 years. Acting out of spite, firing many talented employees, closing down committees without public input, bringing back a double-dipping CAO, handcuffing the right of citizens to speak at public meetings, handing out contracts to friends of their campaigns, filling the Hydro board with the old boy’s club, and mocking those who question their motives by calling them “self serving”, “barking dogs” and “pigs”. The list goes on.
How are they doing? You be the judge. Since their election in 2018, your Mayor and Council:
-Let the LOI lapse and snubbed Fram even though Fram came ready and willing to put shovels in the ground in 2020.
-Shut down the development of Main St. and the Community Hub
-Blatantly re-dated an old DAS agreement without an updated plan for a Casino in order to make it appear to be current.
-Closed the Beach bar and trucked out the market Kiosks on a Sunday night, complete with a town thug shooing away concerned onlookers.
-Eliminated 50% of public comment at council meetings, preferring to meet with residents one-on-one in the park.
-Tabled the HIGHEST TAX INCREASE in recent memory, with no end in sight.
-Increasing the staff payroll and membership by nearly ONE MILLION DOLLARS with absolutely NO public input.
-Tabled no plan whatsoever regarding recovery of over $200,000 in Beachfront lease defaults.
-Backed into a corner by the WBRA, tabled a “Band aid” solution to After-Hours Clinic crisis which will keep it open only until the end of March 2020.
-Proposed to spend money on revamping their Council Classroom at a cost of $300,000 even as they snubbed a cash offer for the Main Street Market kiosks. Cost of renovations alone would represent an approximate tax rate increase of over 1% for the average taxpayer.
In a purchased 4 page op-ed in a recent Wasaga Sun, Our council touted some of their achievements. While your WBRA commends the effort, the advertisement begs some questions:
- “determine the town’s role in the development of downtown area and beachfront.” We respectfully ask, what is the answer? The current 2020 budget does not include any expenditure for the downtown area, and we have several “taxpayer approved” studies already in place that show clearly how this area should be developed. Your WBRA would like something more than “smoke and mirrors” on this one.
- “ promote and facilitate the construction of affordable attainable and safe housing.” With all due respect this is an initiative that should be undertaken at a county or provincial level. Our local council has been tossing around the “hot potato” of the substandard firetraps and off season rentals for years. Current progress? Zero.
- “support the private sector in growing and diversifying the tax base”. Without an actual plan to grow our business tax base, this is just empty talk. Our brewery has proved to be an outstanding business success story, and the only thanks they received was the unceremonious closing of their Beach Bar. Really. If you had a dream, would YOU invest here?
- “continue to build a safer and healthier community, mindful of the needs of various neighbourhoods in town”. See #3 above. Social Science considerations aside, the “fast tracking” of the new opioid clinic, does little to further this goal.
- “ implement changes to council’s governance and structure to improve accountability and transparency”. We again respectfully ask which changes were made to improve the accountability and transparency?. The mayor enjoyed in the previous council a public forum with which to air her differences. Thanks to changes in the rules, that opportunity is no longer available to others.
- “review the town’s assets and determine a strategy to deal with them in the best interests of the municipality”. First come to mind, our kiosks. Again, we respectfully ask, how does hauling them off to a snowy field under cover of darkness, on Sunday night in winter, suit the best interest of the municipality, especially with “no thanks” to a buyer’s cheque? As to our Beachfront properties, once they have been sold off, we completely lose the ability to determine their future. What’s the plan?
- ” Build pride in the community through effective communication” The best leadership is by example, and the one person in our community who should “take the high road” should be our Mayor. Her honour has called our business people “self serving” because they do not agree with her policies, she has called the residents who do not agree with her actions and motives “barking dogs” and has inferred that some are “pigs”. It is the job of the Mayor and council to justify and fully explain any initiative to all taxpayers, regardless of their views, and for her to comment otherwise (especially on social media) is totally unacceptable and unbecoming someone in her position.
Some members have complained that the WBRA is just not militant enough. We plan to continue our strategy of polite, focused attention on better government, and we are not going to be taking swings on social media or showing up at council meetings with pitchforks and torches any time soon. Our Mayor and council were duly elected to serve until 2022, at which time the voters will decide their fate. It is our goal to make sure that the public is educated in the activities of our elected officials, and that decisions which are made with anything but the purest of motives are subject to the most robust of scrutiny. Want to help? ATTEND the public meetings. COMMUNICATE with your mayor and Councillors. ENCOURAGE your friends to join and to support your WBRA. It is the only way to make sure that we break the pattern of government without vision.