"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Was There, Mr/Ms. Mole in the Hole.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "It's Not The Deal":

"With a view to replacing them with a new and dramatic centre..."
No, I think that was your personal view. Your 'pie in the sky' proposal didn't seem to gain any traction around the council table.

I'm glad that the Town's centenary project building won't be demolished. We're losing too much of our built heritage, as it is. The town council shouldn't contribute to that deficit.

I was there. I wrote the resolution. I spoke in  its support. I heard what others had to say. 
I don't think. 
I know 
Two thirds of the old library building is not the Town's centennial project.It's a building abandoned in favour of a  beautiful new modern facility with pride of place on Yonge Street.
It should have been demolished at the time the new one was occupied.
That it wasn't has long  since been acknowledged  a mistake. 
Get your head up into the light and try to keep your facts straight.
Even if you're not willing to give  your name.    

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Contradictions Abound

A copy of the draft agreement  was on the agenda of last week's general committee. It was recommended the draft be finalised for Council's consideration
Last night's  meeting contained a couple of  interesting contradictions. 
For years  the Association of Municipalities has been  quietly urging the Province to repair the broken arbitration system for Police,Fire and Emergency Services.It's quiet because nobody wants to be seen to be critical of the compensation packets for the local heroes.
From a management  perspective,  months ,drifting into years, of staff time and professional resources are spent in  endless  "negotiations" that always end up in lop-sided contracts. 
While police and firefighting services swallow up ever more  of municipal budgets, social  programs like housing and social service are decimated.
Ontario is not the Province it once was. 
Last night the Mayor surrendered the gavel  once more,to move  a resolution to urge the Provincial government to fix  a broken system. 
The Mayor does that a lot. Being  head of Council seems not to be  sufficiently satisfying. He needs to be the  mover of motions as well.
But this  was truly  ironic.
Municipalities, with good reason,complain about  home owners having to shoulder financial responsibilities of the Province for social problems and health services.
Yetthe same night we sent off  an urgent  resolution about the unbearable burden  for police and fire protection, we re-affirmed a new and needless burden created by the last Council  to pay for arts and culture. Through taxation with a budget similarly structured to the Library Board. 
There are  home owners  in Aurora who do not believe library services should be financed from taxes. They feel people should pay for their own books.There is a valid argument. 
Every year, two or four Councillors looks for ways to cut the library budget.It's a favourite target.
Yet there is no recognition of the contradiction of introducing a new budget to provide access to arts and culture  while objecting to  the cost of library services.
No acknowledgement that  people have a right to have  a say. 
Then there was that  hokey scheme to spend millions of  dollars on   something called a Heritage Park. 
Who ever heard of such a thing? Everywhere I go I check out the heritage facilities. have yet to visit a Heritage Park Unless one counts Disneyland in Orlando. 
By the way, we won't be hearing of it again  in Aurora. 
On  last night's agenda, a report dealing with the matter was received. Who knows how much staff time was spent on that.
It means no further time will be spent. .
We do some things right.              

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Sep 24, 2012 - 3:40 PM
Georgina's closed meeting breaches Municipal Act
But procedure, outcome of lawsuit meetings legal

Investigators determined the town breached the Municipal Act at a Nov. 21 committee of the whole meeting with “a substantive decision in closed session”; one that was “couched in a direction to staff”, according to a report being presented to council Monday night.
In addition, it states that councils, when in committee of the whole, should be wary of providing direction that is more properly within the purview of council to provide in open or in closed session.
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Despite the fact the town breached the Municipal Act at one of its closed meetings regarding a dropped defamation lawsuit, the overall procedure it followed was legal, according to results of a now concluded four-month investigation.
Investigators determined the town breached the Municipal Act at a Nov. 21 committee of the whole meeting with “a substantive decision in closed session”; one that was “couched in a direction to staff”, according to a report being presented to council tonight.
“That was a breach of the Municipal Act, in our opinion,” according to investigators.
The report contains the results of an investigation into closed sessions of town council and committee of the whole meetings launched by Keswick resident Kristina Toomey, who felt proper procedure was not followed over a defamation lawsuit against a former leisure services director with the town.
Ms Toomey, town CAO Winanne Grant and the town clerk were consulted during the course of the investigation conducted by Amberley Gavel Ltd., which began in May and included a review of agendas and minutes of meetings of council, procedural bylaw and applicable legislation.
During the closed meeting in November, staff provided a letter containing legal advice from the town’s solicitor, including but not limited to, a conclusion that litigation would be commenced, for review by the committee.
Staff were directed to “follow legal advice” to initiate legal proceedings, which effectively were decisions that “exceeded a mere direction” even though the committee did not take a formal vote of the matter.
While there is no clear direction or definition under the act regarding “directions” to staff, investigators concluded the intention of the act is not that a substantive decision be “couched” in a direction to staff.
The report goes on to say council, a committee or a local board are merely permitted to vote on a procedural matter or to give directions to staff, but not allowed to make substantive decisions “behind closed doors”.
In addition, it states that councils, when in committee of the whole, should be wary of providing direction that is more properly within the purview of council to provide in open or in closed session. The primary function of a discretionary committee of council is to provide advice to council, not to act on its behalf.
While no sanctions were outlined by Amberley Gavel, it recommended council and committees should be very diligent in ensuring the way a matter is handled in closed session and does not breach the Municipal Act.
“More specifically, a council cannot make substantive decisions (even if they don’t vote on them) and then characterize the decision as a mere direction to staff or others when, indeed, it is not merely directional in nature,” the report states. “Committees have even less authority to direct staff in either open or closed session.”
In addition, the town could have followed proper municipal procedure more accurately when citing the reasons for closed sessions on meeting agendas, but those “procedural inaccuracies” would not render any decisions made at those meetings illegal, the report concludes.
“We do not think there was any intention of the town or of council to shield the overall matter from openness and transparency by assigning the broader, more ambiguous Municipal Act exception dealing with “personal matters”, even if it was not the more relevant or accurate exception,” the report states.
For example, by the time discussions were continuing regarding the matter at a Dec. 12 meeting, a more accurate exception under the Municipal Act should have been applied rather than a “personal matter involving an identifiable individual” on meeting agendas.
While the matter started off as a ‘personal matter about an identifiable individual’, there were times when more information should have been provided to the public rather than just carrying over the “personal matter” from each agenda to the next until the final meeting in February 2012, the report states.
Since a statement of claim had already been issued in the matter by the Dec. 12 meeting of council, the issue was now in the public domain and, therefore, could have been listed on the agenda as “Litigation; Section 239(2)(e); John McLean” to conform to the Municipal Act, according to the report.
Although they were continuing to discuss a “personal matter” involving an identifiable individual, they were discussing the progress of litigation, according to investigators.
There was also “no apparent reason why this item had to be discussed in closed session” at a Jan. 23 council meeting since a statement of claim had already been issued in the matter and the litigation process was in the public domain.
Furthermore, instead of citing client/solicitor privilege as a reason for the closed special council meeting Feb. 2, it would have been more accurate to continue using the litigation privilege exception under section 239(2)(e) of the act.
This would lead to openness and transparency of the “general nature of the matter to be considered” during the closed session, while “preserving confidentiality over the substance of council’s deliberations”.
But investigators concluded “the personal matter” was properly before the closed meetings of council and committee of the whole in accordance with the Municipal Act.
In addition, the breach of the Municipal Act was “either a procedural irregularity or did not affect the legality of council’s ultimate decisions”.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mais Non ,Mon Ami

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Rid...":

"A policy is not cast in stone." ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!

You say: "the policy was adopted to have sidewalks on both sides of streets during the last term."

What "streets" does this policy apply to?

Why does Kennedy Street West not have sidewalks on both sides? It is a residential street. This street is used by hundreds every day who walk, who walk their dogs or their baby carriages, who jog, who ride their bicycles. It is a major walking route for kids going to and coming back from school. It would be far more appropriate to apply the "policy" to this street than to Industrial Parkway.

You say that "Council has been reluctant to exercise personal judgement. It seems easier just to do as they are told."

Told what and by whom?

Are members of Council lacking in grey matter? They sought public office so that they COULD and WOULD exercise personal judgement. Did they all, instead, seek to serve the public by not having to think, to simply act as RUBBER STAMPS for staff?
This is potentially a gross outrage!

No it's not. Kennedy Street West allows me to illustrate.
Policy applies to decision-making.Not road building.
Before  the Region, the western end of Kennedy Street was not urban. It was in King  Township.
 There were few homes. It was a dead-end.  It was  a truly rural right of way. No pavement, sewers, water lines or street lighting.Certainly no sidewalks.I'm not even sure it had culverts for drainage. 
It was one of the first in the town proposed  for reconstruction in the seventies.
Residents fought furiously not to have the character of  their street changed.
I agreed with them but not for their reasons. I didn't see why I should help pay for amenities I didn't have.
I  believed  if they were to get all those  expensive improvements, they should  pay for them with a local improvement tax.
I  saw no virtue in foisting  expensive amenities  on people who didn't want them.
Of course there was a rational argument. I just didn't choose it as mine.
Dick Illingworth was  Mayor at the time. I heard someone had his photograph on a dart board that neighbours enjoyed  piercing with darts.
It was a bitter battle. The residents got what they wanted. 
It happens a lot.
Policies be damned.
In those days, the town didn't have an administration to speak of. We had a consultant engineer on retainer.
Decisions on road design  rested on engineering principles,  the judgment of  the elected and a public keenly aware of how taxes were being spent.
If I remember correctly, the province shared  costs of road-building at the time and provincial standards had to be met. 
But even some of those were twisted and turned to avoid running afoul of residents on a particular street.
People do have an influence on how Councillors vote. .
Nowadays, it's safer just to accept professional advice.Lots of people think that's how it should be.
Councillors  are continually  reminded  how little they know. How dependent they are on experts.
Our society is chock- a- block  with experts. Graduates with degrees that may or may not stand for something.
Public servants made redundant from successive amalgamations. 
They write books and articles, get  nominated for awards from associations they created  and offer workshops to teach the unwary newbie politician for fees paid  for by  municipalities.
There's always more money where that comes from.
Off the newly elected  go with due diligence and back they come full of wisdom and knowledge and "innovative' ideas.  
Fifty years ago, York County's solicitor,Doug Lucas was on retainer. One of the few in Canada, who specialized in municipal law.
There wasn't a living to be made in municipal law so few municipalities had the resources.
Not like today. 
When, Oh My God, expertise spills over  in abundance like Niagara Falls. 
It's  common sense that's in short supply.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Journey of Discovery

I am pleased to copy the message below. I think this program would be a great opportunity for families to  take a trip to the lake to the south of us and the one to the north.
 It wouldn't just be a visit to someplace different  It would be a trip to another time and another place when families didn't have  vehicles and a trip like that might be an annual event.
Toronto has many places to see and experience. Not least of them Harborfront and The Island, Kew Beach and Music Festivals galore. St Lawrence Market is a sight to behold.
Barrie has a great waterfront and many attractions. 
But the train ride alone is an adventure. Stopping as it does at various destinations would allow visits to places one might never visit except by  a day on the train.
It could be a summer of discovery.
August  5th , when the trips are free,would be the best day to discover what there is  to discover.

Dear Councillor Buck,
As you are likely aware, this summer GO Transit has been offering GO Train service along the Barrie line on a pilot basis. This is an effort to move GO further in the direction of serving a larger, non-commuter market, and offers new travel options to communities along the line that will support regional tourism and recreational travel.

Until September 3, GO will offer six return train trips every Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays along the Barrie line. All six return trips make all stops between Union Station and East Gwillimbury, and two of the six also serve Bradford, Barrie South and Allandale Waterfront stations. The remaining four trips include GO Bus connections between East Gwillimbury and points north to Barrie.

To promote this summer weekend service pilot, we will be offering free GO Train rides on the Barrie line on August 5. We would greatly appreciate any assistance you can provide in spreading the word to your constituents about the free day of service using whatever channels you feel are appropriate. A news release has been issued and can be found at: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1013993/free-go-train-rides-on-the-barrie-line-on-august-5. Further information for the public can be also found online at http://www.gotransit.com, specifically http://www.gotransit.com/public/en/updates/schedulechanges.aspx.

Metrolinx's Stakeholder Relations office is available as a first contact point for elected officials should you have any questions about Metrolinx (including GO Transit, PRESTO, the Air Rail Link, and its other projects and programs). Please don't hesitate to contact me about this or other matters in the future.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cyril Buck ..Febuary 29th 1924- July 20th 2012

.Cyril was born in Paddington ,London,U.K. on February 29th 1924 and died a long way from his birthplace, in Newmarket, Ontario, on Friday at 3. o'clock in the afternoon.
He lived eighty-eight years ,was married to Evelyn sixty-two years , had seven children, two daughters, five sons, seventeen grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and two more on the way at the time he took his leave. 
Art, Music and Theatre were the  passions of his life. He trod the boards in amateur theatre  in London,England before leaving  for Canada and soon after  arrival discovered  new opportunity with  Theatre Aurora.
Twenty  years of his retirement were happily and completely  engaged filling every conceivable role needed  to make the magic come alive/.
Sons, daughters, and grandchildren were recruited  to fill roles, places in the chorus or silently change sets before there were curtains for the stage. 
He introduced English Variety Theatre.
Christmas found him at Newmarket Town Hall Theatre, with the Queensville Players, staging  Pantomine, with a bunch of  Limeys like himself who could never let go their joy and love of slapstick comedy.
If he wasn't on stage playing an Ugly Sister, he was in the orchestra pit providing clicks, clacks, thumps  and rattity- tatts on drums, his secondary means of  augmenting  a living over the years.
Dozens of  full house audiences and hundreds of Canadian children,
including his  grandchildren, might never have had the opportunity to enjoy the entertainment the unique brand of British farce offers.
He worked with Terry Hallett, a talented Aurora Producer and Director, in Dinner Theatre in Toronto during the eighties. 

The tide recedes but leaves behind 
Bright seashells in the sand
The sun goes down but gentle warmth 
Still lingers on the land
The music stops and yet
It echoes on in sweet refrain,
For every joy that passes
Something beautiful remains.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The :Last Of The Mohicans

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "New Information": 
Back to basics. This all began when Evelyn asked about construction in her neighbourhood. The mayor said the new system would provide the answer if she asked the top guy. I assume she asked the question. Was it answered and, if not, what does the Mayor have to say about it ? If the system answered the question, we are wasting time here. Cut all the tech stuff. Back to basics. Was the construction explained?
I posed the possibility the new system might provide details of
the work order  which would  allow me to explain the nature of the problem and  the number of workers engaged, man hours employed,  separate pieces of equipment, cost per hour exactly to the penny how much the job cost to my observant neighbor.
The Mayor agreed  the system would provide the information. 
Indicating  he had the same understanding of implementation as myself. 
We were both mistaken it seems. .The software is not yet implemented.
I did not receive details of  cost of the  work order on my neighbour's property.
The situation led to inquiries in two  new directions. 
One, to determine from my neighbor, what  experience  led to the call to the works department.
Last Fall a subsidence was noticed in the vicinity of the water shut-off valve on the front lawn.
It was checked by the works dept and went  on a list of things to do
In  Spring, after several more calls, the works department came to attend to the problem in accordance with its place on the list 
A strip of lawn  about a meter wide and two long was carefully cut and rolled back.
An excavation  followed. A water  pipe was inadvertently ruptured and  had to be repaired. The excavation was filled,sod replaced . and a fresh crew brought in to water the grass. 
Information I received from the Director  revealed  the  project involved several crews with different expertise.It did not reveal the source  of the initial problem of lawn subsidence.
Lay person that I am, it has always been my understanding  if the ground subsides, whether it is  in a road or  a lawn in the vicinity of water infrastructure, the likely cause is a water break.
The unanswered question  is whether  a water break caused the lawn to subside in the Fall, which meant  a continuing water loss in that location over a period of months?
Or, less likely,  was the pipe broken at the time of the excavation  immediately  repaired and no water lost to speak of or record in
maintenance of assets and how the matter was handled.
My second question was  the status of the software program to record asset inventory and track maintenance.
At this  point I had still not caught on to the name, Maximo.
My first query was by e-mail  to the manager of the IT department. I received a response from the Director of FInance with  admonition not to ask questions of staff under the level of Director.  Attached was the e-mail from the IT Manager, accompanied by  my query and assurance to  the Chief Financial Officer  the manager had provided  no information. 
The  Director of Finance informed me of the  associated  Director in charge of  the program. He  added it  is not yet implemented. It is complex and  is to be done in two phases.
The Director in charge noted  a delay in the schedule caused by a production problem in Asia. 
I received a table.  I posted  it a couple of days ago, outlining 
the program, total  cost and the timetable. Total anticipated cost is $788,611. Software package approved for purchase in November 2011.   $38,000  was overlooked and added on in February.2012.
I received information from a source that the Region had purchased the same software.in 2004, eight years ago. and  after add ons and adpatations and staff changes were still  not receiving the benefits
From two regional staff I received two perspectives. One 
stated  the prorgam was finally  beginning to show some benefits.
Another, the manager dealing with the program was  more positive  but acknowledged there had to be  adaptations in nodules and staff  and licences required to use the system had gone from $56,000. to $100,000  a year because more employees were using the program.
That means,  additional staff, additonal adaptation costing more money, and additional cost of annual licencing , operating costs are, at least, a quarter of a million dollars more than anticipated.
After eight years, adaptations are unlikely to be reflected in the capital cost of the program. More likely to be hidden in annual cost of operation. 
I suspect, since the Mayor's expectation of  timetable was no different to my own, news about  time taken at  the region to get this  program under way  may not be a welcome surprise.
Nor  indeed should it have been a surprise at all. The Region's experience should certainly have been reflected in the advice received by Council. It was not. 
If  the program ever becomes  useful  at the local level, there will have been an election in town before it can be proven. 
That's the political reality. .   

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Moving Target

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "So I asked And GOt The Answer":

7:27 PM You say that Morris is going to be back in court on Tuesday. I don't understand why. Didn't the Judge throw her case out as being without foundations or something like that? Surely Aurora is not still paying her bills - have we ever been told categorically that the town is off the hook? Nasty feeling about all that stuff. An apology would not cut it this far along.

Ms,Morris is being sued for defendants' costs of that particular court action precipitated by herself at town expense while she held the Office of Mayor.
The town is not currently paying those bills. 
It remains to  be seen if the town is off the hook.
The town agreed to pay bills incurred until the new Council had the opportunity to cancel the legal agreement with the lawyer retained by Ms Morris.
At the moment ,the defendants are attempting to recover legal expense of having to defend themselves against spurious charges. 
I didn't hear what happened on Tuesday.
The complainant has proven to be a moving target.