Developers Bite Back at ICBL

‘The town created its own emergency’: Collingwood developer says project on hold due to water capacity issues. So reads the headline on a story on Simcoe.com. I laughed and laughed at the risible hypocrisy when I read this line in it:

“Addressing the water treatment plant expansion and the water capacity issue is one of the town’s highest priorities,” said Mayor Brian Saunderson. “The town is aggressively pursuing remedies to address the water capacity issue.”

Shooting themselves in the footThe water capacity “crisis” is a self-made debacle created and maintained by the current council. The majority of them knew it was coming back in 2015! They knew then that the pipeline contract with New Tecumseth was going to end in May, 2020. They have been informed about the issues, the need for a plant upgrade, the need for negotiations with the municipalities that received our water and they’ve been told it over and over for the past SIX years. They’ve been given staff reports and PowerPoint presentations about it. And they did NOTHING about it in all that time. In fact, they allowed the negotiations with New Tec and Bradford to collapse in 2015 on the verge of an agreement, when Bradford would have paid for the plant upgrade, and they sat on their hands ever since.

That’s how much of a “priority” it has been for our council. But suddenly it’s a sky-is-falling crisis! Our Chicken-Little council boldly blundered into action to pass a job-and-business-killing interim control bylaw (ICBL) instead of doing what they were elected to do (but have ignored) for the past six years: manage the town’s affairs properly and efficiently.

I challenge you to think of ONE significant thing this council has done for the betterment of this town this term. Have they helped local businesses and workers financially during the pandemic lockdowns? Have they fixed our crumbling streets and decaying sidewalks? Have they done anything about street and pedestrian safety? Have they done anything with the waterfront? Restored the terminals? Or just spent millions of your tax dollars on a personal vendetta? 

Predictably, when the water capacity “suddenly” became a problem (because they ignored it for so long), they didn’t even have the common sense much less the courtesy to engage the other municipalities or the local developers to see if any solutions could be worked out.

Did the mayor’s office contact Zenon and ask if they could erect one of its portable water filtration plants until a new plant is built? Or contact any of the world’s water-treatment producers to ask if they could help or advise? Methinks not, because our council is neither solution-minded nor creative. That might have solved the problem while a new plant was being built, or at least provided some alternatives to the job-and-revenue-killing ICBL.

Instead, they acted unilaterally and impetuously. Knee-jerk reactions are NOT the sign of good governance. As developer Tom Vincent is quoted as saying:

Having known about this water capacity situation for years, it was unbelievable that council had to pass this bylaw immediately, without any public consultation… So the town created its own emergency that created the current crisis, and felt the only solution was to limit development in our area for a year.

Our council has been so myopically focussed on promoting its $10 million Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (aka the SVJI) that they dropped the ball on this and everything important, relevant, and essential to the town’s wellbeing. And since council is in such slavish thrall to the mayor, they continue to lavish public money on the SVJI despite the public’s utter lack of interest in it.

Yet our own mayor has been so engaged in his own job-hunting campaign to get free of his mayoral responsibilities and take a better-paying job in Toronto that even his usual flaccid leadership has been missing. He hopes to wave the rest of council goodbye before his term is up, leaving them to deal with his mess. And they’re too gulled to see that.

Collingwood deserves better.

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