Those pesky costs The Block forgot to mention

Hidden costsWho sends out your water bills? Collus-PowerStream. It’s all part of the shared services agreement. Yes, that simple little agreement that for 15 productive, cooperative years linked our water and electrical utilities with mutual resources. That same agreement The Block dismantled and handed over to the interim CAO two years ago to rewrite and update. A 30-minute job that still hasn’t been completed. And never will be.

Who takes the data from the meters, calculates the charges, prints and folds the bills, inserts them into envelopes and puts them through the postage meter? Collus-PowerStream.

Who handles the automatic payments, the credit card and debit card payments, cashes the cheques and takes payment in person? Collus-PowerStream.

Who applies the payment it to your account and calculates any credit or debit? Collus-PowerStream.

Who answers the customer calls, explains the bills, makes changes of address or ownership to bills, opens new accounts, closes inactive accounts? Collus-PowerStream.

Who chases delinquent accounts and who works with customers in difficult situations? Collus-PowerStream.

Who banks the money and pays the town their share? Collus-PowerStream.

Our share of the electrical utility is about to be sold – YOUR utility – even though you never got even one chance to voice any say in the matter. It was all done in secret, connived behind closed doors with lawyers and consultants without any public discussion. 

Who pays for the cost of billing and mailing once the deal is closed? YOU will. Oh dear, did the administration neglect to warn you about this?

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No, Brian: Elvis isn’t in the CBSP

SaundersonAt the Nov. 28 Council meeting (seen here on Rogers TV), Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson blathered on in cliché-rich, lawerly manner (starting 1:14:05) about how much the Elvis Festival means to his “Community-Based Strategic Plan” (1:16:18) – that committee-based wishlist which was neither strategic nor a plan.

What does he mean when he claims that a report has “galvanized the question quite nicely”? Galvanized? Does he know what that word means? It’s not what he appears to think it does… it means to “shock or excite (someone), typically into taking action.” A staff report is seldom shocking or exciting, and even if it were, a question doesn’t get galvanized, nor the report, but rather the reader does.

When he claims he wants the festival to be a “self-sustaining entity unto itself…” I simply cannot grasp what that tautology means. Can you? It sounds like something from the Department of Redundancy Department.

And no, Brian, it doesn’t “beg a larger question” – begging the question doesn’t mean to raise one. It means to make “…a conclusion based on a premise that lacks support.” To beg the question would be to assume, for example, that because Elvis drank water, the festival should be hosted on the waterfront. The word you want to use here is “raise.”

Is he “hardened by the fact” or heartened? Sure sounds like he says the former… maybe some folks at the table find staff reports of a more prurient nature than I ever did.

But where does this fit in with his vaunted yet curiously flaccid CBSP? In fact it fits nowhere.

Number of times Elvis is mentioned in the CBSP: NONE.

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Muzzling the airport board

spinelessThe Collingwood Airport Board wants to get its own legal opinion about the Clearview Aviation Business Park request for a non-binding letter of intent to negotiate access to the airport. Seems reasonable for the board charged with oversight of the airport to want to make sure that any decisions made best represent their mandate and the viability of the airport itself.

The Block and Collingwood’s administration are opposed to them getting one. Are they afraid of what that opinion would say? That it wouldn’t come from a lawyer already instructed as to what to say? That they couldn’t control the message as they have with Collus-PowerStream?

Or do they simply want – as all dictators do – to want to muzzle the opposition? As they did with Collus-PowerStream?

Probably both.

This cabal certainly appears eager to kill the economic growth at the airport – or at least threaten to do so in order to blackmail Clearview into buying the airport in order to save the jobs and tax revenue. Bully tactics.

For two years, against all common sense or concern for the greater good, Collingwood Council has obstinately done everything in its power to prevent a $300 million development – the largest rural Ontario has seen in many decades – from going forward.

All of their discussions about the airport and selling it have been done behind closed doors (despite the campaign promises made by Brian Saunderson and others to get public input on every major decision). It’s your airport, a public asset, and you have been shut out of not only hearing the discussions, but from having any say in its disposal.

A story in the Connection online this week tells reader just how intolerant this cabal is towards openness, and the lengths they will go to muzzle anyone who challenges their personal agendas. The town is stepping well outside its authority in its efforts to block the board.

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I used to like him; not so much now…

John SewellBack in the ’70s when he ran for mayor and we both lived in Toronto, I voted for John Sewell. And when he won, I was a big supporter of his human-scale policies and planning, and enjoyed his youthful vigour and vision. Now, not so much. Sure, he’s a smart, well-spoken, erudite man with a long list of credentials. But he’s also wrong. At least about one issue: our hospital.

Sewell and Collingwood resident Karina Dahlin (former Editor, executive communications, the Hospital for Sick Children, according to LinkedIn) wrote an opinion piece for TVO’s online magazine titled, “Health care gaps: Ontario forcing sprawl by putting hospitals at the periphery.” Sorry, but that’s nonsense.

Both writers are members of the local committee formed to fight the proposed move of the hospital from its near-central location to a new site on the periphery of town. Why Sewell – whose bio states he lives in Toronto – is so involved in Collingwood politics mystifies me.

Sewell was a darling of some former VOTE (Voters Opposed To Everything) members; years ago he was brought in to speak about several issues like planning and growth, mostly in support of their own notions (VOTE, as you know, killed the Admiral Collingwood development which would now be a stunning, income-generating anchor to the downtown had they not interfered).

I’ve written about the hospital in the past (here, here and here for example) – mostly about The Block’s (and the administration’s) ongoing war against the hospital, its development committee and its board. It is a battle between The Block’s idée fixe and the greater good of the community, between personal and public agendas.

While the article makes some good points, it’s not exactly an unbiased and objective look. And in part their argument is based on a faulty association: a big city and a small town. They write:

It is occurring so frequently that it appears to be ministry policy: don’t build a new hospital in the centre of town, only on the periphery. That’s what has happened in Owen Sound, St. Catharines, North Bay, Oakville, Peterborough, Barrie, Cobourg, and other communities.
And there are plans to do the same thing in Windsor, where the two large downtown hospitals are slated to be torn down and a new $2-billion facility built out beyond the city’s airport; in Collingwood, where the downtown hospital would be demolished and a new $400-million facility built among farmers’ fields, beyond what town council calls its “built boundary;” and in Bracebridge and Huntsville, where two hospitals would be demolished and a new one built literally halfway between the communities, in the bush.

We are relatively similar in size to Owen Sound and Coburg, but not to any of the others. Certainly what happens in Windsor or Oakville cannot be reasonably compared. The differences in land values in the core versus those in the outskirts are so much greater in cities that you cannot compare the economics in such communities. Plus they are single-tier municipalities and we are second-tier.

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Obstructionism killing 1,600+ jobs & growth

The Block's vision for our airportJust when you thought Collingwood Council couldn’t set the bar any lower, they go and move it down another notch. On Monday, Oct. 31, The Block had a chance to save face, rectify their blatant mismanagement of the Collingwood Regional Airport development and save the proposed, $300 million, 260-acre, industrial park that could bring 400 full-time and 1,300 part-time or temporary jobs to the area.

They didn’t. No surprises, of course.

Barry Burton, the deputy mayor of Clearview Township, made a presentation to our council, Monday*, reiterating his community’s commitment to the development and growth at the airport and asking Collingwood Council to please sign a non-binding letter of agreement for the development to access the airport. After all, what’s an airport industrial park without access to the runways?

After his presentation, council quickly sloughed off its responsibilities by requesting another staff report. This after numerous closed-door reports by lawyers and consultants and staff these past two years. Despite public presentations by the proponents again and again reiterating that all they want is a letter of intent to enter negotiations over access.

In Block terminology, a staff report, like “due diligence,” simply means procrastinate. Who ever thought councillors were elected to make an actual decision in public, when they can do it away from public scrutiny in camera? Better to request a staff report instead of actually deciding something.

You can watch the whole shebang on Rogers, with the deputation starting at 16:50. Prepare to be angry, insulted and fed up, if you aren’t already.

I wrote about the Block’s secret machinations to sell our airport without any public discussion let alone input back in November, 2015, December, 2015, and three times in January, 2016: January 2, January 3 and January 16. I recommend you read them for the background.

The Block seem eager to sabotage the biggest commercial development this region – or all of rural Ontario! – has seen since the 1960s, and in doing so kill the much-needed jobs it will bring. And it looks like they will succeed. There’s a very real chance the developers are about to give up and find another place to grow.

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Fulfilling a role? Who are you kidding?

Soviet propagandaThe bite of irony is in the air when a flimsy piece of blatant Block propaganda masquerading as an official media release is published by the town. It has the misleading headline, “Town fulfilling role in hospital redevelopment process,” but only delusional sycophants won’t read it as a Block screed.

When did town media releases shill for a group at the table, not represent the will of council as a whole? Did the mayor approve this dreck before it went out? I suspect not. *

It’s ironic that last term’s council was criticized by some of the very people who now sit on council now for releasing factual newsletters they decried as “propaganda” because these contained information that didn’t conform to a certain Block ideology. But this – this piece is so smarmy and disingenuous it’s embarrassing.

The town isn’t fulfilling any role – it’s simply an ideological tactic. The Block actively and aggressively tried (and is still trying) to prevent the hospital’s redevelopment on a new site. I’ve written about their efforts to derail the hospital several times in the past.

The piece quotes deputy mayor Brian Saunderson. Since when was he the spokesperson for the town? Why is he quoted at all except for self-aggrandizement? Oh I know, The Block doesn’t give a fig for policy, protocol or process, but this is arrogant beyond even that.

Here’s what he says:

Council has been given a mandate by the public through the Community Based Strategic Plan to support improved access to health care within Collingwood and we intend to continue to advocate on behalf of our residents to fulfill this goal.

Let’s start with the mandate. NO: paperwork doesn’t give council a mandate. A mandate is given by the voters but not some flaccid “Community Based Strategic Plan” that was neither strategic nor a plan. And it was a committee of The Block’s friends who cobbled this dog’s breakfast together under the guidance of an outsider consultant – not the public at large. That report was not a mandate – it was a wishlist and a poorly contrived one at that.

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Promises, promises, promises – all broken

AccountabilityTwo years ago, in a series in the Collingwood Connection on the eve of the last election, 2014, all candidates were asked to make statements about certain issues. I thought it would be good to examine a few of their promises and see how well they have progressed. Whether they have actually kept those promises. Here is what they said about the topic of accountability and to measure their performance to date.

First, just what is accountability? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing says, “Accountability as a general principle that governments (including municipalities) are answerable to the public and responsible for their actions, decisions and policies.”

Answerable and responsible. But do we have actual accountability here in Collingwood? Or, as Saqib Quershi, writing in the Huffington Post, called it, merely “an accountability façade”? He wrote:

Accountability is a two-way process. Ontario’s public sector often suffers from the sort of accountability… where a public servant is a euphemism for a public master, in charge and unaccountable. We have a cultural accountability problem…

Yes, indeed we do. Ian Lee, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, back in 2008 gave us words that should be carved above every council table in large letters:

Legitimacy is earned through accountability. Accountability is produced through transparency.

Here’s an example of one candidates’ promises:

Ensure all major decisions seek out community input, and ensure there is rigorous staff research and due diligence before any decision is made.

That promise was made by the current Deputy Mayor, Brian Saunderson (although how exactly a decision seeks input wasn’t made clear). And “due diligence” appears from the hospital redevelopment debacle to simply mean delaying tactics.

All of the candidates made similar promises. The Most Secretive Council Ever doesn’t even give lip service to community input. That pretty much sums up The Block’s position on accountability.

But you never really expected these folks to actually KEEP those promises, did you? Neither did I. Keeping promises requires a deep sense of ethics, a strong moral compass and a belief that the community is more important than your own entitlements. And to put personal agendas and vendettas aside for the public good.

Okay, stop snickering. We all know how this has turned out. Let’s examine the promises of those who were elected, shall we? As you read this, ask yourself do the candidates address how they will personally assume responsibility? Do they discuss accountability or process? And do they say how they and their actions will be accessible to the public to measure their accountability? First, The Block.
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13 Ways to Kill Collingwood

13 Ways to Kill Your CommunityI found it! I stumbled across the secret manifesto The Block is using to destroy Collingwood. It’s in a book called “13 Ways to Kill Your Community” (Frontenac House, 2010) by Doug Griffiths and Kelley Clemmer. And pretty much everything in it outlines The Block’s not-so-secret plan to turn this community into rubbish.

I know, you’re going to object, “But Ian, you know The Block doesn’t read! How can something as big as a book be their secret manifesto when they won’t even read Municipal World or their own budget?”

Because, dear reader, the book was written in 2010, before they came to power. No doubt their handlers reduced its contents to simple sentences and one-syllable words, then wrote them out in crayon for The Block to digest before the 2014 election campaign. Trust me: once you see what’s in it, you will realize this is the path The Block have followed since they were elected.

Here for example, is the list of chapter headings:

  1. Don’t have quality water.
  2. Don’t attract business.
  3. Ignore your youth.
  4. Deceive yourself about your real needs or values.
  5. Shop elsewhere.
  6. Don’t paint.
  7. Don’t cooperate.
  8. Live in the past.
  9. Ignore your seniors.
  10. Reject everything new.
  11. Ignore outsiders.
  12. Become complacent.
  13. Don’t take responsibility.

See? This list precisely lays out what The Block have been doing since the election. And I’ll get to each in detail, a bit further along. Call it the Thirteen Commandments of The Block.

Of course you will also object, “But Ian, this list doesn’t cover The Block’s destruction of Collus PowerStream, the airport industrial development, or their sabotage of the hospital redevelopment. It doesn’t mention The Block’s secrecy, their sense of entitlement, or raising our taxes needlessly.”

And that’s sort of true, but contained in those chapters is the seed for all these activities. Plus, as the authors note, their list isn’t comprehensive. There are other ways to destroy your community, and – trust me – The Block is very ingenious in its efforts to turn everything they touch toxic. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

And it was all laid out for them in this book!

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Sabotaging the hospital (again)

Derailing the processLast night at council, The Borg Block again took another step towards sabotaging the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital’s redevelopment plans. Not unexpected: destroying the community is a key plank in their platform, as we’ve seen by their actions against the airport, water utility and Collus PowerStream.

Plus, they need to pander to their ever-dwindling group of supporters who want to stop the redevelopment on a site they don’t like (but which 84% of medical staff do). That handful of venomous folk – which includes some former politicians and former VOTE members – hold sway over The Block and thus town practices and policies.

Cast your thoughts back to the election campaign of 2014. Remember these words:

Change the purchasing policy to ensure there can be no sole sourcing of any contract for goods or services over $25,000, no exceptions.

No exceptions, eh? That’s a promise to voters Brian Saunderson made in an interview in the Collingwood Connection in October, 2014. No exceptions. He really said that.

He’s now the Deputy Mayor. This week he broke that promise for the second time: he voted to sole-source a $30,000 contract to an out-of-town consultant.

This first time he broke his word was in February, 2015: council provided a five-year contract for taxi service to Councillor Fryer’s brother-in-law without following any RFP process.

Are you surprised that he broke his election promises? Neither am I. Stop snickering.

$30,000 of YOUR money will be wasted on consultants performing a “peer review” of the hospital’s redevelopment plans. Ironic, since The Block has a well-deserved reputation of not reading anything, and instead just voting however the administration tells them to vote. Reading is too hard. It means thinking and thinking is work. Better to have someone else do it for you.

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Collingwood is being investigated by OEB

Rasputin?Collingwood Council and town administration are in trouble. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is investigating them and their recent activities with regards to Collus-PowerStream and its board of directors. This is not good news for those at the table or those behind the scenes who guided their hands.

A letter was unexpectedly added to the agenda for the Wednesday, Sept. 21 Strategic Initiatives standing committee from the OEB. It reads in part:

…the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is commencing an inspection under the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (Act) to review Collus (PowerStream Corp.’s (Collus) compliance with the Affiliate Relationships Code for Electricity Distributors and Transmitters (ARC).
The OEB was recently made aware of changes made in the composition of the Board of Directors of Callus, and through this inspection will review whether Collus is in compliance with section 2.1.2 of the ARC. That section requires that at least one-third of the Board of Directors of a licensed electricity distributor be independent of any affiliate.
We plan to commence this inspection with a meeting at your offices in Collingwood.
During that meeting, you should be prepared to provide information about the current members of the Collus Board of Directors. This includes, for each member, the date of their appointment, the term of their appointment, their relationship to any entity that is an affiliate of Collus and their qualifications, as well as any other details that may be relevant to our inspection.

But that letter wasn’t sent to the town. It was sent to Collus-PowerStream. The meeting will be at the Collus offices, not town hall, with Collus staff, not the interim CAO. So the utility has the opportunity to finally tell its side of the story without interference from town administration or their pet consultants and lawyers. The prevarications and disinformation about Collus presented to council and the public in the past will be exposed.

This is serious. The OEB is heavy artillery in the energy sector. They aren’t those little one-and two-person consultants or chequebook lawyers the administration has hired to fudge the facts and justify The Block’s destruction of our utility. The truth will come out at last.

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Hospital destruction avoided… for now

Sorry he got caughtCongratulations. Your efforts worked. After getting severe backlash from the community and even from their (former) supporters, The Block was chastised enough to recant their stubborn foolishness long enough to approve the hospital redevelopment after their previous debacle caused such an uproar.

That earlier motion blindsided council, the mayor and the hospital board: they had not shared with others before it was read aloud. A blatant show of partisanship and petty personal agendas over the greater good

The Block always plays to its supporters, no matter how drastically that group has shrunk over the past two years. And that little group was in the audience for that first motion to make sure their pet politicians followed the script. Which, of course, Blockheads did.

Still, with the threat of the hospital moving out of town directly because of their actions – or worse, not happening at all! – The Block was pressured by saner heads to back down. They folded like an origami frog and accepted the conciliatory motion at the Sept. 12 council meeting, which read:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Council of the Corporation of the Town of Collingwood herein support the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Board Trustees’ decision to submit its Stage 1A Master Program and Stage 1B Master Plan on September 30, 2016 to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, which includes both their preferred site and other viable options;
AND FURTHER THAT Collingwood Council is committed to ensuring a future with excellent healthcare for the region, which also includes the Township of Clearview, Town of The Blue Mountains and the Town of Wasaga Beach.

Nice, safe, supportive motion with a little wiggle room. Let the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care know we support our hospital and we want it to stay in Collingwood. Now, just quietly shove the former motion into the shredder.

But it was a near run thing. With this group of a half-dozen Dennis The Menaces in control, it almost didn’t come to be.

Continue reading “Hospital destruction avoided… for now”

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The News: A User’s Manual

The NewsAlain de Botton attempts in his small book to give us a guide, to provide some larger, meaningful context, to the news we get 24/7 these days. I don’t think he succeeds very well. In part it’s because he sees news as something grandiose, world-moving, world-shaking. I’m more familiar with the local aspect; a much smaller scale. It may not appear to have the majestic sweep of international news, but it isn’t any less relevant.

We are focused, collectively, on the US presidential campaigns and the interpersonal battles between Trump and Clinton. It’s a great drama of Homeric or Shakespearean proportion (albeit comical). But are they really any more important to us than, say, the confrontation between members of our own council – Deputy Mayor Saunderson, Councillors Doherty and Jeffrey in particular – and the local hospital board?

A local issue may seem small in comparison, but it certainly has more impact on our daily lives here. And the personalities and their comments are no less colourful.

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Their secret emails, redacted

More secrecy at councilA Freedom of Information (FOI) request I recently filed shows just how devious and secretive some of our council and administration are. You can read the entire series here. The cover letter is here (it is instructive…).

In late July, Council approved sending out a request for proposals (RFP) to sell our share in our publicly-owned electrical utility (without any public consultation or input, of course). On July 25, the clerk – on behalf of the interim CAO – sent an email to council members asking for input (with, of course, no public discussion or input allowed):

Further to the direction provided to Mark Rodger with respect to his exploration of our potential share sale, John Brown would like to invite any member of Council to think about other items you may wish considered in a share bid (besides price). If you have items please send an email to John or set up a meeting to discuss.
Other items could include retaining a local presence, commitment to customer service, treatment of existing employees, etc…

I can find no directive from council made in a public session to get this information: it appears to have been dreamt up solely by the administration. The tail wags the dog.

This, of course, should have been discussed in public so residents could hear what their elected representatives believed was expected from a sale that no one in the public has so far been allowed to comment on or question. But that’s not the style of The Most Secretive Council Ever. Instead, they determine policy about a public asset in secret through emails rather than open, honest discussion at the table.

Illegal, immoral and unethical. But not surprising from The Block. As I expected, some of the emails were redacted to the point of being useless (thus cleverly avoiding public scrutiny and criticism):

Access Decision: Records No. 1-5 and No. 10-13 will be released to you in full. Records No. 6-9 will be released to you in part as per the exemptions listed on the Index form provided. These records remain confidential at this time and under the review of the Town’s solicitor. In addition, should this preliminary information be released it could potentially affect the economic interests of the Town as it relates to the potential share sale of our hydro utility.

The “economic interests” of the town? The RFP has already gone out. revealing the comments would not affect the wording since it’s already gone out, and anyway, the OEB will make the final decision about any deal.

Consider what damage The Block has already done to our town’s economic interests: trying to subvert the hospital redevelopment, holding up the airport industrial park, spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on outsiders for reports and legal advice solely to pursue vendettas and private agendas, ruining our relationships with municipal neighbours, with local developers, destroying the morale of our water and electrical utilities, jobs lost… everything they have touched this term has been a toxic disaster. They have turned our town into Chernobylwood…

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Can the mayor fire the interim CAO?

FiredDoes the mayor have the authority to fire someone by herself? The interim CAO, for example? It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot of late by residents.

I think so, but it’s not clear to me in the Municipal Act. She is, after all, legally both the head of council and the chief executive officer, and while related, these two roles can be interpreted differently.

The mayor doesn’t have any more political power than any other member of council (e.g. she gets one vote). But we are the Corporation of the Town of Collingwood and as such shouldn’t our officers – our legal CEO – have the ability to act like their private sector counterparts? Shouldn’t she have more management power and authority, like a CEO?

CEOs in the private sector have such abilities, so why not in the public sector? It seems reasonable to assume that the legislation grants her powers usually ascribed to that corporate title, but she’d need a real legal opinion before doing anything arbitrary.

Under the Municipal Act, section 225, the role of the mayor as head of council is as follows:

225. It is the role of the head of council, (emphasis added below)

  1. to act as chief executive officer of the municipality;
  2. to preside over council meetings so that its business can be carried out efficiently and effectively;
  3. to provide leadership to the council;
    (c.1) without limiting clause (c), to provide information and recommendations to the council with respect to the role of council described in clauses 224 (d) and (d.1);
  4. to represent the municipality at official functions; and
  5. to carry out the duties of the head of council under this or any other Act. 2001, c. 25, s. 225; 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 100.

Then under section 226, it adds:

Head of council as chief executive officer
226.1 As chief executive officer of a municipality, the head of council shall,

  1. uphold and promote the purposes of the municipality;
  2. promote public involvement in the municipality’s activities;
  3. act as the representative of the municipality both within and outside the municipality, and promote the municipality locally, nationally and internationally; and
  4. participate in and foster activities that enhance the economic, social and environmental well-being of the municipality and its residents. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 101.Head of council as chief executive officer.

But a CEO is much more than that in pretty much every other place the title is used. And while fine-sounding, words like uphold, promote, foster and so on are not defined. Isn’t firing someone you believe may be harming the economic, or social well-being of the municipality an activity that upholds and fosters the purposes of the municipality?
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The Wasaga Beach G&M Hospital

How the committee must have felt
You’d think supporting your local hospital’s redevelopment was a no-brainer for municipal politicians. And since ‘no-brainer’ has been the exemplary style of Collingwood Council this term, they should go hand-in-glove. But apparently for The Block, ‘no-brainer’ means merely thoughtless focus on personal agendas, not the community’s well-being or future. That’s not news, of course; just signs that another disaster is brewing.

The Wasaga Beach General and Marine Hospital. Like that name? Get used to it. That is likely what this council’s actions are going to result in. And Wasaga Beach council is as firmly behind making it happen as our own appears to be.

Hospitals are really outside municipal jurisdiction, and local politicians have little to no say in them aside from the generic issues of zoning, parking and planning. A redeveloped hospital that stays in our municipality is good news, given that the competition wants to move it outside our borders. And look: it’s been offered free land. Sure looks like a good news story.

To everyone, that is, but The Block.

A story in this week’s Connection, Collingwood council supports hospital redevelopment, raises concerns about proposed site, tells us that council chose a mean-spirited, delaying approach to erect road blocks, instead of wholehearted support.*

Oddly, the online headline (above) contradicts the print version, which reads (more accurately), “Council challenges preferred hospital site.” Not entirely accurately, since it really should read “The Block challenges preferred site.”

In fact, it’s been suggested to me that some of The Block are actually actively working behind the scenes against the move. They, along with members of the town’s administration, want to keep the hospital tied to its current location and will do everything in their power to keep it there. I suppose they’d prefer to see it move out of town before it moves within the town.

And, of course, they’re doing most of it in secret, away from public scrutiny. On August 8, council discussed the hospital redevelopment in camera. Unless I misread the Municipal Act, that’s illegal. It certainly is immoral and unethical to determine policy about a public institution (and one we don’t own) behind closed doors so the public can’t hear what their elected representatives say. But ethical considerations have never disturbed the machinations of The Block.

Ah, did you really expect openness and transparency from The Most Secretive Council Ever? Me either.

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