Hamlin’s Letter-Writing Debacle, Part Two

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Queen Hamlin steps on the hospital. Again.Collingwood’s mayor’s arrogant refusal to cooperate and collaborate with our regional neighbours to support the long-overdue redevelopment of the General and Marine Hospital continues to make local news and infuriate residents. While her autocratic behaviour in refusing to sign the letter of support backed by all other neighbouring municipalities throws egg all over her, it also blackens the reputation of the town. But does the feckless Hamlin care? Not a whit. Let them eat cake!

The original letter as signed by five other local mayors says the redevelopment at the proposed new site has “garnered overwhelming support from Collingwood, Clearview, Wasaga Beach, Town of Blue Mountains, Grey Highlands and other municipalities across both Simcoe and Grey Counties.” Well, support from almost all of Collingwood except for our mayor and four of her bobblehead councillors (Ring, Baines, Doherty, and Perry); all of them clearly still pursuing Saunderson’s rabid anti-redevelopment agenda.*

Just before leaving on vacation this week, on her Facebook and Instagram accounts (she hasn’t posted on her Xitter account since late August, 2023) Hamlin sniffily posted a flaccid, self-aggrandizing attempt to justify her refusal to sign. It just sunk her deeper into the mire by flipping the bird at years of effort and expense by dozens of volunteers and hospital staff to get the redevelopment on that particular site. She said “I” six times in her short post and didn’t mention any other person or council member. Me! ME! ME! She wrote:

I reject efforts to link our hospital funding with a developer’s private project, as proposed by the draft letter circulated to and voted down by our Council last Monday. This private development is an MZO that is on the Province’s “watch list” and its approval could be revoked. A new hospital is too important to our community to risk it on the success of an unrelated private project.

No, it was voted down by yourself and four fellow traveller Saundersonites; a slim majority, not the whole council. Before she had to face embarrassing questions, she squirrelled away out of touch while residents fumed at her words. However, the town CAO said in public something that makes Hamlin look like she never read the agreement the town already has signed with the property owner:

The agreement with the developer will lock in up to 30 acres for the hospital. Should someone else purchase the property … the (agreement) guarantees the provision for a future hospital.

So Hamlin’s comments appear, to be brusque, self-serving bullshit. But wait… let’s go back to December 12, 2023, when the town published a media release titled: DI POCE MANAGEMENT LIMITED AND TOWN OF COLLINGWOOD EXECUTE FINAL DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT.** It opens with this (emphasis added):

Di Poce Management Limited (DPML) and the Town of Collingwood are announcing the execution of a development agreement between both parties, marking a pivotal milestone toward creating Canada’s first-ever fully integrated regional health and wellness village. The Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village includes up to 30 acres of land that Mr. John Di Poce, owner of the lands, has committed to donate as a community benefit for a new state-of-the-art regional hospital campus for Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH). The hospital redevelopment scope and location are pending Provincial approval.

In that release, Hamlin herself is quoted saying:

This collaboration is a testament to Collingwood’s commitment to vibrant communities and holistic well-being. Together we’re forging a path towards a healthier future for Collingwood and our neighboring municipalities.

Hmmm. Doesn’t that make her recent comments rather hypocritical?

Even before she took office, Hamlin vowed to overturn the Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) the previous council had only recently approved. That MZO would allow the project and the hospital redevelopment to go ahead without slogging through the usual, glacial municipal approval process. Her attempt to disrupt the process and set the hospital back like Saunderson did was short-circuited when council was told the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing had approved the MZO before she could negate it. Boo hoo.

In Dec. 2022, clearly smarting from the MMAH’s preemptive strike, she sniffed to CollingwoodToday:

The developer has said they want to negotiate agreements, so I guess we’ll see.

“We’ll see.” Nothing positive, nothing collaborative, nothing to suggest working together for the greater good, nothing about council and the developer working toward a common goal. ME! ME! ME!

Meanwhile, Max Reim, CEO of Live Work Learn Play Inc. expressed more community-minded sentiments: “Working collaboratively with Collingwood General & Marine Hospital, the town and the community, we hope to undertake detailed design and development work for the project, begin the planning process, and continue to engage with the community along the way.” Ah, if only our mayor cared as much about Collingwood as that!

Amusingly, she also told CollingwoodToday back in 2022 that “an open and transparent fashion… is going to be the hallmark of how I govern this town.” Yet when the recent mayors’ letter supporting redevelopment came to council, she scuttled behind closed doors to discuss it. Have I mentioned her hypocrisy yet?

Hamlin’s own letter to Sylvia Jones, Minister of Health and Longterm Care, sent on Feb. 8, 2024, does not mention the preferred site on Polar Sideroad. Rather tellingly, Hamlin did not send a copy of her letter to her role model in petty autocracy and now our MPP, Brian Saunderson. Nor, it appears, did she get council approval for sending it. It wasn’t even made public until it appeared abruptly on the March 4 agenda, almost a month later (so much for openness and transparency). It raises the question: why was publication delayed for so long? If it hadn’t been for the five mayors’ letter, would she have even revealed it? Hamlin wrote in her letter:

I was thrilled to hear Premier Ford announce funding support for the hospital at the recent ROMA conference and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with your office to discuss how to move this important and long-overdue project forward as soon as possible.

You have to wonder if any other members of council accompanied Hamlin to that ROMA conference because she never mentions them. But then, why should she include any of the lesser creatures who might detract from her glory? L’Etat c’est moi

CollingwoodToday, surprisingly engaged in one of their extremely rare acts of real journalism, debunked her, writing (emphasis added):

Hamlin’s weekend post notes funding announced in January by Premier Doug Ford for the Collingwood hospital, but CollingwoodToday could find no new funding announcement from the province for the Collingwood hospital redevelopment project since August, 2021
The entirety of Ford’s statement on hospitals made during that speech says: “We’re also making historic investments in health care, bringing convenient care closer to home for rural communities,” he said in his address. “Over 10 years we’re providing almost $50 billion for over 50 new hospital projects, including projects outside major cities, like in Bracebridge, Huntsville, Collingwood, West Lincoln and Picton to name just a few.”

It has long proven calamitous to trust anything Ford says at face value since he’s about as trustworthy as opening a box of scorpions, hornets, and vipers that has been shaken. And to reinforce the disingenuous nature of his remarks, the Weasel Sycophant Saunderson, who has a long and nasty record of blocking the hospital redevelopment on the preferred site** responded by throwing cold water not only on Hamlin but on the hopes of the hospital for any immediate funding (emphasis added):

…MPP Brian Saunderson said Ford’s speech at the ROMA Conference was not intended to be an announcement on hospital funding.
“The premier’s comments were not a commitment. That would be for the minister of health, and would be done in consultation with the hospital as the applicant,” Saunderson explained. “What the premier was saying was community hospitals, like Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, are moving forward in their redevelopment.”
“His comments were in support of a commitment that the money was there, but it was not an approval,” he said.

The Supreme Weasel disciplines the mayorSo the ruler of the party and premier of the whole fucking province can’t commit to anything when he stands in front of the microphone and makes promises: only lower-ranked ministers can? All those announcements Ford made about Ontario Place, healthcare, the Greenbelt, Highway 413… they weren’t commitments?

Weasel words from a master at vapid bloviation, but surely chilling for the mayor to read from her mentor in arrogance. Was this the “how dare you not consult me first!” payback for not sharing her letter with him?

“The money was there” — but, apparently, it is not in contact with the physical plane where it might be needed. Spirit money, I suppose. Your cheque is in the mail money. And given Saunderson’s unimpressive history on council, “moving forward” can easily be read as “moving backwards” or “going nowhere.” After all, aside from pursuing his personal vendetta at a cost of well over $10 million to taxpayers, what did he achieve for the good of the community? Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Dan Skelton, President and COO of Blue Mountain Resorts wrote a letter of support for the redevelopment to the Town of the Blue Mountains this month, expressing support for the redevelopment, and asking council to “carefully consider” the hospital’s redevelopment plans. Would that we had a similar sentiment from our own mayor.

Hamlin’s own, self-serving letter to Minister Jones doesn’t mention anyone on our council, doesn’t mention the people who helped put together the plans and proposals for redevelopment, doesn’t mention the hospital’s executives, doesn’t mention the community’s support for the new site. However, it does use the word “I” six times. As usual for her, it’s not about community or Collingwood: it’s all about ME! ME! ME! She also asks for the opportunity to meet with the Minister but doesn’t suggest bringing along anyone else from council, staff, or the hospital.

Down south in Clearview Township, Mayor Measures — who initiated the letter: clearly a far more community- and regionally-minded mayor than ours — was not reluctant to voice his opinion about Hamlin’s self-serving codswallop. He called Hamlin’s statement ‘”misleading” (I suspect the technical term he was searching for is “bullshit”) and added,

It is critical that the Collingwood hospital build be linked with the Poplar Regional Health and Wellness Village. It makes it a unique project in the eyes of the province. It puts it in favour of being accepted as a new design for future hospitals.

But, as CollingwoodToday reported:

According to the province at that time, the Poplar MZO was being reconsidered due to a “lack of downstream implementation and lack of water or wastewater servicing.”

So the self-made water crisis in Collingwood, created by the failures, oversights, ignorance, stupidity, and follies of two previous councils — on which Saunderson was Deputy Mayor then Mayor and Hamlin served on the latter of the two — may throw a spanner into the hospital’s redevelopment. Nice work, Blockheads. And a water plant that we had planned to start building in 2015 at little cost to the local taxpayer has ballooned to almost $300 million thanks to your failure to do the job you were elected to do, and may also cost us the new hospital we desperately need.****

The hospital’s redevelopment is crucial to the well-being and sustainability of our local municipalities, but Mayor Hamlin seems, like the despised Mayor Saunderson before her, more open to finding roadblocks than solutions, more eager to stand on ego than cooperation, more apt to crow about herself than to include the efforts of others.

Collingwood deserves better.

Notes:

To their credit, Deputy Mayor Tim Fryer, Couns. Houston, Jeffery, and Potts voted to sign the letter. To their discredit, none seem to have offered to sign it themselves or to fight for consistent and collaborative region-wide support. Spines: they seem in short supply in our council these days. Methinks Jeffrey’s opposition signals she is building up to run for mayor herself, next election.

* My sources say that a draft copy of the letter was circulated to all the regional mayors asking if they would sign it, and if they had any changes to suggest, long before it was sent. Hamlin, allegedly, initially agreed to sign it, but then sent off her own letter first, without mentioning it.

** Yes, the incorrect and puerile capitalization is from the original; this abuse of capitalization disgraces all the town’s media releases. Apparently, no one in town hall has ever considered referring to a formal style or usage guide about how to write headlines, and instead, they continue to scream at readers with all-caps. I suspect no one in town hall even knows that such guides exist. Or care. I could suggest several, but they never ask. Maybe they need a communications director to avoid such gaffes.

*** Rumours about why he fought the proposed redevelopment on Polar Sideroad so hard have long circulated in the town’s gossip mill. What vested interest might he have in seeing the hospital re-develop on the current — and highly inappropriate — site? Would land title registry searches provide any answers?

**** Engineers who examined the documents and the water plant disagreed with council’s Chicken-Little-sky-is-falling assessment that led to the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) passed by the Saundersonites that killed development, growth, jobs, and much of the local economy. Maybe there was no “water crisis” except in their tiny, conspiracy-addled minds. But now their action (and inaction) threatens the hospital’s plans.
Remember that in June 2015, Brian Saunderson and his minions fired the entire Collingwood Public Utility Service Board (CPUSB) that oversaw our water utility — killing the already approved plan to rebuild the water plant — and replaced the professional, experienced, and competent board members with Saunderson and four of his council minions.
Why put a group of inexperienced amateurs who disliked reading and thinking into positions where the slightest mistake could be tragic for the town? Unless, of course, you want to sabotage something else…

Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson, Coun. Kathy Jeffery, Coun. Deb Doherty, Coun. Cam Ecclestone and Coun. Bob Madigan voted in favour of dissolving the CPUSB and bringing water and wastewater under town management while Coun. Mike Edwards, Coun. Kevin Lloyd and Mayor Sandra Cooper voted against the resolution.

Words: 2,358

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4 Comments

  1. https://www.collingwoodtoday.ca/letters-to-the-editor/letter-important-to-stay-united-say-hospital-board-chair-and-president-8416275
    Too bad Hamlin isn’t interested in working together for common goals and the best interests of our region:

    It is important that we all stay united on the big picture here – designing and building a new modern hospital to meet the healthcare needs of our communities, now, and into the future. The South Georgian Bay region is in desperate need of a new hospital and CGMH is dedicated to making this happen. Let’s work together to get that done.
    Barry Goodwin and Mike Lacroix & CGMH board chair and president/CEO

  2. Pingback: Mayor Meets Premier: We Have Questions – Scripturient

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