Collingwood’s reputation is in tatters. But you wouldn’t know that from the local media coverage. A story in the Stayner Sun this week illustrates just how bad it has become. It should have been front page in this week’s Connection:
Clearview Township mayor chastises neighbouring Collingwood for airport decision
In the story, Clearview’s mayor and deputy mayor rebuke Collingwood – our council and administrative staff – as being anti-business, anti-growth and simply being bad neighbours.
Well-deserved criticisms if you’ve been following the airport debacle. Or the Block 9 debacle and its fallout. Or the anti-business-tax-hike-to-cover-council’s-pay-raise debacle. Or the anti-business assault on signs. Or the sneak-one-past-them anti-worker attempt to force holiday openings without public input.
Although much of this mess stems from irresponsible and confrontational initiatives that originate in the top administrative staff, Council shares the guilt by being mindless bobbleheads nodding in approval of whatever staff demand.
Collingwood’s reputation took a beating last term. A group of residents became angry at not getting their Y-controlled ‘Taj Mahal’ rec centre (and the jobs and commissions that allegedly came with that). They took to attacking council and staff through social media and street protests. They used a campaign of unfounded and unproven allegations, gossip, innuendo and sometimes outright lies to promote their private agenda.
Some even complained to the police. The result of which was… nothing. The police investigated, but since no one did anything wrong, and it was clearly just dirty politics from the start, they quietly let it slide.
And some of those protesters and naysayers got elected to council this term on that bandwagon.
But in the process of attacking those whose decisions they didn’t agree with, these people also hurt the town’s image and standing. We lost funding, we lost respect from higher tiers of government. Our reputation plummeted.
This council hasn’t done anything to improve it. In fact, they have managed to make it worse. Much worse. And in just a year.
Our relationship with our neighbouring municipalities is at an all-time low. Our relationship with Powerstream, our partner and one of the largest and most respected hydro authorities in the province, is toxic (so bad, in fact, I’m surprised they haven’t sued the town). The relationship between the town and its own utility and water employees is bad, and with those of our own utility, Collus, is even worse. Our relationship with the rest of the airport services board is barely better than spitting at one another and both municipalities are likely to pull out of the arrangement next year (not least over Councillor Edward – the chair of the airport services board – siding with staff against the board in a vote at the council table). Several of the yacht club members hate us. So do many in the Curling Club. Developers think we’re asinine and obstructive. There’s an acerbic rift between town administration and some town staff, whose moral is rock bottom. And we’re a regional laughing stock for firing our integrity commissioner for doing his job too well with this council.
The story about Clearview council merely underscores how bad things have become. So bad that the mayor and deputy mayor of our neighbour make public comment on it. But they’re just saying aloud what many of us know already: our reputation is in ruins.
I suppose it would have taken more journalistic integrity and courage to print it in the Collingwood paper than the paper could muster. Of course, the EB had nothing at all about it (just the usual soft pap and the disingenuous cant of their columnist). Where, oh where, has the media’s credibility gone?
Probably down the same toilet that Collingwood’s reputation has gone.
PS. Compare Collingwood’s anti-business stance with Innisfil’s pro-business, pro-growth, attitude: Innisfil in race to develop industrial lands, council told. Ah, to have a council with such vision.
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More fuel for the fire. Collingwood’s intransigence gets more attention and council’s anti-business stance is clearly hurting our community.
Who benefits from this? Where is the leadership we expect from council and why is council letting itself be led into this morass by staff? What is the hidden motive for staff’s actions and anti-business position? Perhaps the police should investigate.