First of all let us say four years is too long for any Municipal term of office. Secondly let us say we have a few things to say as we enter the start of this interminable term, and we say this to any Council not just this one.
Knowing Cobourg as we do, we don’t expect major changes – after all that’s what Cobourg voted for – the status-quo and no change in direction; just a couple of new faces. So what can we expect from this Council? If we look to the past and parsing the Mayors remarks from his first post-election interview read it here, all we will get is business as usual. More standard planning proposals that will push the envelope on existing zoning regulations and and increase the tensions with Heritage interests, more plans to beef up the Town Staff as the bureaucrats seek to “increase efficiency” by building empires. Of course if the Deputy Mayor succeeds in releasing the “Municipal Review” that was completed this summer and then promptly sat on by the previous Deputy Mayor and the CAO this projection may be shot to pieces, but we don’t hold out much hope. The big campaign 2014 issues – the Harbourlands and the Downtown Revitalisation will be touched and massaged and then compromised and then forgotten for three years only to reemerge as issues in the next election – these things never go away.
However what we want to propose, to the new Council, is simple, not costly to do and would be effective:
- Setup a Community trust
We have noticed over the years two things. One is the propensity of Councils to use the revenue from the Town owned assets – LUSI and the Industrial Park, as discretionary spending. No policies exist for the use of these funds consequently Councils have used them as “Playmoney”. This is not a wise use of these substantial funds. The approximately one and a half million dollars should be used to establish a “Community Trust” and this trust should be governed by a Board that is arms length away from Council. This is not new and a couple of communities in the County do it already. For a really good working model we should head up Hwy 30 to Campbellford and look at what Trent Hills has done with theirs.
These funds must be used for Community Development. Two items come to mind for funding – one is the Venture Fund for Downtown Revitalisation (DR) and the other is the Park Theatre, which must become publicly owned and be the Municipal Arts Centre – this too can be an essential part of DR. If anybody thinks this would be a drain then go to Campbellford and see the successful Aron Theatre complex – it makes money and was funded with contributions from the Community Fund in the initial stages.
- Start to name the new streets after World War Veterans
This is a small change with big implications. In a report issued last year read it here there was a section that outlines how new new streets should be named. In the report one will see that there are criteria for new street names: dead Mayors, old Heritage people, and Fallen Boer War and World War One Veterans. The report also has a list of these names and if one looks at the checkboxes to see whose name is in use it is plain to see that the Fallen Veterans names have been ignored. This a sad commentary on our history and its relevance. As we will still be commemorating the First World War for every year of this Council’s term would it be so hard to implement this policy and insist that only Veterans’ names shall be used for new streets, in the next four years?
- Establish a proper study to look at the cost of One-Tier government.
This an exercise that needs little money but mucho big cajones, but the political payback from the “taxfighters” would be huge. As we know the topic of a One Tier Government for Northumberland County has been around for many years but for any living politician to touch this is a political kiss of death. But it shouldn’t be!
All we are saying is that the two major studies, of how to implement one-tier, should be dusted off (the King Report of 1975 and the later amalgamation study done in the late 80s) and updated with 2015 dollars. We the taxpayers have to know why the Pols do not want to save money and just how much money would be saved if it was implemented. After all then the people who are dead set against amalgamation would know how much extra they are paying to maintain eight political fiefdoms.
So if the new Council were to be truly progressive and were living up to their promises to be open and receptive surely any one of the members will take any one, or all of these suggestions, and bring them into the public domain for discussion, and if they were truly democratic they would not be afraid to tell us we are on the wrong track if they don’t.