Monday, January 23, 2017

Milton council and democracy: an oxymoron

Well, it looks like the majority of Milton’s council, the usual 6-5 block, will win the ward boundary change…going from 8 wards back to 4.  
Did you know that we citizens cannot challenge a council’s decision to reduce the number of wards?  We can only challenge the ward boundaries – and that deadline is January 26… this week.  BUT to challenge those boundaries requires upwards of $35,000 when we include necessary experts.  Too few people understand the implications.  

This 6-5 majority ignored their own expert’s opinion in taking the direction they’ve taken.
Milton’s majority of council, the 6-5 coalition, decided that despite ever increasing population growth, with all the work inherent in the planning, approvals, public meetings, etc., they just don’t want so many people at the council table.  They decided we don’t need the same representation we’ve had for so many years.  They’ve decided THEY are IN, let’s close the doors.

What does this mean for the ordinary Milton citizen? Does anyone know what gerrymandering means? It almost assuredly means incumbency reigns supreme.  It will mean big money in the pocket of anyone new wishing to run for council – more brochures, more postage and way more time to canvas a ward with an average of 32,000 people in it.   Worse still is the lack of foresight – Milton’s growth will continue until 2031.  These new ward boundary changes will likely have to be changed again for the 2022 election.  

It certainly doesn’t mean that your voice will have a better chance of being heard.  It doesn’t mean better council representation at the various community committees, boards and organizations at which many members presently sit.  

It is a loss for democracy, it means one town councillor for each for 4 wards representing thousands upon thousands more people in the ward, along with one regional councillor for each ward.  Make no mistake, regional council requires a huge amount of time all on its own.  Rather ironic that regional council expands its numbers to give Milton 2 more councillors and as a result this council cuts its town councillor representation.

In B.C. the law is for a city or district having a population of more than 50 000, the council is to consist of a mayor and 8 councillors – it should be the same in Ontario.   MY goal for the next election: bring democracy back to Milton.

It’s a huge disservice to its citizenry when council members use federal and provincial party affiliation to vote on items at the council table rather than voting for the good of the community.  Nothing good ever comes of block voting.

IN closing, I would point out the following from the Municipal Act:  224. It is the role of council, to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality.
225.  It is the role of the head of council (the mayor) to promote public involvement in the municipality’s activities.
270. of the Municipal Act speaks to when and how notice is provided to the public, and to ensure accountability and transparency to the public.  When the only notice is via the town’s website and the local paper, which is delivered to only about half of Milton residents and only once weekly, I would say sufficient notice wasn’t provided to the public.  I would also venture to say that transparency and accountability are sadly lacking.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The love of my life has passed away

The love of my life passed away last evening, August 16, 2016.

We were married for 43 years.  Jack promised we were going to be millionaires – well, we never saw that million dollars but we had something money couldn’t buy, something far greater.  We were together 15,728 days and we had a million laughs along the way, we had trips abroad, wonderful friends, and we have the home we built (the house that Jack built!) and our dogs.

Jack was my biggest supporter:  through several elections and a huge number of meetings of the various organizations of which I was, and am, a member.  I’m an ardent cook and he was always a willing sampler of any new recipe I tried, especially my cinnamon buns.  I recently was awarded the 2016 Milton Senior of the Year Award – that couldn’t have, would never have happened without Jack’s support all those years.

 Jack was a joke among our friends – that he never met a person who wasn’t his newest best friend – no matter the skin colour, how a person dressed, how much or how little they had in their pockets, their station in life. 

"Hail fellow well met" is an old expression used when referring to a person whose behavior is hearty, friendly, and congenial. That was Jack to a tee – hearty, friendly and very, very congenial.

Recently, Jack had started down the path to dementia or Alzheimer (pretty much part and parcel of the same thing). Those with family members with Alzheimer know the devastating challenges that come with such a terrible illness. The person with dementia is no longer the person we knew – the essence of the Person is lost.  It’s like losing them while they’re still alive.  If there is a positive note, I can say it was a blessing that Jack went as quickly as he did, the way he did.

Right now I can’t imagine life without Jack.  One thing I do know is that we have wonderful friends who have been a help already and upon whom I know I can depend. I am so very grateful. 

But I am also so very lost.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Milton council shows complete disregard for rural residents

Milton, Ont.  February 8, 2016
Milton council showed its total disdain for the rural community last night. 
The majority (6 of 11) voted to increase taxes to the rural area by virtue of creating a uniform tax rate for the entire town, one tax rate for all. 

On the surface, one could say that sounds fair - but is it?  We do get snow plowing but it's done at a lower cost on rural roads with the trucks speeding along at 80K or more, taking out the odd mailbox, which we have to replace ourselves, but I digress.  

The rural area doesn't get a lot of the services urbanites get, nor is it requested - like sidewalk plowing (there are no sidewalks), streetlights, street cleaning, and public transit.  

Mike Cluett said to me in an email: "Given the current system we have, it would be impossible for us to provide transit to that area if residents aren’t paying for it." There is no intention of providing public transit to the rural area, yet he has no problem making the rural resident pay for what is basically a transit tax.

After hearing 22 speakers, the majority of council still voted to stick it to the rural taxpayer - we are a smaller community with only 2 councillors to represent ward 3, the largest ward in Milton, but a ward with fewer people.   

We were in the overflow room downstairs where the live video was very poor quality, so for that reason I can't state exactly how everyone voted.  And any material shown on overheads was impossible to be read.  (Milton, when will you make things equal for all who take the time to attend a council meeting? but again, I digress.)  I do know councilors Lunau, Best and Huffman voted in support of the rural sector.  More importantly, the names of whom we need to be aware, are the 6 who voted against fairness.  Malboueff, Cluett and DiLorenzo are three of them.

The sad thing is that this could be the straw that broke the camel's back.  The tax increase will be especially felt by rural business owners, most of whom are already marginal at best.  We've lost so many businesses over the years.  

And the farmer, who was already hard hit with the province's actions against the horse industry, and who struggles every day to maintain the viability of the farm - every penny impacts on their bottom line.  This tax increase is another strike against them.

Rural residents have seen their assessments (and taxes) shoot up since the rural area got wrapped up in the Green Belt.The tax burden just got much heavier for them.

All this was pointed out to council last night by the 22 delegations but it didn't mean a damn thing