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Time to catch up – on turbines, elections and housing

Steve Campbell

After months of chaos, we are finally settled in our new County Magazine office, living like hobbits under the Bloomfield Town Hall. So I have a bit of catching up to do with some random topics.

Turbine Turmoil
It’s been a long, hard ride for wind turbine opponents. It’s difficult – and somewhat painful – to deal with a corporation which breaks the rules, and applies to break more rules (like load restrictions), when they have provincial sanction to run over our ecosystem and bylaws.
It’s a tragedy that a great idea like green energy could be butchered by draconian legislation, poor scientific research, and the elimination of our democratic right for local input and concerns. Thanks to the government, studies are only now showing the health effects of IWTs – studies delayed and dismantled as they were in Grey-Bruce. Deaf and blind. That’s what we look for in our leaders.

Election Fever
Yay! We have not one but two elections this year! First, all attention is on the June provincial election, with a mixed bag of contenders. Promises are flying everywhere but, if Ontario tradition holds true, every newly-elected government blames the previous government for their inability to execute their promises.
Of local concern, we have candidates who could each serve us well at Queen’s Park. But two of the three have leaders that clench our butts in the voting booth. One party has a rule-breaking bully, and the PCs have one too.
My brother Rick once told me: “In Canada we have too much to do with our vote.” I get that. I’ve voted in every election, but rarely do I get a ‘perfect line-up’ in which I’m comfortable with both the local candidate and the party leader. I’ve seen strong party leaders, but the local is a nimrod. I’ve seen solid local reps whose leaders are a nightmare.
When I’m caught in this quandary, I usually default to the local candidate who will serve me. And by ‘me’ I mean all of us. When I need the help of an MPP, I know who is going to answer the phone. And it won’t be Ford, Wynne or Horvath.
Fortunately, at the municipal level, we get more of a choice. I can vote for my favorite councillor, and my best pick for mayor. A little more civilized than the party system. Besides, parties used to be parties. They had a clear and consistent platform, and planted their fortunes on it, win or lose. Now that public opinion polls have taken the place of platforms and personal beliefs, you are promised whatever the polls say you desire.
Clearly, cutting taxes and providing extra funding for everything from hospitals to schools to prescription drugs does not – and will never – balance the books. Yet all parties promise it. Witness Wynne’s staggering deficit (for our great-grandchildren to pay) while still cutting funds for health care and schools, while shelling out millions – perhaps billions – on contracts for an ill-conceived Green Energy Act. With the money being neatly exported to foreign companies, instead of the Ontario jobs, jobs, jobs it promised.

Affordable Housing
On an up note, affordable housing is now on everyone’s agenda, I won’t recap the dire need in the County for rental units for locals and business staff. But it is a crisis situation.
I’m very pleased to see the community taking charge, particularly in Wellington and Bloomfield. To the nay-sayers, sure there are problems to be solved, but smart County people know how to make things happen.
I hear people griping about the Pinecrest project, since Bloomfield does not have the grocery stores and service businesses to support 60 new residents, who will likely be seniors.
I call this ‘linear thinking’. According to the Buck Rogers movies, we should all be in flying cars by now. But progress does not occur in a straight line from 1948 to 2018. It twists and turns and curves, and reacts to new technologies and new breakthroughs and, yes, the changes in society itself.
If there is a need for these services, they will come. Look at Wellington on the Lake. Built at the outskirts of town in an open field, it now hosts a number of brand new businesses, which arrived to fill the needs of the residents. Even the liquor store lifted its roots and moved on up to the west side.
Council should buy into affordable housing projects big time, as they shuffle their priorities. The ‘tiny house’ is a good answer – a small livable space. Some councillors picture a ‘shanty town’, but this is 2018, and times have changed. These houses are winning acclaim in Time magazine and Maclean’s as a new solution to an old problem. And I might note that these houses aren’t necessarily grouped together. All it needs is an amendment to the bylaw, dropping the minimum size of a house.
As Air B&Bs chew up available low-cost rental spaces – some vacant during the winter – this is a solution that supports what I feel is Council’s #1 mandate: Help County people live in the County. Not everyone, including me, considers $300,000 to be ‘affordable’.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Dave A says:

    Hi Steve,
    I fear a backlash against the Cottage Crowd and AirBnB but the current housing situation is more complicated than just pointing a finger in that direction.

    First the printing of Trillions of $$ and low interest rates has resulted in an asset buying binge by those who have access to capital.

    Secondly the renaissance of the County sparked by the Wineries has brought an influx of people with capital.

    Thirdly demographics of people wanting to exit the city.

    This has brought a perfect storm for people wanting to buy affordable housing in the county. I think we all knew that the property prices in the county were under valued.

    The AirBnB rentals are just a symptom of these issues; people have been renting their places out long before AirBnB.

    I don’t think there is anything the County can do to Force housing costs to be lower. I think wage increases and decreased development costs should be the focus. The County has long been criticized for high development costs.

  2. gilles says:

    We have missed Steve’s well-conceived, tempered, witty and -at times- biting commentary. How he manages to keep his cool and his humour is an inspiration to all of us. (Like Steve, I too was threatened with homelessness, and fortunately -like Steve- have been retained by the good people of Bloomfield.) Kudos to Steve Campbell and County Magazine, for perserverance, and vision. Wow! 42 years as an independent Canadian magazine publisher, and so much more. Unprecedented! A County landmark, a true Canadian institution, and a guiding light. Wishing you many more years of success, and continued activity as a fellow political gadfly. Cheers.

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