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Wish List 2 for the New Council

Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell

My Wish List for the new Council is longer than my Christmas List. Like Celine Dion’s heart, it goes on and on. My Wish List for Christmas has two items: 1) a Beatles calendar, and 2) a Ferrari. My kids now make more money than me, so I’m hoping the Ferrari will be payback for the money I poured into their post-secondary school educations. But just knowing what day it is would also be useful, and much more likely.

So, on a more serious note, I continue with Item 4: County Roads.
When money was flowing from the hand of God to the Prime Minister to the Premier and on to the Municipalities during our Rich Years, we paved a lot of County roads, and substantially improved our infrastructure.
The locals were happy, and the tourists found they didn’t need to slow down on rural roads. Closson Road was like the Don Valley, without the traffic snarls.
Times have changed, and maintaining County roads is now a major budget item for our councillors. Costs of reconstruction and paving have also changed and – surprise! – they have not gone down.
I heard two candidates during the election mention briefly that it may be time to turn some of our badly pounded sideroads back to gravel. Both of these candidates are now councillors, so I expect the issue will come on the table.
We may need to grit our teeth, but I tend to agree with them. You can’t drive a Cadillac on a Kia budget.
I’m not sure how many people have travelled down Luck’s Crossroad this summer, but it’s a good example of the problem. It was decent in Summer of 2013, but the ravages of our devastating winter has punched the pavement into a jigsaw puzzle of bumps and holes.
Yes, the County boys had been there, with shovels of fresh black asphalt, proving there were more holes than road.
Though this may alarm my friends on Luck’s, it’s a better solution than the one they have now.
First: The work can be done by the County boys. Paving requires a couple of million dollars, and only a few large construction operations have the equipment and manpower to do it. Grading and ‘hard-topping’ roads is much more maintainable using existing staff.
Second: Thanks to a somewhat controversial acquisition by the County of a Ridge Road quarry, the gravel is, technically, free. Free always fits well into a budget.
Even Benway Road, which is a roller-coaster ride at some times of year, comes back to life after a grader makes two passes. I know this because I followed one up Benway this summer and, for once, no parts fell off my truck.
The main roads, of course, still need to be kept up. The aforementioned Closson Road suffered the same fate as Luck’s Rd. and, since it is now the Golden Mile of wineries and the popular Lavender Farm, it should be given the thumbs up for a proper paving job. I drive this route a lot in the summer, so it’s on my wish list. Councillors, of course, have their own wish lists of roads, thanks to the often-angry people they were elected to represent.
It’s all about priorities. Rough roads aren’t the end of the world, but building something sustainable, using existing staff and materials – resources already budgeted by the County – could go a long way toward reducing our debt.

Item 5: Building County Business. This is my new mantra, because I believe that a stronger local economy can only be built by shopping and hiring locally.
You can make a difference by choosing County people whenever possible – it pays us back many times over. In shopping, why walk miles of floor in bad lighting at Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Check out Giant Tiger, Evans Lumber or Wellington Building Supply. Friendlier service, and only a few dimes above the big box stores.
Council can play a role too, by giving priority to County businesses on job tenders. Price is a consideration, but placing money back into the community they serve is, to me, way more important.
Councillors will be relieved that I am not going ask Council to pump money into creating new business here. In fact, I’m against it. Easy grants and loans throw off the balance of our business economy. I can cite several examples of start-up money creating businesses in competition to existing businesses. This is not the way to go.
In a quick example, a friend in the printing industry told me a story of government money backing a new printer in a northern town. He undercut everyone’s prices, and drove two other printers out of business, while the money was rolling. He then went bankrupt and, as my friend says, “Nothing was left but a team of racehorses in his wife’s name!”
So what do I want from Council? First, admit that small businesses ARE the economy of the County, and protect them.
I have heard, in detail, horrifying stories of two unrelated businesses who have been instructed to install automatic sprinkler systems. In both cases, the cost of complying would undoubtedly bankrupt them both. Businesses gone, jobs lost. In both cases, I have explored the sites, and find the edict to be completely unnecessary, or I would not pursue it. In both cases, the owners do regular checks for safety, and one performs regular fire drills to ensure the welfare of his people.
But, sadly, that’s beside the point. Legislation works like a bulldozer. Rules are rules. To add to the problem, neither of the two have access to the town water supply, so paying a minimum of $40,000 (in the second case several hundred thousand dollars) to install sprinkers is pretty much a placebo to serve the letter of the law. Because it won’t function. But that’s also beside the point. Who cares if it works, as long as the rules are met?

Councillors are bound by the rules of the Municipal Act. And who wrote that? Yes, our pals in the provincial government. The same people who want to kill, harm and harrass our wildlife, eradicate endangered species, and pour concrete on wild-growth land. For our own good, of course.
It seems that ‘serving the Greater Good’ may be the death of rural Ontario, but our Council has one option, which I offer as a possible solution.

Let’s ‘grandfather’ these requirements until we can actually bring in the kind of money we need to upgrade to city standards, without city services.
And councillors make note: Count the number of empty buildings that once housed businesses. It’s tough enough just surviving out here. We don’t ask for your money. But your recognition and help would be greatly appreciated. If we voted right, it’s your County too.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Wolf Braun says:

    Here’s who runs the U.S. government…. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)! They are re-writing legislation at the State level diminishing the rights of people and boosting corporate revenues.


  2. Wolf Braun says:

    Steve: “The government no longer has need for principles and purpose, so you can stop asking for it. It does not exist. Sadly, no political party will stop to examine itself in terms of purpose and principles.”

    You’re right, in both cases… ‘purpose and principles’ do not exist.

    But to give up asking for them is to say that government and political parties own democracy. The choice is simple. Let them own it or tell them that democracy is what people do, not what they do. It’s the people’s choice.

  3. Gary says:

    Tell me more about this septic inspection stuff. We as a society are regulated to death! You soon can”t have a cigar in your backyard.

  4. County Steve says:

    Wolf: Clearly I totally agree with you. This column was written before the province rolled out a whole new set of rules, which will require a whole new set of enforcement officers (chalk it up to ‘job creation’). This is obviously ‘rules for rules sake’, justified under the banner of ‘safety’, but clearly designed to build bureaucracy and generate revenue.
    Inspection of septic tanks is a perfect example. What kind of labour force is required to enforce this? Who pays the bill to dig up your lid, so they can check it out? I’ve done this job in February, and it’s not easy.
    It’s an unenforceable regulation. In the wide scope of Ontario, Main St. Bloomfield alone would require thousands of man-hours of inspection teams. And we’re just one tiny village (500 pop) in all of Ontario.
    The government no longer has need for principles and purpose, so you can stop asking for it. It does not exist.
    Sadly, no political party will stop to examine itself in terms of purpose and principles.
    They will also just want to appear to be “Building A Better Ontario” which is their current motto. It’s an excuse to randomly build legislation. To me this means “Do what we say, or pay a fine.”
    The rural voice has been neutered. We get what they decide.
    Wolf: When we can’t even stop them from hurting us every single day, how in hell can we get them to reach into their souls and examine their reason for being? Is it not hopeless?

  5. Wolf Braun says:

    Steve: “sadly, that’s beside the point. Legislation works like a bulldozer. Rules are rules.”

    Bureaucrats tend to think that following rules, at any cost and using whatever force or coercion necessary of enforcement, is one of the most important aspects of their jobs. In their view, their jobs and lives are given meaning when they can convince or force as many people as possible to follow their rules. What purpose lies behind the rules means little. In fact, if you ask them about purpose, their eyes glaze over. More important to them is that the rules be written and enforced for their own sake. In other words, the rules themselves and the procedures for creating and changing those rules are of paramount importance. Of only secondary or tertiary importance are:

    i) what happens as a result of their rule-creations and rule-enforcement (by force); (ii) what is the underlying purpose of those rules (again eyes glazing if questioned on purpose) in the first place; and (iii)what methods are used to enforce those rules and the consequences of using those methods.

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