By Doug Hallett
Cam Guthrie has released his full platform for becoming the city’s next mayor, consisting of five promises that he says will “create a better Guelph.”
His “Better Ideas” plan can now be viewed at his campaign website, www.abetterguelph.ca, said a news release Thursday.
His first pledge is to limit property tax increases to the rate of inflation or lower by controlling excessive spending and borrowing.
“Under my leadership city hall will plan, each year, to try to reduce the tax burden on its residents,” the website says.
“Limiting property tax to no higher than the rate of inflation means the city has to prioritize spending. Mandated services must be provided. Everything else is discretionary.
“And yes, the discretionary items might make living in Guelph great for some. But some of those items make living in Guelph expensive for all.”
His other four pledges explain how he plans to try to keep taxes low.
One of these pledges is to deliver cost-effective and efficient core city services.
“There are also a number of opportunities to provide some city services in non-traditional formats,” says the website for Guthrie, who has occasionally advocated for contracting out of city services during his four years as a Ward 4 councillor.
“Services such as waste management, park maintenance and snow removal could be provided at significantly lower costs than the city currently budgets, and all without any disruption to service levels. In fact, we may even see an increase in service,” the website says.
While Mayor Karen Farbridge “wishes to focus on global initiatives, I’d like to tackle issues located right outside your door. Guelph roads are a mess. Our sports fields are underserviced and our infrastructure is crumbling.”
Another pledge is to “create an actual transparent government that avoids costly mistakes.”
In part, this would involve having the city post all expenditures by council members and city staff online. “I honestly can’t think of a better set of auditors than Guelph residents,” he says. “And I have no doubt that by disclosing this, informed citizens will be able to identify and report further cost-saving measures and avenues.
“And let’s go one step further and create a citizens’ budget task force which will take part in the budget process.”
Another pledge is to eliminate the so-called “Guelph Factor” – which some say is inhibiting development in the city – by “changing the culture at city hall, rebuilding trust and valuing business.”
“The current administration’s extensive use of regulations, restrictions, delays and unrealistic guidelines drive away potential employers, residents and opportunities,” the website says.
“The ‘Guelph Factor’ is largely responsible for the lack of development in the east end and a recreation centre in the south,” it says. “We’ll never have the opportunity for private partnerships if we don’t start welcoming in the private sector.”
Guthrie’s final pledge is to “support downtown without the use of a punitive tax levy, while promoting development that ensures all corners of Guelph are equally respected.”
He says he “actually favours a revitalized and vibrant downtown. I just differ with the mayor on how we get there.”
He won’t “support overtaxing current residents for the benefit of future residents,” he says. “And I won’t support the exclusive focus on downtown while many residents complain of being underserviced in other parts of Guelph.”
By Doug Hallett