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Big failing of city hall brass is not treating us with respect

Selective transparency, disrespect, inexperience. Shouldn’t we be able to trust our civic leaders to do better? The self-promoting messaging from city hall contradicts this. But examples of these failings continue to appear.
Here’s a recent one: Several months passed with no official explanation for the Wyndham Street underpass problem. We know trucks have passed through there for decades without problems. Now, after two years of construction and huge dollar expenditure, so many trucks have hit it that an aesthetically challenged sign installation was planted and trucks servicing downtown tenants have been diverted. Recently, city CAO Ann Pappert released a long-winded dissertation in the Guelph Mercury stating there is no error involved.
Common sense indicates only an error could explain the problem. It’s hard to see transparency here.
Another one: A concerned citizens’ group appealed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to investigate the handling of our money by city hall. The written decision from that minister stated it was a local council responsibility to resolve.
A press release from our CAO seemingly contained some creative additional statements not actually in that letter. These additions praised the operation of city hall, trivialized the group’s effort and omitted the mention of the validity of some of the group’s concerns.
I don’t see much respect for truth in this.
Next, the Baker Street District. Our mayor is quoted as saying “the city can no longer afford to take a passive approach” and we need “a more entrepreneurial approach to city building.” After two terms of a non-partisan majority council, it is nice they have finally seen the light. Community business people have been asking for this for years.
The concept for Baker Street is fantastic. I am incensed, however, by the tax levy that is immediately being touted by staff and council as the way to pay for it. What kind of creative business thinking is that?
It’s a flip on their previous decision-making. Remember the tourist train that needed minor support? I guess enlightenment doesn’t help the leopard change its spots.
The administrators of the proposed tenants are experienced business people. They recognize there is a profitable business case for them in the core of the city.
Each is well funded by its own enterprise. I’m sure they are excited by the prospect of us paying for their new venture and adept at pleading for more. Who wouldn’t line up for that? But it is not the responsibility of the taxpayers in Guelph to finance their businesses for them.
It should not be offered or expected for the city to kick in $60 million to $80 million. There are a lot of practical community well-being issues and projects that could be addressed if we have that much spare money.
What can and should be expected from the city is guidance and cooperation. We own the property and the concept and have control over zoning and services. That is already a huge contribution and investment to the plan.
City staff has the authority and valuable experience and skills necessary to facilitate the realization of this project.
Staff can also decide to contribute expedient timing with the inevitable “red tape” issues. This kind of cooperation and investment is invaluable and adequate for this development.
I read a local column recently that asked us to consider how we can be great dedicated, committed, invested citizens in Guelph. I think there are many such people here. We need some more of them on council and in senior staff positions.

One Response to “Big failing of city hall brass is not treating us with respect”

  1. guelphfacts says:

    “We know trucks have passed through there for decades without problems”
    Not true.

    The height was 4m – the same it is now. Trucks just assumed that after the bridge reconstruction it would be lower. Sorry but your facts are wrong.

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