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Black, white, grey all over

Mayor Karen Farbridge has thrown a dash of grey into what was shaping up to be a black and white municipal election.
Her decision to back off a downtown tax levy has removed a bullet from the chamber of mayoral candidate Cam Guthrie’s arsenal. Reasons for her decision can be found on Page 5 of today’s Trib.
However, I suspect the real reason for backing off is mostly political.
Simply put, it would have been political suicide for the incumbent mayor to support a new property tax that’s called a special levy. This is especially so since Guthrie is cloaking himself in tax-busting-needs-not-wants election garb.
I’m sure his camp is disappointed about Farbridge’s decision. After all, he would have almost had it made in the shade running against an opponent favouring  an extra tax increase – especially one designated for our downtown.
It is not to be. This is a good thing. Politics is too often broken down into superficial notions, such as taxes are good versus taxes are bad. Governing is not that easy. No matter the level of government, it’s not black and white, good versus evil.
Governing is nuanced and not easily digested, let alone understood and communicated. Too bad these days everything is reduced to shallow ideas that are then watered down further into sound bites. Unfortunately, it seems that’s all we have time for these days.
I am glad the special levy appears to be off the table in the next city election. After all, I can’t imagine any candidate running for council promising a new tax. For those who might, full marks for honesty.
Should there be a Baker Street District development? Why? Why not?
Is Guelph city council too downtown-centric? Yes? No? Why or why not?
If the city gets hammered for hefty damages in the Urbacon lawsuit, what has to go in order to bankroll it? Or does anything have to go?
Taxes, of course, can help pay the freight as answers to some of these issues. However, it’s just not that simple. It’s never black and white. More often than not, it’s the grey areas that should dominate discourse at all levels of government.

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