Trust needs to be earned, and there is a lot of work to do to rebuild the trust lost by the way the library issue and the Michael Seguin affair were handled in secret behind closed doors. Not only did the public lose trust in Council, but a member of Council was quoted by media saying the public “cannot be trusted for the type of comments or concerns they might put forth”.
I WILL work with you and the new Council to restore your faith in local government. I will make sure Council and staff recognize they work for you, the taxpayer. We represent your interests, and need to work together with you.
My communication strategy will be “Early and Often”. We will let you know early about any issues coming before us, and then keep you informed as things develop. Communication with you will be a priority at Town Hall.
I WILL hold monthly “Meet the Mayor” meetings in different parts of the community to hear from you about what is important and so we can get to know each other on a personal level. At the Town Hall I will make it is easy for you to make an appointment to come and meet with me.
I WILL keep closed door meetings of Council to an absolute minimum, with a hard target of reducing the number by 50% in the first year.
We need to elect a Mayor and Council who understand their responsibilities and take them seriously.
Our Town is a Corporation with an assessment base of $4 billion, assets of over $200 million, annual revenue of almost $30 million, and expenditures of $23 million. Last year we also collected taxes for and sent $16 million to Grey County and $8 million to the Bluewater District School Board. All together that is almost $50 million of your money every year.
We need to set a clear direction for Council. Council acts as the Board of Directors for this Corporation. Operations are carried out by a staff working under the direction of a Chief Administrative Officer ("CAO"), who is the only employee who reports directly to Council. When I asked what had been done in terms of assessing the performance of our last CAO, the Mayor wrote me saying “There has not been an appropriate time for a formal review during this term of Council.” No time to assess the performance of the person in charge of running our Town???? Truly unbelievable!!!
In my career, when I was CEO running a mining company, my performance was always assessed annually, and measured against performance objectives. We also annually evaluated the performance of our Board.
I WILL work with Council to establish clear goals and objectives for Council, CAO, and staff, and make sure that performance is measured against those objectives.
We need to better manage our relationship with Grey County. Currently, we fund $16M, or 26% of the Grey County taxation based budget but have only 12% of the vote on how this money is spent. I will work for reform to ensure a fair portion of spending is focused in the Town of the Blue Mountains.
As a growing community, we need to focus spending on building up and replacing decaying infrastructure, rather than on soft costs such as legal bills. Over the last two years depreciation of our capital assets exceeded spending by $3 million. Legal costs rose by 452% from $93,600 in 2013 to $422,878 in 2017. For the past two years, Council has allocated year end tax surpluses to reserves for legal services and Human Resources.
I WILL work to reduce legal and other soft costs and refocus spending on infrastructure and services for you. One specific priority will be to reduce water loss from our municipal water system. Currently 37% of the water we treat is not metered and paid for. Other municipalities target less than 15% loss. I will set that as our initial target.
Last year the Town of The Blue Mountains issued building permits with a total value of $185M, which included the 353 new dwellings. Together we need to manage this growth so that it adds to rather than detracts from the character of our Town.
Many long-time residents feel they are being pushed aside, ignored and abandoned by Council. New residents, who moved here to enjoy a peaceful retirement in an all-seasons community, are finding the character of the place they have just moved to under threat.
Growth is inevitable, but it must be managed properly, so together we shape our community into what we, and not others, want it to be. We must make our vision for our community known to developers, businesses, and future residents, to avoid unrealistic expectations. If developer proposals can add to our community, we should work with them to ensure our Town can thrive and prosper. If what they want does not fit with our vision for our Town, they should be told day one that they should go elsewhere.
I WILL make sure that the official plan, policies, and bylaws reflect your vision for our Town and are enforced. I will work with Council and staff to make sure new development respects the character of our Town, and adds to, rather than detracts from, the liveability of our community.
I WILL work hard to find an alternative to five laneing Highway 26 through Craigleith to preserve the character of our community.