And a farewell, sort of…
With the ‘final’ poll, I wrap up the ‘blog’ portion of my website; the place will stay open, as I do get the occassional query on Glory Whalen. A few of my favourite posts will stay ‘live’, but for the most part, the rest goes ‘private’, destined to rest in the background.
Today I start my new career with the Wasaga and Stayner Sun – sister publication to the Collingwood Connection, so you’ll still see my byline on occasion. It wasn’t an easy decision to make the jump from the E-B, but at the end of the day, it was the right one.
So, the focus from here on out is on writing some great stories for my new employer, family, the canoe club, trying to stay healthy (my attendance at the Y has suffered of late), and a couple of personal writing projects. You may see the rare posting here, but otherwise, in the words of one of my favourite authors… So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish…
These will be the final three polls I’ll be running for this campaign; they’ll be open until 8 a.m. on the 20th, so lots of opportunity for plumping.
And for now, I’m off for the rest of the week… Councillor Chadwick has even blocked me from following him on Twitter – because that’s what an Open and Accountable™ councillor would do – so I can’t even keep up on how this current council was the light and the hope, and a change would be a gathering darkness on the land, with the nine council members becoming ringwraiths…
FINAL: Who's your choice for Mayor
- Chris Carrier (59%, 175 Votes)
- Joe Gardhouse (22%, 65 Votes)
- Sandra Cooper (14%, 42 Votes)
- Undecided (6%, 18 Votes)
Total Voters: 299
FINAL: Who's your choice for Deputy-mayor
- Brian Saunderson (85%, 251 Votes)
- Rick Lloyd (13%, 38 Votes)
- Undecided (2%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 295
FINAL: Who are your choices for council (up to seven)
- Tim Fryer (63%, 202 Votes)
- Rick Crouch (61%, 196 Votes)
- Steve Berman (55%, 177 Votes)
- Kathy Jeffery (50%, 160 Votes)
- Bob Madigan (44%, 141 Votes)
- Deb Doherty (41%, 132 Votes)
- Gail Michalenko (40%, 128 Votes)
- Jim Gosnell (34%, 108 Votes)
- Mike Edwards (26%, 83 Votes)
- Cam Ecclestone (25%, 79 Votes)
- Dale West (23%, 73 Votes)
- Kevin Lloyd (10%, 32 Votes)
- Betty Donaher (9%, 29 Votes)
- Ian Chadwick (8%, 24 Votes)
- Sandy Cunningham (7%, 21 Votes)
Total Voters: 319
Thanks to Matt McLean and Patrick Bales for the challenge, and Doug Measures and Drew Werbitsky for helping out behind the camera. I know Dale West and Danielle Lafreniere have done their challenges; just waiting for Saunderson to step up to the plate.
Along with the challenge… yes, I also donated to the cause…
* Am I the only one who thinks it’s kind of inappropriate the town is hosting a ‘coffee with council‘ at the Economic Development office less than two months before a municipal election? “Yeah, look at this wonderful initiative we’ve accomplished – Yea us! And don’t forget to vote…”
What does the Code of Conduct say? From Section 8…
Members of council will… in an election year, not use facilities, equipment, supplies, services, or other resources of the town for any election campaign or campaign-related activities.
Having an event, with two weeks left in the nomination period, is pretty borderline in my eyes. In the interest of goodwill, all candidates should be invited to take part…
I noted the commenter to Lewin’s letter made a couple of relevant observations, though reference to the councillor’s ‘due diligence’ is kind of ironic given everything we now know about the Sprung decision.
But then again, Chadwick has never met a ratepayers’ group he liked, and usually labels them as ‘special interest’ to get around the sticky business of being held accountable. Here’s what he said about VOTE in 2007 (granted, he was referring to pre-2006 VOTE, which had the appearance of being a ratepayers’ group, not post-2006 VOTE, which suddenly developed blinders to everything the 2006-2010 council did):
While I often disagreed with their perspective, I actually didn’t mind having a watchdog group outside the media keeping tabs on council’s activities and decisions. That helps keep council focused and cognizant of community opinion.
Yes, Collingwood is where irony goes to die…
Some of you will probably be reading John Edward’s piece in this Thursday’s Connection, and saying, “WTF Scoop…”
For one thing, I need to make it clear – I cannot write about the harbour in the pages of the E-B; I have a very clear conflict of interest on the matter, and it would not be ethical of me to report on the issue.
John had to edit some of my remarks down, because, you know, once I get yakking about the harbour it’s kind of hard to get me to STFU. I should probably make it clear that I, and the canoe club, are not against docks, per se. We agree that there’s a need for transient boater space… but…
We don’t believe it should come at the expense of other user groups: us, the rowing club, the yacht club, anglers, etc.. I guess it would help if I present my full comments to John, in response to the so-called Collingwood Municipal Marina Coalition:
“Our position has always been that we believe the harbour to be a shared facility. We recognize that it’s a finite space, and trying to balance the needs of the yacht club, rowing club, our club, and a multitude of other users is a delicate line. It’s also important that each user group respects the rights of others to the use of the harbour, and that one group is not granted any rights or given any advantage that could have a detrimental impact on the others.
“To that point, it’s always been our opinion that the municipality needs to embark on a proper harbour master plan that incorporates the needs and issues of all groups. Citing a study from 1988 completely ignores that since 2004, the use of the harbour has changed dramatically with the introduction of the two recreational clubs. While the Baird Report from 2009 did a fair job of documenting these different uses, where it fell down – substantially – was it focused on dock development while presenting recommendations that would have essentially pushed the rowing and paddling uses to the fringes of the harbour.
“Our board was disappointed council decided not to move forward with a harbour master plan this year, as it could have taken the necessary steps to resolve, or at least minimize, some of these potential conflicts and address the matter of shared use. We remain hopeful it will be part of the next council’s planning process early in the term.
“It’s all well and good to cite potential revenue numbers, but without some sort of solid economic or business case, there’s no way to justify the revenue projections put forward by the coalition. A waiting list does not necessarily translate into customers; a waiting list also does not justify the need to develop a facility that could potentially discourage the use of the harbour by other groups.
“We are a growing club, as are the rowing club and the sailing school, and it is vital to the development of those sports – especially for young people – that the harbour is a safe and accessible place. Creating a ‘parking lot’ of docks is not conducive to that goal.”
To add to that, a bit of my own opinion (which may or may not reflect the opinion of the board of the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club)…
The ‘build it and they will come’ attitude is something I’ve been battling for the last five years of being a member of the town’s harbourlands committee. The Baird report was short-sighted, with no economic basis to back up the need to create a parking lot of docks in the harbour — and essentially making it unusable for anyone else. And the coalition is incorrect — it was not accepted by the Harbourlands Committee in the form that it’s presented in. The committee made several recommendations to revise some of the report’s conclusions, but those were never put in place because the money needed to prepare the final report was shifted to another municipal priority. What’s being passed around is a draft report — not a final report, and for the Coalition to present it any other way is disingenuous.
The same goes with the introduction of the transient day-use dock in the launch basin late last year; earlier this year, during municipal budget discussions, four councillors were quite willing to drop another $130,000 to extend that dock, even though a pattern of use hadn’t been established yet (because the existing docks had been installed in November), and there was no business case. There are five spots (approximately, depending on the length of the boat) at the existing dock; I can think of one weekend, Elvis Festival, when the dock was full; the rest of the time, I think I see one or two boats on a consistent basis.
And I’m not even getting into the environmental issues, and promoting healthy, active living (I find it amusing that municipal policy discussion on active transportation seems to stop at the town’s shoreline), which were tossed around as I circulated my comments to the rest of my board prior to providing them to John.
So… I go back to my (and the canoe club’s) original proposition – before any more capital dollars are spent in the harbour, the municipality needs to get an understanding of how the facility is used, who uses it, and how it can be properly shared between ALL user groups. The last three years has been spent with certain individuals attempting to ‘divide-and-conquer’ on the harbour – it’s time for ALL the user groups to speak with a common voice to develop a shared vision.
… at least, that was my mom’s suggestion for a headline, when I did a little data mining first thing this morning after Elections Ontario released some more numbers from last Thursday’s election.
I was looking for voter turnout, when I cast my eye at the number of refused ballots, and thought 496 for Simcoe-Grey was a little on the high side… it was, many times over. In 2011, only 14 people refused their ballot in the riding. I looked at the provincial number, and saw the same trend right across Ontario.
I did up a quick Excel spreadsheet, and sent a note up the editorial chain, where Canoe picked it up from there and put together a nifty little interactive map based on my spreadsheet.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll get a chance to expand on the idea (today was, uh, nutty). As can be seen from the map, the highest number of declined ballots, both in numbers and percentage, was Elgin-Middlesex-London, where 842 people declined their ballot – or about 1.8% of eligible voters. In fact, I discovered southwestern Ontario had the greatest concentration of voters who handed their ballot back.
Northerners, on the other hand, take their voting seriously, as voters in Sudbury and Thunder Bay would rather mark an X than say no, thanks, take it back.
No meaningful way to measure ‘transparency’
‘Open and transparent’.
It’s become the favourite phrase of Collingwood town councillors the last couple of months, as if saying it enough actually makes it so.
At a recent special council meeting held on a Tuesday — without the Rogers TV cameras rolling, and only two people in the audience aside from local reporters — it was said three times, as if us scribes would dutifully make note.
We did not.
Truth be told, I was just about ready to jam a pen into my carotid artery if I heard it uttered again.
A few weeks back, Councillor Ian Chadwick noted on his blog that this current crop of municipal politicians is the “most productive, engaged, open and dedicated council I have served on, and reported on while I was reporter in the local media.”
Dedicated is a point I would never argue when it comes to talking about any member of municipal council. Most of the councillors I’ve reported on the last 20-plus years (that’s 32 people who have served as mayor, deputy-mayor, reeve, deputy-reeve, and councillor) have shown a dedication to the job.
However, to say this crop of municipal politicians is any more dedicated than others is mere hyperbole on the councillor’s part.
Most productive? Perhaps. While Terry Geddes was mayor, millions were invested in the town’s sewer infrastructure, and a plan was laid out for replacement through user fees rather than the general tax levy; a new public works building was constructed; the west-end commercial zone was developed; the first bylaws for pesticide use and vehicle idling were implemented. The master development agreement with Fram-Slokker was signed, and work began to redevelop the Shipyards.
One of the final acts of council under Geddes was a decision to expand the public transit system from two buses to three.
Mayor Chris Carrier’s council redeveloped the downtown and First Street, and saw through the construction of the new library, as well as a couple of sewer projects. And, contrary to what the public may glean from the latest piece of municipal advertising to reach local mailboxes, this council had little to do with the opening of Georgian College’s Collingwood campus; that project was started during Carrier’s term.
By development numbers, in Geddes’ final term of council, there was $140.5 million in residential construction, $45 million in commercial development, and $5.3 million in industrial building. In Carrier’s first three years of office, there was $150.2 million in residential development, $12.3 million in commercial development, and $8.3 million in industrial construction.
In the first three years of this current term of council, there has been $139.9 million in residential construction, $25.5 million in commercial development, and $2.9 million in industrial construction.
In terms of residential building permits, in those same time periods, it was 853 in Geddes’ final term as mayor, 827 in Carrier’s first three years in office, and 749 under the present council.
So from purely a development point-of-view, it would be hard to classify the current council as the most productive.
This council’s decision-making record? Yes, they built two recreational facilities (with considerable controversy), purchased the Mountainview property to widen the intersection at Hurontario and First (again, controversial), sold half of Collus to PowerStream (with controversy — and, notably, a loss of income). And yes, Council hired an integrity commissioner, not so much kicking and screaming, but certainly with mumbling and grumbling.
Council is finally acting on the economic development file, though I would hardly term ‘co-locating’ several agencies under one roof as “bold.” The municipality can only benefit from these groups working together, but its success will only be judged once it is put into practice and been operating for a year or so.
But the timing of it, along with the much-heralded ‘strategic financial plan,’ smacks of early electioneering, an effort to make this council appear it’s on the ball.
But ‘open’? As someone who’s covered eight terms of municipal council, I wouldn’t say this group is any more or less open than any other council. During the last council, the ongoing behind-closed-door discussion on Collingwood’s legal challenge of the school boards’ right to levy education development charges always disconcerted me.
This term, I’m astounded by the head-burying that has taken place on revelations the negotiations leading up to the decision to sole-source the largest single purchase made by the municipality were never disclosed to council.
And, the information they were given the night they made the decision, wasn’t correct.
(That the information was later communicated to residents in a newsletter from the municipality is a debate for another day.)
‘Engaged’? A passive-aggressive motion calling on someone to explain the actions of the citizens’ group he heads up I guess is a form of ‘engagement’, if it weren’t for whole 1950s Joe McCarthy ‘start naming names’ vibe.
Or the rather questionable timing of sending out a newsletter in the latest utility bill trumpeting this council’s ‘accomplishments’ at the cusp of a municipal election campaign, with two incumbents already stepping forth into the ring. That’s not engagement, it’s propaganda.
I guess you could ask the 49 people in the Paterson Street area who signed a petition about the location for the entryway to the Central Park Arena whether this is an ‘engaged’ council. Or the folks who live in the Forest subdivision, who probably feel like their concerns about a bed and breakfast operation potentially opening in their neighbourhood were casually swept aside on Monday night. Councillors wouldn’t even give them a tidbit, a request that council eventually be called upon to approve a site plan agreement.
So the next time a council member makes claims of ‘openness and transparency’, you’ll have to forgive me if I scoff, because there’s just no way to measure if it’s true.
My year in the Twitterverse
I was stupid. I was snarky. I tried very hard to distance myself from a beer drinking incident with Mike Duffy from two years ago.
Here’s a few of my favourite tweets (from about 1,500) from 2013.
Of course, issues at Collingwood council tend to dominate:
I should explain; a lawyer representing a golf course was talking about golf balls going in the backyards of a neighbouring residential development. Not so funny when I have to explain it, but I wasn't able to properly function for five minutes after he said it…
This was also the year of the FOI; requests for information under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act jumped 200% in 2012, and the pace continued through 2013:
The E-B's readers are always good for a laugh or two. Ninety-nine per cent? Completely reasonable, logical individuals. The rest?
Oh, yeah, Mike…
Local drivers always amuse me:
And then, there's just my usual stupidity…
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Cue the Ennio Morricone soundtrack…
The good: Councillor Kevin Lloyd’s proposal to reinvigorate the town’s moribund (dead?) economic development department.
Formerly the home of aborted branding strategies ($45,000 of your tax dollars) and incomplete and shelved studies, Lloyd’s proposal to link the local agencies concerned with economic development is a positive initiative.
The last economic development study, presented to council in 2011, featured statistical information that was five years out of date along with a message that ‘smokestacks won’t be locating to Collingwood.’ Yes, we know — we’d been hearing the same thing for 15 years.
Lloyd’s proposal is the first, positive, tangible step I’ve seen on the file in some time, and harnesses the strengths of a variety of different organizations: the BIA, the chamber, Centre for Business and Economic Development, the Small Business Enterprise Centre. In the case of the proposed mandate of retaining business and targeting new business opportunities, the CBED and SBEC have both excelled, though the latter’s achievements don’t often get the credit it — or its executive director, Gillian Fairley — is due (SBEC is behind the very successful Summer Company program that encourages youth entrepreneurship).
It’s a great direction for the community…
The bad: Well, maybe not so much ‘bad’ as ‘perplexing’. Council’s reaction to Don May’s comments on the grain terminals last week; it’s not that I disagree with Don — in fact, I agree with him wholeheartedly — or disapprove of council’s new direction (I don’t).
It’s just that, well, I said pretty much the same thing more than a year ago, both here and in the E-B…
I realize it’s a sign of weakness for councillors to acknowledge what’s published in the Enterprise-Bulletin carries a modicum of reliability, but sometimes (just sometimes), I think we hit the mark.
Which leads me to…
The ugly: Councillor Ian Chadwick’s Cold-Shoulder War with myself and The Enterprise-Bulletin just demonstrates how bush-league and childish a municipal politician can get.
I was moderately amused when I suddenly found myself blocked from his Twitter account; after all, this is the same guy who mocked Chris Carrier when the former mayor pre-emptively blocked both Chadwick and me from following him. Now, as I discover, he also blocked The Enterprise-Bulletin from following him as well, and being able to read what he posts.
Is that the action of an accountable politician?
Or is this: in his book, Politically Speaking…, Chadwick writes:
Return calls and emails, and provide information as necessary in a timely manner.
To the E-B:
Chadwick did not respond to a request for comment, both by email and by phone, prior to the Enterprise-Bulletin’s presstime.
He may think he’s punishing the E-B, but in reality he’s only telling the readers of the Enterprise-Bulletin that he doesn’t feel he needs to be accountable to them.
I realize the councillor is unhappy with our coverage of Better Together Collingwood (the opinion of friends masquerading as front page news, as he puts it), and I’m certain he doesn’t like being chided for accusing Councillor Keith Hull for voting to raise taxes by voting against applying the Collus sales proceeds to the purchase of the Sprung buildings. As Chadwick wrote in his book:
Controversy and conflict can polarize the community. Be sure, or present a different, less confrontational message.
Or maybe how ridiculous he looks for pulling a graphic of the Sprung Shield from the Sprung website for the town’s flyer without determining whether or not it was relevant.
Maybe he needs to go back and read his chapter on Reporters: Allies or Adversaries?:
Grow a thicker skin: You can’t win every battle, you can’t always get the coverage you want, you can’t always expect praise or even recognition. Elected officials are always open to criticism, so learn to live with it…
Some politicians never get past being criticized…
If you show reporters respect, if you are open, honest, and accessible to them, you will in turn gain from them a level of mutual respect. This will not necessarily mean agreement, nor will it free you from criticism; it’s a much healthier relationship than an adversarial one.
I realize Chadwick has chosen political self-interest over our supposed friendship, which is fine. But I can’t help think that Chadwick, as E-B editor (he was editor about 15 years ago), would be outraged at the actions of Chadwick the councillor. As several people have pointed out to me, Chadwick needs to be thrown into a time machine and sent back to 1997 — where the editor could have a little heart-to-heart with the councillor…
Or, as he wrote in Politically Speaking…:
You may not be friends with your media contacts, but you should at least recognize that they are doing a job they care about. Find ways to help them do that job so that their work with you is not problematic. Respect will work both ways.
The last two Mondays, I’ve taken advantage of the fact I’m not sitting at town council to head out onto the bay in one of the canoe club’s outrigger canoes.
While I generally eschew distance paddling when the bay is on the choppy side, I decided to challenge myself the last couple of weeks, heading in the direction of Nottawasaga Island in the face of waves a couple of feet high from crest to trough.
It’s not a route I usually take, even when the water is like glass. I usually head out to a green buoy about three-and-a-half clicks off the end of the spit, then across to a red marker about a kilometre northeast of the island, and back to the harbour.
But when I headed out last Monday, I took a turn northwest of the channel — and just kept paddling.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been close enough to the Nottawasaga lighthouse to get a sense of how much deterioration has taken place. The last time was 2007, while I was operating a safety boat for an adventure race and took the photo that accompanies this article.
The steel bands had only been installed a year or so prior, intended to prevent further deterioration of the outside layer of the 150-year-old structure.
Those bands had a five-year lifespan.
First, some history:
The lighthouse, built in the 1850s and staffed until the late 1950s, was powered in later years by solar energy. While it was no longer maintained by the Coast Guard as a navigation building, the light was still working until 2010.
I haven’t seen the light on in some time, and suspect it has either since burned out, or the solar panels are no longer functional.
The 32-metre tower — one of six Imperial Towers erected on the Great Lakes — was a frequent target for lightning strikes, superheating water that had worked its way past the limestone exterior and into the interior core.
That generated steam that pushed out and widened cracks in the wall — which in turn would allow more moisture inside.
In 2004, a piece of the section facing Collingwood slid away, necessitating action by the feds — at the urging of local officials, and, most notably, Jim Kilgour.
Hence the steel bands, which cost $400,000.
Jim, who passed away last year, was like a dog with a bone when it came to the lighthouse. He lobbied politicians at all levels to step up to the plate, to come up with the nearly $4.5 million needed to restore the lighthouse to its former glory.
In 2003, when Kilgour brought the lighthouse’s condition to the attention of politicians, Fisheries and Oceans estimated the cost to restore the tower would have been about $600,000.
In a letter to the town’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee in 2010, Kilgour warned the tower could “collapse with no further attempts to stabilize the structure.
“A significant part of our town’s marine heritage could be lost,” wrote Kilgour.
In 2010, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans declared Canada’s more than 1,000 lighthouses surplus. The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, passed in 2008, would normally protect the lighthouse and require the government to maintain them; ironically, the Act excludes lighthouses that are declared surplus from being designated under the Act unless a community group or private owner commits to acquire and protect their heritage character.
In a story written by Emily Innes last year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the Nottawasaga lighthouse is by far the lighthouse in the worst condition in Georgian Bay, but that they will do “nothing at this time.”
This Monday, I again paddled to the island, just to confirm what I’d seen the week previous. The bands have begun to loosen their hold on the lighthouse’s exterior, and have started to sag.
More bricks have fallen, even from the most recent pics posted to the Help Save the Nottawasaga Lighthouse Facebook group by Nick Brindisi.
A local group has been trying to find a way to preserve the lighthouse, but without any money or political will behind them, it’s hard to say what kind of impact they’ll have.
I’m no engineer, but I would be very surprised if the lighthouse is still on Collingwood’s horizon past 2014.
The question remains: will someone throw the lighthouse a lifeline before it’s too late?
On July 8, 1944, just a little after 1 a.m., Hauptmann Gerhard Raht’s Ju-88 came up from below the crew of LM 129, and the Luftwaffe pilot unleashed a barrage from his 20 mm cannons into the Lancaster.
The bullets tore through the aluminum skin of the four-engined bomber, setting the rear of the plane ablaze, and if not killing the rear gunner instantly, then surely sealing his death.
My grandfather, Flight Sgt. Jack Fisher, was the wireless operator aboard LM 129, flying out of RAF Spilsby as part of Bomber Command’s 207 Squadron. On that night in 1944, they had been tasked with bombing a V-1 storage depot the Germans had tucked into the limestone caverns near St. Leu D’Esserent in northern France.
A raid two nights previous had been unsuccessful, but on this night, the planes of Bomber Command were able to complete their assignment to block the entrances. It was with a heavy cost, however, as the RAF lost 37 planes – five of which were from 207 Squadron
My grandfather’s plane never made it t the target site, instead spiralling to the ground and crashing near a road that runs between Auvers Sur Oise and Hérouville (now known as Rue François Mitterrand).
My grandfather got out, as did the flight engineer, navigator, and bomb aimer; the bodies of the two gunners, Richard Seddon and John Marwood, and the pilot, Flying Officer Charlie Stamp, were found in a field a few days later. Stamp’s parachute was partially open, meaning he made it out of the plane, but was too close to the ground when he jumped (my grandfather had jumped at 18,000 feet). They are now buried at the communal cemetery at Auvers, along with a dedication to the people who assisted the four crewmen who survived, and recognized five townspeople who had been hauled off to the concentration camps by the Gestapo for their role in the funeral for the airmen. None of them returned.
My grandfather didn’t know what had been done to the local people for nearly 50 years.
My grandfather walked to a village near where he landed, northeast of the crash: Labbeville. There, a farmer bade him to sleep in a haystack for the night, and the next day he was hidden in a shed until later in the day when another man came with two bicycles to lead him to an Underground contact in Parmain. A few days later he was taken into Paris, where he stayed with several other airmen at the home of Yvonne Diximeir.
On Aug. 14, 1944, while he and several others were being transported to the south of France, to a camp for Allied airmen who were being funneled through Spain on their way back to England, when they were caught in the middle of a firefight between members of the resistance and a German secret police unit. After their capture – during which the airmen were nearly executed – they were taken back to Paris, interrogated, then distributed to the various prisoner-of-war camps; my grandfather ended up at a camp in Silesia, in what is now in the southwest corner of Poland.
Before war’s end, he and several thousand other POWs would be marched into the heart of Germany – some for a few days, and others, like my grandfather, for three weeks before they were loaded onto cattle cars for a POW camp outside of Luckenwalde.
So on this day, I remember the sacrifices of the crew of LM 129 – the three airmen who died in the crash, and the four who survived the war (three in prison camp, one was able to evade capture), including my grandfather who died in 2004.