Craig’s Commentary


Volume 1 Number 22

26 June 2011

Craig Responds To OSST Article “Council Investigates Beach Cleanup”

 Editor:

 The title of Rob Gowan’s article about the beach at Sauble “Council Investigates Beach Cleanup” is very biased.  A better title, albeit a tad biased in the other direction, would be “Council considers destructive raking and removal of dune-building snow fences.”

 I find the driftwood on the beach very natural, and very beautiful.  I find a raked, manicured beach worse than ugly.  But that doesn’t make it a fact.  It’s just my opinion. Similarly, Ms. Jackson’s rhetoric “horrible mess…, It is ugly, …. I really just want the beach cleaned up”, no matter how often repeated, is still just her opinion – not fact.

 We’re never going to agree which state is ugly and which is beautiful, so whether to rake the driftwood and the beach needs to be decided on other factors.

 One is the plovers.  By law, their habitat requires protection.  And their habitat, by law, includes more than the 50 meter radius around a nest.  And the driftwood is part of their habitat.  So according to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the driftwood needs to remain, at least for a while.

 Raking the beach loosens and dries the sand, making it easier to blow away.  When the sand blows away, there is less left on the beach, the beach gets wetter, the beach is less comfortable, the sand near shore has more E.Coli, the water near shore has more E.Coli, and the beach is less safe.

 Raking the natural grass makes sand loss even worse.

 The snow fence is there to promote dune formation.  Again not everyone finds the dunes beautiful.  But they are a fragile habitat in need of protection.  And the dunes are key to keeping the sand on the beach.

 Taking the snow fences down for the summer would defeat the whole purpose of dune protection and restoration.

 Ms. Jackson apparently said on June 21: “I do not want aggressive raking. I really just want the beach cleaned up.”

 Yet her June 14 motion is minuted as: “…AND THAT Sauble Beach maintenance north of sixth street north to the Sauble River will be performed on an on-going basis from May 15 to September 15 of each  year.

 “An ongoing basis” seems somewhat aggressive to me.

 In saying:  “Friends of Sauble Beach must work with other residents and figure out how to share the beach”, is Ms. Jackson saying that The Friends of Sauble Beach (FOSB) are hoarding the beach, and not sharing?  If so, the statement is ridiculous.  FOSB have worked hard to protect the beach and dunes so that there is still a beach left to share.  And by putting in access boardwalks, FOSB have made the beach accessible to all, including the less mobile. FOSB have never ever claimed that the beach is theirs to share or not.  FOSB have always believed not only that the beach belongs to all the inhabitants, but also that the inhabitants have an obligation to ensure that the beach is not overused into degradation or destruction.

 Instead of gratuitously accusing others of not playing nice in the sandbox, Ms. Jackson might show a little thanks.

 Compromise is necessary in many situations, like marriages and labour contract negotiations.

 Some want no raking so that the sand is kept at the beach.  Others want the beach raked, meaning lots of sand loss.  Should we compromise at losing half the sand?

 And should we compromise at losing half the piping plovers?

 In this situation we need some common sense and some good governance, not a knee-jerk leap into “let’s compromise”.

 So please, Ms. Jackson, stop directing us to compromise our beach.  The health of the beach is not negotiable.

 Craig Gammie

SaubleBeach

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Craig’s Commentary


Volume 1 Number 23

26 June 2011

More Untruths From The Office Of The CAO Re The Sauble Core Area Growth Study

 And eloquent dishonesty just rolls right off her tongue (sung to the tune of Linda Rhonstadt’s 1975 “Roll ‘Em Easy”)

 In 2007 an Environmental Study Report (ESR) was published for public review. The ESR was for sewers for the Sauble downtown core area only, about 320 connections –  a small part ofSaubleBeach.

 An RFP (Request for Proposal) was issued about April 2008 – for a Growth Study for the Sauble Downtown Core Area.  The RFP indicated that “ if council makes a commitment, through the EA process, to provide [downtown core area – 320 connections] services, a review of existing official plan development policies will have to be undertaken.” 

 The basis of the downtown core area growth plan study was clearly the sewers project for the downtown core area.

 Neither the ESR nor the downtown core area sewers project had been approved at this point, so the legitimacy of the RFP was, at best, questionable.  The RFP was issued anyway.

 On September 19, 2008, the 2007 ESR was accepted by Ministry of Environment – Sauble downtown core area only – about 320 connection. This made the RFP legitimate.

 Coincidentally (but maybe not a coincidence), on September 19, 2008, CUESTA Planning Consultants submitted a proposal “Growth Plan for Sauble Core Area.”

 The CUESTA proposal was dated the same day as the Minister’s approval to proceed with the 320 connection core area sewers project.   This gave the proposal some legitimacy that it would not have had even one day earlier.

 The CUESTA proposal was accepted September 29, 2008 per by-law 131-2008, just 10 days after the town received the proposal.

 In early 2010 the downtown core area sewers project was cancelled and the Environmental Assessment (EA) was reopened.  The EA was reopened ostensibly because the costs to do the 320 connection project would have been much higher than originally expected.  The CUESTA core area growth study project was based on the assumption of sewers in the core area.  With the cancellation of the 320 connections core area sewers project, the core area growth study lost its legitimacy, and should have been put on ice, and should have been suspended pending completion and resolution of the reopened EA.

 It was not put on ice.

 Instead of putting the downtown core area growth study on ice, the growth study was expanded to a growth study for all of Sauble Beach, a growth study even less legitimate than the core area growth study that it replaced.

 In July 2010, CUESTA published a draft discussion document that was a growth study not for the sauble downtown core area, but rather for all of Sauble.

 The growth study for all of Sauble was based on an assumption of sewers for all of Sauble, a completely unsupportable assumption.

 As of Early 2010 there was no longer any reason for proceeding with the Sauble Core area growth study.  And there never was a legitimate reason for proceeding with a growth study for all of Sauble.

 Having no legitmate reason for proceeding, the growth study for all of Sauble still went forward anyway.

 Lack of legitimacy was only one problem.  An additional problem is that the all-sauble growth study was not done for the benefit of the inhabitants who paid for it, but rather was done for the benefit of the development sector, the tourism industry, and the planning consultants who stood to gain so much work, and so much money, from having sewers across all of Sauble.

 The growth study should have been put on ice in 2010.  The growth study did not meet its requirements.  The study went, without authorization, outside its mandate.  No part of the growth strategy, including the unauthorized excursion outside the mandate, provided anything of any value, and may in fact have caused a lot of harm to the inhabitants.

 In July 2010 I and others made clear that the growth study was done for the benefit of developers and commercial operations to the detriment of the inhabitants, and that the switch from the Sauble core area was inappropriate, unjustified, and harmful.

 On February 2, 2011 I submitted a report to council which documented the improper focus on developers, the tourism industry, and planners, and the inappropriate, unauthorized, costly, and harmful switch from the downtown core area to all of Sauble.  COA Cook, the Mayor, and the Clerk branded my report as “defamatory”, and made sure that my report was not considered by council (see my commentary number 15 for details).

 On February 1, 2011 the CAO was instructed by council to determine whether CUESTA had gone “beyond their mandate”.  This request was a bit ambiguous, but from the unminuted Committee discussion it is clear that the council request was that the CAO determine not only whether CUESTA had gone beyond their mandate, but also whether CUESTA had met requirements, and whether CUESTA had provided anything of value.

 A June 19, 2011 report from the CAO to council did not answer the question of whether CUESTA had gone beyond their mandate, or whether CUESTA had met requirements, or whether CUESTA had provided anything of value, or anything else.

 When probed in the COW meeting of June 21, the CAO finally admitted that CUESTA had gone beyond their mandate.

 But the COA also suggested that previous council had authorized the switch by not challenging the switch when the discussion document was circulated to council about May of 2010.

 This is a mistruth. Council provides authorizations through council discussion and resolution or bylaw.   No such authorization was given.  I cannot even find where the draft growth study report was ever discussed by council.  I expect that only a few council members even looked at it.

The CAO also indicated that the growth study was expanded in keeping with the expanded sewers project.  (This was captured in the Committee of the Whole (COW) June 21minutes as what committee had discussed, but it was the CAO who said it).

 This is another mistruth.  There was no expanded sewers project and there is no expanded sewers project, and if we can manage somehow to get away from the constant stream of mistruths, and from the skullduggery, there will be not be an “expanded sewers project”.

 The CAO also indicated that CUESTA going beyond their mandate did not cost the town anything, (“There have been no additional costs to the Town” (COW minutes June 21))  presumably because CUESTA did not charge beyond what was in their proposal.  But this CAO statement is another mistruth, because in going beyond their mandate CUESTA provided nothing of value, and so the extra cost to the inhabitants was actually not zero, but rather the $20,000 that was paid for nothing of value delivered.

 When a consultant goes off in a direction that is unauthorized, and does not meet agreed-upon requirements, and does not produce anything of value, and sends a hefty bill, the responsible thing to do is to not pay them.  The irresponsible thing to do is to pay them and invite them back to do more.

 Yet, apparently fooled by the CAO’s mistruths, members of the COW made a recommendation to council (themselves) to invite CUESTA back for more:

 “THAT Council invites Cuesta to make a presentation to Council regarding the Sauble Growth Study.”

 https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=42848

 Furthermore, Councillor Kirkland was so fooled that he suggested that staff simply change the RFP to match what CUESTA produced, then back-date the change to before the first growth study document, and presto! – conformance to requirements,  issue resolved, irregularities buried, carry on as if nothing wrong ever happened.

 The CAO, supposedly the chief servant of the public, is bound to furthering the public interest.    If the CAO had the public interest at heart, the CAO would not deceive council and the public, but would rather make clear that CUESTA switched without authorization to a radically different study, that CUESTA switched to a completely illegitimate study, that CUESTA did not even approach meeting requirements, and that CUESTA was paid $20,000 for a document that is virtually worthless.  And the CAO would do the right thing and recommend that council demand that any money paid to CUESTA be returned.

 For the CAO to issue mistruths so egregiously, somebody has to be pulling the CAO’s strings.  That “somebody” is clearly the pro-sewers consortium.  If anyone has any idea why the CAO dances so willingly and spritely to the “Sauble-sewers jig”, I sure would like to hear about it.

 CUESTA should be shown the door.  And while the door is open, maybe some of the help might be encouraged to take their schemes elsewhere.

 Craig Gammie

 

Craig’s Commentary


Volume 1 Number 21 

(revised)20 June 2011

In my commentary number 21, about Coucillor Jackson’s motions to intensively rake the beach and get rid of snow fences, I indicated, in error, that Councillor Jackson had tried to limit public input by getting the motions discussed in council in the same meeting as they were introduced.  In fact, Councillor Jackson asked that the motions not be discussed in the same meeting as they were introduced.  I offer my sincere apologies to Councillor Jackson.

 My commentary number 21 has been revised below to correct my error.

 The Beach Raking Controversy: Why has Councillor Jackson Forsaken the Residents?

 In January and February of this year, amid considerable flack from some council colleagues, Councillor Janice Jackson took on the nasty pro-sewers consortium, and in so doing demonstrated her clear dedication to the public and her dedication to her role as representative of ward three.   Ms. Jackson made it crystal clear that she is a strong voice for the people, and a voice that will not be silenced.

 So it came as a great surprise on June 14th when Councillor Jackson introduced two motions that in my view are so very contrary to the interests of the ward 3 residents.

  The two motions were:

1)                     THAT snow fencing and posts on SaubleBeachbe removed immediately.
AND FURTHER THAT snow fencing be permitted each year from October 15 to April 15
only.

2)                    THAT Sauble Beach maintenance commence immediately from sixth street north to
the Sauble River with the exception of a 50 meter radius of an MNR identified
piping plover nest.
AND THAT Sauble Beach maintenance will include but not be limited to the removal of all debris followed by raking and tilling of the sand within four meters of  major dunes.
AND THAT Sauble Beach maintenance north of sixth street north to the Sauble River will be performed on an on-going basis from May 15 to September 15 of each  year.

 Ms. Jackson also did an interview in which she offered the opinion that the beach is a “horrible mess” and that she wants to see it cleaned up.

 Given her great record I am willing to overlook these motions and the rhetoric as rookie missteps.   (And there was a full moon on June 14th).  But I also feel compelled to be very candid about the seriousness of the missteps, and to be very forceful in demanding that the motions be retracted.   

 I have concerns about Ms. Jackson’s failure to consider the public interest and her failure to consider all the residents of Ward 3, and I have concerns about her motions.

 Failure to consider the public interest; failure to consider all the residents

 The role of council is provided in the municipal act, in part, as:

 224.  It is the role of council, (a)  to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality; ….

 And in her oath of office Ms. Jackson swore:

 “I will truly, faithfully and impartially exercise this office to the best of my knowledge and ability”.

 In her one-sided rhetorical description (“terrible mess”), councillor Jackson has failed to properly  “represent the public” and has failed to “consider the well-being and interests of the municipality”.  (In the Municipal Act in this context “municipality” means “the inhabitants”). 

 The Municipal Act doesn’t say consider special interests, and it doesn’t say consider an individual’s view of the lake, and it doesn’t say consider the interests of the tourism industry, and it doesn’t say consider only the interests of the people who see the splendor of nature as a “terrible mess”.  And it certainly does not suggest putting private interests ahead of the public interest.

 The Municipal Act is clear – it says “represent the public” and “consider the interests of the [inhabitants]”.

So it’s crystal clear to me that in introducing the motions Ms. Jackson was neither truly, nor faithfully, nor impartially, exercising her office to the best of her knowledge and ability..

 To rake or not to rake 

 Which is more beautiful…

 1.         a raked beach, free of driftwood, free of  vegetation, free of dunes, scarce on shore birds ?- – or ,

 healthy dunes, driftwood, native plants, vibrant shorebird populations?

 It’s clear that there are differing opinions.  Some see the dunes and driftwood on the beach as the best of nature’s beauty, to be enjoyed.   Others see the dunes as an eyesore and an interference with their pleasure, to be bulldozed, and see the driftwood on the beach as a ‘horrible mess” and a diminishing of their beach experience, and speak of the plovers “let’s get rid of the little buggers”.

 To the question of which is more beautiful, there is no right answer – as beauty, in this circumstance, is indeed in they eye of the beholder.  

 But the beach raking issue, from a public policy perspective, is much deeper than which scenario is more pleasing.

 We have some duty as a town to provide common areas for the residents to use and enjoy – parks, beaches, community centres, etc.

 But we also have a duty as a town to ensure that the common areas are not overused, and we especially have a duty to ensure that rare and fragile ecosystems are protected and restored.

 The natural state is driftwood on the beach providing habitat for plovers and other shorebirds, grass growing near the dunes on the water side, and healthy dunes.

 The dune system and the beach itself are fragile ecosystems, easily damaged by overuse and excessive manicuring.

 Raking the sand dries the sand and promotes loss of the sand from the beach system.

 Raking and cultivating the native beach grass promotes sand loss, and also reduces the dune – sheltering effect of the grass, promoting even more sand loss.

 Snow fences were put in to help get the beach ecosystem back in balance.   Until the restored dunes and the beach grasses are recovered enough to protect the dunes, removal of the snow fences would leave the dunes less protected, and vulnerable to sand loss and dune loss.

 The Friends of Sauble Beach have taken on the task of restoring and protecting the dunes and the beach ecosystem.  The group has also done projects that improve access to the beach for those who are less mobile.  This group of volunteers has been recognized for their accomplishments, and for their contribution to the public good.

 While they deserve our thanks for their service to the public, what they got instead, in Councillor Jackson’s June 14th motions, was a kick in the face.

 The proper public policy is to encourage use of the commons, but also to prevent overuse.

 The proper public policy is to let the native grasses protect and grow the dunes.

 The proper public policy is to leave the snow fences until such a time as the native grasses are well established enough to protect and maintain the dunes.

 The proper public policy is to consider the shorebirds’ habitat and leave at least some of the driftwood.

 The proper public policy is to discontinue the costly and destructive raking.  (And yes there are far better ways to deal with the garbage left by the tourists).

 While it is our duty as a town to provide common places, and while it is our duty to protect these places from destructive overuse, it is not our obligation as a town to cater to every resident’s demands, especially when the cost of meeting those demands would be born by others (beach raking is paid for by all residents).

 This is true even if the demands are made by a councillor.

 In the June 21 meeting of the Committee of the Whole, Councillor Jackson will have an opportunity to retract her motions.  I can only hope she does the right thing.

 Craig

Craig’s Commentary


Volume 1 Number 20 

19 June 2011

 This edition of Craig’s Commentary contains two parts.

 Part “A” has excerpts from the June 21st COW Agenda, without any comment.

 Part “B” is my comments about a few select items in the June 21st  COW Agenda

 Part “A” – Excerpts from the COW 21 June 2011 Agenda

 5.3. CAO 61-2011 Sauble Growth Study

 Staff Recommendation: THAT Council provides direction on the matter

 5.7. CLK 33-2011 Wiarton Willie Festival Committee Request for Appointment of

Town Representative

 Recommendation: THAT Council provides direction regarding representation on the

Wiarton Willie Festival Committee

5.9. DC-8-2011 Limiting Manufacturing and Packaging to Products That Can be

Recycled

 Staff Recommendation: THAT Council notes the contents.

 5.11. Septic Re-Inspections

 5.15. PW47-2011 Water Meter Grant

 Staff Recommendation: THAT Council proceed with the installation of the water

meters on the Amabel-Sauble Water System in 2011, up to a value of $25,000.00;

AND FURTHER THAT the installation of water meters on the Amabel-Sauble Water

System proceed on a voluntary basis in 2011

AND FURTHER THAT the installation of water meters on the Amabel-Sauble Water

System continue in 2012 on a voluntary basis, up to a value of $25,000.00 as allowed for

under the OSWAP2 grant.

 5.20. Sauble Beach Water and Sewer Report Adhoc Committee Meeting

Suggestions/Bowman

 6.4. Notice of Motion (June 14) Snow Fencing at Sauble Beach/Jackson

 6.5. Notice of Motion (June 14) Sauble Beach Maintenance-Jackson

 6.6. CAO 58-2011 Request to Consider Capital Expenditures for Airport (Special

COW June 14)

 Part “B”  –  Craig’s comments

 5.3. CAO 61-2011 Sauble Growth Study

 An RFP was issued for a growth study.  It was clearly for the Sauble Core Area.

 Cuesta submitted a proposal clearly for the Core Area of Sauble Beach  ( about one tenth of sauble).

 Cuesta did the study not for the core area as required, but rather for all of SaubleBeach.

 Part of the standard contract reads that the contractor will not be paid for work done outside the RFP terms and outside the accepted proposal unless authorized by council.

 Cuesta clearly did not meet the terms of their contract.

 Cuesta should not be paid for work done outside of the core area.

 COA cook was asked on February 1st to find out if Cuesta went beyond the terms of their contract.

 COA report 61 -2011 above in section “A” is her response.

 The report, which could have been been done properly in about 20 minutes, took many weeks, and evaded the question asked, I believe deliberately.  Instead of answering the question, “did Cuesta go beyond their mandate?”, COA Cook evaded the question and even perpetuated the breach of requirement by improperly calling the agenda item and her report “Sauble Growth Study”, instead of the proper name “Sauble Beach Core Area Growth Study”.

 CAO cook should be reprimanded for the evasion, and for the attempt to scam council and the public.

 On February 2nd I sent a report to clerk and council that indicated very clearly that Cuesta had not met requirements and had switched the study, without authority, from core area only to all of sauble.  My report also exposed the scam.  It’s summarized in my “commentary number 15”, which includes a link to the full report.  My report was in CAO Cook’s hands one day after she was requested to answer whether Cuesta had gone beyond their mandate.  My report answered that question.  Yet Rhonda Cook tried to bury my report as “defamatory”.  It’s clear why it was buried.  It’s because Ms. Cook did not want he question answered honestly.

 And the Cuesta request for a meeting (in section “A” above) tries to perpetuate the scam.  It calls the study “Sauble Growth Study” instead of the proper name “Sauble Core Area Study”.   And it talks about the growth study as if it is about sewers for all of Sauble.  And it talks as if sewers for all of Sauble is a done deal.  And it requests a meeting with the Sewers committee which has a Sauble-wide mandate, as if the committee were in some way connected to Cuesta’s task.

 Cuesta talks as if they have some mandate to start planning for growth at all of Sauble beach.  They don’t have any such mandate.  And they should be told, again, that they will not be paid.  And they should be denied any meetings with the sewers committee, with staff, with council, with anyone else.  They messed up rather badly and they should not be encouraged to make it any worse.

 —————

As a member of the town corporate I am getting bloody tired of paying an employee of the town corporate a ridiculously huge salary to feed council and the public a steady stream of lies, distortions, obfuscation, evasion, and omission of critical information.

 And I am bloody well insulted that any member of staff would think the people of TSBP are too stupid to see through it all. 

 And I am bloody sick and tired of paying for a lawyer to come after me for saying so.

 This has to end.

 Council should recognize that we have a very serious problem, and deal with it. 

 5.7. CLK 33-2011 Wiarton Willie Festival Committee Request for Appointment of

Town Representative

 The Wiarton Willie festival is largely a tourist industry event, packaged to look like a community event so that the tourist industry can more easily steal money from the town treasury.   The festival committee is not a council committee and should not have a council representative.  Prediction morning is traditionally a town event.  But it is covered by staff.

 5.9. DC-8-2011 Limiting Manufacturing and Packaging to Products That Can be

Recycled

 I agree with the staff recommendation  to “ note the contents”.   Packaging isOntario policy.  If the public wants to comment on that policy they can do so through MPP’s or direct to the government ofOntario.   For TSPB to make a resolution in support or against packaging policy would be suggesting that the council represents the people on this matter.  This would be false pretences and it would be objectionable.  The staff recommendation is correct.

 5.11. Septic Re-Inspections

 There is much misinformation in the various reports from CBO McFadden and others.

 Contrary to staff reports, the truth is:

 1.         There is no requirement from any ministry that septic system reinspections be conducted in TSBP.  There is no “proposed requirement from the Ministry”.

 2.       There is a draft proposal that septic systems reinspections be conducted on an area of TSBP with about 150 systems, but it is not final.

 3          There is no requirement in the building code or the proposed changes to the building code that requires septic reinspection in TSBP.

 4.         The BNQ standard is not a requirement for TSBP systems.

 I support a septic reinspection program.  But the septic reinspection program needs to be thought through and based on facts before we jump in based on false information.

 5.15. PW47-2011 Water Meter Grant

 In the June 7 meeting MPW Dwyer stated that “with meters, for most users, water costs will go down”.   This is false, preposterous.   Water meter costs will not go down for most users. 

 Water meters cost $370 installed.   Water consumption would have to drop pretty significantly to justify that cost on an average cost basis.   No financial analysis has been shared.  I don’t believe it was ever done.  Meters might be justified on a fairness basis, but not on a reduced average cost basis.

 This whole thing needs to be properly thought through before any action is taken.

 It should not proceed on a voluntary basis unless all users know that the rate setting is fair. 

 5.20. Sauble Beach Water and Sewer Report Adhoc Committee Meeting

Suggestions/Bowman

 There seems to be a lot of concern about procedure.  (See section “A” above).  Procedural issues can be addressed by looking at the procedural manual, which applies to all committees of council. 

 I would recommend less time talking about a dress code for sewers committee meetings, and more time on getting the truth out.

 And do we really want to go through the recorder issue again?  Shame on you, Councillor Bowman, for even thinking about it.

 6.4. Notice of Motion (June 14) Snow Fencing at Sauble Beach/Jackson

 6.5. Notice of Motion (June 14) Sauble Beach Maintenance-Jackson

 My comments on the two beach motions are in a separate “commentary”.   I do not support the motions.

 6.6. CAO 58-2011 Request to Consider Capital Expenditures for Airport

 Here are my comments from a previous commentary:

 This matter was settled in the budget.  Council decided not to put any capital funds into the airport.  The matter should stay settled.

 The airport runs deficits every year.

 And it will just keep getting worse.  It’s time to bail out.

  Craig

Fair Weather Friends!


In this area more particularly Grey and Bruce County, I find it interesting that everyone wants to bring in outsiders with money to boost the local economy. This is fair practice, however in Grey and Bruce they are happy as long as the money is flowing their way.

A fair weather friend is the type who is always there when times are good but forgets about you when things get difficult or problems crop up.

The “outsiders” are welcome as long as the green is flowing! The minute there is a hiccup and the funds slow down, the locals turn their back. You cannot get service, you don’t get return calls.

The term “Cidiots” is commonly used by the locals, when referring to outsiders. This is indicative of the mentality of most locals in this area!

It seems if you were not born here ,you next to never become a belonger. Not that anyone would want to be!

There are contractors as well as retailers up here that fit this profile and frankly I am getting sick of this mentality!

Folks that are retiring up here are getting soaked by the local trades charging city prices even though their overheads are significantly lower. Believe it or not we need these people coming in, as we don’t have an economy without them!

The local real estate market is in the toilet as the number of sales have dropped hugely from people coming into the area. The number of folks moving out of the area has increased dramatically, and they are reducing their sale prices to get out. Maybe  this is good for some now but it is going to bite everyone in the ass in the future.

No not all players up here are of this mentality, but the ones that are, give everybody up here a bad name.

Take the money and run seems to be the general attitude!

Between the stupidity of the local governments and the gouging of the trades it is no wonder there is no growth economically. We sit and watch jobs leave this area every day and are helpless in stopping it.

Yet the minute someone tries to do anything up here the NIMBY syndrome surfaces. It is sick!

“Oh yes Mr. Developer we want your business here, as long as you pay though the nose we will give you what ever you like.  That is as long as you aren’t Chinese, Packy, Moslem, Mexican or anything else we don’t like cause if you are the price keeps going up.”

I have witnessed hypocrisy at its finest here. I know of a local church that has asked one of its members not to come to the church any more when he explained to his preacher that he had a drug problem. Mighty neighbourly!

I have heard nightmares of folks who have paid outrageous prices to find that the price goes up significantly before they are finished.

Definition

fair-weather friend noun

Click to hear the UK pronunciation of this wordClick to hear the US pronunciation of this word/ˌfeə.weð.əˈfrend//ˌfer.
someone who is a good friend when it is easy for them to be one and who stops when you are having problems
 
We have lost yet another 131 jobs this week in Owen Sound. This signifies that the last one leaving should turn off the lights.
 
He but the unions are happy, we have the new rec center getting built and the strikes all being settled with the post office etc..
 
When I grow up I am gonna gets me a gov’mt job as I don’t have to work, get a great pension and I just have ta say harassment and they give me a lawyer.
 
Stupid is as stupid does.
 
In Panama, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile to name but a few they are marketing to attract the retirement crowd! In Grey Bruce we insult them, over charge them and under service them!
 
It takes 5 people 8 hours to install a door over at the Point all making 50+ an hour! No wonder we are all broke!
 
There is no productivity, arrogance and hostility. The good people in this area deserve better!
 
 
 
BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Bruce
 

Craig’s Commentary


Volume 1 Number 19 

13 June 2011

This edition of Craig’s Commentary contains four parts.

 Part “A” has excerpts from the June 14th Council Agenda, without any comment.

 Part “B” is my comments about a few select items in the June 14th Council Agenda

 Part “C” is some excerpts from the June 14th Committee of the Whole (COW) Agenda, without any comment.

 Part “D” is my comments about a few select items in the June 14th COW Agenda

 Part “A”  – Excerpts From The June 14th Council Agenda

 Full Agenda package is at:

 https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=42554

 4.2 (Closed session) Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose (Blog)

 10.1 Schedule A Appendix 1 Item19. REVIEW OF FIREWORKS BYLAW

NO. 102-2010

 Committee discussed the fact that there are not a lot of restrictions on firework sales and the fact that there have been a number of complaints. Historically, Council had not controlled the sale in our municipality due to our proximity to the availability of fireworks on the Native Reserve. The setting off of fireworks are a problem in Wiarton as well. Members of Council hear the fireworks nightly from their homes. Manager of Emergency Services Dan Robinson indicated that the Town has the authority to restrict the sales of the fireworks. He indicated that people will purchase them wherever they can. The selling of the fireworks is not as big an issue as the enforcement of setting them off. He is aware of five charges being laid by the Town By-Law Enforcement Officer. CAO Cook explained that there had been discussions with Staff Sergeant Thompson and the enforcement of the fireworks by-law will be one of their priorities as he has advised his officers. She indicated that people should contact the OPP when the fireworks are being set off. Committee members discussed a total ban on the sale of fireworks and a ban of private fireworks.

Recommendation to Council: THAT Report FC 06-2011 be received;

AND THAT the Manager of Emergency Services be instructed to place a notice in the local newspaper explaining the fireworks by-law provisions;

AND FURTHER THAT staff monitor the effectiveness of the current by-law and report back to Council if changes are desired.

 10.1 Schedule A Appendix 1 Item 35. PW42-2011 WATER RATE EXEMPTION

Committee discussed the fact that waiting until November does not give people the opportunity to budget. Water rates may not necessarily cost more dependent upon the water usage. Manager of Public Works Dwyer indicated that in his previous experience, the water rates people pay based on usage usually are less than a flat rate. The implementation period will help the Town to quickly identify properties which have leaks internally. The meter will calculate the cubic rates used from billing date to billing date. It is the opinion of staff that there should be a minimum charge. The Town was not successful under OSWAP3. The Assistant Manager of Public Works is working on a new application under a different program with July being the anticipated date to know if funding is realized. Manager of Financial Services Neifer indicated that Amabel does not have any reserve funds. Wiarton reserves could be borrowed from to finance the Amabel meter program at the discretion of Council. Manager of Public Works Dwyer indicated that there is a grant in the Amabel system to initiate some type of meters. If we don’t borrow from the Wiarton reserve or receive a grant, Amabel would not all receive meters. Wiarton will still proceed with a metered system and metered charges. Manager of Public Works Dwyer indicated that he has not been able to work on the rate charges as he needs to come up with the usage numbers. The Manager of Public Works indicated that it would be unusual to find conservation programs at the Provincial level but he will check. Manager of Financial Services Neifer indicated she has not yet received a response from all users for the capital charges. Additional letters will be sent to those people who do not respond. Committee discussed the fact that they will discuss the minimum rate charges when a report comes forward from the Manager of Public

Works. The Manager of Public Works indicated that he does not know what the water loss is in the system; he suspects that he will find water leaks on the private and on the Town sides.

Committee discussed what would happen if people chose not to install a water meter. They discussed the fact that the program was to proceed only if there was no cost to the users.

Neptunehas contacted a member of Council to install the water meters already. The Wiarton system has sufficient funds to cover the water meters. There is a contract withNeptunewhich was approved in the 2010 budget to install the meters. There is $25,000 of grant money to install meters in the Amabel systems. Manager of Public Works Dwyer explained that we would want to begin with the municipal sites and ask for volunteers who wanted to install meters up to the $25,000 grant limit. Committee discussed the fact that they told people at the Water Meter Open House that everyone would receive a meter at the same time. Committee felt that the people onmeters would pay more than those on flat rates.Neptunewill be working on the commercial units and Town facilities first. Committee indicated that without this exemption, as soon as meters are installed, they will pay the metered rate in accordance with By-Law 26-2011. Those residents living in Georgian Bluffs are metered. Georgian Bluffs purchases water from the Town.

Recommendation to Council: THAT Council exempt each property that receives an installation of aNeptunewater meter for the first time, from the metered water rate pursuant to By-Law Number 26, 2011 during the phase-in period to November 2011;

AND THAT all existing metered properties continue to pay the metered water rate pursuant to By-Law Number 26-2011;

AND FURTHER THAT a By-Law with respect to water rates be placed before Council for consideration prior to November 2011.

 Agenda Item 12.2 PW45-2011 Variance to Budget

  Report No PW45-2011

Part “B” Comments About A Few Select Items In The June 14th Council Agenda

 4.2 (Closed session) Advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose (Blog)

 A May 24 press release issued by the mayor regarding the blog was all lies.  Contrary to the press release, the town is not required under bill 168 or under the Occupational Health and safety act to pursue any action against the blog or bloggers.  Any action against the bloggers should be a private matter, not a town matter.  The town should stop paying the CAO’s legal bills, and should close this item.  Paying the legal bills on a private matter is an improper use of taxes.

 

10.1 Schedule A Appendix 1 Item19. REVIEW OF FIREWORKS BYLAW

NO. 102-2010

The recommendation from staff is that staff take some time to determine if there is a fireworks problem.  This is silly.  We already know that we have a serious fireworks problem.  The problem is everywhere, not just at Sauble on the beach.  The enforcement regime needs to be stepped up and the sale of fireworks needs to be banned except on certain days just prior to those days when fireworks displays are allowed in certain places and under certain constraints.

Agenda Item 12.2 PW45-2011 Variance to Budget

 

The agenda item title gives no clue to what the agenda item is about.  It seems to be about  Sideoroad 15 near the new bridge.  Last fall the town spent $1.4 million to build a bridge and to rebuild a road so that it was designed to wash away.  Then when the road washed away the MPW proposed a $277,000 project to leave the road designed so that water flows over it, but modify the road so that the road does not wash away quite as much.    I said at the time that they might as well throw the money in the river.  I indicated that at least some of the washout is not from river, and maybe a lot is not from the river, I offered to determine why the road is flooding in spring, and I suggested that with a bit of careful engineering the problem might be fixed properly (so the water doesn’t wash over the road).  Council said hold on the $277,000 project and instructed MPW to hire a hydrologist, but didn’t say what the hydrologist was supposed to do.  Now MPW has brought forth an urgent item to transfer $257,000 from an account called Sideroad 15 to a surface treatment contract.   The MPW report doesn’t say what the surface treatment contract is for, or why it is so urgent.  So it looks like council says hold on the $277,000 throwaway and the MPW, having already wasted $20,000 on a hydrologist, wants as an urgent matter $257,000 of our money to throw away on surface treatment of sideroad 15.  I’m almost ready to give up.

 The MPW report should be sent back with instructions to write a new report that makes sense and gives council enough information to make good decisions.

And everything about sideroad 15 should be put in abeyance.

35. CONSENT AGENDA ITEM 5.24 PW42-2011 WATER RATE EXEMPTION

 The full discussion of water meters did not get captured in the minutes excerpted in part “A”.

 There is insufficient money to pay for water meter installation at Sauble, as expected grants did not materialize and the reserve fund for the Amabel Sauble systems is depleted.

 In the June 7 meeting Councillors Bowman and Jackson indicated that the council agreement was meters for sauble area only if it did not require funds from users as a one time payment or as installment payments.  MPW Dwyer disagreed.   MPW Dyer bought the meters and contracted installation without sufficient funds available.

 The meters have already been purchased. MPW Dwyer recommends installing water meters at Sauble as far as the available $25,000 grant will go.  Users who elect to go metered or are chosen to go metered will not know the metered rate until well after they have their meter installed.  So they will not know if they are better with metered or flat rate until well after.   This is insane.

 MPW Dwyer indicated in the June 7 meeting that with meters, water costs will go down for most users.  This might be true for Wiarton users, but for Sauble it is preposterous.

 The water meters program has turned into a fiasco.   The Sauble area meters program should be put on hold until the whole thing can be straightened out.

 Part “C”- Excerpts From The June 14th Committee Of The Whole (COW) Agenda

 Full Agenda package is at:

 https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=42516

3.2 Special Events Policy

 RECOMENDATION:

THAT Council adopts the Special Event Policy as presented.

3.5 Working Animals by-law exemption

AND THAT the Noise By-Law proceeds to third reading as exemption for working/livestock guardian dogs.

3.7 CAO 58-2011 Request to Consider Capital Expenditure for Airport

Part “D” – Comments About A Few Select Items In The June 14th COW Agenda

 3.2 Special Events Policy

 Staff is recommending that their draft special events policy be accepted.

 I recommend that it be rejected.

 There are several problems:

 The report indicates that special events are important because they benefit the town:

 This is rubbish.  In fact they are generally a drain on the town corporation.  They suck up tax dollars and diminish our enjoyment of our homes and properties and also of our common resources.

 Section 4.33 of the proposed policy – Noise allowance – should be removed.  It is far too vague and allows far too much latitude on the part of the by-laws officer.  It appears to me that it is written so that staff can more confidently cast judgment on anyone who exercises their right to enjoyment of their properties and dares to complain about noise.  The current noise by-law, with its provision to allow giving permission to make certain noise at certain events, is working fine and should remain in place. 

 In addition Section 5.1.l. of the proposed noise by-law should be removed. 

             “Section 5.1    This by-Law does not apply:

                        ……

                        l. Any activity or special event function authorized by the town.”

 This proposed exemption is completely unnecessary because the current by-law already allows the town to give permission to make noise beyond what is otherwise allowed, and this gives controlled permission, whereas the proposed by-law section 5.1.l. would hand over that control and that permission – giving to staff and event organizers.  The staff claim that the exemption 5.1.l. is required because the noise by-law currently has to be amended for every event is false.  And staff know that it is false.

 3.5 Working Dogs Noise Bylaw exemption

 People are entitled to the protection afforded by the noise by-law.  Exemptions in the bylaw should be for emergencies and necessary municipal services only.

 There were complaints about farm dogs barking.

 Staff’s approach is to make the people who complained the villains, and to punish them by removing the protection of the by-law, and by castigating them as “complainers”.  Instead of charging the people who broke the by-law, staff want to punish the people who were disturbed by the noise and who had every right to request enforcement of the bylaw.  Punishing those harmed by the contravention of the law is absurd.

 Staff recommends in report  MLEA 10-2011 that working dogs be exempted from the noise by-law.  No reason or argument is given in the report to support this recommendation.  The report should be sent back to staff to be done properly, with proper support for any recommendations made, and especially for a recommendation so bizarre.  Until a very good and clear argument can be made for the proposed exemption, the noise bylaw exemption for farm dogs should be rejected.   And that the owners need the dogs does not make a case for the exemption.

 Recommendation number 4 in the staff report is all about farm registration.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with farm dogs, and nothing to do with noise.  It appears to have been added just to confound the discussion.  Staff may want to look at this while they are fixing the report.   Staff reports are supposed to make council decision making easier, not harder.

 3.7 Request to Consider Capital Expenditure for Airport

 This matter was settled in the budget.  Council decided not to put any capital funds into the airport.  The matter should stay settled.

 The airport runs deficits every year.

 2009     -143322.81

2010     -150106.76

2011     budget -159000

 And it will just keep getting worse.  It’s time to bail out.

Craig

Craig’s Commentary


Volume 1 Number 18  

6 June 2011

The Oliphant Water System Doesn’t Work;  Why Was This Kept From The Public For Seven Months?; Why Was The System Built?

TSBP MPW Dwyer is reported as saying in a January 13th Sun Times interview:  “It’s my position if I can’t confirm that the water is disinfected, then I am not going to supply it to the public.  Consequently I elected to bring guaranteed disinfected water from Wiarton to service the people on that system.”  Mr. Dwyer was talking about the Oliphant water system.

 This move to shut off the system and truck “guaranteed disinfected” water from Wiarton must have been very reassuring for those Oliphant residents on the system, who could be confident that the errors of Walkerton were not going to happen here.

But other statements in the January 13th article are less reassuring.

The article indicates Mr. Dwyer saying that the problem was discovered “about the second or third quarter of 2010 and our operator and consulting engineer worked on the problem for a number of months. We determined that the problem was ongoing and not solvable in January of this year and immediately took action.”

The problem may not have been quite as serious as Mr. Dwyer indicated.  There are actually two disinfection systems, one called “primary disinfection”, the other “final disinfection”.  MOE officials have indicated to me that the final disinfection system was always working, with free chlorine levels continually monitored, and backed up by frequent “grab” samples, all of which indicated that the water being sent to users was disinfected.

But there definitely was a problem with the primary disinfection system.

From my point of view the question is this:  If the problem (less than required primary disinfection) was serious enough to shut down the plant and truck water from Wiarton about January 13, 2011, why was the plant kept running during the period from June 22, 2010 and January 13, 2011, when for at least part of the period the problem was known to the plant operators and to the town.

A second question is why were the 28 users of the Oliphant kept in the dark for seven months while operators and the town knew that there was a problem with the primary disinfection.

On April 12, 2011 I submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to see if I could find some answers. My FOI request and response can be viewed at: 

http://thedodge.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/foi-request-2011-2.pdf

(and soon at www.craiggammie.com).

What I discovered was a bit of a concern.

Staff knew in June 2010 that chlorine residuals at the primary disinfection system were not being continuously measured and staff knew in June 2010 from the MOE that this was a contravention of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  A provincial officer’s report of August 2010 or shortly after about a June 22 inspection reads:

“it was noted that the free chlorine analyzer installed was not calibrated properly and recording any reading.  The operating authority could not confirm if primary disinfection was being met.”

So while the operating authority (and the town) could not confirm if primary disinfection was being met, the water was supplied to the public anyway.

This was somewhat inconsistent with the January 13, 2011 position of the MPW that “if I can’t confirm that the water is disinfected, then I am not going to supply it to the public.”

Action was taken to get the measuring equipment working, but nothing was done to inform those on the system of the problem.

Sometime between June 2010 and January 2011 the chlorine residual continuous monitoring system on the primary system was brought online.  After it was brought online, it was discovered that at certain times around a filter backwash, primary system chlorine residuals could not be maintained at the required level.   So now it was not just that the operating authority could not confirm if primary disinfection was being met. It was now that the operating authority could confirm that primary disinfection was not being met.

Once again, with the knowledge that primary disinfection was not being met, the town continued to supply the water to the public, and did not inform the users.  Once again the action was somewhat inconsistent with the January 13, 2011 position of the MPW that “if I can’t confirm that the water is disinfected, then I am not going to supply it to the public.”

So critical, need-to-know information was held secret from the public until now, and, at least until January 18, from council.

The MPW January 12 report to council indicates that the Fiddlehead (Oliphant) system was shut down on January 13th, and water supplied by water truck from the Wiarton plant.  There is nothing in the MPW report about the fact that the lack of primary disinfection had been known for some time, possibly several months, and there is nothing about the fact that primary disinfection was not being met.

I cannot know for sure, but I believe that this issue was discussed in council on January 18, but it was discussed in “closed session”.

If it was really so important to shut down the system on January 13th, then it must have been just as important to shut down the system as much as seven months earlier.  Or maybe it should have never been started up.  To me there has been a mistake, and there has been a cover-up of that mistake.

If council saw the same documents that I got as a result of my FOI request, then council should have acknowledged the errors and made all known to the Oliphant water users, and to the public, and should not have participated in the cover-up.

If council did not see all of the documents, and did not know of their contents, and did not get the full and true account of what happened between June of 2010 and January of 2011, then council is another victim of the cover-up, and someone, in my opinion, has some very serious explaining to do.

Just eleven years ago, seven Walkerton residents lost their lives and 2300 became ill largely because of a failure by municipal staff to act on adverse water quality results. I believe that there was no risk of another Walkerton at Oliphant. But a problem was kept from the Oliphant water users just as a problem was kept from the people of Walkerton.  This is in my view unacceptable.

A bigger concern is why 2.2 million dollars (almost $100,000 per user) was spent to make the Oliphant system compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act, only to have the system shut down because it could not comply with the Act.  The 2.2 million project is a big part of the reason why all Sauble Area small water systems users are facing capital bills of between 7 and 8 thousand dollars, and that’s in addition to their annual $900 fees.  My very preliminary investigation suggests that the 2.2 million dollar project was chosen when much cheaper and more sensible solutions were at hand for reasons that were purely political.  I believe there was some true “fiddling” with the Fiddlehead well financial assessments, and with the decision process.  This will be the subject of a future commentary.

The Oliphant (Fiddlegate?) cover-up may leave some a bit concerned about the integrity of staff and council.  It may take some time and a bit of work to win back the confidence of TSBP residents.
Craig