Craig’s Commentary


Volume 1 Number 33

14 August 2011

RE:  August 16, 2011 Committee of the Whole Agenda

 (For the complete agenda package, click:  August 16 Agenda Package )

 Part “A” – List of select items from COW agenda package August 16 2011

  4.1. 9:00 am John Strachan-Pine Grove Park-Sewer Option 5a Objection

 4.2. 9:30 am John Chivers and Brad Casemore-Sauble Sno Riders-Clubhouse

 4.3. 10:00 am Bill Murdoch MPP-Friends of the Airport-Future of the Airport

 4.4. 11:00 am Sue Siebert-Friends of Sauble Beach-Dunes and Sandfence

 5.2.      Signs and Posts at Oliphant-Councillor McKenzie

 5.5. Residential Streets Used by ATVS-CouncillorJackson

 5.6. Correspondence from Pat Varley-Councillor Bowman

 5.8. SWSRAHC1-2011 Extension of Council ESR Consideration Date

 5.12. CLK45-2011 Policy Manual Amendment, Policy C.4.2 Harassment

 5.14. CLK47-2011 Health Unit Initiative, Smoke-Free Recreation Spaces and Beaches

 5.19. PW72-2011JewelBridge

 5.20. PW73-2011 Water Meter By-Law Update

 5.21. PW74-2011 Wiarton Infrastructure Assessment

 5.22. PW75-2011 Digital Sign forSaubleBeach

 5.25. PW78-2011 Variance to Budget-Amabel-Sauble Water System

 6.2. August 9, 2011 By-Law 99-2011 ThirdReading

 6.3. August 9, 2011 Council Minutes Item 12; Schedule A Item 5, Consent Agenda

Item 5.2 Procedural By-Law Schedule A and By-Laws-Councillor Bowman

 Part “B”  Craig’s Comments on a few agenda items

 4.2. 9:30 am John Chivers and Brad Casemore-Sauble Sno Riders-Clubhouse

 It seems that the sno-riders want council to sell them some town land at far below market value.  They suggest that they should get the deep discount because they do so much for the town.  Town land is owned by the inhabitants.  If town land is sold at a deep discount, all inhabitants, except the ones who get the land at the deep discount, are poorer.  We don’t want to be unnecessarily poorer.  Council should say no.  And while the sno-riders may indeed help the tourism industry, the tourism industry is not the town, and the sno-riders do not really help the “town”.  And while everyone appreciates people volunteering time for the community, asking to be paid (discount land) for volunteer efforts makes it seem just a bit less “voluntary”.  The sno-riders should buy land in the open market like everyone else.

 5.5.                                                                                                                                              Residential Streets Used by ATVS-Councillor Jackson

 

Ban ATV’s from residential streets!

 5.6.   Correspondence from Pat Varley-Councillor Bowman

 The “Correspondence from Pat Varley” is an e-mail conversation between Pat Varley and CAO Cook about the capital and monthly operating bills faced by Sauble area small water systems users.  In the e-mails Ms. Varley objects to the bills and Ms. Cook responds.

 Former Mayor Carl Noble (2002 – 2006) chose to combine and upgrade both the Sauble area water systems and the Oliphant area water systems when other far less costly alternatives were readily at hand.  In my view, the choice was made to help a personal agenda of getting communal water and sewers for all of Sauble, in order to support development of Sauble into a community of big hotels, rows of townhouses, high-rise condos, and maybe a casino or two.  The big-pipe scheme failed, but the small water systems debacle has still cost small water users dearly.  Small water users will end up paying $7800 plus interest for mostly unnecessary upgrades.

 To make matters worse, Carl Noble repeatedly defamed those citizens who protested the madness, falsely accusing them of causing the long delays and increased costs.

 Now COA Cook has, by broadcasting the same lies, defamed those same citizens, and one more.

 The August 16 Agenda Package page 42 has these words from Rhonda Cook to Pat Varley:

 There were circumstances that delayed the project.  One of these is that it was determined late in the contract by the MOE that because of [sic] the raw water was under the influence of ground water an additional UV bulb would be required and this was complete in Mar. 2010.  South Bruce Peninsula Council determined that those receiving the benefit will pay and staff followed that direction.  As you are aware there were bump-up requests on this system dated Feb. 21, 2004 and I have that document showing you as well as Orma Lyttle, Yvonne Harron, R. Gammie, Doug Gammie and Craig Gammie were the signators requesting this bump up.

 In the context of the letter from CAO Cook to Ms. Varley, it is clear that CAO Cook is saying that the bump-up requests were one of the “circumstances” that caused delays and significant cost increases.  CAO Cook is dead wrong.  The delays were caused by then-mayor Carl Noble.  And the massive costs were due to Carl Noble.  And bump-up requests do not cause delays and extra costs.  Even orders by the minister to fix bad proposals do not cause delays.  It’s the bad proposals submitted not in good faith that cause the delays.   CAO Cook’s comment is defamatory.

 And especially defamatory is the implied statement, by CAO Cook, that taxpayer and resident R. Gammie, who never saw a bump up request, and never signed any bump up request, and who was never involved in any discussions of small water systems, and who knows nothing about any of this, caused delays and high costs.

 Council needs to really put some thought into how to make this whole small water systems debacle right for those on the small water systems.

 And council also needs to address the rogue CAO issue.

 5.8. SWSRAHC1-2011 Extension of Council ESR Consideration Date

 In October 2010, Genivar and town staff said not only that they don’t know if there’s a problem, but also that we should solve “the problem” with $70-million-dollar “option 5a”, sewers for everyone at sauble.   At least $28,000 per residence and they admitted they don’t even know if a problem exists.  An understanding council looked at the draft Environmental Study Report (ESR) of December 2010, which still did not define a problem but still had the $70 million (option 5a) “solution”, and put the ESR in a holding pattern until an ad hoc committee could determine if there is a problem related to human waste management atSaubleBeach.

 It was hoped that the committee would have answers by August and that the fate of the ESR could be decided shortly after.  The ad hoc committee is making some progress, but it’s going to take well beyond August to do the job right.  That means the decision on the ESR needs to wait. 

 5.12. CLK45-2011 Policy Manual Amendment, Policy C.4.2 Harassment

 I agree with updating the Harassment Policy.  And I agree that harassing e-mails sent to the workplace are a form of workplace harassment, not to be tolerated.

 But criticism of a staff employee on a blog is not workplace harassment, especially if it is not a work related role for the employee to be reading the blog.  So while the Town should not condone anything harassing on the blog, the town has no obligation or mandate to deal with anything said on the blog.

 I am concerned that some of the proposed updates to the harassment policy are put there just to try to define comments on the blog as “workplace harassment” in order to justify paying Rhonda’s legal fees for her personal crusade against the bloggers.

 For example, the draft policy says:

In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

 But in fact the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) does not say that at all.  OHSA includes the extra word “workplace”, as follows:

 “workplace harassment” means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome;

 The TSBP draft version is actually wrong and nonsensical.

 And the TSBP draft policy adds this to the definition of workplace:

 Internet, email, correspondence, weblogs or social networking sites

 And while the current policy says:

 2.3.2 Where appropriate we will begin to investigate all harassment complaints immediately,

 The draft policy says:

 2.3.2 We will begin to investigate all harassment complaints immediately.

 So by defining “harassment” as “workplace harassment”, and by defining weblogs as the “workplace” and by promising to investigate all “harassment complaints”, the new draft policy has been skillfully written to require the town to “immediately investigate” complaints, by employees, about the blog.

 And to Rhonda this means the town buying her a lawyer to hunt down the bloggers.

 Which means that the policy requires the town to intervene in what is clearly a private, non-work matter.

 The draft policy needs to be rewritten so that it deals with real workplace harassment.

 And we need to stop paying public funds for what is a private matter.

 By the way, could someone please tell Rhonda, or her lawyer, (that is the lawyer we’re paying for), that the person on the blog who writes under the name of “Craig” is me, Craig Gammie.  I can be reached at 519 422 3599.  I surrender myself not as an admission of guilt, but rather to minimize the investigative and legal costs – (the ones that we are paying) – associated with the incredibly enormous task of finding out my true identity.

 5.19. PW72-2011 Jewel Bridge

 MPW Dwyer has put two alternatives on the table.  One is to refurbish Jewell bridge, at a cost of $390,000.  The other is to extend six street eastward to connect withSpring Creek Road, complete with a new bridge ($2,800,000), and keepJewellBridgefor pedestrian traffic only.

 MPW Phil wants council approval to start Archaeological/Heritage studies for the new (sixth street) bridge.

 As usual, MPW Phil is doing the driving without any guidance from the public or the representatives.

 Building a sixth street bridge would have implications for taxpayers, including a lot more traffic for some, and significant costs for all.

 We should have a discussion about the alternatives before we start doing studies on one alternative that might not even be OK with the public.

 5.20. PW73-2011 Water Meter By-Law Update

 I still don’t think it’s right to repeatedly tell water system users that meters won’t cost them a cent, then borrow money on their behalf to pay for the meters, then add a little note to the first blended principle and interest installment bill that says “just to be clear, we meant that there would be no down payment, not that there wouldn’t be any cost”, then pass a bylaw that says you must install the water meter or pay a big fine (along with the monthly won’t-cost-a-cent payments).

 MPW Phil signed a contract for purchase and installation of water meters on the assumption that it would be paid for with grants.  That was a big mistake.  The grants did not materialize.  That left MPW Phil with a choice of not installing and paying a contract penalty clause or breaching the won’t-cost-a-cent promise and forcing people to install the meters and charging them on the installment plan.

 The financial smoke and mirrors and the by-law are just to cover up MPW Phil’s mistake.

 The meters should be returned and the contract penalty and restocking charge should be taken out of MPW Phil’s salary.

 5.22. PW75-2011 Digital Sign for Sauble Beach

 Why not cancel the project?  Our Natural Retreat doesn’t need a digital sign.

 6.2. August 9, 2011 By-Law 99-2011 Third Reading

 Over the past few months, council, for the pleasure of the Sauble chamber, waived much of the dynamic beach by-law for “events”, and made events noise exempt from the provisions of the noise by-law.  To maintain some control during events in the absence of by-laws, an events policy was developed.  Many said it would not work.  And it hasn’t.

 Hooligans have taken over.   Loud noise, people swearing over the gazillion watt PA system, drinking all over the beach, broken glass on the beach, barbecuing on the beach, dogs on the beach, fireworks on the beach, tents on the beach, sleeping trailers on the beach….you name it, if it’s bad, it’s on the beach.

 So now the community gets to give the Chamber $60,000 to entice the hooligans to come by the busload to Sauble, then the community gets to give up part of their beach to the hooligans and their Chamber hosts, then the community gets to listen to the racket all day long, and then the community gets to clean up the mess after the hung-over hooligans pack into their buses and go home.

 I guess that’s why some council members are calling them community events.

 By-law 99-2011 (the events policy) has one redeeming feature.

 Section 4.8 reads:

 “The Town reserves the right to cancel any scheduled Special Event and revoke any approvals in order to ensure public safety, or if in the sole opinion of the Town, the Event Organizer fails to comply with the Special Events Guidelines or any other Town by-law.”

 For the “24-weeks” events, the events organizer, the Chamber, has failed miserably.  All chamber events, which are not community events, must be cancelled, and theDynamicBeachand Noise by-laws must be restored to their former state.

 And the real community events should be run not as tourism events but rather as community events, by a real community organization – not a tourism organization.

 And council should require that the Chamber return our $60,000.

 6.3. August 9, 2011 Council Minutes Item 12; Schedule A Item 5, Consent Agenda

Item 5.2 Procedural By-Law Schedule A and By-Laws-Councillor Bowman

 Rule A14.6 of the policy manual reads:

 “After the first and second reading of a by-law, any member may ask to debate the by-law, and that by-law shall be referred to Committee of the Whole under “Items referred from Council or Committee of the Whole” for further debate, or with the consent of the majority of members present may be debated at the current meeting.”

 A recommendation to council developed in the Committee of the whole meeting August 2nd, was that rule A14.6 be interpreted as:

 “After the first and second reading of a by-law, any member may ask that the by-law be referred to Committee of the whole for debate, and whether to do so will be decided by vote.  Any by-law not sent to COW, with the consent of the majority of members present, may be debated at the current meeting.”

 On August 9, council rejected that recommendation (by defeating a motion to accept it), and also decided to make the rule clear that:

 “if after first and second reading of a by-law any councillor asks that a bylaw go to COW for debate, then it shall [voice of determination] go to COW for debate (but not repeatedly)”.

 The item on the August 16 agenda is to get the wording right.

 

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