Is beach revitalization ‘my way or the highway’? asks reader

A couple of weeks ago we got a civics lesson from our Deputy Mayor on the rules of response to questions raised in a public forum. Then this past week we got an “I had a dream” revelation from our Mayor.

OK. So in the late 50’s the Port Elgin arena burned to the ground. I don’t have the numbers but my memory is that beyond taxes, a broader community donated to the reconstruction on the same site. Many years later, we were told that the roof system was inadequate and presented a danger to the public as justification for construction of The Plex. The interesting thing is the old arena still stands, has had a number of occupancies and is currently occupied as a church. Apparently God’s engineers don’t see a problem!

Fast forward to a couple of years ago and the campaign was for a new Police station. We were told that to renovate and expand a “15” year old building would cost $100,000 less than to build a new station of targeted equivalent  size, and besides it would inconvenience the police staff. If there were any itemized numbers to support this $100,000 differential statement, they were not shared with the electorate. As to inconvenience, a lot of us have lived through renovations and expansions. My experience is you hunker down and look forward to a new work environment.

More recently, we have been told that the new station was delivered ahead of time and below budget. Based on this statement, when I asked one of the members of the Police  Services Board for an accounting of the original budget, any change order costs and a line item accounting of the final cost, what I got was nothing, no response. So, does the taxpayer have a right to know how decisions are made and their tax dollars spent and whether there is a transparent accountability?

Not going to get into the Y agenda! I’ve all ready been on these pages on that subject.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and we have the charade of a process for public input on the Town Plan for the revitalization of the Port Elgin Beach.  We have had a lot of “anti-Plan”  vocal people with strong well written “against “ arguments  not being listened to by our elected representatives and municipal employees, all with what it seems is an agenda driven “my way or the highway” attitude.

Why didn’t our representative solicit input from the tax payers and interested parties, deliver that input to a design consultant (not the first time they have used consultants). Once the design has been approved, including a budget, put out a public tender, including a public/private partnership option, and decide on the option that best fits the public’s long term needs.

Where am I going with this? South of the border the U.S. Constitution has an impeachment provision specific the position of President. Most of us are aware of this because the Canadian press is significantly focused on the issue.

What if an impeachment provision was part of the Canadian Bill of Rights?  What if the exercising of that right was placed in the hands of all everyday citizens as opposed to our elected officials, the officials who have oversight over our municipal employees?

Of course our Bill of Rights doesn’t have that provision so our only opportunity to deal with municipal decisions we don’t agree with is at election time. AAAnd if it’s not part of your election platform, don’t take it as a given that whatever you dream is in the best long term interest of the Electorate.

Barry McKenzie
Southampton