Voting has started

jimsign

So at this writing, it is October 12th and voting has now started.

This is why you should vote for me to be mayor.

1. Taxes. I believe they are too high. Mayor Clumpus believes taxes are not high enough. We need to seriously review our expenses and spending priorities.   We need to expand our tax base through attracting new residents and new business.  I will work to make this happen.

2. Road, bridges, sidewalks. I believe these should be a priority. Given the taxes we pay these should be properly maintained.

3. Winter maintenance. I believe that snow should be appropriately cleared throughout the municipality. And I don’t think you should have to wait until Monday to get your snow plowed.

4. Our parks and public spaces. I believe that we should have access to them all year. The current mayor made it illegal for 6 months of the year. You can actually be fined up to $5,000.00 for enjoying the public spaces that we own.

5. The Library project. With estimates now over 8 million to move the library to an old grocery store – it makes no sense to me.  The building is older so likely has a limited life span and we paid too much for the property.   I would revisit this.

6. Community centres and public buildings need to be made affordable to the people who use them.

7. I believe that water and sewer rates are too high and need to be reviewed.

8. The Recreational agreements with Owen Sound and with Blue Mountains should make services affordable to all and we should not have to jump through hoops to meet a means test.

9. I would save Grey Gables, not close it as Clumpus decided. And I would enable more long term care facilities.

10. Appropriate development. I would not put up road blocks in front of developers and would ensure that development would actually happen , not just on paper, and I would ensure it be suitable to our community.

11. Policing. I would choose contract over non-contract, increase the police presence in our Municipality and make sure we have a say in community policing priorities.
I need your vote to make positive change.

Vote Jim McPherson for Mayor of the Municipality of Meaford.

So what are the issues with this library selection?

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First off I love libraries. Libraries were a refuge for me as a child and continue to be as an adult.  I use the library in Owen Sound and I use the library in Meaford. I’m very much aware that the Meaford library does not meet accessibility standards.  I know that if a parent or child has mobility difficulties, it is pretty much impossible for them to use the children’s section.  We definitely need a new library.

So what are the issues with this library selection?

The issues are cost and whether we got hoodwinked.  Or if the Municpality even cares if we did.  Why would we not build a brand new library, one designed specific to the purpose and why would we not wait for the grants that projects like this are usually built with?

I think there has been a rush to purchase.  There has not been appropriate public consultation (that means before the purchase).  And whether you agree or not, that is the public perception.

The public doesn’t understand why this site was selected over others.  Was there consideration to examine purchasing Meaford Community School from the Bluewater School Board,  or to look at the public lands we already own to build a new library?
I know some of you believe this was done, but why the rush to purchase the former Foodland site?  Why didn’t we wait?

The municipal assessment on that building is somewhere over $700,000.00 according to the treasurer.  That’s an assessment based on a fully operational grocery store (Category C if you like).   So the purchase price of 1.525 million strikes a good many of us as far too much.  I know the response is “Well we had an appraisal,” but many people don’t reallize there are many different ways of appraising a site.  I doubt it was appraised for value, as an empty building lacking cooling and heating or any kind of tenant.  I doubt it was appraised as being partially in a flood plain.  I suspect it was appraised as a best use appraisal.  Of course we don’t know, as this appraisal was done by the seller, not by the Municipality.  The building even has some health issues that require remediation.

Did anyone consider other buildings or sites in the downtown, either listed for sale or not.  A million and a half dollars will buy you quite a bit.  I think paying over double the municipally assessed value has raised many questions and concerns.

The reason why I stress infrastructure grants is because I know that this can reduce our costs to one half to one third or even better.  Infrastructure grants are how small communities like ours with limited tax bases accomplish big things like libraries.

So why is the library project not fully embraced by the community? Because after 2 years of substandard snow removal, after yet another 4 years of deteriorating roads, after having sidewalks being ripped out instead of being fixed and some roads actually being returned to gravel, all this in the name of cost-cutting, to hear that we would purchase an old grocery store for over 1 and half million dollars without an independent appraisal makes people wonder if they matter at all and what Staff and Council are doing with our money.  It is because the cost estimate $5.5 million roughly, almost 8 ½ million after interest payments leaves us wondering if anyone is watching the public purse.

So yes, let’s build a new library, I want one too, I started my whole Meaford political odyssey on the library board, but let’s do it right, and more importantly lets make sure it’s seen to be done right.

Thank you.

The importance of trees and citizens

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No more cathedral canopy
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photos cannot show the scope of devastation

The devastation is shocking and the anger and sadness of those that live here great.  A swath of trees either side of the  Sydenham St. Vincent townline leading to the Bayshore Escarpment Provincial Park, part of the Tom Thompson Trail, gone.  This is a section of road that had a cathedral canopy until it was recklessly cut down by municipal crew.  Neighbours came, tried to stop them, argued about the beauty, about the Bruce Trail entrance there, the effects on springs and water tables, but to no avail.  They brought it up at the Monday Council meeting and arranged for a meeting with staff the next day, but even then the cutting continued, not even pausing for the meetings which is what should have happened, a pause during consultation.  When it was pointed out that the Conservation Authority should have a say they were told it didn’t matter — as it was the road allowance it was “our land” and “we can do what we like”.  Well “our” land means ours, all of ours, and should be treated that way.  People should be listened to.  If there is a need to remove some brush and a tree or two, which the locals remained unconvinced about, then you find a way to do it without causing huge damage and with proper consultation.  You don’t spend two days essentially fighting with the people you are supposed to be serving and wrecking their neighbourhood.

I promise that the Council I lead will make sure that the concerns of citizens are respected.  A Council made up of new members will put an end to what the current leadership has fostered which is an atmosphere of us against them,  of citizens versus Council and Staff.

Time that we changed all this.

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Stumps and mangled trees now line the road.

Some points from the 55+ candidates meeting

Yesterday was the 55+ all candidates meeting at the Meaford and St. Vincent Community Centre.  It was fascinating how many sitting members of Council are suddenly concerned about roads and snow removal.

Anyway, I thought I would put up the points from my presentation along with the OPP contract vs. non-contract comparison chart.  I believe that we should have a contract and return to having a police services board.

The points:

1) Taxes are too high…need to expand our tax base…review our expenses and eliminate

2) Roads, bridges and sidewalks…A Priority!

3) Winter maintenance…clearing snow fully and applying the appropriate substances for safety

4) Garbage tags…eliminated for your first bag. Any additional bags will require tags

5) Library project to be reviewed…estimate of $5.5 million to put it in an old grocery store

6) Community centres and public buildings to become affordable and available

7) Bring back the paper Ballot. We know electronic voting can be hacked.

8) water and sewer rates to be reviewed

9) Recreational agreements Owen Sound and Blue Mountains…make it affordable and accessible

10) Save Grey Gables and create more LTC facilities

11)Appropriate Development…help expand our tax base and increase dollars for community projects

12) Policing…choose contract over non-contract…see Comparison Chart

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Repeat Performance

Article and letter
This is not the first Meaford election that an anonymous blogger has messed with
During the years leading up to the election, a number of anonymous blogs, including the one discussed above have been appearing on social media. I have been and still am the subject of many of these false rumours, innuendos and fake news items.  ‘Anonymous’ sources should not be believed. They are anonymous, they are false and they are spread by malicious cowardly malcontents.
 
Someone is trying to ‘bork’ me.
bork/bôrk/verb – US informal
  1. obstruct (someone, especially a candidate for public office) through systematic defamation or vilification.
    ““We’re going to bork him,” said an opponent”
For those readers who have forgotten the  facts and for those who are new to the area, here is the truth.
In the 2010 election a nasty anonymous blog came up attacking Francis Richardson, anonymous that is until about a week before the election at which point it claimed to belong to a friend and supporter of mine, Kerry Riley, which of course it did not.  Now the fact that it was a venomous rant characterized by the Municpality as “libelous” did not prevent its sudden credibility in the matter of who it claimed its author was.  Threatening legal letters were sent without any proof about the blog’s source and before any attempts at verification.  A check with Google (like the Sun Times very quickly did) would have told them that “…users can choose to display any text as their name,” (see above article – October 16, 2010) but the Municipality did not check and Kerry was forced to seek legal help and to clear her name.
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continuation of article above
Various letters were sent back and forth and eventually the Municipality obtained a court order to unmask the owner of the IP address that the blog belonged to.  On November 19, Bell revealed it to be David Free (see above letter), a disgruntled former employee.  Unfortunately it was too late.  The highly expensive and litigious Francis Richardson won the election by just over 200 votes, a fact we are still paying for.  Interestingly, the Municipality never made the blogger’s identity known publicly.
So, folks, if you don’t know the name and you don’t know the person don’t give it your time.  Don’t trust people who hide in the shadows behind false names or no names at all.  Don’t let people like that decide election results.
I stand behind what I say and believe.  I walk these streets and drive these roads.  You know me and who I am.  If I say something you can believe me.  You have met me, you have seen me in action.  Through all these attacks, through all this bullying and terrible behaviour I have stayed the course.  I like to think I have proved myself and shown the man I am.  I have not backed down.  In fact here I am running again, even after the online assaults, the slanderous email campaigns and ridiculous legal shenanigans.  Because I know just how important this all is.  My character is known so you can know that when elected I will serve my community, defend those who need defending and change what needs to be changed.
Do not give attention to those who will not even identify themselves and cannot be held accountable.  You don’t know who they are, you don’t know what their motives are and you don’t know who or what they are working for.  One thing you can be sure of — they’re not working for you.

Questions and concerns about the new library build.

In any municipal build that involves a lot of money you should really find infrastructure grants because you can reduce the full cost to the residents by sharing the costs with the federal and provincial governments.  Just for comparison see the article from the Meaford Express, May 13, 2009, outlining where I brought forward a resolution IMG_20180904_214640826~3asking the Municipality recognize the need for a new library of 12,000 square feet at an estimated cost of 3 to 3.5 million.  Let me emphasize that this was a NEW library build, not a stop-gap retrofit of an existing building.  And it was an agreement in principal and the start of a planning process in which the costs were agreed to and various sites to be explored because the Council of the time was considering the possiblity of a federal provincial grant sharing agreement — one in which the municipality would be responsible for one third (yes, 1/3) of the entire cost and they knew that we needed a plan that was “shovel ready”.  Therefore it would have been less than 1.5 million dollars for a brand new 12,000 square foot library.

This is why I support revisiting the library proposal to evaluate the sources of funding and to find out why the present estimates for housing the library in the old downtown grocery store are so high.