This website is born of several council meetings we attended that made it painfully obvious this council is dismissive of taxpayer’s concerns, no matter how cogent objectors’ observations might be. On subject after subject at council in committee, despite some quite powerful arguments from delegations, council has voted 6- 0 or 5- 1 to receive the material as ‘information’, after asking some desultory questions. Then voted to ratify their original decision a week later at council. One councillor observed if there is no alternative he has to listen to what staff tells him. The problem with this attitude is the fact staff rarely give more than one real option. And councillors rarely ask for another even when they are given reasons to do so. This cohesive attitude raises the very real perception councillors are discussing public matters in a private manner long before they reach the official council meetings. Equally problematic is the strong belief of many of us that administrative staff is in the driver’s seat. Constituents are just supposed to get out of the way of “progress”. Nothing appears to be made public ahead of the agenda, and the agendas available to the public who attend meetings are lacking the background paperwork.
No written minutes are available on the County website. And while council meetings are televised on cable channel 93 on the following Saturday, those of us who live in the countryside cannot get cable and therefore have to pay $25 plus tax to the county to get a video. We have heard from person after person that there is nowhere to lodge a complaint, except back to County where it is routinely ignored, nowhere to send a letter to the editor. There are lots of people emailing about all kinds of problems within the county but each is focused on their own particular problem. Several concerned citizens have been discussing matters over the last weeks and have identified SEVEN projects where the councillors are following staff plans without proper consideration of constituents’ concerns. One of these is presently before the OMB. Central to most of these plans appears to be County’s drive to build a new administration building next to the Cayuga arena, and in the process destroy the county ’s historical Courthouse Grounds site of central government. Ironical in this year of celebrating history.
They have recently backpedalled some what, however they are continuing with their plan to tear down the Haldimand Museum and stuff some of its contents into a new addition to the new Cayuga library, See below for links to presentations made to council which have been received as information and stuffed into a deep dark drawer never to be seen again. As the owners of the now-defunct Regional News This Week we actively encouraged and printed letters on all subjects, whether we agreed with the viewpoints or not. Now we are offering this website as a central location for everyone with a problem to share it and support each other. We need to get to a critical tipping point to force changes to the way council does business. Highest on that agenda is to get across to councillors and staff that the broader public has to be provided with information on county plans and engage in MEANINGFUL discussion long before they get to the decision point. So we want your opinions on lots of topics to spark debate. Debate is good for the soul. We don’t care whether your views accord with ours. Just keep it clean, and no egregious name calling. We also want to share good news. We are hosting a picture gallery of community celebrations and encourage you to submit pictures and stories of events you may have been involved with, news of upcoming events, and good (or bad) things happening to residents, etc. And if any budding writers out there feel they have a good regular column in them, feel free to submit it to us. It’s been a long road to learn the necessary skills to produce a website. Please bear with us if you encounter any problems and let us know.
Chris and Kevan Pickup