Action Plan for greater tomorrow for all citizens
The Action Plan Priorities
On October 23 there will be a new council leading our city. Predictably, Mayor Cam Guthrie will be re-elected. He has experience but an attitude adjustment is in order. Hopefully the new councillors will bring suggestions and ideas to the table to fix some of the lingering administrative problems some of which will be addressed in this posting.
There are no easy answers or immediate fixes. The key is to serve the people who elected the new council. Some issues will create turmoil and objections from special interest groups. There will be uncomfortable confrontations but people must be heard and council must hear them. The watchword is doing no harm and allows unfettered access for the public to participate.
In our opinion, here are ten priorities involving issues that need review and changes to make Guelph not only a good city but also a great city tomorrow.
Here are the issues that need careful consideration to protect the future of our city:
- * The city independent auditor completes a full audit of city finances before submission of the Financial Information Report to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for 2018.
- * Suspend future capital spending on all projects until an audit of the city’s finances is completed.
- * Hire an Auditor General to oversee all operations with assistance of the internal auditors.
- * Review all bylaws, governance protocols and operational procedures to update and remove those not applicable.
- * Create a new senior management structure to appoint a City Manager heading the staff, with directors leading the major departments.
- * Revision of the city administrative structure to include an Executive Management team composed of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, City Manager, City Clerk and Department Directors. The City Manager will act as chair. The meetings will be open to the public.
- * On the advice of the City Manager restore the committees of council with appropriate honorariums for councillors serving on committees based on attendance.
- * End closed-sessions council meetings unless there are legitimate legal reasons to do so as outlined in the Ontario Municipal Act.
- * Evaluate policies involving all subsidies, donations, benefits and consultant contracts.
- * Immediate review of the status of reserves and clarify each for each purpose.
This list is daunting but necessary that will take time to execute. The state of the city will improve as council tackles the core issues needed to correct and reforms. It is difficult to govern if you do not have evidence of what has occurred previously.
As a member of council, ask for detailed explanation of the issues. There will be push back on some issues both from social activists and the staff.
Council’s first challenge will be approving the 2019 budget. This is the point where the elected representatives must control the agenda and the outcome. The staff will make recommendations but as of December 1, the new council must assert itself and negotiate a budget that is achievable and fair.
Four years is a long time and with respect the journey will not always be easy.
The recent election brought little change to city council with only two new members being elected. In Ward 6 Dominique O’Rourke will be a fine addition to council. As well Rodrigo Goller in Ward 2 has promise with experience as a former city employee.
There was a great effort made by Mayor Cam Guthrie and Councillor Dan Gibson to recruit new candidates for council. However because of the antiquated ward system, the progressives, who were better organized and supported, were able yo retain control of council.
There were five candidates who were nonaligned with any political party who were not elected. In ward 1, Mark Gernon; ward 2, Jonathan Knowles; ward 3, Jason Dodge; ward 4, Indu Arora; ward 6, Stacey Cooper. Each of these candidates would have brought experience, responsibility and diversity to the council table.
It’s an old problem. the progressives believe in solidarity forever. Until the ward system is reviewed and modified with only well-paid, full-time councilors are elected, the progressives will retain power.
The cancelling of Online voting was a contributing factor in the election in which such action suppressed voters who wanted to participate. The arguments of certain elements in the progressive movement used fear and sketchy rationale about Online voting. In Ontario, 191 municipalities made Online voting available to its citizens.
Meanwhile. London, the first city in Ontario to adopt proportional voting, reported it took 14 recounts to elect a mayor and 18 hours. The result were not known until the next day. This system, aka ranked voting, requires each ballot to select the first, second and third choice.
The ranked voting system was pitched by progressive activist Susan Watson to Guelph council and was rejected. She is chair of “Fair Vote” for the Guelph area.