Ontario municipalities are in a state of democratic decay: Ombudsman

December 13, 2013

One symptom is an addiction to secrecy. Another is that the council that is being complained about, gets to decide who investigates the issue.

ombud

André Marin, Ontario Ombudsman explains in Ontario municipal councils “addicted” to secrecy, ombudsman says:

“There is, in my view, a putrefactive decay in democracy at the municipal government level due to the insistence on officials to continue conducting city business secretly and illegally,” Marin told a Queen’s Park press council.

Marin said not only are there no consequences in the law for holding secret meetings, he accuses the province of enabling the practice by not introducing penalties. And he added that municipalities that don’t like him sticking his nose into their business can opt out of his jurisdiction.

And the result of this “putrefactive decay in democracy”?

“Meanwhile, hanky-panky continues to take place in the backrooms, and councils are continuing to cling to cloak-and-dagger old-school boardroom politics,” he told reporters.

And when a complaint is lodged  does council “shop” the investigation to someone or call on the Ombudsman to investigate?

Of the 444 municipalities in the province, only 191 have agreed to ombudsman oversight. Sudbury dropped out after Marin took council there to task publicly for secret meetings.

Solution: Springwater Township and County of Simcoe politicians must have the Ontario Ombudsman investigate: no one else.


In 1984, Barrie officially supports the province’s hostile annexation and financially hollowing-out of Vespra township

May 11, 2012

The William Davis government financially cripples the then-named Vespra (now Springwater) township, while giving more land to Barrie than it had asked for in 10 years of negotiations.

The Corporation of the City of Barrie starts off the resolution to the province with:

 The Corporation of the City of Barrie has unanimously endorsed the following resolution with respect to Bill 142 for the annexation of certain lands from the Township of Vespra…

An accompanying letter to the Honourable William G. Davis, Premier of Ontario states: “This was adopted unanimously by Council and it is intended to show the City’s support of the Province for the introduction of this legislation.

Council is aware of the difficult position that the Province had to make with regard to this dispute and would also like to commend them for their initiative to resolve this long standing dispute between two municipalities.”

Barrie had nothing to lose and everything to gain from a Queens Park unilateral law.

10. AND WHEREAS BE IT RESOLVED that the Premier of the Province of Ontario, The Honourable William Davis, be advised of this resolution and that he be made aware that:

(a) The Council of the Corporation of the City of Barrie fully endorses the actions of The Honourable Claude Bennett, Minister of Municipal Affairs, in introducing Bill 142 into the Ontario Legislature.

(b) We commend the General Government Committee, Chaired by Mr. Allan McLean, MPP for Simcoe East, for conducting a fair and impartial hearing on the annexation issue.

(e) We appreciate the efforts of The Honourable George Taylor, MPP for Simcoe Centre and Solicitor General of Ontario, in trying to bring this dispute to an end without further delay or the expenditure of future tax dollars.

(d) We regret that the Liberal and NDP Members of the Ontario Legislature did not support bill 142 at this time but we do encourage them to reconsider their stand on this issue and recognize that it is the only logical solution to a boundary dispute that has gone on for over 10 years.

(e) We request the Members of the Legislature give speedy passage of the third reading of Bill 142 as soon as possible to facilitate the end of the annexation application by the City and allow both Vespra and Barrie to govern their municipalities under the new boundary changes.

Vespra residents and political insiders would bitterly disagree with much of this resolution. Vespra won at the Supreme Court of Canada (twice) but lost +100% with the passage of Bill 142, the Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act, 1984.

If it Doesn’t Jingle, It doesn’t Count: Compensation was paid to Vespra township for 10 years. The amount was unilaterally decided upon by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Hon. Claude Bennett). Vespra lost 35% of their assessment revenue when Bill 142 passed. When Springwater township was formed in 1994, the northern area (former Flos township and Elmvale) have a much lower total assessment base compared to the south (former Vespra township, including Midhurst, Snow Valley, etc.)

The first time Barrie and Springwater township can “legally” talk about annexation is 2013.

Linda Collins council will reign until 2015.

Full excerpts of the complete May 1984 Municipal World article, City of Barrie Resolution re Bill 142: Annexation –  Readers Comment,  are available in Word and pdf at iLoveMidhurst.ca.

 


Realistically, which should your trust more: verbal statments or written and published articles from municipal civil servants?

April 24, 2012

Corruption and conflict of interest laws are grounded on a simple legal principle: an individual cannot serve more than one master.

Excerpt from their website:

Municipal World is the oldest continuously published monthly municipal magazine in the world. Founded in 1891, the magazine is devoted to promoting effective municipal government.

This site features important information about local government, details about Municipal World’s products and services, and links to other local government resources.

A municipal employee owes a a duty of care legally to his or her employer: The Corporation of the Township of Springwater, for example.

They owe no direct or effective legal duty to any citizen.

While many professions have Codes of Ethics and complaint processes, these are often ineffectual. An untruth told by a senior staff person to a taxpayer is much more well insulated than if an elected official misrepresented the same fact.

  • Municipal World: Canada’s Municipal Magazine

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