On October 27th we will be asked to exercise our democratic right by electing our new municipal council for the 2014 to 2018 time period. Many will get involved and really study what people like me will promise to do in the next four years. Sadly most people will ignore what is happening and will simply not exercise their right to choose those that will run the Township of Springwater. Just over 30% of our eligible residents voted in the last municipal election in 2010.
For the most part, I believe most people that seek election at the local level do so with the best of intentions. If you look at our current council, none of them are outright dishonest and are doing what they think is right. I definitely feel some of them have not done their job, have ignored the pleas of the constituents and have lost sight of the reason they were elected in the first place.
I see the next election as pivotal for the township and will set the path for either controlled growth and prosperity or mega growth and the effective destruction of the Township as it exists today.
People and especially those in Midhurst are very concerned and involved and rightfully so. But they are not only concerned about what may happen to them but are also truly concerned about the terrible impact on Springwater as a whole. They do believe in the concept of Springwater being a community of communities. Whether you live in Elmvale, Hillsdale, Phelpston, Anten Mills, Minesing, Snow Valley, Fergusonvale, Apto, Centre Vespra or Grenfel, we will all pay the price for what happens in our two larger settlement areas of Midhurst and Elmvale.
I happened to watch a special on the Documentary Channel on the invasion of Wind Turbines in Upper New York State and how the Meredith Town Council with great intentions and concern for green energy embraced the idea. It took a group much like the Midhurst Ratepayers Association to bring sanity to the situation. The similarities were interesting. A citizens group in Meredith New York was formed, started attending council meetings, showed their disagreement with the plan and just like in Midhurst, their message fell on deaf ears. Meredith fixed the problem. They elected a council that simply listened and took their concerns into consideration and have passed a by-law to outlaw Wind Turbines. The only ones that are upset are the landowners that would have profited from the 400 foot structures on their property. If the Midhurst Secondary Plan is cancelled by an executive order from a provincial minister it will only be the landowners, that would have prospered by selling the land to the out of town investors, that will be upset.
Midhurst is one issue. I think there are two other important things to consider as you choose who you want to vote for in any of the council positions in the next election.
Transparency with our current council has been slowly reduced. They only agreed to the 10 minute question period at Council and Planning Meetings after months of pressure from residents at the beginning of the term. Unfortunately they cut the question period opportunities in half by cutting the number of council meetings to once a month.
Debt and Reserves, which I addressed in my budget articles, are a serious issue in our township. This council missed the opportunity three times to actually reduce spending and simply focused on low tax increases by borrowing and emptying our bank account. That can only work for the short term.
It is time to shake up our local government and really run this township based on every resident’s view of self-determination. In our case we can only do that by electing a Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors that follow the will of the people and not be solely influenced by a small group of self-serving landowners and out of township corporations.
Get involved. Many of you have grandchildren, as I do, and it is our responsibility to leave a legacy and say that we did our best to make our wonderful Township of Springwater a model of what rural living can be in the province of Ontario.
It is up to you and me!