VOCO Update
by Lynne Boldt

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June 14, 2002

      Wow! Summer sure is returning to Victoria County as was indicated by the return of several, and the addition of many new, faces at the last general meeting. Welcome to you all, it was great to hear your comments, concerns and suggestions. This was also a timely reminder to the rest of us that there are still many residents not totally familiar with VOCO.

      With the Promoter's indulgence, this might be a good time for a quick recap...VOCO (Voices of Central Ontario) was formed in response to the undemocratic amalgamation of Victoria County into the "City of Kawartha Lakes". Our name, an acronym from the Latin for "I speak" or "I call" explains our purpose: to give residents a chance to be heard. The Yellow Ribbon Campaign that can be seen on lapels, mail boxes, trees and car aerials throughout the County all symbolize our vigil for the return

      of local democracy. Feel free to 'tie one on' with us. The whole amalgamation issue is about a lot more than just tax dollars, although rising taxes with diminished services are certainly obvious results. What we have completely lost is our local autonomy. Instead of our local town councils, each community now has only one representative, with just one vote among 17. Why should residents in Little Britain, for example, need approval from others as far away as Carden and Omemee for decisions which affect only the immediate residents of Little Britain?

      Over 11,000 people added their signatures to a petition that was presented on a continual basis to the Minister of Municipal Affairs at Queen's Park and over 6,000 people came out to record their votes at a 'citizen initiated' referendum we held throughout the County. This allowed citizens their first opportunity to express their views on amalgamation, and over 95% voted to reverse the amalgamation and restore our local governments! We have also held town hall meetings throughout the County at various times - If you would like a town hall meeting in your neighborhood or for your cottage association, please let us know. You can send an email through our VOCO website at www.geocities.com/vocomail or you may call 887-4797 or 738-6039.

      We have had numerous deputations on various issues with our new City Council and we have just started a Postcard-to-our-MPP campaign. Our local MPP, Chris Hodgson, is also Minister of Municipal Affairs. His department is responsible for the legislation that created this mess, and can just as easily create legislation to solve it. Postcards to Mr. Hodgson are available throughout the community, at The Promoter Office in Bobcaygeon or you can print one off our web site. You can forward them to VOCO and plans to begin delivering them to Queen's Park before the summer recess are underway. If you would like to come to Toronto as they are presented send us an email or give us a call.

      Another project 'in the works' is the VOCO Billboard. At last Thursday's meeting, our billboard committee narrowed down more than 60 entries to about a dozen finalists, which they presented to the meeting for a final vote. Watch for the winning entry the next time you drive Hwy 36! Many of the runners-up will soon be appearing as well on bumper stickers and lawn signs throughout the County.

      To find out more about these projects, propose new ones, or just offer comments, suggestions or ideas feel free to attend any of the VOCO general meetings. The next one is scheduled for Thursday, June 20th at the Full Cup Cafe (next to The Promoter Office) in Bobcaygeon, beginning at 7:00pm.

      And just in case you had forgotten, please remember what good ol' Abe once told us: "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent".

Reprinted with permission from The Promoter

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