by Lynne Boldt
January 14, 2003
Top Ten Reasons for Two Tier
I recently re-read a letter-to-the-editor that was published back in January 2000. The top 10 reasons (at that time) to keep our local governments were listed as follows:
#10. No party politics. (Anyone notice how larger councils tend to become tempting for political parties?)
#9. Part-time politicians. (Does anyone still dispute the fact that they were a bargain and their "real-life" jobs kept them in touch with the "real world"?
#8. Accessibility. (When was the last time you called your local road superintendant when your road wasn't plowed?)
#7. Smaller Constituencies. (How many sitting councillors are YOUR neighbour?)
#6. Volunteers. (Anyone notice the newly created "jobs" that now pay people to do what you used to do for free?)
#5. Less Bureaucracy. (not even going to touch that one today)
#4. Local Identity. (Do you now reside in the "former ______"?).
#3. Smaller Budgets. (When was the last time your old Council took over two years for an audit?)
#2. Diffusion of Power. (Anyone else notice how the less "power" a politician had, the less he had to abuse?) and finally,
#1. YOUR tax dollars at work... perhaps the most frustrating of the ten.
Back in 2000, we never needed briefing papers or consultant reports to tell us that our road had or hadn't been plowed. Most of us never hesitated to tell our old Councils what our concerns were. We took for granted that if we bumped into our Reeve at the Post Office or grocery store we could grumble a few words or one call to our local Municipal office could remedy the problem or at least put us on the next Council agenda to discuss anything from severences to dead livestock.
The old Councillors heard from their constituents daily. They made informed decisions about our concerns because they were in touch with their constituents, or more accurately, their consituents were in touch with them. In our old system, local Councils looked after the local matters and the County Council dealt with far-reaching services. And yes, that included reallocation of services as required, such as the plans that were in the process of being implemented to revamp fire protection and road departments to name just two.
Our local Councils could decide IF they wanted, or were willing to pay for twice weekly garbage pickup, or agree to forgo curbside pickup to save our money and reduce our taxes. If a local area wanted streetlights, sidewalks, or parking meters these decisions were looked at and resolved locally, as it affected only the local areas and the local taxes.
The existing "CoKL" structure, gives us 16 wards but one representative, having just one vote out of 17. Even if your Councillor wants to represent you they are too often unable to do so. Your councillor could have overwhelming support from his/her ward constituents for a particular issue, yet still be unable to get what you want, even if it affects only your area. While some Councillors may prefer the current "hands off" approach, it is you and I, their constituents, and the taxpayers, that are paying the total price - a much less responsive government.
While it's unfortunate that three years ago the writing was on the wall, the good thing is we finally have a chance to erase that writing. The chance is coming on November 10. We can't go back? We MUST go back! You hold the eraser, vote "YES".