MARCH COUNCIL REVIEW
Well tourism fans, it looks like yet another activity and action packed summer is on deck for the Town if the sheer number of requested event road closures is any indication. Tourism is alive and well in Midland given the line up of first class events scheduled for 2018; let’s hope we’re blessed with some great weather!
Council heard one deputation from Ms. L. Hilderley who appeared on behalf of Waypoint & CHIGAMIK to update our community on the construction of the new Health Hub on Bayshore Drive. She advised Waypoint’s funding from the Simcoe County Hospital Alliance had been directed towards the new facility in its entirety, and that discussions regarding interior layout and design are moving forward nicely. To paraphrase Councillor Jack Contin, the expectation is to have “…this outstanding facility that will enhance the lives of many in the community and is a tremendous addition to the Town itself….”
open for business by December 2018.
On March 28th
, Council convened a special meeting to welcome public comments on the current 2018 draft budget result.
Midlandcommunity.ca made a formal presentation to Council that evening as we remain disappointed with the budget work and result Council served up to date.
Our comments lead with the overarching message stating, “the new costs Council are planning to place on the backs of residents are simply unacceptable given our current economic environment”
For greater texture, the 2018 operating budget increase was dialed in that night at +3.58%
over 2017 and water/sewer at +6%.
Further, the budget called for staff additions
at a time when local business is struggling to cope on the heels of Ontario’s new labour and employment reform, known as Bill 148.
When will our Governments realize that business creates jobs and economic prosperity and it is the job of Government to create the ‘climate’, enabling growth and prosperity?
We remain hopeful Midland Council can commit to doing a serious re-think on ‘what matters’ before the 2018 final budget is approved in April. In our view, there is plenty of money in the current base budget to do all the things Midland needs to do without putting jobs and the economy at further risk.
Two members of the public spoke about the concept of ‘pay me now or pay me later’, in the context of Midland should have spent more historically on capital projects, infrastructure and services.
While midlandcommunity.ca elected not to engage in a debate with the two speakers, we want to remind all readers that the challenges Midland has today was not caused by lack of spending in yesteryear; they were simply caused by elected Council and previous staff leadership making a series of bad choices.
As we’ve reported many times before and is painfully captured on the chart below, Midland spent at an unprecedented rate relative to growth (households/population), and CPI.
In summary, none of us want to return to the dark days of the early millennium where we made choices to expand our library and municipal offices over fixing our troubled waste and water supply. Or for awarding excessive operating budget increases to Fire and Police while other departments and services often went without.
If this budget is truly a ‘further’ down payment on our future, then let’s once and for all get at it!
For more detailed budget commentary, please visit our website, http://midlandcommunity.ca/news/2018-budgetary-remarks/
The daunting task of winding down the transition from Midland Police Service (MPS) to the OPP took another significant step forward in March. As you may be aware, MPS contracts for civilians and uniform officers expired on December 31st
, 2017. With the pending transition to OPP, the parties were unable to reach a negotiated settlement for 2018 and the matter went before an independent arbitrator. Specific details regarding the award are posted on the Town’s website at
Suffice to say both parties did not get all that they wanted (union wanted more, Town less) however, through the application of current Provincial standards, the arbitrator handed down what must be seen as an equitable settlement. This process also sheds light on the limited ability our Midland Police Service Board actually had in controlling both current and future labour costs. By being forced into arbitration and subject to “provincial norms”, smaller communities like Midland are forced to match salaries and benefits handed out by similar municipalities who may be more affluent and can afford it; leaving Midland and its residents often gambling with our future cost structure.
Finally, you may recall Skyline, (the owner of the vessel known as the Keewatin) presented a proposal to the Town of Midland in February to relocate the ship to Midland’s town dock.
Skyline stated in their ‘take it or leave it’ offer that Midland needed to respond favourably by March 19th
with acceptance of the agreement to move forward.
It became apparent to those watching the presentation that Skyline’s offer was motivated in the first instance by securing a timely $48.3M tax receipt. The offer clearly lacked the necessary resources and comfort to satisfy Council of the day that this was a sound business decision for the people of Midland.
Council slowed down the entire process by requesting Midland staff seek some additional clarification and resources from Skyline, for which Skyline chose not to respond.
The good news - Skyline will remain in Tay for at least one more season; likely, time and opportunity will eventually define her destiny.
Midland Matters, You Matter and Getting Involved Matters!
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