Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

Directors’ Message at the 2015 AGM– A year in Review

Your Ratepayers Association has had a very busy…and we hope you agree, successful year.

Since saying goodbye to your Past President Michael Seguin at last year’s AGM, we can now welcome him as an elected Councillor. That is success. Along with Michael Martin, we now have some trusted or at least fairly predictable votes on Council; that should help to keep our new Mayor’s and Deputy’s feet to the fire on campaign messages  (especially with their votes at the County)…. messages that promised change.

Last summer, when we interviewed the candidates for Mayor and Deputy Mayor we grilled them on our Focus Five topics which you have as a handout. The idea there was to cause change to happen in a way that we were not just fighting each issue ad hoc as it happened. Instead the Town should try to find permanent fixes to challenges and take a long run approach with solutions.

The new Mayor John McKean was very deliberative in his campaign to make one of those 5 points a cornerstone of his successful election … which many have called an election upset. Those election results were directly linked to a call for change by the Mayor; particularly on trying to get a better deal with the County.

If you look on the back of the handout you will see some follow through by the Mayor to try and get our Town a better deal with the County. Where this will eventually go is very difficult to predict and I would encourage you to ask the Mayor following his presentation how he proposes to tackle out of proportion equity with the County. We aren’t calling for equal. We are calling for more fairness.

Meanwhile, before Terry talks about the core thrust of the BMRA, which is the Budget Review Committee, let me give you one example of how we are tackling a longer term strategy on an item on the Focus Five sheet before you.

We have an Official Plan and Development Committee chaired by Janet Findlay who was a former employee of municipalities in Alberta and the GTA region. Also on the Committee is Brian Nelson who as a trades person brings a needed perspective to our group. Also John Corrigan worked on the OP as a volunteer for several years and it was John and Brian who advised us to insert the wording about “design and character” into the OP … you will see those words on your handout. We believe the new Planner Michael Benner is going to help us accomplish that and we will get them inserted.

On a closely related matter:

The Collingwood delegation that recently presented at TBM stated: “the height and visual impact are out of synch with the surrounding area.  Any development permitted should be designed and located in such a manner as to preserve the natural, visual and cultural characteristics of the area.  This proposal does none of that.”

That is an excellent example of how we need to think of our local economy, as one based in the Golden Triangle. This Windfall development is one that binds us together and causes us to recall what Michael Martin has succinctly articulated during the OP Open Meetings:  “do the residents recognize themselves in the Official Plan?”

The point is:  We need to be Open For Business but we need to make it more clear to investors what we are all about and as Michael Benner said in our last Newsletter:

“We can’t be expected to do to things on a scale of the GTA (or Golden Horseshoe)  … and it is vitally important to have a small town look and feel”.

Time does not permit us to go through all Focus 5 items on the handout but let me comment quickly on one other Focus 5 item, the STA Committee.  The de facto Committee chair who carried the spear for years is now Councillor Seguin. We mustn’t lose that opportunity to have a representative of STA residents with a seat on Council. Our Directors, Blanka and Denis are spear-heading that Committee now and as Blanka commented in her last newsletter write-up, a lot of progress has been made but more work needs to be done.

In the end what is required is prioritization of the issues and then some leadership from our Mayor and Council on those issues. If we get that, then the BMRA can actually work with the Town to help move us toward desired goals instead of just being on the attack. As Terry will no doubt mention, Ruth Prince is an appointment the BMRA definitely supports. Additionally, as already mentioned, the new Town Planner Michael Benner is someone we can work with.

So in closing the Directors’ remarks we hope you will continue to support the BMRA both in spirit and with your renewed memberships. Don’t hesitate to:

Sell the idea to friends and neighbours… why are you a member?

We need more membership dues in the kitty to cover expenses such as the highly successful All- Candidates meeting; at a cost of $4200, that needs almost 200 memberships. Plus web site maintenance fees and postal fees etc. So please help us get the momentum rolling again on membership dues during the post election blahs.

Thanks for you support … John Leckie, Director