Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

My quick journey from the past to the present

BMRA President Michael Seguin’s presentation to the BMRA-AGM on MAY 4th, 2013.

It’s hard to believe that my fifth term as President comes to a close today. In 2008, I was just a real estate appraiser, minding my own business and staying out of trouble. Town issues didn’t even concern me. So you may ask “what the heck was quiet guy like me thinking about when I took on this task way back in May, 2008?”

Well – I guess I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the Town and their attempt to disguise an active 5-bay industrial garage and work yard across the road from where I lived in 2005 – imagine, building an industrial garage in the heart of an established, quiet, low density residential neighbourhood. They called it a low-key “water operations centre”. No one knew. When I enquired, I found out that he Town had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on consultants and building plans. They were secretly planning this behind closed doors – they thought they had the right to do whatever they wanted on Town land and they were not planning to tell us or engage the public until it was too late. Needless to say, I was stunned and wanted to fight back in the worst way. So I engaged all the neighbours (some who were lawyers and planners) by painting the ugliest picture you could imagine – noise, smell, traffic, lost in market value, loss of privacy, environmental issues, and much more. Not one person disagreed with me. Anticipating a legal battle, I raised over $10,000 for a war chest to start the fight. Not wanting the fight to be characterized as NIBYISM and knowing a municipal election was on the horizon, I sought out a much larger audience in hope that I could spread the word about the Town’s “insane” attitude. So I approached the BMRA.

The Association was so taken back by my issue and my plans to fight the Town that they invited both Cathy and I to join the Board. At the time, I thought this is a “no brainer” and it would help the cause. To make a long story short, the BMRA helped me make it an election issue in October, 2006 and the entire Council backed down in order to get re-elected. I made it clear to Council that they were lucky, they made the right decision and that they finally demonstrated that they can act in the best interest of Public. In the end, the BMRA helped me and I felt a desire, not an obligation, to stay on to provide the “charge” to help others. When I accepted my role as a Board Director in early 2006, I realized that the Association was in need of a serious change.

With an election on the horizon, I told the existing Board that the Association needed a boost in membership, not just in the Craigleith area but throughout the Town, and needed more effective and frequent communication – a lot more than just 4 newsletters and expensive mailings every year. I wanted to engage the membership on a regular basis. I thought it was absolutely necessary to update our Mission Statement, our By-laws and create a website that could reach out to the majority of our members through email blasts. Although I met some resistance from the old guard, when I assumed the role as President in 2008, I started the process of making the changes I envisioned as a Director and thought were necessary in revitalizing and growing the Association.

In reflecting back, many positive changes have occurred over the past 5 years (too many to mention in this message) but I have a feeling that I have come “full-circle” now. Everything that I had envisioned in 2008 now needs to be taken to the next or another level. The formation of a STA Committee and Budget Review Committee has brought together a number of well-educated and intelligent members who are very creative and want to take the Association to that next level and grow the Association – or as some would say grow the voter’s list.

The Mission Statement that I had envisioned in 2008 is now being revamped to provide a stronger commitment to a quality of life in all sectors of our economy and to encourage responsible decisions by our Town representatives. We hope to have this new statement finalized over the next few months, rolled out to the membership and used to help grow our Association and provide a stronger voice in the community.

Over the next year, we will also concentrate on forming some new Committees in hope of harnessing some the expertise that we have in our membership. Two committees come to mind: a Planning and Development Committee, which I have mentioned in previous Newsletters, and a 2014 Election Committee. , especially in the development of vacant lands. , one which will threaten the character and compatibility of our community.

A 2014 Election Committee is a must. We need to find capable candidates who care more about good governance than money, candidates who can provide more open and transparent leadership and more importantly, candidates to can find more workable and affordable solutions that are in the best interest of the community.

In my opinion, the current Council strikes me as a tired and out-of-touch with the challenging issues before them and I’m told by many people, including non-members, that they are continuing to lose the support of the public. Their years of service and experience no longer add up to good leadership, good governance and finding workable solutions that deal with economic realities.

If there are members out there who have political ambitions, then you need to get to work on your campaign now. The expectation that you can learn on the job doesn’t work anymore. You need to start getting familiar with the various policies and procedures that govern meetings, understand the main issues and be prepared to provide a strong voice at the Council table.

The purpose of the Election Committee will be to help future candidates gain knowledge and understanding of the process as we move forward to nomination day in January, 2014. So let me know if you are interested! In the meantime, the BMRA will continue to monitor the direction of this Council and make sure they are still somewhat “charged” and are responsible to act in the best interest of our community and the ratepayers. We will also continue to keep you informed through our web site and email blasts, as well as the occasional blast on facebook. If anyone out there wants to help with our communication services, we welcome you support.

In summary, if at any time you have any comments regarding my statements, as harsh as they may sound or seem at times, please do not hesitate to contact me through the web site (info@bluemountainratepayersassociation.com) or send me a message via the Association’s mailing address. As I have always said, you are the heart and soul of the Association and we continue to value your opinion. Thank you.