Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

Focus 5 Update – April, 2015

During the Fall 2014 election, the BMRA identified 5 issues which it felt should be addressed by the municipal candidates. These Focus Five issues helped crystallize voter preferences for change, and are still relevant today. With a new Council now in place, we are looking forward to LEADERSHIP on these issues:

OPP, Fire, EMS (First Responder Services): TBM should be supportive of Association of the Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) initiatives seeking a solution to the unsustainable nature of OPP and Emergency Service contracts.

Economic Development: TBM must embrace economic prosperity as a cornerstone to a sustainable community. This starts with a TBM employee culture that is genuinely supportive of the phrase “Open for Business”, and an economic development plan that can be broadened to regional collaboration where beneficial to TBM. We need to strive for prosperity in all sectors: agriculture, real estate development, tourism, industry, new digital entrepreneurial sectors as well as local merchants.   Local taxpayers should not be over-exposed to development costs that are not adequately covered by either development charges or County contributions.

Grey County:

We look to Council to keep up the pressure on Grey County to get better value for the Town of the Blue Mountains. By paying 28% of the projected $12 million cost of a new County administration building, the Town is more than carrying its weight in this regional government. Yet our Mayor and Deputy Mayor were outvoted at Grey Council, as they were when they asked for a full refund of a $1.4 County tax, collected from The Blue Mountains and made redundant by Provincial contributions. Leadership from our TBM Council is needed to address what strategies it will adopt to get better use of our County taxes, including holding back payments for roads as raised by Mayor McKean during his election campaign.

The TBM Official Plan (OP) The (OP) needs to protect the character of our landscapes and communities, as well as facilitate the development of our unique geographic opportunities in agriculture and recreation/tourism. The Town’s draft OP now being reviewed by Grey County should be revised to include specific reference to our Town’s Design Guidelines, so that the document reflects how residents expect this community to look.

By-law enforcement: TBM must engage in firm by-law enforcement, while treating residents and businesses respectfully.

Since the Election, Mayor McKean has continued to reinforce the platform that he ran on with a couple of posts on his Facebook:

“In a contentious decision Grey County council on April 7th has moved closer to approving a $12 million addition to the administration building in Owen Sound. Town of the Blue Mountains taxpayers will be responsible for 28% of the projected $12 million. Many other options were put forward to be considered such as decentralizing county services or relocating services to more central locations within the county. I suggested using underutilized schools for housing of county departments.

The recorded vote requested by me showed a split between newer members of the council and the “old guard”. The actual for and against votes were close but because of the weighted vote of Owen Sound and Hanover the motion passed.”

Mayor McKean has also advised that the County voted to return only half of what it collected in the special tax to the municipalities and hold back the remaining 50%, or $728,621 to pay for future projects it says it needs. To their credit and with the full support of your Ratepayers Association, our Town Council requested the return of the full 100% but this was not supported by the other municipalities. We have asked our Mayor to press harder, perhaps even holding back the amount from a future payment to Grey County.

Additionally during the Campaign the Mayor broached the subject of holding back payments to the County in order to get better productive use of our funds on our roads, a subject about which he is very conversant as roads were his profession.

We look to Council to keep up the pressure on the County to get better value and we ratepayers need to hold our representatives’ feet to the fire do that.