Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

Councillor Michael Martin speaks at AGM

Councillor Martin speaks to the BMRA members at the AGM on May 3rd, 2014 and advises that the BMRA provides great value.

I am a three (3)-term councilor

Some background – I left Toronto to live in Thornbury from 1994: retired from career as lawyer having acted for Municipalities, Ratepayer and Developers.

I am very pleased to have been invited to provide comments at this meeting.

a) I think that this Ratepayer Association is perhaps Council most important reality check. Over the years your organization has grown and reached a prominent level of professionalism, credibility and integrity: Congratulations. Your current directors are first rate as well as those having served. All have the community at stake: wanting to preserve and enhance, what we live in as a community.

b) Has this community changed over years? Yes: very significantly: Real Estate: changes in kinds, number, and values of homes, Recreation: Look to fantastic growth at the Mountain, other sports such as Golf and Bicycles for two. Agricultural: we have seen enlarged farms in size and value (most worth millions in land and capital), diversity into apple varieties and growing techniques. There are also vineyards, and hops as examples, not to forget the many existing livestock and grain enterprises.

c) You have brought forward major issues concerning finances of the Town particularly the inequity of s expenses having only 7% of population. You have highlighted concerns with the charges of Water and Sewer rates. The most prominent issue to date brought forward and kept on council agenda is and was the whole STA agenda, almost 15 years in the making.

d) As said: One Great job in keeping Council accountable. Accountability is so important: After an election most Councils move business along lines of least resistance: this seems to meet staff agendas and expectations (councils following but not leading): but, this often fails the community from addressing pressing issues.

Your value in a democratic society is the counter balance to Council expectations.

You make the dialogue through delegations to Council and request to be heard. I personally encourage this dialogue and will continue to do so: I will continue to object to Council limiting time limits for dialogue or refusing to provide adequate time for someone to be heard. We are elected to represent and the least a Council can do is listen: whether agree or not.

e) There are so many issues that have been affected by visible and vocal organized groups some under your wing others not: Policing costs, Incidence of “closed” meetings, Snowbridge median destruction issue. Wensley Drive road and servicing costs, currently Tesky drive servicing, Telfer lack of neighborhood compatibility and density, Terrasand: again, compatibility and density all major issues.

With full Council chamber of concerned citizens: Council votes often change significantly: (I often notice the backpedaling of members in these situations.) thus: accountability and transparency.

Be prepared for next major issues of Revised Official Plan 6 years in works: why? (This is the Town’s most important legal document to determine the Town physical and social structure for now and in future.) Comprehensive consolidated zoning By Law 8 years: in works. (This document implements the Official Plan) The intended revisions of these documents will shortly seek council’s approval; but, have potential land mines in the issues of density; neighborhood compatibility and “D” development zones which if implemented would change the fabric of this community. Other issues: Public input in budget process, Reserve policies, Thornbury Gate again density.

In closing: Thank you