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Jun. 23, 2021 | Wednesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Underground group aims to unseat town council
Letter

Dear editor:

An underground movement in Niagara-on-the-lake is preplanning its strategy to unseat the incumbent town council. This group plans to examine the makeup of council, their voting records and potential conflicts of interest.

Are they B&B operators associated with the hospitality or wine industry, etc. This will gauge their true loyalties and perhaps give the electorate a window into their reason for serving on council .

Readers of my letters to the editor contacted me directly a while ago to solicit my participation in the group (not in running for office). The sales pitch specifically states it is not too early to start planning to dislodge the entrenched old boys' network from town council. 

The group claims, as in the past, that the council continues to be in the hip pockets of the wine industry, the hospitality industry and tourism group (B&B crowd, etc.).

The theme of the group appears to focus on the volume of unresolved, media-reported year-over-year complaints from the taxpaying public, and council's penchant for turning a deaf ear. That is, unless you represent the well-oiled and organized B&B lobby group, (eg. cutting B&B licence fees, The Lake Report, May 20), which in the past has threatened council with legal action if operators fail to get their way.

Council's solution to decades-old constituent concerns is to kick the can down the road. Accordingly, the council agenda is far from being in concert with the residents as councillors march to their own self-interest drum.

For example, the decades-old parking congestion in Old Town/heritage district, which gets worse every year. We have yet to hear a public statement addressing a proposed solution. Is the game plan to flood the residential neighbourhoods with more parking meters?

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Given how NOTL housing prices continue to be seen as a buyers' market by out-of-town purchasers (as opposed to a sellers' market in Toronto and surrounding cities), the demographics of the town population are changing. New blood and broader ideas are flowing into town .

This, according to the "unseat the current council" group, is their best chance to outvote The Locals, as long-term residents like to call themselves. 

I moved to NOTL 15-plus years ago at which point I played golf with a member of the NOTL Golf Club and during our round he commented, "To call yourself a local you must live here at least 40 years."

Take note, you Toronto expats, when you hear that the Toronto crowd is trying to change "our town." Clearly it's a given the old clique will not easily concede its vested interests and turf to this new demographic.

Council has been selectively voted in for decades by locals who detest change. When this "yet to go public " underground group surfaces with its plan and focused agenda, voters will have the chance to seat a taxpayer-sympathetic council.

Also on the local political scene, Andrea Kaiser is running as a Liberal in the next federal election. Can anyone guess what local industry she will be representing – certainly not the community taxpayers? 

During my tenure in Kitchener, Ont., the neighbourhood presidents, under the ward system, organized and successfully unseated the council plus the sitting mayor, the infamous Murray Rosenberg.

Perhaps the ever-increasing "silo neighbourhoods" (Garrison Village, Chautauqua, the SORE group, etc.) forced to exist and be vocal by the inaction of council will work in concert with this group to achieve the same results as in Kitchener.

Ah, small-town politics, don't you just love it.

Samuel Young
NOTL

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