Wolfville Character

It seems we were not the only ones to wonder at the meaning of the mayor’s closing remarks (at the Budget meeting of June 22). Here is David Daniel’s musings on Mr. Stead’s “characterization” of Wolfville.

THE  BUDGET AND THE “CHARACTER” OF WOLFVILLE

At the end of the meeting at which Council approved the 2009-2010 budget, Mayor Stead, after commenting that the Council was “committed to saving money wherever we can” went on to state: “What we have expressed over and over again and the budget will reflect that, we are not prepared to see the character of the Town changed for reasons that in our opinion or estimation are not sufficiently good.”  (My underlining.)

Sounds, at first, like a worthwhile clarion call.

But on second thought the Mayor’s comments raise a series of questions.  What precisely is Wolfville’s “character” which the Mayor does not want to see changed?  The Mayor in his statement refers to “we.”  Has this “character” been discussed or voted upon by Council?  Have Town residents been asked what they think their “character” is?  And assuming the Town’s “character” is multifaceted, is one facet more important or needs more protection than another?

What might make up the “character” of Wolfville?  Here are some suggestions.**

WOLFVILLE RESIDENTS VALUE “CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT” AND “EMPOWER[ING] PEOPLE AND FOSTER[ING] PARTICIPATION.  Municipal Planning Strategy at pages 5 and 81.

But during the past year, the Mayor, given his power to preside over meetings (Municipal Government Act sec. 15(1)), has unilaterally all but eliminated public participation at public meetings except where required by statute.  During the budget process  nine public meetings were held at which the budget was discussed.  The public was permitted to provide “input” at only one, and citizens were not permitted to ask any questions at any of the meetings.

CULTURE (MUSIC, THEATRE, ART, ETC.) IS INTEGRAL TO LIFE IN WOLFVILLE

But I know a lifelong resident who has voiced the view: I am interested in having the streets and sidewalks properly maintained and kept clean, and only after core services are provided should the Town contribute to cultural events.   Others have voiced a similar view.  Is the level of funding for cultural events to be based on the Mayor or Councilors’ insight into the the “character” of the Town?

THE TOWN IS INNOVATIVE AND AT THE FOREFRONT OF SOCIAL ISSUES

Efforts to ban the use of pesticides in the town may have been initiated by a group of town residents but the Town’s bylaw to prohibit smoking in cars with children was not, to my knowledge.  Some residents supported Wolfville becoming a Fair Trade town and the ban on uranium mining and the use of cosmetic pesticides.  Should the willingness of Council to spend money and expend staff time to further these causes be dependent upon the perceived “character” of the Town or should legitimate arguments for or against be decisive?  There are legal arguments that a town has no power to ban pesticides under the MGA sec.171(1)(j).  Should this legal argument be cast aside because such a ban is consistent with the Town’s character?

THE TOWN SUPPORTS SOCIAL PROGRAMS SUCH AS FOR HEALTH AND EDUCATION

The Mayor claimed that some of comments made in opposition to the funding of the hospice were “uneducated; they are inappropriate and they are not fair. . .”     But there are valid arguments for and against such funding.  Councilor Laceby proposed two alternatives to direct town funding: (1) the Town could assist the hospice foundation with fundraising in the Town which would permit residents who wished to contribute to get a tax deduction, or (2) the town could set up some sort of matching grant system.  Neither of these ideas was seriously considered.

Should the Town support the hospice with tax dollars because such support is consistent with the Town’s “character”?  Is it part of the Town’s “character” to support health programs and not educational ones?  Or should the decision be made on articulated reasons with public input.

————–

When an official claims that decisions should be made to reflect the “character” of a place, beware.  Such claims smack of hubris and assume that officials have privileged insight into what makes up the “character” of a place.  Council decisions based upon perceived Town “character” are poor substitutes for decisions based upon the give and take of public debate, cost benefit analysis and/or whether the decisions promote articulated Town priorities.

David A. Daniels
July 2, 2009

** I’ll limit my proposals to those characteristics which Town Council might impact by its actions.  So, for example, the Town may be characterized by friendliness and tolerance.  But these character traits cannot be directly influenced by Council actions.

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6 responses to “Wolfville Character

  1. Didn’t notice anything about support for local businsses, oh right he’s doesn’t. Maybe that is why so many businesses have closed during his time as mayor. The only business he is interested in is the Farmer’s Market, some tax base that is, what a joke.

  2. Character, like beauty, is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. The Mayors statement is devoid of real content and cannot withstand serious analysis. The Mayor does not deserve to be taken seriously.

    Frankly, I’d characterize the Mayor as an intellectual lightweight. I suspect that the Mayor knows his limitations very well — which is why there is seldom any opportunity to ask a probing question of The Mayor and His Council.

  3. Has any consideration been given to the reclassification of some of the Nursing Homes and Assisted Living units to hospice? It seems that Wickwire Place would be ideal for this purpose. Setting aside a floor for hospice would be a start.

    Just a thought.

    Another thought. How many rear enders have occurred at the lights at Exit 11?

  4. I live down town Wolfville and I do not have a parking space.I was told at town hall that because I do not work within the town of wolfville that I am not eligible for the purchase of a parking permit therefore I have to either move my car every 2 hours or park down at the skate park. The hard part is when I don’t have a space in town to park and need to go up and get my laundry this is a problem.It’s hard coming back to a parking ticket every time I need to do a wash. Or like when I go to pay for a parking ticket and have no place to park to pay the parking ticket,then receive a new parking ticket.I enjoy going into Town Hall and paying for these with the Strawberry and Raspberry money Im living off of .When the employee”s at town hall laugh at my situation I seem to get goose bumps over the entire situation.The new flower beds going in by the bank and drug store located in the middle of the town are a real treat too.Our tax money taking up more precious parking spaces.We need more parking not less..Are you planning on making this town a walk through town ? If so what are your plans? Example:How do oil trucks deliver oil to business’s,apartments?I was also wondering can you make it mandatory for landlords to provide parking for tenants? That way I don’t have to keep emailing you and lisen to you say if you don’t like it move.Maybe….I can come park in your driveway?You seem to have lots of room? Maybe I can do my Laundry? Just needed to get that off my chest!

    • We hear you, Matt. We have been heaving stuff off our chests for several years via this humble blog. Don’t know why it is so difficult for the town – staff and Council- to understand that they SERVE at our pleasure and should be working FOR US since we pay them. They should be bending over backwards to help any resident who has a problem whatever that is. Instead they seem annoyed that you are bothering them with your “silly” troubles. They have better things to do? Like beautification and tending flower beds?

  5. Pingback: Parking complaints « Wolfville watch