Category Archives: Opinions

Debate? Or not?

Was this a “debate” or was it a tightly controlled event?  Judge for yourself.  And what did you think about the moderator and the questions she “vetted”?

Wolfville Election 2012

Not sure how many readers we have left as we have mostly gone dark here at Ww but we still occasionally get submissions. Brian Sanderson has some thoughts on the upcoming election and some useful analysis.Here are a few short excerpts to whet your appetite.

I’ve been negligent. For more than a year I have been ignoring Town of Wolfville machinations — and, in my ignorance, sleeping blissfully.

But there is nothing like an election to ruin a good nights sleep. Dusting off a year of cobwebs, I figured the best place to start was a review of the bottom line. ….

There follows some good analysis including  a chart. Then

Now we have elections coming up. A bunch of “nice” candidates are going to tell you about all the “nice” things that they are going to do for you. They will have all sort of “visions” and “imaginings”. They will all be “sustainable” without ever saying what exactly they are sustaining.

I’m Brian Sanderson and I’m NOT running for Council. I’m NOT running for Mayor. I’m NOT here to have “nice” “visions” and “imaginings” like some burned-out hippie smoking wacky-baccy.

I’m here to analyze the bulldust and tell it like I see it.

So please look at what he has put together. Here is the link to his page. 

 

 

A letter to Wolfville’s Mayor

Here is a letter to the mayor, a copy of which has been submitted to us by Mr. Daniels for publication for the information of Wolfville residents.

Dear Mayor Stead:

Re: Public Participation and Question Period

The fifth core principle listed in the 2009 Wolfville Corporate Strategic Plan is “transparency and participatory government.” Elected officials “will strive to involve [citizens] in their local government.” I recall that you expressed support for this principle when it was discussed and adopted by Council. Yet your actions demonstrate that you are either ignorant of the full meaning public participation or you are selective in the “public” whom you would like to participate.

At the January 4th Committee of Council meeting Deputy Mayor Mangle asked about the lack of a sidewalk at the Wickwire Place development. In response, Greg Morrison, the Director of Planning, wrote a memo to Council, dated January 30, 2012. In this memo Mr. Morrison included the fact that landscaping which is required by the approved development agreement to be completed within 18 months of the “commencement date,” June 2006, has yet to be planted.

At the April 2nd Committee of Council meeting, during question period, I asked about the landscaping at Wickwire Place. Rather than simply request Mr. Morrison, who was sitting in the audience, to provide an update, you took it upon yourself to ask me a question. Had I inspected the Wickwire Place property? Your question implied that it was somehow my responsibility to inspect the property before I could ask my question; as if you are permitted to place conditions upon the kinds of questions residents may pose to Council during the designated question period.

(Perhaps the question you should have asked was why the Wickwire Place developer was not required to comply with the development agreement and complete the landscaping on time.)

If you think it is easy to stand up in public and ask questions and make comments, you are mistaken. And speaking at council meetings is not made any easier when the speaker may be subjected to discourteous, unnecessary and inappropriate questioning. Your behaviour does not further the objective of public participation but rather thwarts it.

As a mayor, you are required to preside at all meetings of council. Municipal Government Act, s. 15(1). You appear to be unable to carry out this duty in a fair and effective manner.

Sincerely,

David A. Daniels

This is not the first time the mayor has not given any respect to legitimate questions; he considers any views other than his own “uneducated, ignorant and unfair”.   Many would say that those words apply more appropriately to HIM! Does  Mr. Stead know how seriously residents view this lack of respect? Perhaps only voting him out of office will get that through to him.  And the councillors just sit and watch. Why?

As for the weakness in enforcement of Development agreements – this is not a new issue either.

Remember Railtown?  

And to quote from another of our earlier posts –

The truth is that even if Council agrees with all of the above their hands may be tied. Once the agreement is signed off there is very little anyone can do to enforce the details of that “agreement” because sadly DA’s do not have the force of a contract. Getting Council to admit that may be hard. They would prefer people thought they did.

We doubt that the most recent MPS and land use by laws Review has changed this lack of teeth one whit.

Budget meeting

A notice from David Daniels.
IMPORTANT!!
TOWN COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING
6 P.M. MONDAY FEBRUARY 27TH
TOWN HALL
THIS MAY BE THE ONLY SPECIAL MEETING AT WHICH THE PUBLIC WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT UPON AND ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROPOSED TOWN BUDGET
You should take a look at the draft documents on the Town website. Mr. Daniels has some excerpts from those documents with this notice at the post office.

MCN updates

Updates from David Daniels and the MUD Creek News.

POLICE COMMITTEE MINUTES (UPDATE)

In the last issue of the MCN I pointed out that there were “missing” minutes from the Town’s website of the RCMP Advisory Board.  Were the minutes not taken, not posted, or were meetings not held?  

After I made my comment, minutes of the Board  have now been posted.  The Board had been meeting, and minutes taken, but were never posted.  That failure has been remedied.

But as indicated in the article above on the RCMP contract, the Board is required to do annual reports.  There are no Board annual reports as required by Ch. 38 on the Town’s website.  I asked the Chair of the Committee, Councilor Hugh Simpson, about the missing reports.  He replied that he would refer this matter to Board at its next meeting.

Stay tuned.

ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS (UPDATE)

In the last issue of MCN I provided figures concerning the Town’s administrative costs versus Antigonish’s and Kentville’s.  CAO Mombourquette responded in an email to me:  “As expected, the difference between the total ‘Administration’ is due to the categorization of amounts. There are different expenses included in ‘Administration’ in Wolfville, versus Kentville, versus Antigonish. This financial presentation is not dictated by either the Province or the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) and therefore, the Towns are left to decide how to best reflect their organization.”

The figures she provided included the following under the category “Wages and benefits”.  Wolfville: $509,000; Kentville: $525,695; Antigonish: $504,790.  

Unfortunately, the information on the Towns’ websites  does not provide further breakdown on these numbers.  An appropriate apples to apples and oranges to oranges comparison would be possible by having detailed information on administrative staff numbers and their functions.  And of course, numbers cannot  alone provide information on productivity/effectiveness of staff. 

GASPEREAU AVE. APT (UPDATE)

At the invitation of the developers, a meeting was held on Thursday evening, January 12th.  In attendance were about 10 neighbourhood residents, four individuals representing the developer, CAO Mombourquette and Director of Planning Morrison and Councilor Keith Irving.  The latter three did not speak at the meeting.

There was an exchange of ideas.  The neighbours set out their concerns, which focused on density and the design requirements of any new building(s) to be proposed.  The developers promised to return with some rough ideas for a new proposal.

The litigation before the UARB on the first proposal which was rejected by Council 6-0 remains on hold. 

LOUNGE HOURS (UPDATE)

Lounge hours extension and the problems of alcohol consumption in the Town were discussed at the January 12th Council Strategy and Policy meeting.  

Three separate and perhaps related issues were recognized.  (1) amending the Municipal Planning Strategy to permit lounges to serve alcohol beyond 1:00 a.m. for up to six days a year; (2) the disruption to neighbourhoods located in the Town core resulting from too much student drinking; and (3) devising a Community Alcohol Management Strategy.  

The Council decided to move forward as soon as possible with issue (1).  Council will also take steps to address issue (2); perhaps with the formation of a task force to come up with actionable suggestions.  Council reached consensus that issue (3) could not be addressed since it required more resources than the Town had available to it.

David A. Daniels

Submission re Gaspereau Ave Development

Here is a letter from David Daniels to Council concerning the plans for Gaspereau Ave. He has asked us to post here and we are happy to oblige.

January 9, 2012

Dear Council Members:

Please accept the following comments concerning the Gaspereau Avenue apartment project.
——————

I asked at a Council meeting whether the Council had provided any directions to Mr. Morrison for his upcoming negotiations with the developer of the Gaspereau Avenue project. The answer was “no”.

I do not understand why the Council would not provide guidance to staff when staff members are negotiating a development agreement (DA) which amounts to a contract between the Town and the developer.

Recall that Mr. Morrison has already negotiated one DA with the developer. That DA was unanimously rejected by Council. The developer no doubt expended a good deal of time and money working on this rejected proposal. In addition, the developer has now appealed the rejection to the UARB which has resulted in both the Town and the developer incurring legal costs.

Ms. Mombourquette and Mr. Morrison may prepare for the negotiations by reviewing the minutes or recording of the Council meeting at which the first proposal was rejected. But why not then confer directly with the Council members? Council members may provide further insight into what they would like to see and not see in the development. They also may raise new issues which they believe need to be addressed during the negotiations.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that individual Council members provide absolute conditions which must be satisfied before he would vote in favour of a proposal. Rather, Council members should be able to express concerns and issues which they believe should be part of the negotiations. Providing this sort of guidance does not preclude Council members from coming to the public hearing with an open mind and being amenable to persuasion.
——————

Although it may be difficult to predict the outcome of the pending UARB appeal, it is important when negotiating with the developer to have some sense of the developer’s chances of success. If the negotiations break down, the developer has the option of moving forward with the litigation. If his chances of success at the UARB are not good, then the Town is in a better position to make demands on the developer.

One question I do not know the answer to is: does the Town have the obligation to consider a second proposal if the negotiations break down while litigation is on hold? The answer might depend upon the nature of the consent given by the Town when it agreed to adjourn the UARB proceeding.

——————

The Town should consider retaining a qualified planning consultant to participate in its negotiations with the developer. (Perhaps some cooperative arrangement can be reached with Kings County.) The final building approved will very likely be a large one with the potential to have a significant impact upon the Town.

A qualified planner can assist the Town in setting out its negotiation position or in responding to particular details in the developer’s proposal. A qualified planner may bring suggestions and perspectives to the negotiation table which would not otherwise be thought of.

In addition, the involvement of a qualified planner might make future litigation less likely. For example, the developer may claim that an idea suggested by the Town is not reasonably consistent with the Town’s MPS or goes against accepted planning practices. If the Town’s idea has the okay of a qualified planner, the Town will have a comfort level in making the demand, and the developer will know that the idea has the imprimatur of a planner. The developer will be less likely to want to litigate if he knows that the Town planner will testify as an expert that the Council’s decision is in line with good planning practices and is reasonably consistent with Town’s MPS.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my comments.

Respectfully,

David A. Daniels

Re-view 2011

Often at this time of year we offer a review of posts from previous years which we think bear revisiting. Here is our list for this year, in no particular order.

On Bullshit

Wolfville’s future

Why we didn’t vote

Kings 2050

Aims Municipal Performance Report

Wind Folly

Reflections on living downtown

Can we trade  ( a discussion on density)

Wolfville’s wild Spending

10 is the usual – but we are contrary so we offer only 9!

Merry Christmas etc

To all Ww readers - Happy Christmas

and

 Merry Chanukah

 

 

Quote for today

Do not argue with an idiot….
He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

 

Kings 2050

Garbage in, garbage out. Here’s some comment on the Kings 2050 initiative by Wolfville’s own Brian Sanderson. We copy a few excerpts here to whet your appetite.

Once again, the foul stench of municipal politics drags me to the keyboard. Bureaucratic bowels have turned out another turd, Kings 2050: “an exciting partnership initiative intended to guide the long-term sustainable development of Kings County”, they say…

…The administrators are only looking after their own interests. They have been put in charge of setting the terms of reference. And the terms of reference are to blow the budget on talk feasts and reports full of gabble-garbage. And when it’s all gone, perhaps Mr Irving will find them another pot to plunder! These self-serving goons are already targeting your pocket with a suggestion to “update taxation and user fees policies”. That’s code for robbing the rest of us blind!

…The “deliverables” are just a bunch of plans. Plans plans plans. Make a plan, review a plan, change a plan, plan to plan again.

Do read it all.