By Stephen Vance, Editor
Hello Santa, it has become a bit of a tradition for me to send along a letter during the holiday season each year with my wish list for my community of Meaford.
I hope all is well up in the North Pole, and that Mrs. Claus and those reindeer are doing fine.
I have to say, Santa, that while you’ve done pretty well with some of my previous requests, there are some that you’ve either ignored or have been unable to fulfill. In fact, come to think of it, you don’t even respond to my letters – you aren’t practising for a run at a Meaford council seat, are you?
I do thank you for granting some of my previous wishes though. We now have a Bylaw Enforcement Officer as I’d asked three years ago, and our municipal budgets are now finished before the flowers bloom in the Spring! Now that’s improvement!
I hope you don’t think it impolite if I make one request for a fourth time. A few years back, our council repealed the bylaw requiring an Integrity Commissioner in Meaford. Okay, I get it, we’re not going to get a real Integrity Commissioner, but it would still be really great to at least get an Integrity Commissioner action figure that I could symbolically place on the press table during meetings.
But enough about the past, I have a bunch of new items on my wish list.
Santa, we have a municipal election scheduled for next autumn. I’ve got two things on my wish list with regard to that election:
Can we please get a slate of council candidates who will finally ditch our silly ‘The Other Big Apple’ slogan? The only thing that Meaford has in common with New York is that we too have seven letters in our name. I’ve tried desperately to find other commonalities, but without success. New York City has a very small agricultural sector, and last I checked, Meaford’s subway hadn’t been built yet.
My other request with regard to the coming election is to have candidates who realize that inflation is a reality for every man, woman, child, business and government, so at the very least municipal budgets must be increased by the rate of inflation each year. We don’t need another ‘five-year plan’ to repair a huge deficit, this one has been painful enough, even with an early end.
Five-year plans were particularly popular with Stalinist Russia and Communist China. Though if we do end up with a new five-year plan down the road, perhaps that will present a re-branding opportunity – instead of being ‘The Other Big Apple’ we could be ‘The Other Commie Dictatorship’, or something similar.
Also on my list this year is a solution for residents of rural Meaford, particularly the former Sydenham where many residents have expressed a desire to separate from Meaford, and I don’t blame them. Santa, it isn’t Meaford’s fault, but our rural residents have been screwed over since amalgamation (sorry for my choice of words, Santa, please don’t put me on the naughty list).
The amalgamation of a rural community with an urban community – with which not even a border is shared – was lunacy to begin with. Rural residents and urban residents have different needs, and desire different levels of service from their municipal governments. Some town folks get frustrated with Sydenham folks constantly saying that they never come to Meaford and don’t use Meaford services, but to me it makes sense. You don’t go bowling on a billiard table, but that doesn’t make either activity bad, they just require different size balls.
So I am also asking for the right size balls to be given to council so that they can take some of the heat off municipal staff, and sit down for a respectful meeting where actual listening and understanding occurs. Actually, in addition, I suppose I should ask for a few hearing aids for those councillors with apparent hearing loss.
Thank you for considering my letter, Santa. Safe travels in your journey this year, and don’t forget to check for flames before heading down the chimneys. Our utility bills in Ontario are skyrocketing causing many to have to burn old hockey sticks in their fireplaces for warmth.
Stephen Vance, Editor, The Meaford Independent