Monday, September 26, 2022

All of the Things Wrong With the Municipality of Meaford

As the nomination period for candidates in October’s municipal election comes to a close at the end of this week, the campaigns will begin to ramp up, and we the voters will have roughly two months to learn about the candidates for mayor, deputy mayor, and councillor before election day.

From the candidates we will hear much about what they intend to do if elected. Whether possible or not, some candidates will promise the moon, perhaps misunderstanding the role of councillor themselves, while other candidates will provide voters with slick brochures highlighting the reasons they are a better choice than the other candidates.

One of my biggest frustrations come municipal election time is candidates who misunderstand the role of council, and some candidates think they will be able to do things if elected that are simply not within a local council’s purview. In the process voters can become confused, or they can develop unrealistic expectations from the next council.

Candidates not having an understanding of the role of council aside, one thing we are also certain to hear over the next couple of months, both from some candidates as well as from voters on social media, are all of the things that are wrong with this municipality.

I hear it all the time from readers, and I see it often on social media, but during election campaigns, the laundry list of Meaford’s flaws gets updated and discussed at length by some.

We have all heard folks share their thoughts of what is wrong with this municipality. There are some roads in rough shape, there is not enough policing, our taxes are too high, we don’t have sports leagues for kids, we should have an outdoor skating rink, why don’t we have a recreation centre, there is not enough parking downtown, there is nothing for kids to do, there are no well paying jobs, there is not enough green space, the municipal staff roster is too large, there are too many municipal services, there are not enough municipal services, and on, and on.

What some voters seem to forget at times is that we live in a small rural town, and there are some trade-offs for the quiet, safe, small town community lifestyle. The small town life doesn’t include many of the big ticket frills that larger communities can support with their much larger tax base, but those frills are typically not far away, just a 30-minute drive away. The larger communities might have those expensive frills, but they also have higher crime rates, traffic congestion, and a host of other large community issues that we in small towns are happy to be free of.

With the large number of complaints people have about this municipality, it would be fair to question why anyone lives here at all. Why would anyone subject themselves to the horrors of living in such a terrible community?

The reality is, though the voices of the discontented might be loud at times, the vast majority of us have few issues with the Municipality of Meaford, and the lifestyle this community provides.

For all of those who say there is nothing for the kids to do, the rest of us are taking kids on hikes on the many trails in the area, or taking them fishing, or swimming, or to the library. The fact is that, especially for a small town, we in Meaford have access to many activities, both in town and a short drive away.

For those who insist that our taxes are too high, I would suggest doing some homework, because this municipality is roughly middle of the pack when it comes to tax rates in comparable communities. Further, you would be wise to take a look at infrastructure rehabilitation spending, because though we often hear complaints about the state of our roads, Meaford has dedicated more funding to roads and bridges over the past five years than any municipality in the area, and some of those other municipalities have seen the need for significant rate increases in the past couple of years.

The many complaints that I hear about the size of Meaford’s staff is definitely worthy of discussion and debate, but it must go hand in hand with discussion of the services that are provided, and if we want to see the size of municipal staff shrink, then we need to be clear about what services we can live without.

Whether you have a laundry list of complaints about this municipality, or you simply love living here, warts and all, be cautious of what council candidates might promise in the coming weeks. Candidates can easily forget that, if elected, they will be but one of seven votes, and that is the extent of the power of a member of council, one vote of seven. Even our mayor has but one of seven votes, so candidates promising to move mountains, candidates promising to slash the size of municipal staff, or to reduce property taxes, cannot do so without a majority of council’s support.

If you have many complaints about this municipality, I for one don’t judge, we all have our own opinions, and we all have our own expectations, but don’t expect a single council candidate, whether for mayor, deputy mayor, or councillor, to actually solve the laundry list of issues you might have with the municipality. It simply doesn’t work that way.

 

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