Maddie Di Muccio

Newmarket Councillor - Ward Six

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Another Big Win for Transparency on Newmarket Council

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 2:05 PM



 

In this term alone, we’ve seen a council under Mayor Tony Van Bynen’s leadership hide how they spend your taxes from the public by citing “in-camera” (closed door) provisions – provisions that have been continuously proven wrong and abused by this man in order to avoid scrutiny.

Last summer, for example, council attempted to keep an outrageous $2.8 million bail out for a private soccer league hidden from you. When I challenged their motive, they were forced to make it public.

I exposed that.

And yesterday, after having received a “confidential memo” from staff regarding Glenway lands, council was forced once again to make that information public.

I exposed that too.

FACT: there’s millions of your dollars that have been spent in closed door meetings – some of which includes hundreds of thousands spent in ward 6 and that residents received no benefit from that still remains confidential. You will never know about this spending unless we hold this mayor and his council friends to account.

Mayor Tony Van Bynen is absolutely desperate to hold on to his reign of 8 years of over-taxation by lining up his allies. That’s why he attended ward 6 candidate Kelly Broom-Plumley’s launch. He needs seat warmers that have little to say on real issues in order to push forward the following agenda:

 

  • Fund his pet projects such as the Old Town Hall and getting into the broadband business – a project that will cost you millions of dollars in taxes while families and seniors continue to do with less recreation; or as streets become busy and dangerous;


 

 

  • Plow through an agenda of aggressive development that will put Newmarket’s population density on par with North America’s largest cities;


 

 

  • Enforce his tradition of spending in closed doors meetings so he can continue to avoid public scrutiny.


 

In 2010, I ran on an agenda of holding this government to account. That takes strength, leadership and fortitude. I have a record which illustrates that accomplishment.

When you hire a litigator to sue somebody, you’ll hire the toughest one money can buy.

When you want a guard dog, you’ll get a German Sheppard, not a Shih Tzu.

So when you hire a politician, do you want hire the one who promises to get along with everybody? Or do you hire the individual who fights for your rights?

I’m a fighter. On October 27th, help me continue to fight for you.


 

 



What an election sign says about you

Posted on September 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM

 

A friend wishing me luck in the upcoming Newmarket Ward 6 election sent me the following:

 

 

 

"May you always say the right thing. May they see you mean what you say and say what you mean. And may the voters see your honesty and integrity."

 

 

 

It was especially meaningful because most people understand that in government, honesty and integrity are qualities that are few and far between; and individuals who stand up by fighting for these values are almost always those who are targeted ruthlessly by those who don't.

 

 

 

Tomorrow, Saturday September 27th, candidate election signs will be going up throughout the town of Newmarket on homeowners' properties. When you put a candidate's sign on your lawn, you're telling people what values you stand for in the government you want representing you.

 

 

 

When you put up the above sign, here's what you're standing up for:


 

  • Putting Taxpayers First. For 4 consecutive years, I've tabled motions to cut our extraordinarily high operating expenses so we can use some of that money for infrastructure such as parks, water pads and sports rinks. In 2011, staff cut $100,000 because of my motion. There's much more to do.

  • Getting things done. In this term, I've successfully implemented the following: cutting operational expenses, recording our votes, live streaming and archiving all meetings, posting council expenses, directing staff to report on and make changes on residential streets (ie: parking, signs, street lights, etc), implementing an additional GO Train via a request to the provincial government, putting off an unwanted construction project by residents on Tom Taylor Crescent, and building a sidewalk off of Yonge and Savage streets for trail users (to be constructed end of this fall).

  • Integrity. When a fellow councillor was convicted of a criminal offense, council turned a blind eye, and one member actually called him a "hero" while telling a representative from MADD in council chambers who shared her experience of losing her sister to "move on." I called on council to address the public's demand for accountability. They refused.

  • Accountability. Millions of your tax dollars have been spent and multiple decisions have been made in-camera (out of the public eye) for reasons that even a closed door meeting investigator called out of order in a 2012 report.  And in 2013, council was about to spend $3 million of your money on an unacceptable bail-out for a poorly managed sports club under the motion of "Ward 1 Property Aquisition Matter." I challenged that and as a result, council was forced to make that spending public. When the community learned of this spending, they were outraged. 

  • Transparency: In 2013, after being made aware of Newmarket council's penchant for secret meetings and hiring "integrity commissioners" as an abuse of political process to "punish" me, I was contacted by the office of the Ontario Ombudsman and invited to speak publically (via online) about my experiences in elected office and the appaling lack of oversight in many councils across Ontario. Through education, strong social and traditional media, and public support, Bill 8, a bill that will appoint the Ontario Ombudsman as having authority on council oversight, will become a reality in Ontario municipalities very soon.

  • Strong Leadership: in 2013, I was personally invited to speak on women in politics at the prestigious Manning Institute's annual national conference on the subject of 'Women in Politics.' In a room full of reporters and hopeful candidates, I shared my experiences of how being strong, confident and determined in office can change the course of politics and produce positive results. 

  • Inspiration. It happens when there's engagement. I've dedicated the past four years making efforts to engage the public about their municipal government. Every year, a big chunk of your tax bill gets higher. It's important to know why. And it's important to inspire others how to change that by getting involved.

When you place a sign on your front lawn that says "Re-elect Maddie Di Muccio", you're making a statement that you matter.

 


Please contact me if you would like to spread that message by requesting one.

 


Wish List vs. Reality

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 12:05 AM




You’re likely reading about it everywhere. As candidates and incumbents are gearing up for campaigns to vie for the thousands of seats up for grabs on municipal councils across Ontario, they’re promising you the world.

Everything from water parks, arts and sports centres, hockey rinks, and even a circus complete with hot air balloon rides. A vote for the right person will get you something in exchange, apparently – even if a petition needs to be started.

Forget that these wonderful things cost money (yours, to be specific) and that pushing these items through actually require support from other members of council and a capital budget supporting it: the naivety and/or spin I’m seeing in some campaigns is mind boggling.

The reality is that as our operational budgets across Ontario increase in size, so do your taxes – which leaves very little room for capital expenditures.

And of the little room leftover, I believe we can all agree that essential infrastructure, such as roads, safe drinking water, storm water maintenance, excellent recreation, and senior services need to take precedence.

It’s not sexy, and it doesn’t look as appealing on campaign literature, but it’s a truth that taxpayers need to know.

In Newmarket, our operational budget actually exceeds the amount of revenue we bring in. That leaves little space for capital expenditures, despite the grants and money received from other governments and developers. When council oversees an annual budget, we collectively decide what projects money should be allocated to.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy water parks, services for seniors, or excellent recreational infrastructure. It just means that until we have a serious conversation about allocating our budget to the things we want to see by changing the philosophy of spending, these things don't have a place in our future.

In this term, Newmarket council took part in an exercise during the budget process called a “Wish List.”

The “Wish List” was exactly that: a list of infrastructure items all ward councillors wanted to see in their own wards. Some of these items included splash pads, hockey rinks, and other assorted wonderful things we would all love to see in our neighborhoods.

For his role, Mayor Tony Van Bynen wanted to allocate a few thousand to each ward so that every councillor could use that infrastructure money on what their constituents wished.

Alas – none of these “wishes” saw the light of day. They were doomed even before they were created.

That’s because during a budget exercise, optics are important. Making it look as though water parks, hockey rinks, and basketball courts take priority over other projects that benefit a few is all about politics and not people.

If you’re wondering, as a taxpayer, why your ward doesn’t have these wonderful things, here’s why:

In this term alone, council spent millions taking from our reserves to fund cost over-runs on an Old Town Hall, bailing out a poorly managed private sports league, fighting a development battle that they knew was doomed from the beginning, funding driveway extensions for a select group of homeowners upset with a new sidewalk, putting in a state-of-the-art dog park after a capital budget was passed to fulfill a councillor's campaign promise, and so many others – because there was no room from the capital budget.

On the other hand, money for projects allocated from the capital budget (will) include: a preposterous multi-million dollar “broadband” infrastructure that might create a handful of jobs, pumping money into certain Main Street businesses (some of whom donate to the mayor’s campaign – this is all publicly accessible information); and re-building a new Town Hall that, after over 4 years, is still in the works.

When you see the number figure, in the high millions, you realize how so many of those capital dollars could have gone into the wonderful things we all want to see: beautiful parks, neighborhoods with sports pads, ice rinks, splash pads, etc.

For the record, during the budget process, most council members (including myself) brought forward their very own “Wish List” for their constituents.

None of these items were implemented in any ward.

And for the record, every single council member turned down my $1 million+ recommendations on simple operational budget saving measures in order to see that wish list - including their own - come to fruition.

The next time you’re at the ballot, ask yourself which candidate is serious about making things happen.

Talk is cheap, especially during an election.

Actions – through our records on the other hand, speak very loud.


Broadband, Mr. Mayor? How about taking care of taxpayer infrastructure needs first?

Posted on September 9, 2014 at 11:35 AM




The last two months of Newmarket council has been an interesting experience. I say this because as incumbents head into elections, certain campaign promises have been inexplicably plowed through despite passing our 2014 capital budget a year ago.

One of these was a dog park promised by Regional Councillor John Taylor and ward 3 councillor Jane Twinney. (See here: http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/42530768-how-your-tax-reserves-are-going-to-the-dogs)

And last night, after distributing campaign literature on “bringing broadband to Newmarket” to create a handful of jobs (a strategy based entirely on a theory), the mayor and his dutiful council allies attempted to convince the public that directing staff to request an RFP (Request for Proposal) was something that simply couldn’t wait 7 weeks from now.

After a term of spending your taxes on questionable projects that truly benefit a few – and as we struggle with gridlock and increased population – this council has now decided that millions should be allocated to becoming your next Internet Service Provider, using your taxes to fund an initiative installing broadband cable in a pilot project along Main St, Davis Drive East, and Leslie Street.

Forget that none of the major providers such as Rogers and Bell have expressed interest (including so-called partner Southlake Hospital, who states the “gigabite community isn’t a specific driver for the hospital”;): the mayor believes he knows best.

He wants to use your taxes to fund a risky, expensive initiative so that he can bring in a handful of jobs to Newmarket because a report commissioned by an American company, who promotes broadband and uses examples of success in places such as Kansas City, Singapore, Amsterdam and London, says it might be a good idea.

The report, titled Initial Stakeholder Meeting and Gigabit Corridor Economic Impact Statement can be read here: http://newmarket.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/e53mjnazi0seo0px5vgrx2rf/1674609092014095501106.PDF

When council discussed this report last week, the mayor cut off my questions while allowing other councillors to speak in praise of the project. I’m not certain some of these members actually read the report. For example, Councillor Kerwin claimed it was a robust report that contained over 60 pages (it’s actually 30). The councillor, who doesn't own a website, insisted it would be "irresponsible" for us not to invest in this project.  

For his part, Councillor Vegh claimed it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime (the report states it could be millions).

Others, such as Regional Councillor John Taylor and Councillor Chris Emanuel, attempted to impress they were experts in the field of economic partnerships with the private sector, insisting this project was collaboration of expert advice from “hundreds of businesses.”

The reality is the “evaluation team” consisted of 20 stakeholders (it wasn’t clear who they were), a “Community Collaboration Ecosystem Team” (not certain who they were either), one technology firm, and the hospital (who have stated this agenda is not an initiative that interests them). In all, just over “50 stakeholders” were involved in this project – some whom sit on the Newmarket Economic Advisory Committee and who contribute to Mayor Tony Van Bynen’s campaign.

If you take the time to read the report, you’ll see that in fact, some stakeholders provided feedback that I attempted to convey in council. Who would pay for such a project? What about the costs to infrastructure? There may be a necessity to borrow money from the bank for this initiative.

The report also goes on to say that it can only provide “general cost guidelines for the project; and that pricing is high level. “ In addition, “decision-makers (need to) take into account the large number of economic variables…that will influence the final economic output from any infrastructure investment.”

Yet council members were quick to defend the project, believing that despite the authors of the report recommending the idea start with a RFI (Request for Information), council instead decided a RFP (Request for Proposal - which usually signifies an intention) was a better idea.

The idea that council is contemplating spending a million or more on a gamble that might create a handful of jobs in Newmarket without public consultation; or fully understanding the scope of the project - with so many questions left unanswered - is staggering.

If Mayor Van Bynen and council believe this project is beneficial they need to take it to the 50,000+ voters – not a handful of stakeholders.

Let the October 27th election be a referendum on his job creation strategy.

We are at the end of a term. Laying a foundation for the next term is simply undemocratic.

Mr. Mayor, focus on our existing infrastructure. Develop our parks, our roads; invest in smart development.

The best economic plan is to lower business taxes and allow the free market to decide on what’s crucial.

For those of you watching the ward 6 race, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was pleased to see ward 6 candidate and mayor ally Kelly Broome Plumley attending her first council meeting as we discussed the broadband project. Like many of the councillors beside me however, I noticed she giggled when I asked questions about how taxes would be allocated to the project.

And even as those questions went unanswered, voters: take note. There’s nothing funny about wasting your money.


Street Safety in Newmarket: are we doing enough?

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM


For the past several years, York Region Police has identified speeding on residential streets in York Region as one of the top concerns among citizens in their annual surveys to the public.

As a municipal councillor, it’s one of the top matters among residents I hear as well. You might be surprised to learn that the majority of speeders live within 5km of the area, according to statistics.

Our lives and our neighborhoods contribute to this growing problem. As we grow in population, we also grow in challenges.

For example, municipalities will build schools close to homes – something that’s always made sense. But as we see an increase in development, we also see an increase in vehicles using residential streets, as arterial roads become blocked. In turn this might prevent some families from feeling secure in allowing their children to walk to school – which results in even more cars in a hurry to drop off their kids.

As you can see, it’s a vicious cycle. And my point is that it’s a very complex problem.

It’s a problem that is gaining more attention, however – and that’s a good thing. The Town of Newmarket is working closely with York Region Police to implement pro-active measures; from the town’s perspective engineering designs and from the police, enforcement. At the moment, we are in the midst of educating the public through several campaigns (this morning, York Regional Police were presenting “ABC” – Always Be Careful - at Clearmeadow Public School).

(For the record, York Region Police has been extremely pro-active with speeders; they’ve always responded to my requests for patrol cars in certain areas of ward 6 and encourage residents to use the Road Watch program: http://www.yrp.ca/roadwatch.aspx)

Additionally, the town of Newmarket is providing “slow down” signs to the public and encouraging residents to place them on their own lawns (you can contact me for one or ask the town directly). Please note, these signs were kindly donated and so are limited in number.

Currently, the town’s strategy of addressing the challenge of speeding on residential streets includes the use of a speed board to track speed (rotated among the wards) and working with the police to identify “hot spots” of speeding. If you think that’s not enough, I would agree with you.

Here’s what the town of Newmarket’s Engineering Department is currently proposing to council:

Earlier this summer, on July 16th, Engineering Services presented a report to council. You can see that council meeting here: http://newmarket.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=155&doctype=AGENDA

The report contained research on state-of-the-art and best practices in traffic calming, including education programs throughout North America and abroad. This report can be read here: http://www.newmarket.ca/en/townhall/resourcelibrary/2014TrafficMitigationStrategy-Subjecttofundingin2015.pdf

Based on that research, staff asked council to go forward with a proposal for a strategy to address traffic mitigation in Newmarket. Council accepted this proposal in principle – but it’s important to know that asking for a strategy isn’t the same as implementing one.

It’s crucial to note that the recommendations for the Traffic Mitigation Strategy Report are not in place yet and will only be possible if Council provides resources for such projects in 2015.

Thus it will be determined in a new term of council - after this election - if council will give the go-ahead for the budget and resources Engineering Services will require to implement an aggressive traffic calming plan for our neighborhoods.

Personally, I would not only welcome such a proposal, I would advocate for it. In this term alone, I’ve seen millions of our taxes wasted on projects that veered away from the municipal mandate of serving the majority of taxpayers. This includes millions wasted on unwinnable legal battles, an unprecedented soccer loan, and rejuvenating an Old Town Hall building that keeps going over budget. And just recently, council supported seeking a Request For Proposal (RFP) for a pilot project potentially costing millions to get into the business of broadband internet services.

I was encouraged last week when I spoke to our director of Engineering Services and our new Commissioner of Development and Infrastructure Services on the exciting initiatives proposed - initiatives that will include recommendations for public input and involvement.

In my opinion, the business of municipal council is to ensure taxpayers are enjoying a quality of life deserving of the taxes they pay.


The security of our children’s well-being is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. You can’t put a price-tag on that.

I encourage residents to pay attention to the next term of council’s approaches to this very aggressive and exciting proposal from Engineering to make our streets safe – as they’re meant to be.


How a reckless deal comes home to roost

Posted on August 23, 2014 at 12:50 AM

 

Last evening, I received notice that the Woodbine land owned by the Newmarket Soccer Club has been sold. This morning I learned it was sold far below it's appraised value that was presented to council last summer.

Yet the town's communication on this - just before an election - is being extolled as extremely positive for taxpayers.

My opposition to the Soccer Club bail out has been well documented.

To be clear, despite what others may say, I am not against the community group itself, nor any of its members. My only concern is for the taxpayers and the public money being used. In my opinion, this bailout was given without any consideration to how it benefits taxpayers.

The Mayor and Regional Councillor both placed ads in the paper boasting the supposed benefits (despite the fact that they refused to support my motion that would have made the background details of the loan available to the public). These gentlemen argued that the details could not be made public because they could adversely affect the sale price of the Woodbine property. Now that the property has been sold, I am curious to know what excuse they will use to block your access to the loan details.

What they did say in their advertisement last year in the local paper was that the loan was secured by the value of the Woodbine and Newpark (soccer centre) properties. Based on appraisals provided to Council by the Newmarket Soccer Club (and that these appraisals have been kept from the public), those lands were valued at either $4.5 million (according to Mayor Van Bynen) or $4.7 million (according to Regional Councillor Taylor).

Taxpayers should be concerned that the final sale price of the Woodbine property sold for 30% less than the appraised value.

The Town of Newmarket has proscribed procedures that require appraisals whenever buying or selling land. I asked for independent appraisals on these properties last year; but the Mayor and his allies refused. They bent the rules to expedite the loan - and today, taxpayers paid the price with 30% less than anticipated returns on the sale of the Woodbine property.

Naturally, this begs the question on the value of the Soccer Centre. I will be calling on the Mayor and Council to comply with our established procedures and immediately seek an independent appraisal on the Newpark property. We don’t want to be caught in a situation where the amount of the mortgage exceeds the value of the property.

Government compensation for Davis Drive businesses: Fact or Fiction?

Posted on August 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM




 

Earlier this week an allegation was made on Twitter that there was some type of government "compensation” for businesses on Davis Drive who presumably suffered revenue losses due to the ongoing construction of the VIVA NEXT bus lane. The tweet stressed that residents should “help get the word out” (without actually providing any details of this “program” when asked).

This claim was made by a key member of the Newmarket Economic Advisory Committee and a campaign supporter of both Mayor Tony Van Bynen and ward six candidate Kelly Broome Plumley. The individual referred to apparent "compensation" he was applying for his own Davis Drive business.

I was intrigued that such a program would exist – especially because if it did we wouldn’t be hearing the outcry of so many Davis Drive businesses (who are rightfully upset).

So I decided to make inquiries myself. I called Michelle Dudzik, Community Liaison, Business Support for VIVA NEXT and asked her if this program existed. She said it didn’t.

Then I called the Director of Capital Planning for York Region Government Salim Elibhei, who confirmed there was no such program from York Region either, partly because it would set a risky precedent for government to compensate all businesses in the Region affected by construction.

I personally have not heard of any program in Newmarket that gives compensation to the Davis Drive businesses that have been ravaged by the construction of an unnecessary bus lane. In fact, the only tax grants provided to Newmarket businesses comes from the $150,000+/year provided to Main Street. A council appointed committee – some of whom have donated in the past to several incumbent council members’ campaigns – are in charge of doling out these taxes to whatever businesses they chose.

I think during an election year especially, it’s important that Mayor Tony Van Bynen’s team provide facts to taxpayers.

And if there is some type of "grant" that we don't know about for Davis Drive businesses - a claim made by a Davis Drive business owner, committee member of the Town's Economic Development board, and campaign supporter of Mayor Tony Van Bynen and his ward 6 candidate Kelly Broome Plumley, we should know about it.

We deserve nothing less.


How your tax reserves are going to the dogs

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 5:40 PM




A few weeks ago, the Newmarket Era wrote a stunningly lukewarm, half page, ho-hum article about what was arguably Newmarket council’s most pressing agenda item this term – an item that took staff 4 years to put together and involved several council workshops. That was the passing of a growth plan (the Secondary Urban Plan) that will change the face of our town forever; forcing population densities above what Mississauga and Brampton are today. The writer didn’t bother to explain it was an 8-1 vote and my reasons on why I voted against it, making it seem like council was united in a future of bursting population complete with gridlock on par with Toronto. (Here’s why I voted against it: http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/42415695-how-4-years-can-change-council-s-tune)


Yet last week, the same paper wrote about a less pressing issue: Newmarket’s first dog park. The article made a point to explain an 8-1 vote while pointedly leaving out why I was the sole vote against the park.


These tactics don’t surprise me. The Newmarket Era are friends of mayor Tony Van Bynen, enjoying hundreds of thousands of dollars in town advertising and frequent lunches with Van Bynen via your tax dollars. The mayor likes these folks so much that he even gets them to sit on various town committees and groups.


It’s an election year in the middle of gridlock hell as development and bad planning becomes the norm, and those politicians responsible are treated with kid gloves by their friends.


I'd like to explain why I was the sole vote against Newmarket’s first dog park, since there seems to be some confusion about the funding.



The dog park was not part of the 2014 capital budget and was passed quickly during an election year, funded by your reserves.



A staff report claims that a $50,000 private sponsorship funding request for a dog park exceeded expectations and doubled in number. It was so terrific, in fact, that staff decided to double the amount of spending for the park that council originally authorized, claiming we should have a park with all the bells and whistles. It wouldn’t be a problem, they said, since sponsors would pay for most of it and an additional $50,000 would be covered through development fees (fees that normally cover core services, such as the parks for children we’re seeing less of).


And yet the same report asked council to authorize the entire park to be funded through our reserves – despite this sponsorship.


It didn’t make sense.


So I asked staff whether we had collected an actual cheque from the sponsors.


This was difficult for them to answer. That’s because Mayor Van Bynen continually interrupted my questions in an attempt to re-phrase them himself. The Mayor often answers questions for staff. But after several run-arounds, it was finally admitted that the money in fact WASN'T collected by the sponsors and that it was simply a "commitment" only.


You can watch the video here: http://newmarket.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=289&doctype=AGENDA


And that's precisely why we had to raid our reserves. It's the same way we raided our reserves for the $3 million soccer loan. It was based on a promise of being paid back. Most taxpayers don't even realize that the soccer club hasn't paid us back a dime of what we loaned them yet. It is due to this history of "commitments" that I couldn't support the park. As a councillor tasked with full accountability of public funds, I couldn't support a commitment on a contract I haven't even seen yet.


Mayor Tony Van Bynen (and his friends on council) wants taxpayers to believe that it’s apparently not “unusual” to raid our tax reserves and then get a promise of repayment through sponsorships and/or loans. But here’s the record: so far, we haven’t seen a single dime for the $500,000 of sponsorships for the Old Town Hall, the $2.8 million for the Soccer loan, and now, the $100,000 for the dog park.


All of these have been paid for by using tax reserves meant for core services.


Here’s the reality: the costs associated with the dog park doubled from what was initially asked because this council can't help but spend more money than they need to. In addition, staff admitted that maintenance costs suggested ($25,000) could be higher than what was estimated.


Taxpayers are fully subsidizing the use of an expensive dog park with no user fees to dog businesses and owners and yet kids and families have to pay to swim and skate. Does this make any sense?


Here’s another reality: when you hear council cry the joys of sponsorship commitments that actually haven't been collected, ask yourselves why your taxes keep going up every year.


Certain Newmarket Councillors have been lobbying for a dog park while targeting and collecting emails from those interested parties in time for an election campaign.


These kinds of decisions and projects during an election year are completely unacceptable in my mind.



 




How real accomplishments sometimes hinder an election year

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 3:35 PM




On June 3rd, at the request of another member of Newmarket Council, town staff released an internal email listing our accomplishments at Council for the term of 2010-2014.


It was not a bad suggestion from whoever had initiated it; I felt the list would give us a perspective of what we offered taxpayers and how we used our time in council to benefit residents.


Some of the items included the opening of the "Dave Kerwin Trail" (Kerwin is a member of council); the approval of the Old Town Hall (a $10+ million project); a budget consultation with the public; a mayor and staff delegation to Finland, various proclamations and awards - among other things.


What didn't make the list, to my sincere shock, was an initiative so unprecedented and beneficial to taxpayers, that Newmarket is the only municipality in York Region to have undertaken it.


Here's some background:


After years of debate, votes, and discussion, staff finally implemented a motion I had introduced back in June of 2011 to record all council votes and make them easily accessible to the public. Along with what I termed a "Transparency Motion", our Committee meetings (meetings at which we make our decisions as we discuss town business) were to be recorded, live streamed, and archived for later viewing for the public: http://maddiedimuccio.webs.com/apps/blog/show/7458953-transparency-motion-on-newmarket-council


In addition, council expenses were to be posted online and published on the town's website on a quarterly basis.


It wasn't easy to get this passed - especially because all 8 of my colleagues originally voted against it; and were pressured to adopt it when I lobbied both the media and the public for support.


Regardless, although it took over two years to implement what I consider to be a simple initiative, it finally was.


More importantly however, York Region taxpayers should know that none of the 9 municipalities that make up York Region have implemented such a system. In fact the Region of York, a level of government in charge of over a $1.2 billion capital budget (and a $6.6 billion ten year term capital budget) of your tax dollars doesn't even have a system of recorded votes of their politicians; nor do they archive their meetings for public consumption.


When I tabled a resolution - despite some opposition - a few years ago in Newmarket council, for York Region to live stream their meetings for the public, they eventually did so. But what they didn't do is archive them for later viewing. A ludicrous decision and a telling one.


Transparency and open government is forefront to our system of a successful democracy. Our records in office gives voters, especially at election time, a picture of what we stand for.


In the 21st century, there is no excuse for not having this technology.


Displaying our records should be an incredible - and proud - accomplishment unto ourselves and on behalf of taxpayers.


Unfortunately, it didn't make the list.





 

 

How 4 years can change council's tune

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 2:10 PM




Last night, in an 8-1 vote, Newmarket council ratified an aggressive growth plan that will put Newmarket's population density higher than what Mississauga or Brampton is today. To get a better vision of this, understand that Mississauga's size is 292.4 sq km versus Newmarket's 38.3 sq km and you'll see how reckless this vision is.









In fact, one councillor, Jane Twinney, suggested I was "irresponsible" to vote against the plan. That's because Mayor Van Bynen needs as many allies as possible on council to plow this type of aggressive development in our town over the next term.

By the year 2041, Newmarket council's plan will have created a population density of 3400 people per sq km, well exceeding that of current Mississauga.

I couldn't support this plan - not because, as one councillor suggested, that I was anti-growth. In fact my record shows that when it comes to growth, common sense should be the deciding factor - not what a bureaucrat tells you to do.

Increasing our density by a whopping 60% in one of the smallest size communities identified under the Places To Grow act is simply foolish.

Every five years, the province of Ontario requires municipalities to create a "Secondary" urban plan and identify areas of intensification. In 2005, the Liberal government identified Newmarket as a target for the "Places To Grow" Act - thereby forcing a small sized community of 38.3 sq km and a population of 80,000 to grow to 96,000. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newmarket,_Ontario


A year later, the town of Newmarket, with both Mayor Van Bynen and Regional Councillor John Taylor at the helm, endorsed that plan for a population of 96,000 Source: http://www.newmarket.ca/en/townhall/resources/5233_1037705_NM_ComReport08_final.pdf

But in 2013 our politicians felt that number wasn't big enough. They decided to expand York Region's numbers by nearly 20%. For Newmarket, that meant an increase from 96,000 to 130,000. Source: http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/3885930-york-region-adjusting-plans-for-amended-population-projection/


I would be remiss if I didn't give Georgina Mayor Rob Grossi credit, who challenged his colleagues at the region to "simply say no to the revised population and job numbers."  http/www.yorkregion.com/news-story/3885930-york-region-adjusting-plans-for-amended-population-

Last night though, both Mayor Tony Van Bynen and Regional Councillor John Taylor defended those numbers, insisting intensification was good for us and we couldn't do anything about it anyways.

Remember election year, 2010? Those same members of council tried to convince a theatre of voters that they would fight to preserve our neighborhoods (Glenway) and the growth the province insisted on. In fact they spent hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars to prove it to you. At that time, we had a council that was determined to challenge the province's legislation - even supporting then MPP Frank Klees' private bill (although flawed) that set out to preserve our existing neighborhoods.

But yesterday, these same members of council decided your community wasn't worth fighting for after all.

And we need less of those types of politicians.




 


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