Sandra says she”can’t recall” and many of you are surprised why?

Even POTUS is weighing in on Collingwood’s judicial inquiry:

Unfortunately I have not been able to attend the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry yet, but like many of you I have been following it quite closely online. It always surprises me when people are shocked (as a lot of people seem to be online) at the ineptitude and incompetence of our ex-Mayor. As I have stated many times in this space, I watched Sandra Cooper perform as Mayor between 2012 and 2016 on a weekly basis and it was always very obvious to me that she has the depth of a finger bowl and realistically she was under qualified, even for her previous position as check out girl at Loblaw’s.

The one thing that I will say is I don’t think Sandra ever thought that she was doing anything illegal or even unethical. For that to happen you have to have modicum of intelligence and I would guess that Sandra’s IQ is way below 100.

The one thing that has always amazed me was that 5,700 people still voted for her in the 2014 municipal election. Were those people that uninformed about local politics?

Realistically Paul Bonwick isn’t all that sharp either. He spent 3 years doing things that at best were totally unethical and at worst were illegal and he didn’t even bother to try and cover his tracks, he was quite blatant about what he was doing. He skimmed at least $1,056,000.00 off the top of 2 bits of major town business and most of the communications were on the towns server and not on a hotmail or gmail account. Many of us knew that much wasn’t right in the governance of this town, because the rumour mill talked about it all the time. All it took was one honest person with an inside track on his shady business to complain to the local constabulary and it all came tumbling down.

Nothing has come as any big surprise to me so far in these proceedings, it is all quite predictable actually.

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Collingwood Judicial Inquiry Foundation Document, some comments and observations:

I finally finished reading the judicial inquiry foundational document last night. I had planned on reading it Thursday evening, but I had a personal emergency that I had to deal with. So on Friday evening I cleared my schedule, poured myself a large glass of Jamesons Irish whiskey and immersed myself into the report. The following are some comments and observations:

1. Ed Houghton’s penchant for calling Rick Lloyd “Bubba” is so nauseating I actually threw up in my mouth once while reading it.

2. From the Fairmount Hotel salon bookings to the $15,000.00 tables at the Liberal Party Heritage dinner it was quite obvious that Bonwick and Houghton were more interested in personal enrichment and back room power brokering, than the betterment of the town they lived in and supposedly served.

3. Because of their well cultivated insider relationship with Powerstream and it’s board of directors, Bonwick through his proxy Houghton, steered the Collus board into the decision to partner with Powerstream over the highest bidder Hydro1. This conflicted dealing left around $3 million of tax payer money on the table (almost enough to put a tent over the bowling green). All so that Bonwick could make his $300k in fees.

4. Ian Adams must be pissed off by Rick Lloyd’s email to Paul Bonwick portraying him as some kind of loyal poodle as follows:

On April 12, 2012, Deputy Mayor Lloyd emailed Paul Bonwick stating: “Just met with Adams and he is going to write the EB blog about Council making the right decision and
how wonderful Ed is.”. Mr. Bonwick responded: “you are the man.”

5. Chadwick only declared a conflict of interest once on Dec 5, 2011 in an in-camera meeting. He voted as a council member numerous times on the Collus sale while doing consulting media work on that same Collus sale for Bonwick and Compenso. He has had the audacity to sit in his basement and write vitriol about people that actually do believe in doing good for the town and the value if public service. He is a disgusting piece of human garbage.

6. It was weird reading about what was actually going on behind the scenes in 2012 and 2013 when I first started writing this blog. What was weird about it was the fact that what we all thought was going on, actually was going on.

7. Another eye opener which becomes quite apparent in this document is how unfit Sandra Cooper was to be Mayor of Collingwood. Her brother and Ed Houghton were writing all of her speeches, media announcements and scripting her answers to difficult questions. They even wrote a response to a letter to the editor by an anonymous person that was against the Collus sale. Anyone that voted for her in 2014 for a second term needs to hang their head in shame.

8. The coup d’etat that pushed CEO Kim Wingrove out the door and installed Ed Houghton as “interim” CEO, was about as ruthless as anything that the Politburo could have accomplished. The only thing missing was a midnight drive out to a quiet field somewhere. Her testimony will be well worth watching, so bring plenty of popcorn.

9. If you read nothing else read Chapter 7. It’s the one detailing how the spoils of this nefarious bit of town business were divided up. It’s where everyone is posting on social media from the last couple of days. It’s also the section where Cindy Shuttleworth boasts to a friend about her “Powerstream Bonus” paying her car loan off. I wonder if she gave a thought to the pensioner trying to decide whether to pay her Collus bill or eat that month?

10. A huge shout out to John Brown. Section 8 details his tireless efforts to bring this nasty business to the forefront. His endless questioning and haranguing of everyone involved led to the resignation of Ed Houghton and has now led to this Judicial Inquiry. You’re a good protestant from Belfast John, I owe you a glass of Bushmill’s next time I see you.

11. I was very surprised at how Tim Fryer came across in this document. I was always told that he had some bad optics issues that were going to be brought to light in the Judicial Inquiry, but he comes across as being the only person at the higher levels of power, in this sordid affair, to have any integrity and a voice of sober second thought. If I had read this document prior to the last election I would have voted for you.

12. Sara Almas comes across as pliant, weak and ineffective. Might be time for a new town clerk.

Collingwood council meeting 08/04/19

1. Short agenda tonight, Keith Hull is not present because he’s sick, get well soon Keith. Brian Saunderson introduced the new director of planning Adam Farr, who understandably on his first day looked lost.

2. Duncap (Larry Dunn’s development company) is applying to defer development charges on a new Holiday Inn Express at 500 Hume St that he is apparently starting construction on in spring 2019. The request is for a deferral of payment until occupancy. Strangely enough there is no set policy in place on deferring development charges, normally developers pay at the time of applying for the building permit. I suppose up to this point a developer would get a development charge deferral if he were part of Paul Bonwick’s golf foursome. I suggest it’s way past time to establish a protocol on development fee deferrals, even if that protocol is to not allow them.
3. Marianne McLeod quite rightly asked Marjorie Leonard (town treasurer) how much money in development fees was being requesting to be deferred. Strangely enough neither Marjorie Leanard nor Nancy Farrar, who was sitting in the audience, knew what that number was. This seemed like a pretty basic piece of information to have on hand when a request like this is being brought before council.

4. Marjorie Leonard seemed to want to defer the fees saying that the town needs to help business developers as there is a shortage of them in Collingwood. Motion to defer development fees defeated 3 – 5 Against deferral – Berman, McLeod, Hamlin, Madigan and Comi For deferral: Saunderson, Jeffery and Doherty. Deb yet again ends up on the wrong (my) side of an issue. Get your cheque book out Larry.

5. $2B federal gas tax fund on the agenda; specific purposes are to be used for adding turning lanes, bike lanes, green initatives, adding greener vehicles to towns fleet. Again Marjorie Leonard couldn’t answer the basic question: “how much do we get?”
6. Elvis festival funding then up for discussion and vote. Ends up not much discussion just vote, which is unanimous to discontinue funding.
7. Marianne wants to take another look in a year so the $50k will be heldover for more discussion next year. The motion actually did not say that and Marianne pointed that out during the vote, so the motion was amended halfway through the eventual unanimous vote. Marianne had a good night tonight.
8. Proposal for the festival to be handed over to a private operator. Kathy and Deb want to sell the concept of the Collingwood Elvis Festival as a brand (good luck with that). This motion is deferred for later discussion unanimously.
9. Shipyards Medical Building Mural was apparently painted onto plywood, it is rotted out and beyond repair. Council voted unanimously for it to be removed after 19 years.

10. In regards to the last item: the reason why these murals are painted onto plywood instead of directly onto the bricks, like a normal town, is because the town’s Heritage Committee will not allow it. So the town will be dealing with this issue on a 20 year basis. Incidentally if the murals were painted directly onto the bricks, then we could touch up them up, change them or sandblast them off. Heritage Committee does good work, but on this issue they are being hall monitors, someone should tell them to go fly a kite.

11. Development charges study Jacky Hull presentation. Apparently a parking garage is coming to downtown. That was about all I got out of this presentation, the rest of it was like Charlie Brown listening to his teacher: wah, wah, wah, wah.

Elvis festival should be treated like any other festival.

I attended the Corporate and Community Services Standing Committee meeting this evening and as Chairman Madigan noted I spoke again for the second time in as many weeks.

I was mainly at the meeting to hear about the Collingwood town staffs report regarding the Collingwood Elvis Festival. Staff has recommended discontinuing funding the festival which I wholeheartedly agree with. Apparently a third party has approached the town to take over the running and financing this festival. The committee just voted unanimously to accept the report. So this will now go in front of council next week for a full council vote. Looks like the long suffering Collingwood tax payers might finally get this white elephant off of our backs.

I first posted the following September 2013.

It’s time to start having a grown up conversation about the Collingwood Elvis Festival. This year it lost another $40,000.00 which the citizens of Collingwood have to pony up for.

I have no problem with the festival continuing to be hosted by our town. Where I do have a problem is the town picking up the slack when it loses money. It should be self-supporting and run like a business. If it is so important to the local economy then let the people who benefit from it pay the tab; i.e. local hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, rentals etc. Because most of us people that actually live here find it a major pain in the arse. By Sunday evening of this awful weekend, I am just about ready to stick a red hot poker in my ear, after another toneless rendition of “Return to Sender” wafts across my back yard.
Let’s look at this another way. I did a post back on 13th August here:

https://viewfromanobody.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/cusc-here-are-the-numbers/

I showed in that post how much money Collingwood United Soccer Club brings into Collingwood on the first two weekends of June with their rep boys and girls soccer tournaments. I would hazard a guess that it brings in as many if not more people and revenue into the local economy than the Elvis festival does and causes the local populace a lot less aggravation. On top of that CUSC pays the town $37,000.00 in user fees over the summer for field rentals so the club is a net contributor to the towns coffers. Can you imagine the outcry if the EB then ran a story saying the town would be coughing up $40,000.00 to cover losses generated by this soccer tournament and quite rightly so.
Chadwick originally had the right idea about this gag inducing festival back in 2004 read this:

elvis and numbers

I am not sure when it happened but he has now found religion on Elvis and has developed into one of its biggest backers. Maybe his pals on council told him that that is now the accepted way of thinking.
One last thing, because of the gradual declining demographic of the people that visit these Elvis events the decision to eventually end this festival will be made for us. Every year the hair gets greyer, the walkers more abundant and the attendees more wrinkled. Make it pay for itself and see how long it lasts.

Some more interesting comments from Chris Carrier on Collingwood’s 2019 Budget:

Collingwood Council recently passed their 2019 Budget. It is the most important public policy document Council must deal with each and every year. There has been a lot of talk with us inside baseball types about whether an increase in the amount of 4.8% tax dollars required of $1,489,740.00 more in 2019 than 2018 is more important to you or is the tax rate increase of 1.12%.

The tax rate is the multiplier used to calculate how many tax dollars Collingwood needs to operate. Let me put it this way. If your gross yearly household income is $89,612.00 and you need $85,000.00 a year to pay for taxes, food, shelter, vacation and some family fun then you determine your multiplier by taking, 89,612 x (x) = 85,000. In this case (x) equals .9485. A multiplier and a tax rate are the same thing, a number used to get the total amount of money you need to operate your household or operate local government.

So this coming year your annual expenses (taxes, food, shelter etc) increase by $2,000.00 and your and your spouse got raises of $3,000.00 so now your gross household income is $92,612.00. Let’s do the math for this coming year.

92,612 x (x) = 87,000.00 so in this case (x) equals .9394, a decrease in the multiplier occurred because your expenses increased by 2 thousand dollars or 2.3% (rate of inflation) while your income 3.3%.

The Town of Collingwood approved a budget where the revenues increased and their expenses increased at more than double the rate of inflation (4.8%).

Council and others want you to focus on increase applied to the tax rate which was a modest 1.12% but they required $1,489,740.00 more tax dollars from us which again is a 4.8% increase. Council could have and should brought the budget expenditures in more in line with inflation at 2.3% which would have meant the tax rate would have decreased and because of the new assessment (all the business and homes paying taxes) a lot of Collingwood residents would have seen a tax decrease in their yearly property tax bill portion from the Town of Collingwood.

Why did I pick $89,612.00 as the household income? Well for two reasons, the first being it is the Mean Household Income for the Town of Collingwood according to Stats Canada. So 50% of the households in Collingwood make less than that and 50% of the households make more than that.

The second reason is the two Staff people leading the Budget Discussions are the Town Treasurer and the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer. Now I do not know their household income but I do know according the Sunshine List published this week the Town Treasurer earns $141,182.91 and the Chief Administrative Officer earns $220,084.21. Perhaps because those who are directing the budget process earn so much more than 50% of the households in Collingwood they are far less sensitive to property tax increases than half of the households in our great Town.

Collingwood Council did have some successes in this budget this budget. They managed to keep the additional capital levy at .75% when the Treasurer wanted it raised to 2%. Overall though this budget was a huge fail for our newly elected Council.

“Property Taxes are too high” Was obviously just election campaign rhetoric in Collingwood.

I remember during the election campaign a lot of candidates, including many sitting at the council table now, telling us that “property taxes are too high in Collingwood and that if elected they would work their butts off to try and get a handle on them.

The only councillor that tried to keep that promise Monday night was Councillor Berman, after a bit of wrangling and a half hearted attempt by Mariane McLeod to maybe get the newly found $600,000 from the provincial government applied against the now in place $25 tax increase.

The following is a little bit of arithmetic that I’m sure a couple of council members did prior to Monday evenings council meeting: $600,000 (provincial windfall) divided by $25 (property tax increase) ends up at 24,000 which is roughly, give or take a thousand, the current population of Collingwood. So with that windfall we could have had a zero tax increase budget for once.

Also, while I am here what was that pathetic “I’ll do what everyone else does” statement from Councilor Doherty? After Mayor Saunderson went around the table for comments and opinions on taking another look at the budget with the extra $600,000 to play with. That was by far the most gutless thing perpetrated by any member of this current council so far. Deb, I didn’t vote for you to “do what everyone else does” especially when it comes to budgets and my tax dollars. You don’t seem to mind taking a stand when you’re making local developers lives difficult. Or virtue signaling your latest social justice cause. So how about standing up and being counted when it comes to my property taxes?

I can hear some of you saying: “Why are you getting so mad about 25 bucks VFAN? You spend more than that on coffee at Starbucks each month”.

I went to the Toronto city website. They have this handy dandy tool called a “Property tax calculator”.

https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/property-taxes-utilities/property-tax/property-tax-calculator/

I plugged my MPAC assessment dollar figure into it and it spat out a total tax bill of $1,805.00. My 2019 Collingwood property tax assessment is $3,418.00 that is almost double what I would pay in Toronto.

There was never a better opportunity than last night to show the good people of Collingwood that this new council actually gives a crap about how expensive it is to own a house and live in this town and with the exception of Councillor Berman they failed miserably Monday evening.

Also “The increase is in line with inflation” comment espoused by Keith Hull was a total red herring. Although now Keith has used “inflation” as the bar to set this latest tax increase, I suppose we should never expect a tax increase above the rate of inflation moving forward?

Collingwood is currently flush with budget surpluses, capital asset sale proceeds, provincial windfall funds and a bumper crop of development fees. It is not written into municipal law that says property taxes always have to go up (even though Marjorie Leonard will probably tell you otherwise). Why couldn’t this new council have given us long suffering home owners a break for a change?
An opportunity lost can never be found.

Collingwood council meeting 25/03/19

1. Not just a full house tonight, people were crammed into the media room and the hallway. I didn’t get a seat in chambers even though I arrived 10 minutes early. Scoop very kindly allowed me to sit at the media table. It’s OK don’t panic, I won’t make a habit of it.

If we’re talking extra density, maybe we need a bigger council chamber, or weekly council meetings.

2. The first public meeting on tonight’s agenda is regarding the Bridgewater on Georgian Bay development, which is on Highway 26 over in the west side of town Trevor Houghton and Colin Travis both made very credible presentations. A civil engineer from Crozier and Associates told us that water main and sewer has excess capacity for this development. New traffic lights installed where development enters 26. Improved access to existing roads. New flood relief channel. Paul Neil environmental review. Vegetation, birds amphibians all studied no impact expected, to me this looks like a well planned and thought out development.

3. Then it was time for the public portion of this meeting. The locals are some very well heeled home owners. Behind this development are some of the most expensive water front homes in Collingwood, so obviously local residents don’t want this development to go ahead, they are angry that the density has increased from 320 to 655 units and will lower the price of their water front homes. Local bartender Angus McAlpine who rents a house on High St, seemed to be for the development or affordable housing, I think, but their was lots of clapping after he finished his spiel, I was confused. Lots of nimbys on this file tonight.
4. A guy named John Shadwell informed us he had a 100 day cold. Brian quipped “What day are you on now?” He’s been in Collingwood since 2014 he made a good point; very little of the actual construction work benefits the local economy, then he started to ramble and wants council to charge higher property taxes.
5. Pretty River Estates. Another public meeting. 178 townhouses proposed. Change in density required to be approved by council. Lee Hill and Blair Beaty, a couple of local residents, had legitimate concerns, parking, local environment, flooding, construction timing. Will they be looking at construction for another 10 yrs, these guys didn’t seem like a nimby’s.
6. Then tonight’s main event phase 4 of Living Waters Resort. Larry Law was present for this one. It seems like this item is the reason most of the people were there.
7. Don Brommel from Mariners Haven (that’s some expensive real estate). This is an professional presentation and didn’t come cheap. They had surveys and had even hired Tatham’s to do a bunch of studies, this guy was against the development.
8. Then Jeff Newton from Save our Shoreline did his thing. His group has 800 signatures (must have all been there tonight) that are against the development. Parking. Proximity to residential areas. Kept talking about “regularity of certainty” code for Nimbyism me thinks.
9. Colin Travis site planner working for Larry Law addressed town council again (this man seems to get around). He says phase 4 complies with all zoning bylaw standards, including parking and the towns official plan. A staff report approved the site plan, but the problems started when the Strategic Initiatives Committee voted not to approve the development.
10. Larry Law addressed town council. This is actually the first time I’ve ever heard him speak. I was actually quite surprised at how bad his English is, he sounded like a Saturday Night Live skit doing a really bad impression of a Chinese person. But he made some good points for which I clapped, much to the chagrin of Scoop who said media isn’t supposed to clap. I’m not really media Scoop, just pretending to be for a seat.
11. A Mountain Rd industrial developer wanted a tree cutting permit prior to a building permit, because bird nesting season is from April 15th to August and god forbid if a starling built a nest in one of the trees. This was Yvonne Hamlin’s cue to take us on one of those Marx Brothers “Who’s on first” skits. After some frustrating talking around in circles the developer finally got his permit with a $25k bond. In case he doesn’t start building and decides to chop a bunch of trees down for a lark.
12. Finally we came to the moment everyone had been waiting for, the vote to deny phase 4 of Living Water property. Deb and Yvonne were pretty hung up about Phase 5 which they were told umpteen times “isn’t before council tonight”. Tina Comi didn’t say a word, but it was pretty obvious the pink block was going to hold firm again. Keith and Kathy decided to flip from their committee votes and council voted 6 to 3 to overturn the committees decision. Then phase 4 was voted approved to proceed by the same margin
13. Council voted to approve themselves an extra wage to partially make up for what the provs removed from municipal council members last year. Bob Madigan was the only dissenting vote.
14.Then at 9.45 pm came my reason for being their tonight: The budget vote, which was approved Steve Berman being the only dissenting vote this time.
15. With council meetings continually dragging on for 4 or 5 hours and the obvious engagement by the local populace, it might be time to consider going back to weekly council meetings again. Just saying.