A quick look at V.O.T.E.


Lets take another look at V.O.T.E. (voices of the electorate) seeing as one of the candidates for town council Deb Doherty was the former chairman of this citizens group. I am actually rather shocked that a group, that I was totally opposed to at the time, was trying to deal with a few of the issues that I have been railing about this past year. Unfortunately in 2005 I was running a rather large plumbing company and was hoping to get the plumbing contract for the never to be built Admiral Collingwood Building and could not see very much past that

Take a look at a passage from a June 2005 newsletter that VOTE circulated:

We have identified a number of issues and concerns to us as residents of Collingwood:
• The process that took place in purchasing the Tremont Tavern and Palace Livery buildings as well as the fiscal arrangements and future plans for these properties;
• Any discussions about the potential privatization of essential community assets;
• We are concerned about the number (4,700) of single family and condominium units underway or proposed and the issues surrounding urban sprawl;
• Why have there been so many departures from the Town including the CAO, planners, a councillor, several committee members and others over the last two terms?

The lengthy list of concerns also includes redevelopment of the former Admiral School site, demolition of Heritage buildings, west-end development, road realignments and reconstructions, infrastructure issues and more still. As you can see, there is much work to be done.

Any of that sound familiar? When you delve a little deeper, if VOTE had not got itself involved in the election of 2006 guess who would have been mayor? That’s right Rick Lloyd. We’ve seen what happens with him as Deputy Mayor imagine what would have happened if he actually made mayor on his third time trying?

I do think that the next administration headed up by Chris Carrier was a bit dysfunctional. What I didn’t understand at the time was the actual reason behind its dysfunction. That being the constant back stabbing by the then Deputy Mayor Sandra Cooper and the pompous Ian Chadwick blogging 3 times a week on every perceived short coming of the mayor. The local press were not very kind either

It is rather unfortunate that this citizens group is not around this year. Of course we have Better Together Collingwood but for some reason it has not captured the imagination that VOTE did. Probably because Brian Saunderson’s approach has been more measured and process orientated rather than the in your face style of VOTE.
I do have a couple of complaints about VOTE. One is that they did not get their message out on the social media of the time, to the people on the periphery of the issues like myself. I would not read flyers or adds in newspapers but I would read blogs. Their opponents used this medium to great effect. I also believe that the complete halt in operations as soon as Carrier was installed as mayor, left a lot of folks that supported VOTE on the issues feeling like it was all just a plan to install Carrier as mayor. So because of this, all the usual suspects plus more were installed back into council in 2010. Thus resulting in the shenanigan’s at town hall that we have witnessed these past couple of years.

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2 thoughts on “A quick look at V.O.T.E.

  1. Pingback: The Nattering and Nitpicking will continue. | VIEW FROM A NOBODY

  2. Thanks for the backgrounder on VOTE Collingwood – you have succinctly captured why the group was formed and the magnitude of the issues we were able to bring to issue for the next municipal election. You are mistaken though, when you say that VOTE activities came to a halt after the 2006 election. Not the case at all. After the 06 election we continued to bring residents together and share information or ideas that they would find interesting and relevant. We presented a series of speakers – including the mayor of Stratford, another community that was trying to re-define itself in the new economy, a well-known planner from University of Waterloo. We even presented Stephen Poloz, then CEO of Export Development Canada, and now Governor of the Bank of Canada.
    We held a series of “Evenings with Council” to which we invited members of council to meet and dialogue with members of the community in a panel format. These forums were casual, relaxed and non-confrontational. Frankly I still get goose bumps thinking about the mood of the room, and the positive repartee that took place. It was grass roots democracy at its finest, Only Sandra Cooper and Ian Chadwick refused to attend. And VOTE Collingwood supported the Council under Chris Carrier in its decision to approval the Town’s own Heritage Impact Assessment and thus to compel a re-design of the Admiral Collingwood Place – an option the developer chose not to pursue. After this, the group’s level of activity declined and it eventually folded, as often happens with citizen advocacy groups,
    I am proud of what VOTE Collingwood accomplished – we caught the attention of the public at large, we called the council of the day to account. We believe we were successful… at the peak of our activity, we had over 225 paid members. This is practically unheard of for a town this size. Our meetings were so big we had to rent the Leisure Time Centre. As you pointed out, many of the issues of the 2006 election were driven by VOTE, and the candidates that embraced those issues were successful. Faced with the same set of issues – shady backroom deals and rampant cronyism – I would do (am doing?) it all again.

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