VFAN Supports Chris Carrier for Mayor of Collingwood

2pm today officially marks the start of the 2014 municipal election campaign. It is also the cut off for any new candidates to throw their hat in the ring. After that time what you see is what you get.

Until 3 weeks ago I was on the fence on who I intended to support as Mayor, Chris Carrier or Joe Gardhouse. Today prior to the official kick off of the campaign I would like to announce that I am supporting Chris Carrier for Mayor of Collingwood.

I have not always been very kind to Chris in this space. I have to admit though one of the things that I respect about him is he did not meekly accept my drive by attacks, he confronted me head on. Over a few meetings for coffee and some email conversations, he has enlightened me on some misconceptions that I had about him and his previous tenure as Mayor of Collingwood. I will deal with that later, first though I want to deal with why I am not supporting or voting for Joe Gardhouse.

In this current term Joe has impressed me with his measured intelligent approach to a number of issues. I haven’t always agreed with him but he has been his own person and he and Keith Hull have been the only two councillors, on a consistent basis, to stand up for the people of Collingwood against the voting bloc of five. If Joe were running for a council position I would vote for and support him in a heartbeat but the mayors chair? I have some serious misgivings about his capacity in that roll. The first is the fact that back in 2004-05 Joe caused a ruckus in town by quitting his council position in the Geddes council. I voted for Joe and that sat very badly with me at the time. I did a question and answer session with Joe here:

When I asked Joe about this situation his answer to me was “I resigned in 2005 due to irreconcilable differences with the head of council. I did it for ethical and governance reasons that I will not rehash.” You know what Joe? You are running as Chief Magistrate of our town, if ever there was a time to “rehash” this issue it was then when you declared your intention to run for the highest political office in town. I’m sure your opponent’s will. How do we know that half way through your tenure as Mayor a few council members will piss you off and you end up throwing your toys out the stroller and quit as Mayor this time around. It is a question of character. My other issue with Joe is; as many of you know I have been doing a “What the candidates say about…….” series of posts. Which judging by the views was very popular with you my readers. Around half way through that series Joe stopped responding to the questions. No explanation, no other communication with me. So if that is an example of Joes engagement with members of the public now what will he be like as Mayor of our town? I got the impression that Joe just got bored with the whole thing. My last comment on Joe is; I do not think that Joe has the kind of support that it will take to beat the incumbent Mayor Cooper, he will split the vote and drain much needed votes away from Chris Carrier. So a vote for Joe is basically a vote for the incumbent ribbon cutting Mayor (or her puppeteer Rick Lloyd).

Back to Chris. I suggest that if you have any reservations about him and his last tenure as Mayor you should email him at christophercarrier@hotmail.com unlike others in council and running for various positions he answers all emails and will engage in dialog with you.
The following puts the record straight on some common misconceptions about Chris Carriers tenure as Mayor of Collingwood:

1. He wanted the patios next to curb downtown. He actually voted for them to be next to the buildings in a 4 – 5 vote Carrier, Cooper, Chadwick, Edwards For – Sandberg, Foley, McNabb, Jeffery, Labelle Against.
2. He initiated and instigated the reversal of the decision to allow a 6 story building at Admiral Collingwood Place. VOTE appealed the previous councils decision to ignore the Heritage Height Assessment to the OMB. Carrier fast tracked the project with a negotiated settlement between both parties with a 5 story compromise.
3. He and his council racked up unprecedented amounts of debt during its tenure. That council completed a huge amount of infrastructure work that needed to be done. Including upgrades to water sewer mains at various locations around town. Downtown and First Street rehabilitation projects. New Library (I didn’t agree with this one but apparently I was in a minority). Carriers council also took advantage of various grants that were available with a net benefit to the town of $20M.

4. Carrier as Mayor presided over the most dysfunctional Collingwood town council in decades. That council actually got a lot accomplished considering the 2008 recession and the backstabbing. It is also the only town council in the past eleven years that has not been investigated by the OPP. Another factor is that after Carrier indorsed Helena Guergis instead of Cooper’s brother Paul Bonwick in the 2006 Federal election the gloves were off. Deputy Mayor Cooper and Chadwick behind the scenes did there level best to undermine Carrier throughout his tenure as Mayor.

I know that some of my regular readers still dislike Chris Carrier with a passion. I am also sure some of you have some items that you can add to the above list. Chris is a regular reader of this blog, if you have anything that you want to add please leave it in the comment section below, if you are uncomfortable emailing him directly. Unlike others that are running in this election, he will deal with your issues head on, I am quite sure.


16 thoughts on “VFAN Supports Chris Carrier for Mayor of Collingwood

  1. Chris seems like a nice guy and I am sure his intentions are honourable, however he has had his shot and proved he could was not a leader and could not get consensus or harmony on Council. Council meetings were at times hard to watch as they could be dysfunctional.
    The mere fact that we are still referring to those patios proves the pettiness of the last Council.
    Say what you want about Mayor Copper, but she runs meetings well and keeps things business-like and professional. I wish she had more big picture vision and passion but comparing her one term against Chris’ experience, Copper wins hands down.

    • HI Jake, thank you for expressing your view and opinion. Let me try to address your concerns as directly as I can. Many of the significant votes were 5-3 (1 with a conflict) or 7-2 (Sandra and Ian dissenting) or 6-3 (Sandra, Ian and Mike dissenting). Each member of Council is to vote on a matter based upon their best effort/understanding of what is the right decision for the community. I believe the 2006-2010 council was a reflection of our community but the decisions that were made did accurately reflect the views of the community. We were not dysfunctional, we accomplished a lot for our community and also with our neighbours.
      The patio issue is discussed because folks continue to ask and some have been misinformed and mislead as to the discussions and decisions resulting in a need to address this in this blog and others. The facts are there to review and what I believe is a key fact left often left out of the discussion is the fact the Dave Labelle proposed a compromise for the patios (seconded by me) that would have left the patios where they were for 2010 and brought the issue back in 2011 for a review. I believe you can search the town web site the date of that meeting was August 28th 2010 (or there about). Sandra, Ian and Mike could have supported that motion and so could have the rest but they chose not to for various reasons. The patio issue could have been removed as a wedge issue but it was not, unfortunately. There was no pettiness, there was electioneering but both sides can share that responsibility however if Sandra, Ian and Mike really wanted to help the restaurant owners they could have chosen to support Dave’s motion but they chose a different path.
      I respectfully disagree with you about how the meetings of council are Chaired by Sandra. I have both attended some meetings and watched on television. The disdain and dismissive attitude towards both Keith Hull and Joe Gardhouse was/is obvious and painful to watch our democratic process treated with such contempt. The atmosphere I will admit often times seemed collegial which while nice I personally would have preferred a much more business professionally chaired meeting. The meeting to spend 13 million dollars plus recreational infrastructure investment (NO Tender Required) was one of the lowest points of Collingwood’s long municipal history. Sandra could have and should done more to protect the interests of all of us. Once again thank you for expressing your view but I cannot disagree more strongly with your views on the leadership at the head of council.

  2. I disagree, I like to know what my municipal politician party affiliations are because it dictates their mindset and approach to governing. I want to know if the Mayor is a fiscal Conservative or a tax and spend public union supporting Liberal. I want to know if the politicians practice sole source purchasing strategies or tendered RFP associated with each of their party brands. I want to know if the Mayor is a socialist or a greener. I want to know how they vote in provincial and federal elections because it indicates biases, values and tendencies. I want to know if my Mayor supports Wynne, it matters to me.

    • I understand what your saying Chris but it is not as cut and dried as that. I am a right wing libertarian when it comes to provincial and federal politics. But more centrist and statist when it comes to local municipal politics. An example for you: Our mayor and Chadwick are card carrying liberals both provincially and federally, but when it comes to local politics the are the worst type of crony capitalists going.

      • Hi Chris, Hi Colin, there are policies put forth by different parties that both help local government and others that do not and the party affiliation does not matter when you are the Mayor. I worked very well with Ministry of Transportation Minister Donna Cannsfield (liberal)(and Donna is just one example), she was a strong advocate for Collingwood and area at the cabinet table. Federally I worked very well with several conservative Cabinet Ministers. Party politics may have some influence with some Ministers but the really good ones do their job well based on the need presented at that moment in time. Jim Wilson both in and out of government has been a great voice for our area. I am not sure how I vote party affiliation wise is really relevant; it is more important how I worked with the other levels of government. Working with our staff and political colleagues both here in Collingwood and our neighbours, Collingwood really benefited from the strength of about 20 million dollars of federal and provincial investment (not counting the hwy 26 realignment project). I hope to rebuild those relationships again for the betterment of our community.

  3. Chris has two votes from our house, I think had he had the support and backup the first time he was Mayor he would have done things a little differently. However, he is honest, caring, kind and easy to approach. Good Luck Chris 🙂

  4. The last time Carrier campaigned he was, in my opinion, not honest with the electorate. He had a hidden agenda and shortly after being sworn into office initiated his attack on Admiral Collingwood Place. Not one time during the campaign did he reveal his intention. Simply put, but for Carrier’s actions at council, that beautiful building would be a reality, the downtown would be flourishing, the entrance to town would not be an eyesore.
    I think that Chris was actually for moving all patios to the curb but supported them at the building until the end of the season. He showed very little leadership during the whole patio fiasco. It should NEVER have become such a big deal.
    I was a huge Carrier supporter. Never again. If elected, what surprises would he pull out of his hat this time? A good leader brings harmony to a group so that they work together for a common purpose, the good of the town. Carrier’s council was anything but harmonious and became the punch line of many jokes.

    • John
      I have done numerous posts on various issues this past year or so. I have spent many hours researching and gathering information please read the following:

      On patios:


      On Admiral Collingwood Place this one might interest you:


      or this one:


      You say that you are looking for leadership. This past 3 1/2 years the leadership of this town has come from the Deputy Mayors office and a bunch of back room boys who actually pull the strings. Cooper has voted the same way as Lloyd 100% of the time and you can actually see her sometimes looking at Lloyd because she has forgotten the way she was supposed to vote. Is that the kind of leadership you like John?

    • John thank you for your post and the concerns you have raised, I will do my best to address as directly and as straight forward as I can. The campaign and vote for the 2006 Council occurred before some of the major decisions for the Admiral/Strand development proposal. The election was in early November and Hi John, thank you for posting your comments and let me try to address them as directly as Council was sworn in the first Monday of December. The Admiral/Strand development proposal had a number of concerns that needed to be addressed before any development proposal could go forward. First while the local approval was in November 2006 (see the time line below),

      August 2006 Heritage Committee agreed with review team and made additional recommendations.
      2006 Letter was sent to the county by the Ministry of Culture expressing concerns over town’s approval of developer’s HIA
      September 2006 Council (Mayor Geddes) approved new zoning for the site, with a Holding Zone.
      Council also passed Resolution #389 accepting the developer’s HIA.
      October 2006 Local Ratepayers’ group filed a Notice of Appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Their key concern and basis for the appeal was that the Town’s actions were in conflict with the Heritage requirements of OPA #5 and also the Provincial Policy Statement as both related to the heritage district issue.
      November 2006 Council (Mayor Geddes) conditionally approved the site plan agreement of a 4 story building on the E. side of the property and a 6 story building on the W side. Before swearing in newly elected council, several attempts were made to finalize the development deal. Staff and legal advice, found the various financing requirements as proposed by the developers, to secure their obligations under the site plan could not be supported.
      January 15,2007 Keeping in mind that:
      – the project was still not approved in its final form,
      – no site plan agreements signed, financial terms not agreed to
      – an OMB in place,
      Council, (Mayor Carrier), approved a resolution to repeal the decision of the previous Council to authorize the execution of the Site Plan Agreement in the absence of a satisfactory Heritage Impact Assessment.

      January 22 Ratepayers group withdrew their appeal to OMB since their concerns for the acceptance of HIA had been addressed.
      January 29 The development group filed an appeal to the OMB over the Town’s decision not to proceed with the site plan even though no agreement had ever been signed and no financial securities had been posted by the developer up to this point.
      February 2007 Mr. Assaff and Mr. Strandholt agreed to meet with senior Town staff to begin to negotiate a settlement.
      July 4, 2007 Admiral Collingwood and The Strand developers accept OMB settlement proposal of 5 stories and 4 stories respectively. The concept of the 5 story development was to include stepped ends to lessen the impact of the mass of the building on neighboring 2 and 3 story buildings. The fifth story was also to be stepped back from the streetscape and to be glass instead of brick. The developer’s team was to work with town staff and respective heritage consultants to develop a more compatible development within Collingwood’s Downtown Designated Heritage District..
      Financial details and required securities still needed to be finalized.
      the September, October, November 2006 months are the critical ones. The development agreements while approved by Council were not enforce as no monies had been paid by the development groups that would have finalized the deal. The OMB appeals were to be heard in March 2007 and July 2007 respectively.

      I thought how best to arrive at some kind of compromise solution and reviewed all the planning documents late December and early January. I spoke with the CAO, Planner, and Clerk to suggest a way to find a compromise. I had a draft of a motion I wanted to take to council prepared by me. I did not want to take away any legal development rights. The motion revoked the HIA component which resulted in both appeals to the OMB being dropped and a negotiated settlement. The Admiral proposal got 5 stories instead of 6 and the Strand maintained its proposed 4 stories. What we did avoid; the developers included were a proverbial roll of the dice at the OMB. We cannot say for a certainty that the OMB would have ruled in favour of the folks appealing the development or ruled in favour of the development proposal as it was presented. Any decision would have been subject to appeals and could have dragged out a battle outside of local compromise (the negotiated settlement) solution. Let me be clear with you, this was NOT an “ATTACK” your words, this was an attempt to avoid an expensive process in a process where there was little to no local control. Instead I proposed a solution to Council and the majority (myself, Mike Edwards, Kathy Jeffery, Tim McNabb, Sonny Foley) voted in favour, Norman Sandberg had a conflict of interest (his engineering company was doing work on this file) and 3 voted against the motion (Sandra Cooper, Ian Chadwick, Dave Labelle). Town staff and the development group with expert advice provided by a Heritage Consultant proposed a compromise that was more acceptable to all sides than risking a hearing. John, your statement that “but for Carrier’s actions at council, that beautiful building would be a reality, the downtown would be flourishing, the entrance to town would not be an eyesore” respectfully is false and misinformed. The facts do not support your claim. The Admiral/Strand developments along with the Shipyards were but 3 high profile developments that faced difficulties and delays because of the 2008 recession. There was little desire from financiers to release capital without a high percentage of pre-solds and that was not happening.
      If you walked into a car dealership and pick out the car you wanted and negotiated a price but were unable to put down the required down payment nor able to secure financing to complete your purchase would you ever leave the dealership with the keys to the car? The dealership would be entitled to sell the car to someone else. In 2006 November before the new Council was sworn in at the first of December the payments to finalize the development deals with the Town were never made. Several attempts were tried but the then Council would not accept them as they were too risky.
      I have also been told that my actions on this file were somehow motivated by a personal dislike for Mr. Assaff and or Mr. Strandholt. I do not know either one at a very personal level. I have had business and political interactions with both of them. Both are personable and likeable people. Any statement that my actions were other than in the best interests of the Town as a whole is a LIE and could be construed as an attempt to smear my good name. If someone tells you different than what I just stated refer them to this blog, ask them to put their comments in writing and I will address them as well. That development proposal was a complex matter made more difficult by the failure of the developer to pay the funds required to seal the deal. I believe if the appeal had gone ahead the developers would have lost at OMB and we would have lost out on the chance to have a beautiful gateway to our downtown from the south end. I am still hopeful that the development can move forward in the New Year.
      The patio issue I have tried to address several times but I will try again. Council asked the BIA, and other groups to come back with recommendations on how best to address the locations of the patios when the re-construction of the main street was to occur. The BIA and others recommended a linear/straight-line pathway between the business entranceways and the patios thusly moving the patios curbside. It was not until after the BIA recommendations came forward that several restaurant owners came forward (please talk to Sean Cripps from Duncans) and expressed real concerns with the designs. Let me be clear, I voted to have the patios remain where the restaurant owners wanted them. That is to say, if Sean wanted his patio alongside his building then that was fine with me, and if Mark and Christine from Espresso Post wanted their patio at the curbside then that was fine with me as well. A number of the votes on the patio issue were recorded and there is ample documentation to support my comments. If you wish please send me an email at chris@chriscarrirer.com or christophercarrier@hotmail.com and I can send them to you. I would be more than pleased to sit with you and address any concerns that you may have. I fully understand there are a lot of misconceptions about my voting record.
      Finally the 2006-2010 council accomplished a lot of good projects. We received and invested 2 dollars for every dollar of new decisions by our council for infrastructure re-builds or new builds. We realized a long held community desire to have a permanent campus location for Georgian College. We partnered with the private sector to see 18 new units of affordable housing stock built in our community with a 1.2 million dollar contribution from the provincial government. The 2006-2010 council was far from dysfunctional; we functioned very well in the best interests of Collingwood. I preferred our passion debates over what has occurred with this current council; less than 2 hours to spend 13 million plus million dollars on 2 recreational buildings at 2 separate locations without neither the full costs known nor were these projects TENDERED.
      Once again thank you for your comments and I would be pleased to meet with you to have a discussion about any issue you would like me to address.
      Wishing you and your family well.

  5. Hi Colin, I read the blog, thank you so very much. I am hoping to change a lot of minds as there are some pretty significant misconceptions but as one person said to me recently the other side has done an effective “smear and lies” campaign for several years now. I am attaching for your information and if you wish to publish it or a portion of it for your blog please do so, but it is my first campaign speech (official) that I gave yesterday to a standing room only crowd at Rotary. Joe spoke there last week and Sandra will be speaking there next week.

    Take care and talk to you during the campaign,


    • One of the great things about Canadian municipal politics is that it is not structured around parties (as opposed to Federal and Provincial). So, Chris, if you support the Conservative Federal candidate, the Liberal, the NDP or the Screaming Elephant party, then thats your opinion and you are entitled to your vote. But I dont particularly want to hear about it. If you get in again, can we leave party political endorsements out of things? Thank you.

      • I actually agree with you Bill Chris should not have been endorsing any political candidate provincial or federal . Also as Mayor of this town Cooper should not have been attending a fundraiser for Kathleen Wynne.

      • Hi Bill the reference Colin made was the 2004 campaign when a few members of council were campaigning for our then Liberal MP, I introduced the conservative candidate to several groups. I agree with your view that the local level should distance itself and I have friends from all 4 main political parties whose company and advice I like and not because of their party but because they look for solutions. I will do my best to be less overtly favourable to any political party. I do not believe I have ever had a Federal or Provincial party sign on our lawn as Colleen often cancels my vote or I her. I will take your advice to heart and action. Thank you.

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