Who’s Cool with GCL?
The Guelph Civic League (GCL) last week released their second annual Voting Record round-up. The civic advocacy group compiles data from councillor votes cast in the year 2008, and ranks each member of the city council according to how closely their vote aligns with the values of the GCL. Obviously, the GCL’s values lean towards the progressive, but their main goal is to help facilitate an informed and active local electorate. “The purpose of the report is to facilitate interest and to increase accessibility to council's record, often difficult to ascertain due to the sheer volume and format of the minutes of council meetings,” said a GCL statement issued with the report. “The hope is that these reports might provide a forum for discussion between residents and their council representatives.”
So who’s most inline with the ideals of the GCL? Well, Ward 5 Councillor Leanne Piper gets that honour with Ward 2 Councillor Ian Findley who tied for 86.7 per cent each. Both councillors won points for supporting a pesticide ban by-law, and for voting against the 6&7 development expansion on Woodlawn and the Hydro merger. Reversely, Ward 4 Councillor Gloria Kovach is at the top of GCL’s naughty list with 35.7 per cent while Ward 6 Councillor Christine Billings follows close behind with 42.9 per cent. Overall, council’s average is 73.4 per cent, with eight councillors scoring 80 per cent or more.
“By the 2010 election, there will be four reports in all - one for each year of this council's term in office,” says GCL, who added that their report this year involved the input of more members than ever. “A volunteer working group selected sample votes, representing GCL's community values, from each month. This list was then posted for several weeks in February. GCL's member organizations and supporters were invited to come in and indicate which of the 25 votes, were most significant to them as individuals or groups. The final 15 votes represent those chosen most frequently.”
As Toronto faced the cold, hard, smelly truth of an outside workers’ strike, Guelph quietly settled a potential labour dispute of its own by reaching an agreement with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 231. The two parties announced last Tuesday that a tentative agreement has been reached for a three-year collective agreement, effective April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2011. The details of the deal reached with representatives of 67 full-time and 59 part-time paramedics of the Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Service won’t be revealed until a ratification vote on July 6.
Pee Freedom Costs Bars
In a follow-up on last week’s piece about potential installation of public urinals on a trial basis in the downtown this summer, the full council approved the staff proposal last Monday but with one addendum. In an amendment proposed by Councillor Leanne Piper, the council approved the staff recommendation, so long as downtown bars and restaurants foot the bill. Piper noted that if the project costs $1,000 per week - as staff have suggested - it would be about $50 per weekend for each business that would benefit from the urinals. That seemed reasonable to most councillors who didn’t like the idea of taxpayers footing the bill for a problem caused by late night libations sold at the establishments in question. "I'm not sure it would solve the problem and I certainly don't think the citizens should be paying for this," said Councillor Bob Bell in the Guelph Mercury.