As voters in Guelph, you are likely to hear a lot about previous council experience being important for the next 4 years. I agree that experience is important, but what type of experience is more important than just any experience. Let me explain.
Of the 13 members of city council (12 councillors + the mayor), 11 of the 13 have a combined 133 years of experience on city council. That’s an average of 12 years each. Impressive, right? Mmmm, maybe.
You have to understand what that experience is providing for you. So let’s review.
This old boys and girls club has been discussing, consulting and pontificating about a new Main Public Library since 2009. And they have yet to get a shovel in the ground.
The same old boys and girls club has been discussing, consulting and pontificating about a South End Community Centre since 2012 (or earlier). And they have yet to get a shovel in the ground.
Over those average of 12 years each of council experience, our infrastructure has been decaying. So much so that Guelph has 3 of the top 5 worst roads in Southwest Ontario according to the CAA’s annual survey. Our services have continued to get worse year over year, to the point where I have seen my neighbour cross-country skiing on our street in pristine conditions (for skiing – not for driving).
The initial cost estimate for the South End Community Centre was approximately $35 Million. This estimate has now ballooned to $80 Million. Extrapolating the same type of increase in costs for the Main Library (currently estimated at $55 Million) the initial estimate was likely around $25 Million.
There is no doubt that the Councillors in Ward 6 have utterly failed the residents of Ward 6 because we are all still waiting for for the Community Centre to be built. But make no mistake. All of these experienced councillors (including the mayor) have failed every taxpayer in Guelph because while they have debated and filibustered over the past 10-12 years, combined costs for these two key projects have increased by approximately $75 Million.
Yes, that’s right. These councillors have cost the taxpayers an estimated $75 Million because of their inability to be decisive.
This boys and girls club has demonstrated what they have experience in: talking about, discussing and paying consultants for fancy brochures. What they have not demonstrated is the ability to get things done.
Personally, I have experience in the NFP sector as an employee and as a volunteer. In my work life, I was part of a team that completed 5 capital projects worth millions of dollars – on time and under budget.
As a volunteer, I have collaborated with staff and various Directors to initiate and complete 2 strategic plans, updates to By-Laws and the creation of policies and procedures to set high financial management standards and hold those in charge accountable.
So, you need to ask yourself, what kind of experience would you like to see in council chambers for the next 4 years?
IYADWYAD, YAGWYAG. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If you think it is a good thing to have city councillors with a proven track record of filibustering, debating and wasting years of your time and millions of your hard-earned tax dollars, then you should vote for those councillors (and a mayor) again. They have clearly demonstrated they are very experienced in those areas.
If you are like me and you want to see a change in how things get done, as well as holding councillors accountable, you should vote differently.
In my opinion, accountability matters.