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Councillors heap scorn on county PR move

In Midland
Oct 15th, 2009

By Travis Mealing Midland Mirror Oct. 15 2009 
Midland is the latest municipality to denounce Simcoe County council’s decision to spend $250,000 cleansing the fallout of the Site 41 debacle.
County councillors voted last month to retain public-relations firm Fleishman-Hillard to help polish the municipality’s image.
“I’m embarrassed by it,” said Mayor Jim Downer, who represents Midland on county council alongside Deputy Mayor Ruth Hackney. “It’s a total gross way of spending money when up here (in Midland) we’re trying to keep an outreach program on the street and we need funds for community housing.”
The mayor’s comments came during a general committee meeting Oct. 13 at which councillors were asked to support a Tiny Township resolution criticizing the county’s move. No one around the table spoke in the county’s defence.
Coun. Bob Jeffery said it appears to him the expenditure is less about the county’s image and more about “certain people” who work for the county or who are elected to represent county residents.
“The county doesn’t need an image makeover so much as it needs to do the right things,” added Coun. Pat File, stressing the money would be better spent on initiatives to reduce the amount of garbage produced countywide.
Hackney said she and Downer voted against the expenditure, but it passed nonetheless. Still, she said, there is no harm in “sending a letter saying we think it’s wrong.”
In a previous interview, Penetanguishene Mayor Anita Dubeau defended the investment in communications.
“People need to feel good about living in the County of Simcoe. I’m not sure everyone is,” the human services committee chairperson said. “We do great things, but everything has gotten lost in this (Site 41 debate).”
– With files from Laurie Watt

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