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Deputy Mayor candidates differ on council’s record

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In Candidates / Election 2014
Sep 29th, 2014
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New Tecumseth Free Press Online

Council incumbent Jamie Smith, the only member of the outgoing group running for deputy mayor, is fending off similar attacks all the incumbents are facing leading up to the October 27th municipal elections.

In this case Mr. Smith is facing Peter Barbati, and Glen O’Leary who’s among the most vocal of critics this campaign.

“I’m sorry, I don’t find anything irresponsible about what we’ve done. In fact, I think we’ve been sensible, and careful we have not overspent,” said Mr. Smith. “We have spent your money as well as possible. Of course we made mistakes, of course we’ve done things committed in error, but we’re human, but we’ve done an excellent job and it’s just nonsense to say the debt is running away from us. If this Town continues to grow, we’re going to have to expand the debt.”

Below are highlights from the debate exchanges – in the order the candidates answered:

POLICING:
Jamie Smith
I think up to this point we’ve had relatively good policing. Our policing is fairly good. We have to be careful to make sure our costs are shared properly. We always have a suspicion there’s a town in Essa township that sucks up more policing then they pay for, but in the long run, I think we’ll be well advised to stay with what we’ve got and see how the costs go.

Glen O’Leary
The OPP want to be the most expensive police officers in the world. Toronto wants to be the highest paid. … We’ve got to control this, but we’ve got to control it throughout, they’re making too much money. And these buildings, I kid you not, you’ve got to see their board rooms. What do they need this for.

Peter Barbati
Need to look at the cost of policing for the community it’s in. I’m not knocking the police force, they work very hard, I couldn’t do it. We need to explain is what we have is what we have, when you’re building a facility you’re building a sufficient building for our service. Not a show piece.

SIMCOE COUNTY
Peter Barbati
We fully need to look at our budget, and quite a bit of money goes to Simcoe County. As far as I know, Simcoe County is not a dictatorship. As a town, we have enough to do our own thing. We have to go and tell them we won’t take no for an answer. We have a lot of power.

Glen O’Leary
There’s been some talk about a regional government for Simcoe County. Smaller townships have the same votes as us. regional government would be the south – we’re all around the same population, One government regional, and a little more control. And if we’re just worried about some leaves, I suggest when nobody’s looking, why don’t they just rake them on the road, and then we’re only cleaning up our own property.

Jamie Smith
There’s constant pressure from the County to take over more and more services. …. The County is growing and is remote. If you think about it, councillors who are on County council from New Tecumseth are there one or two days a month, it’s not like here, where everyone knows you, can stop you on the street and raise issues with you, The County tends to be run far more than the local municipality by bureaucrats who basically seem to be doing whatever the heck they want to do. And I say this as the person whose family has lived continuously in Simcoe County for over 200 years. I’d be just as happy to see the County go to smaller governments, or organizations to combine services. I think we can have a regional sewage authority running sewage, regional water authority and so on, and have the local municipalities actually control them, and regional garbage collection as well.

GENERAL GOVERNANCE – CONSENT AGENDA
Glen O’Leary
You’re in council meeting, and you see a couple items, and all of a sudden you’re on to C-16, Why bother reading the reports if you just skip over them. Its got to be more transparent, and that’s how we fix this problem.

Peter Barbati
I’m a full believer that all things have to be discussed. It is a bit longer, a bit slower and more ponderous, but we ensure that everybody has a proper voice. But at a certain point, you have to make a decision.

Jamie Smith
Council is not perfect. We make mistakes, and generally speaking, if you made a mistake at committee of the whole and passed something that’s remarkably stupid, we hear about it, and we have a week to think about it. The old practice used to be, we’d have committee of the whole and council immediately afterwards, and things would be laws before anybody would be aware of them. I think we run a fairly open system, there’s a great deal of material that doesn’t really require a lot of discussion. Policy requires discussion but not the actual purchase. I’m open to any procedural changes that anybody wants to make. I believe very firmly everybody in the town should participate in the debates they want to participate in, and everybody should have a vote. And everybody should be able to say what they want to say, and if it takes forever, so be it.

RECREATION IMPROVEMENTS
Jamie Smith
One of the best gyms in south Simcoe is sitting empty over at (former site of) Alliston Union Public School. It’s an oversized gym, and there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t go to the SCDSB and ask them about leasing that gym so we can provide recreation during the winter indoors for people who prefer basketball so on, to hockey. And we should be pushing developers to do those things (build parks) because they can do it more cheaply and more efficiently perhaps than the town can.

Glen O’Leary
You and I both know, we’re not getting the public school. That’s a non issue. That’s their property, and we’re not getting it for 10 years. We do need a skateboard park. Real ones. We had one, it was made out of wood, they burned it down. We have to do more research. It’s like this centre we’re sitting at right now. It’s nice and all that, but there was no research or input. … Swimming pool is a great idea, but it’s going to cost a lot of money. … And if people want to go lift weights, they can afford to buy a membership somewhere.

Peter Barbati
I’m an active cyclist. I ride our space I’ve talked to a lot of people who want to come out and cycle but they have the same issues as well. Those facilities are sitting there. The economics is, we built this place, it has to be paid for. But we have to be careful. It is a more detailed plan than simply saying with need another building. In 2009 Leisure plan. Trail system. So we can look at changing the way we do things.

BUDGET TRANSPARENCY
Glen O’Leary

I’m a very transparent person, I will open up the books to everyone in the township.

Jamie Smith
I don’t understand what’s secret about the budget. If you can’t find the details about our budget, you’re not trying very hard. The budget is on the internet and available to everybody. … I have absolutely no trouble making hard decisions.

GROWTH – CAPPUCCITTI/MATTAMY proposal
Glen O’Leary
I’ve been around here all my life, I actually enjoyed this town when it was 2,800 and Beeton and Tottenham were small. We’re going to be forced to, we know that, but we have to get hold of this until everything else is put in place. I want to keep the old town feel in all three communities.

Jamie Smith
All of the subdivisions being built right now, were all approved more than 10 years ago…. The scary thing about Mattamy is they expect to make so much money in the development they’re prepared to build a new sewage plant and pump that sewage to Wasaga Beach (Georgian Bay). One of the things I would do to control growth is make some sort of alliance with Wasaga Beach because I’m sure they don’t want our sewage anymore than we want to send it to them.

Peter Barbati
We want to control growth, but we need a certain amount of growth to make sure we have a proper tax input to pay for our debts, or we will be perpetually in debt. We do have an urban boundary, and you can see the homes that are approved, and waiting to be approved. We do need a certain amount of growth.

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