LETTER: Oro-Medonte mayor’s comments draw citizen’s ire
From OrilliaMatters, October 2, 2022
A Letter to te Editor
As Sigmund Freud once wrote, “By words, one can make another blissfully happy or drive (them) to despair.” All of us know that the words we choose are powerful and often telegraph glimpses of our true personality.
This past week the Oro-Medonte Chamber of Commerce hosted a meet-the-candidates event in Oro-Medonte to listen to platform ideas heading to the election on Oct. 24.
Wards 1, 2 and 3 candidates presented their visions of the future on Monday evening, and candidates for the remaining three wards presented their ideas on Tuesday evening. The final evening featured platform discussions with the incumbent mayor, Harry Hughes, and mayoral hopeful Randy Greenlaw.
Both Greenlaw and Hughes navigated difficult topics related to budget, infrastructure, development charges, annexation issues, short-term rental concerns, road safety, business plans, tourism and the like.
At one point the mayor was asked about current litigation issues regarding water integration plans in Horseshoe Valley. The mayor explained that operating multiple water systems in the township had some expensive consequences and challenges. Related to Horseshoe, he stated that residents petitioned the township to connect to municipal water services.
Contrary to reports from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Hughes mentioned that the water infrastructure in Horseshoe was aging and was in need of replacement. The MECP has indicated that the Zone 1 drinking water system is in full compliance with regulations and mandates in the province.
He did what Deputy Mayor Ralph Hough did publicly, for the mayor spoke of matters related to ongoing litigation or negotiation publicly, matters that are the subject of solicitor-client privilege. Like Deputy Mayor Hough, Mayor Hughes appeared to break with his council’s code of conduct protocols and policies.
The Water Rights Guarantee Agreement of May 23, 1980 was a contract executed between Horseshoe and the municipality of Medonte. This contract moved forward with amalgamation in 1994, according to the township.
It guaranteed that the Zone 1 system would be operated, maintained, repaired and insured under agreement by the municipality and Horseshoe. The mayor has suggested that the system is in need of replacement. Will the collected reserve funds cover these costs? If the system is in trouble, why didn’t the provisions of the contract cover the repairs that are now needed, according to the mayor?
When faced with the exact same question, candidate Randy Greenlaw stated that he was instructed not to interfere with ongoing litigation matters before the township by offering personal opinions. Greenlaw did not compromise his integrity by possibly contravening the code of conduct for members. On the contrary, Greenlaw respectfully declined to address this question. This was prudent legally and politically, it seems.
When time came for final comments, Mayor Hughes admonished local media, letter writers, and certain candidates for spreading “misinformation.” Does this sound familiar? Social media vitriol in Oro-Medonte is filled with similar unsubstantiated claims.
Letters to the editor seem to be the bane of his existence lately. Much of the audience was visibly moved by his statements, for many people expressed immediate disapproval of his words — words that caused discontent.
It is really easy to throw up your hands and shout that people are disseminating false information. The real challenge is to back up your claims and show us what information you claim to be false.
Alas, we live in the world of fake news, alternate facts and ultimately alternative realities.
We need a new vision in Oro-Medonte, one that is honest, sensible, comprehensive, rational, equitable, welcoming, inclusive, progressive, pragmatic, and forward thinking.
I believe that mayoral candidate Randy Greenlaw is the best person to fulfil this vision.
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