Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Pride Fest among the things that makes Newmarket great.

This past weekend, the York Region Pride Fest Committee put on a terrific event in downtown Newmarket. This is the fifth time the committee has held Pride Fest but a first for Newmarket.

Pride is a month long global event (at least in the Western world) to demonstrate inclusivity and diversity for all peoples regardless of sexual gender or orientation. The Toronto Pride Parade is among the largest in the world. Indeed, it is among the largest cultural events in North America.

While holding Pride events in big cities is important, it is even more critical to host them in smaller communities such as Newmarket. We still live in a time when LGBT youth often feel isolated and alone in expressing their sexuality. That can lead to a difficult experience in a large urban centre but at least there is a sizeable LGBT community in cities like Toronto to offer support and acceptance. In a town like Newmarket, there just isn't the same community experience for LGBT youth.

Holding a Pride Fest event in Newmarket is an invitation to all to be true to yourself. Thank you to the York Regional Police, the local unions, and other supporters who are providing outreach and support.

Thank you to all the Pride Fest organizers. Hopefully Newmarket earned your faith and trust and you will bring the event back to Newmarket next June.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Property taxes for 2018 - How political are employees at the Town of Newmarket?

How do we know a municipal election year is coming?

Well, if you are Newmarket resident, you can tell by the property tax increase schedule released by our "non-partisan" civil servants.

In any non-election year, the schedule of public hearings and council meetings result in the property tax increase being passed by Council in or around February of the year that the budget takes effect. For example, the property tax increase for 2017 was approved by Council on February 13, 2017.

But a February 2018 approval for the 2018 property tax increase would likely be too fresh in voters minds. So here comes our "non-partisan" bureaucrats to save the day for our incumbent Mayor and Council. They are suggesting that an October/ November 2017 date for property tax increases (approximately 1 year prior to election day) will bring many benefits to the community.

If there were benefits to rushing the approval process for property tax increases to be completed several months in advance, then perhaps staff could explain why they don't follow this process each year? Why is the rushed property tax increase approval dates only used when there is a municipal election looming?

One of the campaign platforms I'd like to see in 2018 is a frank discussion of how blatantly partisan the employees of the Town of Newmarket have become in favour of the status quo. This not only involves when tax increases are voted on, but also what information is available to the public via freedom of information requests, and even who is going to face thousands of dollars in bylaw fines (ahem, not Tony Van Bynen despite flagrant disregard for the election signs rules).

Maybe we need a candidate to come forward to suggest it is time to clean house at Newmarket Town Hall?

Sunday, 7 May 2017

How safe is Newmarket water really?

Another spring and, like clockwork, Newmarket's municipal water works is advising residents that another round of "swabbing" is needed to make our drinking water safe to drink again. (You can read about it here),

Swabbing is a process by which chemical agents are added into our drinking water to dissolve microorganisms, such as algae, molds, bacteria and other life forms, that accumulate on the pipes. While this process is underway, residents are asked to shut off the main water valve to their home for a period of 10 hours.

If your household needs water during this period, the township recommends filling a bath tub prior to the swabbing process and then using the saved water for washing, cooking, flushing toilets and so on.

Once the swabbing process is complete, the chemical will be flushed out through a neighbourhood fire hydrant to run off into the storm sewers or the local streams and water ways. If the town officials know how many hundreds of thousands of litres of water is being purged this way, they aren't making that number available to the public. Officially, they have told the public that they just don't know how much chemical laced water is being pumped into the environment through the fire hydrant.

Town residents are already familiar with the yellow-ish-brown discoloration in the water after swabbing occurs which the town assures is perfectly safe to drink. However, if you use the washing machine with discolored water, it will stain your clothes a yellowy-brown tinge.

I have found instances of other towns that will swab their drinking water system. I have never found another example of an Ontario town that does it annually like Newmarket does. Such a frequency begs the question if we can trust our Town when they insist our drinking water is as safe as other York Region municipalities?

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Is it "Three Strikes You're Out" with the Newmarket-Aurora PCs?

Things at the Newmarket Aurora PC Association just keep going from bad to worse.

Current EDA president Derek Murray, with the blessing of former MPP Frank Klees, is disputing the outcome of last month's candidate nomination vote. (See here for The Auroran article).

While Murray won't say publicly what the irregularities are, it's well known that Charity McGrath, who won the vote, acted improperly to attain victory. Abuses of the local membership lists and brazenly handing out $25 'gift' bags to her PC member sign-ups - who were bused in - are among the allegations I have heard from outraged members.

It's well known that this isn't the first time the Richmond Hill resident has courted controversy. McGrath's failed 2016 nomination in Oshawa, which she lost to now MPP Lorne Coe, included several similar irregularities. In that fiasco, it was rumoured she purchased over 1,000 memberships from people who never signed up. Some PC insiders have openly questioned how she and Mr. Coe could work together in the same caucus if she ever gets elected.

Her husband, Joe Di Paola, was a former Richmond Hill councillor who was booted out in the last election. Readers have to look no further than this story to see how the McGraths/DiPoalas are among one of the most embarrassing couple in Ontario politics.

If you notice in the above article, the McGraths/DiPoalas have a penchant for changing their addresses depending on where they're running. McGrath continues to lie to residents here that she lives in Newmarket - until a journalist exposed her.

Murray's complaint is now the third investigation conducted by the Ontario PC Party into shenanigans in Newmarket-Aurora since January 2017.

The party was well warned about the potential of controversy relating to the Newmarket Aurora nomination several times during 2015 and 2016. For reasons unknown, the Ontario PC's decided to ignore all the sound advice, and instead chose the perilous route which courted disaster.

Local PC supporters are telling me that they are just fed up and won't support either Patrick Brown or whomever ends up being the local Newmarket-Aurora candidate. As with other ridings, many are openly complaining that Patrick Brown is on course to re-elect a Kathleen Wynne government through his own ineptitude.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Newmarket's Town Drunk Named Citizen of the Year

Has it really been 40 years?

A frantic call came into the municipal offices urgently demanding to speak to Mayor Ray Twinney.

The caller had a complaint to make. One of the local town council members showed up at his house and this councillor was completely boozed up. Drunk like a skunk. Three sheets to the wind.

It was demanded that the mayor drive over to pick up this plastered politician and make sure he ended up at his home to sleep it off.

What an embarrassment.

Well yesterday it was announced that the infamous drunkard was named Newmarket's Citizen of the Year.

I wonder if they'll tell this story at his induction ceremony?

Saturday, 8 April 2017

PC strategy of opposing Mulock GO is off the rails

They say all politics is local.

Which is why the Ontario PC Party wants to weigh in, here in Newmarket. PC MPP transportation critic Michael Harris believes he has a strategy of winning the next election in our riding. He wants to oppose the Mulock GO Train station.

In this week's Era newspaper, MPP Michael Harris has declared that the proposed Mulock GO station doesn't make sense.

Full disclosure, I also oppose the new GO station for Mulock and have written about it last October. But in response to that blog post, I heard a unanimous chorus in support of the new station that would be built in the Steven Court area. It is going to be financed with Metrolinx money and it will bring jobs to Newmarket through construction,

The Ontario PCs are also running against new public transit projects in Vaughan and Hamilton. From accounts that I have read, the PC view has been soundly rejected by municipal level politicians and the general public.

Michael Harris - who is from Kitchener but somehow knows the  Newmarket political landscape - publicly railing against the new train station is a god-send for local Liberal organizers, as it is bound to tip support towards current MPP Chris Ballard.

Friday, 7 April 2017

How many investigations of Newmarket Aurora is Rick Dykstra conducting?

For the second time in two months, Ontario PC Party president Rick Dykstra is promising to launch a serious investigation into allegations of wrong-doing involving the local Newmarket-Aurora PC membership list. In the latest series of complaints, dozens of people have contacted PC Party head quarters as personal information was given to a third party company without the party's consent.

All three candidates on the local PC nomination ballot, (Charity McGrath, Tom Vegh, and Bill Hogg), have been connected to serious allegations of past misconduct. For local members, it is a veritable rogues' gallery on the ballot.

As of this time, all three candidates have been OK'd by party screeners and the nomination vote will proceed as planned.

Local members learned the extent of today's latest PC controversy when Bob Stanley, the Executive Director of the Ontario PC Party, contacted each member by phone this morning through robo-calling to confirm the anonymous company was not affiliated with the party.

Noting that I cannot link him to this present controversy, it is curious to note that Court documents show that Bill Hogg was found to have lied in a filed affidavit while he was sued by a pharmaceutical business for having taken their client list without permission.

But it could have been any one of the current candidates.