Starting a conversation

Apparently, it’s not so easy to have a conversation these days, let alone challenge the status quo.

According to the Guelph Tribune, MPP Sandals believes the vision for Guelph is “flawed”.  Respectfully, I think it’s a little too early to be jumping to that conclusion. 

The Community Well Being Plan did not just flip off the top of our heads but rather evolved out of dozens of discussions with community leaders, service providers, front-line staff, consumers and their advocates, the experiences of other municipalities and our own experience. As we launched the development of the Plan, it quickly became clear that two of the key pillars to the health and wellbeing of our community – social and public health services – lack the necessary accountability to ensure they are appropriately responsive to the people who fund them and those who rely upon them. 

Rather than ignore the “elephant in the room”, we decided that we needed to call “Jumbo” out by beginning a conversation.

I have always believed that a community has the right to choose their own future.   We did that when we rejected the pipeline to Lake Erie.  We did that when we engaged the community on our growth strategy. We are doing that with our economic development strategy and community energy initiative. In fact, I believe it is precisely this approach to city building that has made Guelph so successful and recognized as one of the best cities in Canada.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by the Guelph Mercury to respond to an opinion editorial that MPP Liz Sandals had submitted to them.  Click here to read the article and here to read the opinion editorial.

I was surprised to read that MPP Liz Sandals has concluded that a Guelph health unit would be more costly to taxpayers than our current arrangement. She seems to base this on averages of operating costs in other municipalities, which do not reflect the situation in Guelph, including the $17 million capital cost for a brand-new facility that would add millions to Guelph’s debt without our consent.

The City of Guelph has asked the Province to appoint an assessor precisely to determine whether a Guelph-based health unit would be more cost-effective, more accountable, and more responsive to our city’s needs.  

Members of Guelph City Council are elected to represent the citizens of Guelph. We continue to reject the notion that the Board of Health and the Wellington and Dufferin county councils have the authority to construct multi-million dollar buildings in Guelph and Orangeville and land the debt on Guelph taxpayers.

And it is more than that.  We want to do business differently by providing a new approach to delivering government services and programs. We want to create partnerships across the public, private, and non-profit sectors to provide services in an effective way. This is the way of the future.  

When we have raised our concerns with the Province, their response seems to be “too bad, that’s just the way it is.” I believe local taxpayers deserve a better answer than that.

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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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One Comment on “Starting a conversation”

  1. Mario Bourque Says:

    The duty of our MPP is to fight for us! If she thinks the vision for Guelph is flawed, then she’s not the right person to be representing our interests.

    Karen, Guelph IS one of the best cities in Canada! That’s why my family moved here in 2006. We need to keep working hard to stay that way. You’ve created the opportunity for dialog and the door was slammed shut in your face.

    Positive change happens through constructive dialog. Liz Sandals and the McGuinty government have made their intentions clear.

    Local taxpayers do deserve a better answer than what Liz has given us and we will get it October 6th.

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