Dear Uncle Bruce – While snapping selfies with the jubilant throngs at Toronto’s Pride Parade, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intention to follow Premier Kathleen Wynne’s bold initiative with Ontario-issued ID (driver’s licences, health cards), and push for federally-issued ID (such as passports) that will allow the holder to identify as neither male nor female but as gender ‘X’. “That’s part of the great arc of history sweeping towards justice,” he eloquently proclaimed; following that up with the not-so-loftily formulated: “It’s something we’re looking at federally . . . we’re just trying to figure out the best way to get around to doing it.” Still, you know what he’s driving at. So I’m curious, Uncle Bruce – the next time one of these documents requires renewal, which box will you be ticking? – Sincerely, Is This a Great Country or What? Continue Reading
Posts Tagged: "Matt Brown"
“Things don’t go as we would like so we shake things up to get the result that we wanted all along – so long as it serves our purpose”
“An integrity commissioner’s job should not be to weigh someone’s actions against their future political prospects”
If I ever encounter marital troubles, I want the name of Matt Brown’s marriage counsellor. After a mere eight days on leave of absence from his mayoral post as he purportedly worked on spending more time with his family and recapturing their trust, Brown returned to work with a pledge to move forward. It was hardly a mea culpa, in that Brown didn’t really apologize in a manner that went deeper than his words.
Everything is great, but we need more money to make it better. Oh, and we’re getting an air show again.
That’s the TV Guide-length summary of Mayor Matt Brown’s second state of the city address, delivered last month on a Tuesday morning at the London Convention Centre. Amusingly – I think so, anyway – I wrote that summary the day before the speech, having seen no advance copy nor spoken to anyone involved in its preparations. I used my political crystal ball, but I wasn’t particularly surprised when my prediction ended up being right on the money. Full disclosure: I didn’t predict the bit about the air show, exciting news as that is for people other than myself.
It’s true of most proclamations by this mayor: we’re expected to believe that everything is going well and the city is rebounding, but Londoners not getting on board with the London Plan is the biggest impediment to even more growth. I suppose any message is better than a performance of London is the City of Opportunity, but even then, a city theme song certainly breaks up the otherwise bland addresses.
“As we work with our community partners to invigorate London to re-envision and rediscover our waterfront, we can’t ignore the fact that the [Springbank] dam needs to be operational for the vision to come to fruition … As mayor, I’ll ensure we fix the dam within the next four years.” — Matt Brown during his 2014 mayoral campaign
If you think you’ve heard enough about London’s festering hemorrhoid, aka the Springbank Dam, during the past 15 years, think again. There’s lots more mindless jabbering coming your way from city hall for at least another year as the brain surgeons at 300 Dufferin try to figure out how to fix our unnecessary dam and make it operational again.
To date, about eight million dollars have already been tossed down the rabbit hole and the recreational dam’s still broken, so you’re looking at millions more to fix it and jump through all the provincial legal hoops. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the intelligent thing to do is decommission the friggin‘ dam. That way, we continue to improve the health of the river while saving money. But apparently some at city hall can’t see how a cleaner river teeming with life is in everyone’s best interests. Or maybe they just don’t want to admit they were wrong in the first place about upgrading the old stop-log dam, a council decision made 10 years ago in 2005.
Springbank Dam — when it’s working — impounds pollutants for six months of the year (including sewage from several London treatment plants upstream), impairs the movement of fish and other aquatic life and destroys shoreline habitat for several at-risk species. Nonetheless, Mayor Brown and Deputy-Mayor Paul Hubert, who fancy themselves as progressive minds on this city council, want it repaired so canoeists, kayakers and rowers can do their thing on a deeper, de-facto cesspool with bacteria counts 55 times provincial guidelines. Currently, the London Canoe Club paddles about at Sharon Creek Conservation Area and the London Rowing Club rows at Fanshawe Lake where there’s a national rowing facility.
Brown and Hubert apparently think council’s Back-to-the-River plans for the river forks hinges on boating in London’s biggest unflushed toilet bowl (you can still canoe and kayak on the cleaner, free-flowing Thames even though the dam’s broken), failing to see how the river has healed itself during the past fifteen years when the dam’s been broken.
Frankly, it’s high-time our council plus City planning and engineering staff respected the Thames River as a living ecosystem, instead of seeing it as a plaything to stop-up like a bathtub because they think a swollen river from the forks to Springbank Park looks pretty.
Let’s put it this way, nice and simple: PROGRESSIVE CITY => Decommissions unnecessary Springbank Dam to improve river-water quality, foster a riparian (natural) shoreline, improve the health of the river’s eco-system and save taxpayers’ money.
REGRESSIVE CITY => Repairs and reactivates damaged Springbank Dam at great expense to impound pollutants and re-toxify the Thames River while flooding shoreline habitat of at-risk species, including turtles.
SECRET DEAL On Sept. 29, 2015, city council approved a so-called “confidential out-of-court settlement” behind-closed-doors regarding the seven-year-long lawsuit resulting from the failure of one of the dam’s new hydraulic gates on June 19, 2008. Seventy-nine days later on Dec. 17, when the City reportedly received the $3.775M settlement cheque, a media release was finally issued by city hall.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the dam’s negative impact on the river since the lawsuit was filed in 2008, Ian Wilcox, general manager of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (the UTRCA was a
Dear Uncle Bruce – Wasn’t it just a little irresponsible a few issues back to confess your unworthy habit of taking all the junk mail that’s deposited in your community mailbox and stuffing it unread into the attached outgoing mailbox? Don’t you realize that the only reason Canada Post has had to implement community mailboxes into a few, select London neighbourhoods is because postal workers are run off their feet with the volume of material they have to process? You’re hardly helping matters by, in effect, making those overburdened workers sort through the same material twice. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. – Sincerely, Someone Who Doesn’t Work for Canada Post and Isn’t Related to Anyone Who Does Either
Dear Someone Who Doesn’t Work for Canada Post and Isn’t Related to Anyone Who Does Either – Here’s the deal as I see it. You bring a wad of useless commercial bumf to my front door every day along with one or two letters or notices or packages that I actually want to receive, then okay, I’ll walk that bumf through to the back porch and drop it into the blue box, recognizing that this is how you generate the funds to support that handy service. But if you take away that handy service and make it so that I have to walk to your eyesore of a community drop box to get what little mail I actually want, then I’ll be jiggered if I’m going to keep up my end of the deal when you’ve defected on yours. Continue Reading
“To be clear, I’m not against music, but I am against the disingenuousness of those who believe that London is just a few grants away from being a musical mecca.”
It was famed local songster – or, rather, former radio broadcaster who happens to have a band – Jim Chapman who proudly crooned that “London is the city of opportunity.” The musical declaration was welcome news to then-mayor Joe Fontana, who in 2012 unveiled the ode to London as the city’s official theme song.
“Imagine a city where dreams can come true,” Chapman’s band, The Incontinentals, sang. While the song has had a unifying quality (albeit mostly in unifying people against the song, if its YouTube comments are any indicator) there is a tinge of truth to it. London is home to great amounts of opportunity – unfortunately that only seems to be for those on the public dole; an ever-increasing number that rises in the absence of results.
A lack of results rarely deters those in the public sector, however. Especially when dealing with the arts “industry.” The word industry could more readily be replaced by terms like “charity” or “money pit,” which more accurately characterize the economic place of the arts.
When Orchestra London went defunct last year, unable to pay its own performers, so died the leading champion of a taxpayer-funded performing arts centre, an idea that, regretfully, will never go away. The Music London proposal – which included Orchestra London, as well as the Grand Theatre and other partners – would have required $46.5 million in public money from all three levels of government to be put towards the $164 million centre. That plan was quashed, and rightly so, by city council earlier this year after accepting a recommendation from a hired consultant (advice I could have offered for only a fraction of Novita’s $97,500 “engaged process” fee) but with a caveat. A couple of councillors – including the mayor – hinted at a council-led performing arts centre proposal that could come after “four or five years” of studies. Continue Reading
“‘Revitalizing’ a river by tarting it up with man-made, whiz-bang gizmos and design features such as a fountain, pretty lights and a recreational dam when it’s an open sewer of our own making, is like putting lipstick on a pig.”
‘Water and air, the two essential things on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.’ – Jacques Yves Cousteau
About 16 years ago, former Londoner David Suzuki upset some locals when he publicly called the Thames River “a shit hole.” But nobody could challenge Suzuki’s blunt assessment when there’s about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools of raw or partially treated sewage being dumped into our river each year from the effluent pipes of London’s six pollution control plants and 36 pumping stations during heavy rainfalls.
Called “bypasses” and “overflows,” these incidents occur whenever rainfalls exceed treatment plant capacities due to combined storm and sanitary sewer pipes in older parts of the city. When the Springbank Dam is working (thankfully, it’s been broken since June 19, 2008), the dam’s reservoir or head-pond stretching to the river forks is transformed into a de-facto open sewer for your recreational boating pleasure.
With the Springbank Dam broken for the past seven years, this sewage is dispersed downstream through Chatham and southwestern Ontario after which it enters Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie’s western basin, contributing to massive algal blooms of toxic green slime. Continue Reading
“Since the Springbank Dam has been broken, river water quality has improved dramatically and the shorelines have recovered to their natural state not seen in more than 80 years.”
For decades prior to July 9, 2000, when a surging Thames River damaged London’s then-71-year-old Springbank Dam, the dam’s gates would be open six months of the year from December to April and closed from May to November, thereby stopping-up the river so canoeing, rowing and small motorized boating could occur each summer and fall.
During these warmer six months of the year, the Springbank Dam would raise the river 20 feet, creating a large reservoir about seven kilometres long from the river forks to Springbank Park; the London Canoe Club and The London Rowing Club being the two main beneficiaries of the deeper reservoir created by the dam.
TOXIC RIVER Each summer and fall, the stagnant, dammed river would turn toxic with bacteria counts skyrocketing. Shoreline vegetation, excellent habitat for wildlife, would be flooded and destroyed. When river water splashed on canoeists and rowers, they were in danger of developing a skin rash. Continue Reading
Sandy White will write another tell-all play about London city hall. This theatrical masterpiece will be called, Where’s the Sandbox, this Kitty’s Gotta Go!