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OPINION: Voters dissatisfied with current city council

Published on

Paul Beaudet

Municipal elections, more often than not, are boring and the candidates largely indistinguishable. That is not the case in 2014. Although I live outside the City of Sarnia, I am impacted by the decisions made by council, hence my interest in the upcoming election. My personal polling, albeit unscientific, suggests to me that the electorate are very dissatisfied with decisions made by the existing members of council. A constant refrain is that council has not listened to the public and has performed poorly, particularly regarding the following issues:

Centennial Park:

I seriously suspect that most or all of the members of council have not read the reports of Golder & Associates. How else to explain council’s decision, when the reports appear to indicate that remediation should not be carried out. My unscientific polling concluded that over 90% of the population of the City disagree with the action taken. The decision to pay a bonus to a contractor for expediting the work would appear to be throwing good money after bad. The confirmation that even greater remediation will be required for Canatara Park exacerbates the public’s concerns with the ability of council and fuels the desire for change.

Management at the City of Sarnia:

There appear to be too many issues dealt with by council, wherein insufficient thought has been directed to a resolution. The handling of the RBC Centre, the budget process, and the future of our arenas all seem to be of concern to the public. There is a general feeling that the City is not well run and that its operation may be dysfunctional and uninviting to investment.

Bitumen Upgrading:

In my opinion, this issue is the most pressing one Sarnia needs to deal with. Sarnia shouldn’t be asleep while upgrading refineries at the Texas Gulf Coast are utilized for the purpose, or new facilities are built in New Brunswick. There is an opportunity to create local jobs both in construction and operation of an upgrader and there is potential for many more jobs being created to deal with all of the by-products derived from the upgrading. We need a champion and a united City council to promote this venture.

River City Vineyard:

It is hard to understand why helping the homeless should run into so much opposition from members of council. Both the citizens of Sarnia and what would appear to be all, or next to all, of the neighbours of the River City Vineyards seem to agree that the men’s shelter was both needed and unobjectionable. Despite that fact, “doing God’s work” seems to have attracted and maintained the ire of City council.

Other Concerns:

Amalgamation, both with the County and Point Edward, although a divisive topic, may considerably bear on the issues of the overlap between the City and County, and the cost to taxpayers.

VIA, and its inadequate service to London, business development and the number of jobs locally are also of prime concern.

Exercise Your Right to Vote:

My reflections, as stated above, may not be in accord with your views. Regardless, I urge you to cast your vote on Oct. 27th.

 Paul Beaudet is a retired Sarnia lawyer now living in Plympton-Wyoming

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