The Town of Midland is seriously considering the sale, in part or in full, of Municipal assets such as our PUC (Hydro), parkland, sports and recreation centre and countless other assets. Also on the table is the outsourcing and privatization of services such as parks, recreation, public works and other core municipal services.
These cuts were drafted by the town staff and placed ‘on desk’ at the last draft budget meeting. The proposed / potential cuts were summarized in spreadsheet form. Because they were placed ‘on-desk’ for Council, they were not included in the published agenda or Council Information Package, nor were they available to anyone in attendance at that meeting. The Councillors were not provided the document beforehand for any review or thoughtful consideration. Instead, the ideas were discussed both in-camera (privately, without any public oversight) and then quickly reviewed for voting (yes/no) by Council after a lengthy in-camera break where all audience members left; presumably because this discussion was not on the agenda.
Here is a link to the published agenda. The links to the documents that were discussed are at the bottom of this story.
Luckily for Midland, we stayed. And we could not believe our ears. What we heard and live-tweeted to our followers (twitter.com/ourmidlandca) is quite simply astounding.
Here is an excerpt of what we heard… and what nobody would have any clue about had we not stuck around to the bitter end. No media was there. No oversight. Just this bombshell slipped on the night’s agenda after all other matters were done.
We’ve asked for a copy of the document in the interest of full disclosure and transparency. We will see if our request is honoured. Some matters were already discussed prior to the door being opened again… we will never know what happened ‘in-camera’. However, we can safely assume that the ‘personnel matters’ that are one of a few valid excuses for going ‘in-camera’, involved discussion about savings by outsourcing and contracting-out of services in the town, undoubtedly bolstered by their recent success at doing away with local fire dispatch and police dispatch, which comes into effect mid-month.
We cannot publish evidence about this conclusion, but our ‘submit a tip’ form, which provides anonymous communications with us from people who cannot risk having their identities known when providing confidential information to our group, may have been used to alert us to these issues.
OurMidland.ca member’s report from the audience gallery… he was alone.
CAO : drastic measures are required to meet 75% budget savings for Midland.
CAO : recommend rezoning of town owned properties to surplus to sell.(treed lots, green spaces, parks etc..)
Councillor File: I’m not comfortable putting any green spaces or parks on the table! This is really bad timing, especially so soon after what just happened with Edgehill. Community is obviously against sale of parkland! I can’t believe we could even suggest it!
Councillor Main: The pushback from residents on Edgehill speaks for itself in this matter!
Councillor Contin: I’m fully against the sale of any parkland!
Councillor Oschefski: The people of Midland refuse to let anymore parkland go! There’s a group of concerned citizens that are willing to fight! They already are fighting!
CAO : Recommend freezing all capital infrastructure projects, park upgrades, trails project, NSSRC, roads, sewers etc… till grants and funds available.
Councillor File: That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard! These projects are vital!
CAO : Not crazy at all… numerous municipalities across Ontario are already doing it.
Councillor Main: This is ridiculous! If we don’t have a strategic capital plan, then we’ve failed as a council!
Councillor Contin: All of our services fire, police, roads, sewer etc are what potential developers look at when they want to invest in a municipality! We can’t expect people to invest if there’s no benefit of services.
Councillor Oschefski: A lot of these projects are already going or in the beginning stages. Stopping them now doesn’t make sense!
CAO: recommend halt to planning and re-evaluate the proposed King Street redevelopment and rejuvenation project. As well as Sunnyside park project. Councillors Strathearn and MacDonald objected to the latter.
Was getting late at this point and Mayor McKay told CAO Tripp to read off the rest and then vote on whether or not to move item foreword with a motion for next meeting… just going to give you the results for each item.
So without any real debate or consideration, the Mayor had each Councillor do an off-the-cuff vote on the future of our town’s assets. There are no assurances that a ‘no’ vote means the idea is off the table. Cutting $1.5m yearly from our budget is going to hurt.. badly. But we get the ’75th percentile’ sticker for the fridge in the staff room… if there are any staff.
Rezoning and sale of land= No
Sale of Midland sailing club property=No
Capital Funding Policy changes=No
Capital Projects Parks, trails, Etc=Yes
Sunnyside Park project=Yes
Rejuvenation of King Street=Yes
Huronia Airport Sale=Yes
Drastic cut to Community groups funding support=No
Overnight parking signage at Pete Peterson and harbour=No
Paid parking at town hall=No
Sale of old Public works depot and land=No
KPMG recommendation to reduce council size from nine to only seven members= No.
Motion to enter into a year round indoor contract with the farmers market= Motion passed.
I spoke with a couple of our councillors immediately following last night’s meeting. They informed me that they were only notified that night and were instructed to vote on them.
One of our councillors (not saying who so don’t ask) asked me straight out what our position was on the RSVP meeting called by the proponents of the Edgehill Park development is. I told him/her that we thought it was reprehensible! Edgehill Park belongs to all the residents of Midland and should be invited as well. This councillor smiled and nodded saying “You guys are really making yourselves heard. That’s a good thing. We need you guy’s here at every meeting.”
A link to download and review the KPMG final recommendations follows below.
Anyone in town have a problem with these recommendations or the fact that they were discussed and voted on without ANY input from the affected organizations? You may want to use our Council Contact List to send off your concerns.