By Mike Williscraft
This space has been filled with plenty of comments piling on Grimsby council going on 5-6 years. Now, the current bunch has only been on the clock just over two years and they have taken on a personality of their own – for better or worse.
There are negative angles which could be taken on Monday night’s offering at council, but I will fully refrain and focus on what the chief administrative officer and some members of council count as a series of positives.
First of a decent list is Grimsby having a surplus for the second consecutive year.
That’s great, certainly better than the alternative.
So in the last two years combined, Grimsby has had surpluses cumulatively adding up to $2.3 million – of that it is important to note that about $1 million of that was due to Niagara Region forecasting being off target for sewer and water charges. This caused Grimsby to overpay and be credited back with that big chunk of change. So, that was nobody’s fault.
And the localized surplus monies are really nobody’s fault, but there are issues with administrative practices, such as $20,000 being included in the budget for a consultant to advise on a possible merger of Grimsby and Lincoln fire departments. Lincoln did not need a consultant, not sure why Grimsby would, but then monies from the provincial government’s COVID relief fund was used to pay for the consultant anyways, so that money drops right into the Town’s rainy day fund.
Now, it is true Grimsby’s reserves had been depleted over the years as previous councils used a bit of sleight of hand to limit tax increases while programming and escalated costs continued to rise. That is not necessarily a bad strategy, but at some point those reserves have to float up once again, so much of those surpluses will likely remain parked there.
I do need to give a shout out to my main man, Coun. Dave Kadwell. Going all the way back to Tim Hudak, I spent a chunk of time with Dave trying to help raise awareness of the need for enhanced safety measures at the QEW’s Christie off ramps. It took years to get flashing lights atop of the enlarged stop signs, and Kadwell was tenacious to get that done.
They’ve been in place for nearly a year and I would have normally done a story and photo on it, but it all went down right when COVID was rolling out…next thing you know months have gone by. That noted, Dave deserves full credit. The fire department and EMS services have dealt with too many accidents and I’ve covered too many T-bones, so glad to see this done. MPP Sam Oosterhoff is still trying to get rumble strips added, as well, so more may develop.
Good work, Dave.
Where I struggle is when launching the Grimsby Beach study is mentioned, combined with “efforts” on Main Street East, namely a land use planning study.
There is no lipstick on the planet which would make that pig look good.
But I digress.
Monday’s council meeting as a whole was one of the team’s better efforts. Still painfully long and a few long, drawn out ramblings, but – all in all – civil and they kept it together. I cannot be optimistic to the point where this could be expected at every meeting, but 2021 is off to a solid start.
Now, separate from the pom-pom waving, we had a shockingly off-base Notice of Motion from Coun. Dave Sharpe. Really he was calling into question what will likely happen with future planning around the GO station at Casablanca but, for some reason, he opted to call into question whether the GO should go there at all.
That dog won’t hunt, and others on council shot it down quickly to the point where it was entirely withdrawn – as it should be – and it just went away.
The core issues of scope and density were brought up as a result and it was interesting how Sharpe voiced his concerns for the GO station vicinity because all the same comments could and would apply to Main Street East yet none of them were made by him when the Heritage Conservation District was up for consideration. No doubt he was being a homer for his own ward, but at least he does recognize that oversized development is just plain wrong.
Enter our Page 1 story.
I could never be a planning consultant. I just cannot take the BS. To look someone in the face and tell them that proposed structure fits the current streetscape in any way shape or form is hilarious beyond words. Just don’t.