It was with great interest that I read both our local papers on Thursday October 6th, 2016. The one had as its title “Port Perry BIA resignations prompt Scugog chamber to question council’s leadership” as front page fodder, while the Standard News relegated the article to where it should be and did not play into the hands of the political “drama” that it was. I attended that meeting, in fact, besides the two reporters in the room, I think there was only one other person left in the council chamber audience as the letters were read towards the end of the meeting. I believe Dan Cearns reported those actions in council more in alignment with how it actually transpired. The title says it all, “Council looks to fix BIA transparency problem”.
Yet, what neither reporter mentioned is that the BIA has formal rules and regulations it must follow from the Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Department. The BIA comes under the Township because it’s funding flows through it. Based on a budget put forth by the BIA, the township will raise BIA owner’s taxes accordingly and collect them. The BIA must produce a yearly budget before council; all financial transactions and meetings must follow the protocol set out in the municipal act. When financial matters are passed through the township accounting system, they must be detailed and thorough. Each department, even the BIA which is at “arm’s length” of council, must be open and transparent.
As Councilor Back has stated in prior council meetings, some members of the BIA approached her months ago to ask her assistance with BIA matters on their behalf, as has about half the BIA members reside in her Ward. As a diligent councilor she did her homework and asked questions to the BIA executive administrator during the March 21st, 2016 BIA budget meeting before council. Councilor Back received an attitude not befitting people speaking to a council, even when there is disagreement, some semblance of respect and protocol must be attempted.
All our Ward councilors and Mayor are very busy with the many township matters; they are doing their best for the people that elected them. They are attempting to keep Scugog tax increases within reason or as low as possible, while still ensuring the Township moves forward on its many endeavours. Not everyone will agree with them and they will not always agree with one another – that is what a democracy is all about! Yet, people can also choose to be part of the solution – creating meaningful dialogue - and not part of the problem, even when there is not total agreement. That is how a township and its businesses move forward. The drama and pointing fingers does not facilitate it.
Cheryl Odee Helm
20 Wyndance Way, Uxbridge
Current Scugog Township Chamber Member
Former Scugog resident 1993 to 2015 and Scugog BIA member