Councillor Leiper Fails At Serious Thought: BENN




Can we talk? Sorry, not a Joan Rivers tag line. Hold an adult conversation.

Not the non-conversation once suggested by former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne during an election campaign. An actual conversation about making responsible decisions.

Earlier this week Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper was taken to task in an open letter by community activist J.P. Unger published here in The Bulldog. Leiper was challenged for stating that he was prepared to make a Lansdowne decision before taking the time and effort to “make grown-up choices”.

So councillor, are we permitted to conclude that you are of the opinion that city council is not in the habit of making grown-up choices? How do your colleagues feel about that accusation? A bit close to home isn’t it? Given your two-plus terms on council.

The city has a long had a habit of making piece-meal decisions. For example, many years ago a decision involved a not-so-minor effort to pass a bylaw that set the higher end of the scale for the number of parking spaces permitted in new residential buildings near transit stations. When pressed on why the planner wasn’t presenting a complete proposal. One with a minimum and a maximum level of parking, he said that that would be a lot of work. Was “a lot of work” beyond his pay scale?

The Basic Unanswered Questions From Lansdowne (1)

The LRT is another example of piece-meal decision-making. Stage 1 is too short a line to be effective, but enough to force the hand of successive councils when it came to Stage 2.

Piece-meal decisions are a common tactic to force later decisions. Sort of like starting a stampede and then standing back and watching the ensuing mayhem.

Another long held habit of the city is assuming away reality. Assuming that human nature can be manipulated into acting in a manner consistent with the ideology of the day. Circle back to the aforementioned example about limits on parking. When the planner was pressed on where residents with vehicles would park if there was insufficient on-site spaces, he simply said that they should not live in that building. Ever noticed how many off-site parking spots are used on residential streets? Don’t blame the residents for needing a vehicle to get to and from work, especially if they have the audacity to work in an area not serviced by OC Transpo.

On to the hot topic du jour. Lansdowne.

Leiper is in favour of adding to the density of Lansdowne. Then, and only them will he focus on addressing the transportation issues. Adding to the load before determining whether there is any practical solution to the dilemma that is Bank Street is not a responsible decision. Assuming that the problem will solve itself is akin to saying that budgets balance themselves. Oops, off topic there. But only sort of. Case in point, last year’s operating budget still has an eight-figure hole in it.

Then there is the matter of the mystical $20-million contribution from senior levels of government. No programs identified. Just an assumption by staff to fill in the hole in another “budget”. See a pattern here folks?

Another minor aside. The density Leiper strongly supports will take the city further offside on its Official Plan target of four hectares of green space for every thousand residents. Adding more than 750 residents should translate into an additional three hectares of green space, give or take a fraction. Instead, he backs a plan that will subtract about a quarter of a hectare. Where will that additional four hectares in the Glebe will come from?

Circling back. Can we have an adult conversation about whether it is unreasonable to expect the people in positions of authority to make responsible decisions?

Ron Benn, a finance executive, has been a member of the Centrepointe Community Association for the better part of three decades.



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1 Response

  1. Alf Chaiton says:

    In fact, deficits can balance themselves if they stimulate economic growth sufficient that the additional taxes generated neutralize the deficit. Actually happened many times. This has been cheap criticism by media who don’t generally understand economics.

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