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Letters: August 9
Time for Ardenites to Move On, Pat Maloney
Time for Ardenites to Move On, Terry Kennedy
Your editorial (Time for Ardenites to Move On, Aug 2/12) lecturing Arden on how it is time to bury its resentment of Sharbot Lake and move on managed to miss the one salient point that actually defines the entire issue - fair distribution of tax dollars.
As I have pointed out in previous letters to this newspaper dating back several years, when Kennebec was forced into the amalgamation that created Central Frontenac it was debt free and had reserves in the bank. The same cannot be said for each of the other three former townships. Since amalgamation each of these other former townships has received significant Public Works upgrades adding up to over $2 million, not including the township office addition or the medical centre (a further $720,000) while Kennebec has not received a single up grade and continues to have to fight tooth and nail for essential repairs.
CF Township created a self serving Public Works Construction Activity spreadsheet in August, 2010, designed to show that public works expenditures had been distributed evenly throughout the greater township since 2003. In a letter published in this newspaper Sept 23, 2010, (http://frontenacnews.ca/2010/10-38_sep_23/letters_10-38.html#letter3)
I pointed out numerous discrepancies and omissions in that report, collected missing data from the township and used their own figures to demonstrate that in actual fact Olden had received $2,811,948; Hinchinbrooke - $2,626,592; Oso - $2,526,777; and Kennebec - $1,251,629. Again not including the medical centre or township office addition in Sharbot Lake. According to the former township CAO, my calculations were not disputed.
This ratio remains largely the same to date. Kennebec has been short changed over $1 million while historically the biggest contributor to CF Township taxes. Recently the township published figures that show that Kennebec is no longer the single biggest contributor to CF taxes but as these figures are brought to us by the same people that blatantly massaged the Public Works spreadsheet, I, for one, will remain justifiably sceptical.
Kennebec was effectively gutted after amalgamation and the pavement and sidewalks in Arden were left to crumble. I led a delegation to CF Council in Sept 2009 to reacquaint them with their responsibilities and while promises were made they continue to drag their feet, claiming fiscal restraint and doling out road work repairs every 2 years that are still a long way from being completed, and reneging on promises not to replace the deteriorated bridge guardrails with cheap ugly highway crash guards.
It’s a question of simple fairness Mr Green, not jealousy. And as for your remarkably silly comment that Arden has lost “virtually all (its) retail establishments over the years” to big boxes elsewhere; Arden never had a business of that sort to lose. It did lose its then remaining grocery store several years ago when the shabby state of the roads and sidewalks in the hamlet turned off potential investors, but the Legion is now operating a grocery and Arden retains 5 other businesses, several that not only advertise in your newspaper but that have been here for over 30 years.
I can empathize with Jeff Green in his wish that he could have provided better answers during his interview with the 'Lost Highway' documentary film-makers, however I differ with some of the thoughts Mr. Green feels would have provided those clever answers he was seeking.
I too have long heard the complaints that 'everything goes to Sharbot Lake' and I agree that the same harsh economic realities face all of us in Central Frontenac. These sentiments however, are likely to result whenever there are perceptions that other individuals or communities have more amenities, facilities and resources. Such comments here in Central Frontenac are not primarily based upon the result of a loss of businesses, but more from resentments lingering over the loss of independence and influence that can be traced back to the amalgamation of the former townships and from various decisions and actions at the municipal level since that time.
Dismissing the possibility of there being any truth to perceived slights as 'beside the point' in itself misses the point. A far more productive approach would be seeking to understand what might have led people to their perceptions, followed by attempting to alter those conditions.
Is it time to move on? In Arden that is exactly what we have been doing. There is no direct or implied criticism from us toward Sharbot Lake or any other community in Central Frontenac. Without a 'commercial hub' we agree that if we are to revitalize the community we need to do so by working to build upon existing assets and natural resources. This approach is reflected by describing the community and its people through the slogan, 'Naturally Beautiful, friendly by Nature'. It would be foolish if we believed it could be possible to recapture what existed in the 'good old days', but we do believe that by working together we can shape a newly revitalized and sustainable community.
As far as Council actions and decisions go, in Arden we are in fact most appreciative and grateful for township undertakings to upgrade local conditions. We understand that there are budget constraints and a need for fairness across the municipality, but we do not apologize for working to hold Council accountable for maintaining conditions within the Arden area and across the township. That is Council's responsibility, and insisting on accountability is something we should all be prepared to do as citizens and communities.
Speaking of 'community', that term generally means 'a body of people living in one place, location or district', but it often also suggests concepts of 'common interests' or 'identity of character'. Perhaps this is our problem in Central Frontenac. Can we yet say that we have moved on to the point that when we refer to our community, we mean the township? Only by working together can we begin to move past parochial definitions based upon local neighbourhoods and former jurisdictions.
The Friends of Arden congratulate Sharbot Lake on the completion of its Community Improvement Plans and the potential for economic growth that may ensue. Hopefully growth will strengthen the entire township, as opposed to only one part, leading to the same unintended consequences across the municipality that parts of the township are perceived to have been neglected.
We all continue to struggle and we do need to struggle to become stronger. Only when we have stronger individual parts, can we then become stronger as a larger township-wide community. To criticize the spirit coming out of Arden, is to diminish those people putting forward their best efforts to build a new community, one that is a part of the larger community of Central Frontenac.
Yes indeed Mr. Green, we are moving on. We have moved on and we encourage you to keep up with us.
Terry Kennedy, Friends of Arden
I would like to voice my deep felt appreciation to the North Frontenac firefighters for their work at Sunday Lake this past week. On two separate occasions (Sunday night and again on Tues) they responded to calls from residents. The first call also required an ambulance and the second call was to contain a fire from spreading to neighbouring homes and into the bush. The firefighters worked for several hours in the extreme heat from the flames and even when it was out, they checked to ensure that there were no hot spots and that the neighbours were safe. It is at times such as these that we have to ensure that we do not lose our ambulance and fire hall. The idea of a fire at this time of year is terrifying enough without thinking that help is too far away to be of value. We have to say thank you to our volunteers and fight to keep our essential services in close proximity to all of us.