Editorials

About that Elephant

Written by  |  Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:15  |  Published in Editorials
I was a bit distracted when putting the paper together last Tuesday. As the evening wore on the unease I had already been feeling due to matters close to home, began to mount and mount as the results of the US election rolled in. By 11:00 when layout was fully under way, it was clear that Donald Trump was likely to bet Hillary Clinton, and later it was confirmed. It was a shock, of course. I had been concerned about Clinton being not being as progressive force as is needed in times of change, but this was the worst possible outcome as far as I was concerned. But the US is not our country, and while a Trump Presidency carries implications for Canada, the whole…

Why Canada needs to be wary of President Hillary Clinton

Written by  |  Thursday, 13 October 2016 00:38  |  Published in Editorials
The noise from down south is deafening these days as Donald Trump is sinking in his own bloated ship of fools. That might all change, of course, but at this point it is unlikely and that is a good thing. I was surprised when the tape of Trump being Trump turned into such a game changer, however. I thought everyone knew what Trump is all about, and this would just be another bit of evidence, certainly not a game changer. At about the same time as the Trump tape was released, there was a Wiki-leaks release of emails from a senior Clinton adviser, which, it seemed to me at the time, would have done as much damage to her campaign as the Trump tape ended…

A matter of Trust

Written by  |  Thursday, 29 September 2016 07:45  |  Published in Editorials
When the K&P trail project was first being floated about 10 years ago, the fact that the section between Tichborne and Sharbot Lake is privately owned was discussed. The logic was to work from south to north, deal with all the complications along the way, and worry about that part when the time came. Well, the time came last week, and Frontenac County Council had to find some more money. Those landowners along Road 38 between Tichborne and Sharbot Lake all want to be paid for their land before they will turn it over to the county for the trail, and that is their right. About $80,000 had been set aside for this, and the county has already made deals to spend a lot more…

All Aboard!

Written by  |  Wednesday, 21 September 2016 16:04  |  Published in Editorials
Mystery Train. Slow Train Coming. Long Black Train. Morning Train. Night Train. Train to Paradise. Waitin' on a Train. Trains of no Return. There is an endless string of song lyrics that come to mind about the idea of a return of passenger rail service to the Highway 7 corridor that is being floated by VIA Rail. Trains make some of the best metaphors for life, and they tend to suggest things of the past, like those long-lost lovers who aren't coming back - gone forever as in “That train left the station” or “That train don't stop here any more”. All the reflections on trains in this region for as long as anyone can really remember have been through a rear-view mirror. We've done…

Time for some bold action from a county committee

Written by  |  Friday, 02 September 2016 14:12  |  Published in Editorials
Anyone who has been to the Frontenac County offices in what is known as “The Old House” will know that it is an apt name. The space still looks and feels like a house. There are large unused rooms, a round staircase reminiscent of Gone with the Wind, and small former bedrooms are divided to make up cramped desk space for workers. Accessibility is a major issue. The building was originally located in Frontenac County, in Kingston Township, when it was purchased in 1965 for $78,000. Frontenac County then built the Fairmount Home on the same property and the two buildings are connected by an annex. In 1998, Kingston Township joined with the City of Kingston, but the County maintained ownership of Fairmount Home and…

Adapting to a changing world

Written by  |  Friday, 02 September 2016 14:11  |  Published in Editorials
This August we are in the tenth consecutive month of above-record temperatures. Not only is it clear that global warming is real but it is also clear that climate change is characterized by vastly increased variability in resulting weather. Forest fires here, flooding rivers there and killing drought in unpredictable locations. Making good judgments becomes difficult when guidance from the past is made doubtful by strange new developments. In the face of this warming trend and the difficulty of predicting where unusual weather will happen, we try to operate with infrastructure and policies that were designed for the much less extreme climate and much less variable weather of the 1930's through 1950's. So culverts are too small and bridges are too low. They were designed…

The limits of municipal jurisdiction

Written by  |  Wednesday, 03 August 2016 22:35  |  Published in Editorials
It is no secret that North Frontenac's mayor, Ron Higgins, is convinced that installing wind turbines anywhere in North Frontenac would be a bad idea. Under his recommendation, North Frontenac Council declared itself a “unwilling host” at the first opportunity in the spring of 2015, before even hearing from proponents of an ill-fated project last year. Ever since, with explicit and consistent support from this council, Higgins has developed a profile as an anti-turbine municipal representative. His perspective on industrial turbines, as expressed through a growing media profile and on his own statements on twitter, have not stopped at opposing turbines. He is one of a number of rural politicians who are taking on the Ontario Green Energy Act. For North Frontenac, lining up against…
At first glance, the branding exercise that residents of Frontenac County have bought and paid for has resulted in a dull, empty logo. It has three colours representing rocks, fields and lakes, a crumpled maple leaf, and some clipart trees that are supposed to represent Balsam Firs and the four townships. Rocks, trees, lakes and fields are not unique to Frontenac County. Every rural jurisdiction in Ontario has them. And then the whole idea of Frontenac, as a concept, is kind of strange. No one lives in Frontenac; nobody goes to Frontenac. I tell people I live in Sharbot Lake, and then I might say it's north of Kingston, or it's a half an hour west of Perth on Highway 7 but I would not…

No, the postal dispute is not over

Written by  |  Wednesday, 20 July 2016 19:22  |  Published in Editorials
Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers remain in a legal lockout/strike position. Either side is poised to give 72 hours notice of their intention to suspend the service indefinitely. Nonetheless, after playing a game of chicken for a couple of weeks earlier in the month, leading up to a final deadline on July 10, a sudden shift took place. The two parties returned to the bargaining table and, based on the almost daily updates from the union, seem to be working slowly through some of the more technical, less contentious (i.e. less expensive) issues. Again, according to CUPW, the coming week might be key, as the two big issues: pensions and pay equality between rural and urban carriers, may be addressed. “Will…

Verona is being betrayed, once again

Written by  |  Wednesday, 06 July 2016 20:53  |  Published in Editorials
The recent Long Term Sustainability Plan (LTAP) presented to the board of directors of the Limestone District School Board in late May, recommended that Prince Charles Public School in Verona be closed and the students be sent to Loughborough Public School in Sydenham. What a difference a decade makes. Nine years ago, Glen Carson, who was at that time the manager of the Limestone Board's Facility Department, came to a meeting of the Prince Charles' Parent Council and said, as reported in the Frontenac News in April of 2007 by the late Inie Platenius, “I’m pleased to come here tonight. This is a good news item, and too often I go to these meetings with bad news.” The good news he delivered was that because…

Parking changes coming soon to Sydenham

Written by  |  Wednesday, 18 May 2016 16:01  |  Published in Editorials
Those of us who live here are well aware of some of Sydenham village’s traffic challenges: we have learned that most weekdays it’s advisable to avoid the corner of Wheatley and Rutledge for the fifteen minutes morning and afternoon when the school busses are arriving and leaving. But we do pretty well ignore the parking signs. I know what some of us are thinking: “Sure, I may have pulled up two wheels on the sidewalk in front of the post office, but that was late in the evening, just for a minute, and who’s to see? Sure, sometimes Legion-goers turn Amelia into a one-lane street, and church-goers do the same for Mill Street. But not it’s not like both streets are clogged at the same…

Budget reporting for dummies

Written by  |  Wednesday, 11 May 2016 18:28  |  Published in Editorials
Over the past few months I have been asked a couple of times to make sure that I let our readers know either that the average ratepayer will pay $34 more per $150,000 in assessment in one township; or that the tax rate increase is 0.03% in another township; or that the increase in another budget, when weighed against growth, is only 2%. As the dummy in this scenario I have decided to maintain my practice of recent years, to focus on numbers that I understand, on the thinking that if I at least understand something, maybe the readers will be able to understand what I am writing. That presupposes that I will make myself understood - not always a likely possibility, I know. What…

A Bureaucratic Gallop, Not a Creep

Written by  |  Wednesday, 20 April 2016 20:55  |  Published in Editorials
There is a concept called “bureaucratic creep”, which describes the tendency of organizations to develop more and more levels of bureaucracy over time. The number of people doing the actual work of the organization, be they factory workers, front-line social workers or road crews, stays the same or goes down, but the number of people overseeing that work, managing the employees, dealing with work flows, accountability, regulations, liability, the vision of the organization and so on, creeps up and up. On April 12, South Frontenac received an organizational review from StrategyCorp, a company that spends much of its time dealing with the federal and provincial levels of politics. StrategyCorp found that South Frontenac is a “lean organization” in comparison to similar-sized municipalities. This, it said,…

South Frontenac Council is deep in the weeds

Written by  |  Wednesday, 16 March 2016 19:10  |  Published in Editorials
Municipal councils set policy; they set budgets; and they provide oversight to ensure that everything is running well. It is not their job to run the township; that is the job of township staff. There is indeed a grey area in all this. Councilors are elected, and the people who elect them expect them to make sure everything is done right; that the garbage is picked up on time; the dumps are safe; the roads are cleared; property values will be protected; environmental regulations will be adhered to; etc. They need to sometimes poke their noses in operations to make sure everything is being done right, but they also need to be careful that they are not just getting in the way, slowing things down…

A little lesson in economic development

Written by  |  Thursday, 25 February 2016 07:45  |  Published in Editorials
As someone who owns a business that provides a service to other businesses, I have an interest in economic development in Frontenac County. What I've learned over the years is that business success is more about individual passion and drive than anything else. In recent months I have been working with some of my staff on a video project that was funded by Frontenac County. We have gone around to 20 businesses and made short promotional videos. Fifteen of them are now loaded on the Frontenac County Youtube channel, which can be reached most easily via a google search (Frontenac County Youtube channel) and the rest are coming. As well, we will be featuring some of those videos in the coming months in the paper.…
 

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