Civic Affairs

Municipal politics

Forget waterfront... development is going under

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It seems all this talk about waterfront development may soon become irrelevant. Brockville's real future is underwater.

Sources at city hall sent me this picture from a closed-door meeting held at 6 a.m. today, timed to fit the schedule of a Moscow developer aiming to build an underwater condominium complex in the St. Lawrence River.

According to my source, who shall remain nameless, the lengthy Skype dicsussion involved Mayor David Henderson and one of the business contacts he made while on a trip to Russia last fall, a wealthy but reclusive Moscow developer named Boris Nekulturny.

(Just as an aside, Nekulturny and his condominium development company, Duraky Kondom, have nothing to do with the good folks Henderson met in the Zabaikalsky region of Siberia. Rather, this contact was established, at Nekulturny's request, during a stopover in Moscow.)

A little Easter levity for the long weekend


To start the long weekend off on a note of laughter, here's a bit of levity from the city council table. I invite you to imagine word bubbles for this photo of our elected officials deep in debate. Here is my suggestion:

BEATTY: "I've covered the Timmy's run for the last three times! Don't you think it's someone else's turn?"

EARLE (thought bubble): "Yeah, I guess the guy's got a point there."

Arbitration Nation

It wouldn't be a public sector salary disclosure story without the odd nasty comment about the amount police officers and firefighters earn. And as my colleague Alanah Duffy reports in her piece on the most recent Brockville Sunshine List, there are, yet again, plenty of police officers and firefighters on this year's list.

And the quote of the day goes to...

I will never tire of Councillor Jeff Earle's predilection for colourful metaphors.

During Tuesday night's debate on the railway tunnel motion, Earle, who cast the lone "No" vote, conveyed his frustration at what he considers a lack of information this way:

“Essentially, I'm buying a pig in a blanket. I just don't want it to turn out to be a porcupine."

Say what you want about the councillor or his position, this is one prickly turn of phrase. One assumes he was referring to the proverbial pig in a poke, a metaphor for getting swindled, as opposed to a pig in a blanket, one of those mouthwatering sausage-in-a-pastry things I now desperately yearn to ingest, with mustard, as a bedtime snack.

Instead of allowing a flawed metaphor to fall flat, Earle took the pig in a blanket (something desirable, unless you're a health food nut) and conveyed his true meaning by morhphing the pig into a porcupine. As far as he's concerned, the railway tunnel, like the sausage, is a good thing, but he's worried that, having bought it, the sausage will turn into a porcupine.

A binding benefit

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A motion to continue giving city councilliors a tax break on a third of their pay is on the consent agenda for tonight's regular meeting, meaning it's likely to pass without discussion.

The Municipal Act lets councillors get a third of their base pay tax-free by declaring it as compensation for "expenses incident to the discharge" of council duties. It's been a longstanding city policy to have the tax break, since that same remuneration policy bars councillors from claiming a host of incidental expenses, not least of which is in-town travel.

It sounds like a sweet deal for anyone to get a third of one's salary tax-free, but, to be honest, I'm of two minds about this one. Given the way gas prices go up and down, and all the expenses a councillor could theoretically claim as incidental if he or she were allowed, I'm not convinced taxpayers aren't getting a better deal this way.

Population growth of 5.21 per cent? Seriously?...



[img_assist|nid=13|title=Water tower|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=301|height=204]If anyone is looking for reasons to question the latest MoneySense ranking of "Canada's Best Places to Live," and Brockville's place in it (we're 111th), the best one may come from one of the good-news numbers.

MoneySense senior editor David Hodges said the most significant number driving the Brockville area's increase is an improvement in population growth, where the area has jumped from minus-1.6 per cent to plus-5.21.

This sounds like good news of the too-good-to-be-true variety.

Population growth of 5.21 per cent? Seriously? Considering Mayor David Henderson and others regularly bemoan the fact our population growth barely makes a blip in the economic EKG? Someone must have got out the demographic defibrillator.

Dave Paul is right to raise his eyebrows at that growth figure, although he, like other city officials, will take the good news when it comes.

That other train has left the station

There's a wealth of material I couldn't include in today's story about the railway tunnel project, for reasons of economy, including an interesting quote from Councillor Jeff Earle.

And the comment of the day goes to...

...a reader calling himself, or herself, Pineapple48, under my story about Mayor David Henderson's business travel: "That's the great thing about Brockville. If you think you might have missed a gripe, wait 2 seconds and the next one will be right along!"

Glad to see some self-deprecating Snarlingtown humour thrown in there. Looks like we could use those 47 other pineapples.

Bon Voyage and Do Svidaniya: Globalizing municipal business travel

Finance, administration and operations meets today to consider the 2012 remuneration and expenses report. You may remember last year's edition of this annual reporting obligation for the furore it caused over Mayor David Henderson's 13-per-cent pay raise. (It was, to be fair, the result of a routine adjustment the city has put in place, whereby it measures its elected officials' salaries against those of other municipalities on a comparator list.)

'Champions' needed for twin-pad arena to be built

The following is my city column, published last Friday:

'Champions' needed for twin-pad arena to be built

He's been refining his pitch for the better part of his political career, so it's no surprise Councillor Jason Baker makes a convincing case for the urgency of a new twin-pad arena in Brockville.


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