Listen Up Niagara! There Are Now Less Than 100 Days Left Before Next Municipal Elections

Let’s Promise Ourselves Not To Have Another Four-Year Clown Show at Niagara Regional Council.

Get Informed & Engaged. There Is Nothing Less Than Our Region’s Future At Stake!

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 18th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

This June, I took off to the east coast for a week or so to visit some friends. And while I was away, walking the beaches of Cape Cod, I tried my best not to give the circus that passes for regional government back here a minute’s thought.

Yet every so often I’d pick up a copy of The Boston Globe and read about some ugly thing that Trump had said or done, or I’d see something that would remind me of the totally unfunny clown show we’ve been treated to for the past three and a half years inside Niagara’s regional council chambers.

One of those reminders came in the form a t-shirt I found hanging in an off-beat shop in Provincetown on the Cape, with words on it that read as follows –
I almost bought that t-shirt but I would rather wear one with words reading something like; ‘A Future to Believe In’, the slogan from Bernie Sanders’ 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, or the ‘Better Niagara’ slogan that a growing number of our fellow citizens in Niagara are adopting for the coming October 22nd municipal elections.

Come the morning after those elections, I hope to wake up in a Niagara region where we no longer have to face an image like the one below  ever again –

Enough of the clowns and the circus for now though.

We’ll get back to highlighting some of their lowest moments  over the past three and a half years as the campaign leading up to the  October 22nd election day unfolds.

As of this July 18th, there are now less than 100 days left – 96 days, to be exact – before those of us who are eligible to vote go to the polls to choose who represents us on our regional and 12 local councils in Niagara for the next four years.

And as I will continue to remind as many of you as possible on this Niagara At Large site in the days and weeks ahead, these municipal elections are possibly the most important ones since regional government first came into existence in Niagara 48 years ago.

I can confidently say that in all of my almost 40 years of news reporting in this Niagara region, starting with my first two decades working for the St. Catharines Standard, I have never, and I mean ABSOLUTELY NEVER experienced a term of regional council marked with as many disturbing and – all too many times – disgusting moments as this 2014 to 2018 term which will mercifully be curtains in another four and a half months.

And I know that I am far from the only person across this region that feels that way.

This sign, fastened to the walls of Niagara Region’s council chambers a few months ago, seems ever so appropriate. Only who is the target audience for the sign’s message – members of the public or the council? It would be hard to imagine a sign like this in Niagara’s regional council chambers 10 or 20 years ago.

I have long lost count of the number of people who have told me that they can barely stand to watch any of the regional council or committee meetings on a screen at home anymore, let alone go sit in the council chambers, because of the insulting and uncivil ways they have witnessed a number of the councillors treating each other.

That’s not to mention the ill treatment some of the individuals or groups that have tried to make presentations to the council have received – some of the more haunting of which will be reprised for you on video clips as we move closer to voting day and Halloween.

To be fair, we’ve never had a term of Niagara regional council that has been perfect and probably never will. But I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that there has never been a council in Niagara that has given rise to the crisis of trust and confidence and civility that this one has. Compared to any regional council going back to 1970, it is absolutely at the rock bottom.

In this aging journalist’s view, the state of regional government in Niagara and what passes as leadership at the administrative and the regional council level has never been worse, and we desperately need to make significant changes in the make-up of the council in the coming municipal elections.

This s one of the images circulating around Niagara on social media earlier this year.

That is not to say that we don’t have good individuals now sitting on Niagara’s regional council. There are some good ones but, unfortunately, they are outnumbered about two to one by the others. And too many of what few good ones there are have been worn down by all of the bull crap and bullying that has been going on.

In the days and weeks ahead, Niagara At Large will be identifying who those good councillors are so that they don’t – we hope – become co-lateral damage in the house cleaning that needs to be done.

We will also be doing our best, with the resources we have, to identify and provide our readers with information about some of the new people who are running with a passion to move our Niagara region forward in more positive and progressive ways for all who live and work here.

We welcome you to share information about new candidates who are running to make a positive difference in our region. You can email that information to drapers@vaxxine.com .

Pelham Mayor Dave Auguystyn, who has been one of a minority of regional council members who has stood up to bullying on the council and has endured a number of attacks himself, recently announced his decision to run for Niagara regional chair. This will be the first time in 48 years that voters get to decide who chairs the regional council. Up to now, the chair was chosen, via secret ballot, by other regional councilors.

Let me end here with just a little more information about how Niagara At Large is going to go about posting news and commentary on candidates in the days and weeks leading up to these municipal elections.

As a veteran journalist who spent years working in the mainstream media, I know that newspapers and other news outlets usually stay away from sharing opinions or from editorializing about candidates until the eve of an election – and sometimes in the case of municipal elections, not even then.

But these are not usual times in the history of municipal governance in our Niagara region.

We are suffering through unusual times and for the sake of the health and welfare of our lives here, and those of future generations, we cannot afford to go through another four years of the kind of politics that has made the last three and a half years so dark and divisive  and dysfunctional – especially at the regional council level.

We need municipal councillors more willing and able to work together with all of us to create more good paying jobs, to finally have up and running the kind of fully integrated transit system other regions in Ontario have had for years, to achieve more progress in the areas of affordable housing and long-term health care, to address the rising opioid crisis in Niagara, and on and on.

So Niagara At Large is going to waste no time backing candidates we hope and believe will move our region forward in ways that achieve as much good as possible for all of us.

We are now down to 96 days left before the October 22nd municipal elections, and I hope as many people across this region as possible join Niagara At Large in our effort to inform and engage voters, and backing candidates who will work with all of us to build a better Niagara.

More on all of this in the days ahead. Stay tuned.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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