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Musings of the month that was

by Dave Adsett

The first football game we watched this season was the Superbowl. It was the first time such an event was decided in overtime. Like many people, we texted people in the know suggesting the game was over in the first half. The Atlanta Falcons seemed to be destined to win, but the New England Patriots fought back to tie the game and win in overtime. Despite incredible odds against a comeback – it had never happened that so many points were regained in a Superbowl – the Patriots never gave up. No one should give up until the final whistle.

Many of our readers, and friends for that matter, care deeply about the environment. Water quality, protection of the aquifer, conservation and sustainable living is something most residents support, some more strongly than others.  A recent survey on our website, unscientific as it was, suggests 83% find the sum of $503 per million litres drawn by water bottlers too cheap. It sounds like that to us too, but the conversation made us wonder: if people are willing to assign a price to water, does it imply our greatest natural resource is for sale?

Watching politics as long as we have, we wonder sometimes about the inability of elected folk to say no. It’s not that they don’t want to say no, it’s a case where governing legislation makes it impossible to say no and mean it. Repeatedly, actions at the local level are dictated from above. In the case of water, gravel and other provincially significant resources, it seems to us much heartache and acrimony could be curtailed if the province took a leadership role and set up parameters under which local government has the option to say no.  

Everyone loves history. Some like architecture, others like family history and a select few like to wave heritage legislation around like a giant stick to get their way. We had lunch the other day with a chap curious what we thought of spending $1.5 million to make a downtown bridge in Fergus look historic. Our answer was pretty simple: about as much as we liked the township spending a significant amount of money repairing a bowstring bridge near Salem that can’t handle the weight of a big fire truck. History is great but has its place. Public infrastructure, dealing with today’s realities of heavy vehicles and ever increasing volume, is not the place to worry about heritage. By the way, let’s see how soon repairs will be needed, and at what cost, for this heritage moment near Salem.

Want versus need. It’s a catch phrase a friend has used for years. As a public servant, he always found it awkward being asked by politicians to present a zero-increase budget knowing full well the same politicians would in the next breath ask for inclusions based on citizen requests. Arguably it’s how we have arrived at this point in time where vanity projects get approved at the expense of taking care of real business. The merits of amalgamation building up a pool of capital to handle big infrastructure challenges have been ransomed at the expense of want versus need.

 

 

 

February 10, 2017

 
 

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