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When youre done ...

by Dave Adsett

It’s been a tough week for the City of Guelph.

On Monday, council accepted a staff report to have its own social services committee rather than continue to cooperate under the decades-old joint committee with Wellington County.

Next, council relegated the County of Wellington, its funding partner for ambulance service, to little better than observer status.

Then, less than 18 hours later, the long awaited result of last fall’s arbitration hearing dropped like a bomb on the city - Guelph was wrong.

As often happens on such occasions, jubilation ensued. The victor this time was the County of Wellington, thanks to the leadership of two consecutive wardens, a wholly dedicated executive level staff and a council that was intent on not rolling over. The hard costs associated with the exercise are not currently known, but rest assured those costs will pale in comparison to the soft costs and stress imposed on an organization whose primary purpose is to deliver services to residents of Guelph and Wellington County.

The city, through its chief spokes­person, the mayor, is trying to put a positive spin on the situation.

Karen Farbridge told the Guelph Mercury after the negative result was known, “We have learned more about how city taxpayers’ money is spent [on social services] than we’ve ever known.” Oddly, nothing in the interview suggested an obvious follow-up question for the mayor: Have you not sat on that committee for years?

The press release from city hall suggests the new city social services committee will be tasked with understanding how the ruling affects the “accountability and transparency for Guelph taxpayers.”

Another uncomfortable talking point, unmentioned to date, is how will the city deal with the financial repercussions of this arbitration result? Why would an organization rush to pass a budget with little regard for a pending arbitration decision? What will be the net impact on taxpayers?

Clearly a crisis is emerging in Guelph, and it is well past time for some inner reflection on the part of senior staff and council.

It is also time for the media in Guelph to insist on answers rather than platitudes and spin.

It is time for all parties to recognize the public is never served well when egos get in the way of doing good business for residents.



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Dave Adsett: When youre done ...

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