I am all in favour of the Sault Ratepayers Association being involved in the city election that is to be held on Oct. 22.
After all, anything that adds focus to the election is fine with me.
However, I am talking about things that are based in reality.
I don’t think at least one of the proposals the ratepayers are going to push for that was contained in their press release of July 27 fits into that category.
The association wants to see taxes in all categories, industrial, commercial and residential, reduced.
This, of course, leads to the question, who is going to pick up the slack?
Because no matter how you slice it, taxes are not going to go down. Hold the line? Maybe. Go down? Give your head a shake.
Now I know some of you are going to say that there is a hole in my argument, considering the city seems to have enough in the bank to blow $3 million upgrading Bay Street, turning it from four lanes into two, adding multi-use paths and improving the aesthetics while taking away bus service, which could be retained if the street were cut to three lanes rather than two.
And the city is doing this while probably ending up getting only 60% or so of the back-tax money it is owed by Essar Steel Algoma.
So the city would seem to be doing all right.
But I still think it would be disingenuous for candidates supported by the ratepayers to base their campaigns on reducing taxes.
I am not even in favour of holding the line. Even that can get us in trouble. Years ago our roads took a beating when the council of the day instituted a series of zero tax increases. I don’t think we have caught up to this day.
The association also is calling for a by-law that would see the appointment of an integrity commissioner, auditor general, lobby registry / registrar and municipal ombudsman.
Yeah, just what we need, more bureaucrats.
I would have been more impressed if the association had asked why it takes two workers to paint a fire hydrant or so many to make small repairs to a street, curb or sidewalk or a contractor six months to dig up a street, complete the work below, fill it in and pave it.
I think a good plan would be for the association to ask for volunteers to take shifts to daily monitor the work on a street like Bruce, where two blocks of it are closed, to report on what actually is being done on virtually an hourly basis.
Anyway, I think the ratepayers association has great intentions going into this election and I laud it for it.
It is definitely time for some new blood and I will give my take on that, refreshing voters’ memories, a little closer to the election.
I NOTE THE SAULT STAR has redesigned its website. I can’t say it is an improvement. But then I think it may be a Canadian thing. I am not fond of the National Post’s layout either.
I don’t like clutter; a picture with every story, many of them file photos, just eats up space unnecessarily.
I appreciate simply getting a list of stories, such as you get on the websites of papers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. That way you get a quick view of the news of the day and can quickly pick the stories you want to read.
I also think The Star would be better served to incorporate the wolf into its masthead, as it does with its print edition, rather than run such a large picture of it in prime news space day after day.
I would bet out of 10 people you would ask these days about the significance of the wolf, very few would be able to give you an answer.
In regard to changes I really don’t like, I find it has affected my use of Google to look up stories that have previously appeared in the paper.
Google will present a list of stories but when I click on one of them I am taken directly to the paper’s website, rather than to the story.
I attempted to call up a story by reporter Brian Kelly in regard to the sex-ed curriculum being dumped by the new Ontario government. Google brought up the headline of the story but when I clicked on it, it didn’t take me to the story as usual, it took me to The Star’s web page.
The same thing happened when I attempted to call up stories by reporters Jeff Ougler and Elaine Della-Mattia, Ougler a story on Sault Area Hospital and Della-Mattia a story about the city pleading with the court that it needed Essar’s tax money.
I was hoping this was just a glitch that went along with the paper’s attempt to improve its layout, rather than by intent to freeze the public out of its archives, a service I, and I believe many others, find invaluable..
But I have discovered this problem goes beyond the Sault Star, that it is company-wide. When I looked for stories on city taxes in The Sudbury Star and The North Bay Nugget, I also was taken to their websites when I clicked on them.
Papers always needed to attract readers, but in these times with social media and so many other ways of accessing news, it is more important than ever. Somehow I don’t think this is the way to go about it.
One other point. I think the papers affected by the change in their websites should consider including a date on the page. Most people usually know what day it is, but it was tradition to carry the date on all pages of print editions; I think it should be carried on the digital page as well.