Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are Enough People Using Winter Tires?

I don't know why anyone would venture out in their vehicle yesterday without their winter tires on. Seriously folks yesterday evening around 6:30 I was heading out Torbay Road towards town and I couldn't believe all the people stuck on Pirerstock Hill. it was like a parking lot. They weren't just stuck going up but they were stuck coming down. How the Jesus do you get stuck coming down a friggin hill? I know why, it is because your all season tires don't give you the handling necessary to control your car when there is snow on the road.

Why would you go out on a day like yesterday knowing full well that we were supposed to have snow without proper tires on your car? I know some people don't have them put on yet and they intend to and all that but what are you waiting for? There is also the expense but once you decide to drive you need to take responsibility for how safe your vehicle is.

It is too late once you have already gotten stuck, blocked traffic or heaven forbid had an accident. People need to be more cognizant of their situation and listen to the weather reports and warnings from time to time. Don't forget that it is not only you on the road but everyone else and especially emergency vehicles. What if someone needed an ambulance yesterday evening and it couldn't get through because there were a bunch of arseholes stuck in the road with banana peels for tires holding them up?

Please people get out and get some winter tires and put them on your vehicle, it may not keep you from getting stuck all the time but at least it gives you a fighting chance to keep yourself and others safe.

Budget Time is Fast Approaching - Have Your Say!

Don't look now but as early as the next Council meeting the Torbay budget could be presented for a vote and adopted. It was about this time last year that I first asked Council about the possibility of a pre-budget consultation so residents can have a say about the budget, before it is passed. I never received a response to my inquiry until the budget had been voted on and passed. Subsequently the residents of Torbay got a Christmas gift of almost a 10% tax hike with absolutely no prior knowledge.

Again this year, I and others began asking Council about having a pre-budget consultation or information session so that we can get an idea what is coming in the budget. Our inquiries paid off in so much as Councillor Tapper the Chair of the Finance Committee put forward a motion to hold a pre-budget session but Council voted it down. They had various excuses to be sure and here are some of my favorites paraphrased but you get the point.

There is not enough time, maybe next year well next year is an election and some of those Councillors may not even be there, talk about passing the buck.

This is not a good year because assessments went up and people are going to be asking questions well we certainly wouldn't want residents asking questions about how much money they are going to have to pay in taxes next year or how our money gets spent.

Well you know we don't want to be having a back and forth with people on the budget, they will be suggesting what we should spend on or not spend on. For sure, why would Councillors want to hear from residents on how we want our money spent in our town?

We get elected to make these decisions and we have a plan to follow, come see us in four years.  I know what you are thinking, nobody could have said that. Well they did, maybe not exact words but there was clear intent behind the words.

Citizen Engagement, what the hell is that supposed to mean anyway. I have to say that is my favorite because it pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with our local governance when the Mayor can ask a question like that.

I don't necessarily blame Council for their views and reactions because lets face it, aside from a few people who regularly attend Council meetings people don't seem to care. They just sit back basking in their apathy oblivious to all that happens around them. If the majority of the population is in that mindset then why should we expect our elected officials to be any different. They are not stupid, they get elected time after time in many cases relying on the indifference of the electorate.

People need to get more involved in our local government and pressure our Councillors to make decision that you feel are in your best interest and the best interest of the town. Telling us that the town has a 4 year plan and they intend to stick to it is really not good enough. Things change from day to day and year to year, priorities and circumstances effecting those also change and we need to adapt or fall behind.

I don't know if it is too late this year to have any influence on our budget but it is never too late to express your opinions. Take a couple of minutes out of your day and send an email to members of Council and tell them what you want. At least if we do that and let them know we want to have a say and not be ignored they might give us a second thought when they are voting on that budget. Council may have voted to shut us up and ignore our requests for public input into the budget process but that doesn't mean we have to throw up our hands and hang our heads.

Click on these email addresses and send an email, I don't care what you say but just take the time to say it. If you want to congratulate then on a great job then that is your prerogative but please take the time to do it.

Mayor Robert Codner -
Deputy Mayor Geoff Gallant - Finance Committee
Councillor Michael Byrne -
Councillor Peggy Roche - Finance Committee
Councillor Carol Ann Smith -
Councillor Ralph Tapper - Chair of Finance Committee
Councillor Brian Whitty -


Monday, November 26, 2012

30,000 Visitors

My Blog Torbay Today hit 30,000 visits today after just over two years. Thanks everyone for following and reading and at times commenting.

Torbay Pizza With Santa - Good Time!

We went out to the Pizza With Santa event at Jack Byrne Arena on Saturday afternoon and it was a great time. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun singing and dancing with entertainer Sonya Abbot and of course Santa Claus.

Here are a couple of pictures and videos of the event.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Torbay Sports Hall of Fame 2012 Inductees

The Torbay Sports Hall of Fame held their inductions on November 10, 2012 and this years inductees were Axel Sorensen , Tony Walsh Sr , Jenny White , Johnny Byrne and Bob "Coppertop " Codner.

These members of our community are being recognized and honored for their contributions to athletics in Torbay. On Tuesday November 20 MHA Kevin Parsons rose in the House of Assembly to recognize these inductees.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Cape St. Francis.
MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I rise in this hon. House today to congratulate the class of 2012 on being inducted into the Torbay Sports Hall of Fame. The Town of Torbay has a long and rich history in sports and athletics.
This year's honourees were:
Mr. Axel Sorensen. Mr. Sorensen is a great softball player and bowler. He also volunteered a lot of his time to the young bowlers and ball players in the area.
Mr. Tony Walsh Sr., a member of the Buchan's Miners Hockey Team who won a Herder. He coached and played senior hockey and coached minor hockey for many years.
Ms Genevieve White, a founder of the Torbay Ladies Softball League, which is still going today. She, herself, was a great ballplayer.
Mr. Johnny Byrne, a player who played both senior hockey and softball. Johnny is a sportsman and played the game with a lot of class. He won three most gentlemanly effective awards in the Avalon East Senior Hockey League.
Also, inducted was the late "Coppertop Codner" likely the greatest oarsman to ever row in the Regatta from the Town of Torbay.
Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to join with me in congratulating Barry Codner and his committee for the job they have done to recognize Torbay's great athletes and builders in sport.
Thank you.

The Torbay Sports Hall of Fame was created in 2009 to recognize people in our community who have made contributions over the years. Since that time there have been 18 people inducted into the hall and honored for their contributions to sports as athletes, coaches and builders.

I think this is a great idea and as I look at the 18 people who have been inducted to date I see several names that were instrumental in my sporting life. People like Jack Hickey who was one of my first organized softball coaches and a great team mate and friend when I started playing in the Men's Fast Pitch League and with Torbay Senior Hockey Team.

There are so many people in our town who have had a tremendous impact on our community as it relates to sports. One person I can think of off the top of my mind would be Barry Codner. He has been involved in sports in Torbay for as long as I can remember from the Torbay Rec Program at the old school more than 30 years ago, to coaching me and others in Junior Softball, Senior Softball, Senior Hockey and he continues to run softball programs for children in our community.

Add to that the fact that he is instrumental in the organizing and selecting of inductees in the Torbay Sports Hall of Fame. He is a great contributor and will one day be enshrined in that hall as well, I suspect it will happen sooner rather than later.

For more information on the Torbay Sports Hall of Fame you can visit the Hall of Fame page on the Town of Torbay Website.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2012 Torbay Business Awards

On Tuesday November 20, 2012 the town of Torbay held their annual Business Awards Gala at the Kinsmen Center. This event is an opportunity to show appreciation and recognition to our local businesses for their hard work and civic contribution. MHA Kevin Parsons and Minister Keith Hutchings were in attendance along with Mayor Codner to recognize the winners.

The award winners are

New Business of the Year - New Fun Land Childcare

Entrepreneur of the Year - Max Coombs, owner of Max’s Auto Repair

Business of the Year - Foodland Torbay

As a growing town, Torbay has seen a number of new businesses start up over the years. It should be a source of pride for the Town and residents, to know that Torbay is a place where people choose to locate their enterprises. Add to this the number of local people that they employ and you can really appreciate the importance of small businesses to our community.

I would just like to say congratulations to the award winners and to all the businesses that were nominated. I know this must be a tremendous honor to be recognized by the community and the Town for all your hard work. I would also like to say thank you for choosing to operate your business in our town and wish you many years of success.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Torbay Breakfast and Pizza With Santa - My Pet Peeve

In recent days I have been speaking to many people about these two events and have heard the same complaint several times. Why do the parents have to but tickets to these events for themselves? Seriously, it should be optional for the parent to have to buy the ticket if they choose to partake in the meal portion of the event.

After all I thought that the whole purpose of these functions was to cater to the children and allow them to benefit from the event. By forcing parents to purchase tickets we are reducing the number of children who are able to attend these events and leaving too many children on the outside looking in. It is not that difficult, make it clear these events are for children, yes parents must accompany them as we don't want a bunch of unsupervised kids running around but the primary focus has to be on the kids. 

Breakfast with Santa was sold out in a heart beat and a bunch of children who would have loved to attend and enjoy the time with Santa Claus had to miss it. Thankfully the town recognized that there was a demand for another event and organized the Pizza with Santa. However again parents had to buy tickets and take up spots that could have been reserved for children. I had to buy 4 tickets so that my two kids could attend the Pizza with Santa and my wife and had no interest in having pizza. But because we want to participate in this with our children and enjoy the few years we have where our kids are in to that we need to take up spots that could potentially exclude a child from attending.

I know there is more to this than just tickets, it also has to do with capacity at the venues we are using.  Our town is in desperate need of a large multi-purpose facility to hold town functions and other events like parties and weddings. I know a space like this is in the towns plans but we have no idea when that will ever happen. Currently we really have nothing that can accommodate a large number of people. The only place that can hold a decent sized event is the Jack Byrne Arena. Maybe that would have been an idea for the Breakfast with Santa, on the fancy new floor, we could have accommodated anyone who wanted to come and not worry about space. Yes there would be details to be worked out with bringing in the food but I am sure that would not be an impediment to such an event.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Torbay Santa Claus Parade Route - Seriously?

I don't understand the rationale for changing the parade route from starting at Jack Byrne Arena to the Holy Trinity High School. Changing the route from a place where there is ample space in the parking and access to a 4 lane road makes absolutely no sense. Aside from the fact that the parking lot at the high school is a lot smaller the access to that site is basically a one lane road in a residential area.

They changed the route to make it more favorable to both the parade participants and the community. I would like to hear the reasoning they used to come to this decision. Apparently the underlying issue had to do with the traffic lights on Torbay Road. For the life of me I don't see the problem. Why was in not an issue the past couple of years? Who cares about the lights, just ignore them and pretend they are not there is is a parade after all.

Blocking traffic from heading into Torbay that way makes way more sense, it is not like we will be hindering vehicles from using the by-pass road, we only need one of those 4 lanes to get past the lights. I have spoken to several people and they all think this idea is stupid. I also heard a couple of Councillors including the Mayor state their preference for starting the parade at Jack Byrne Arena.

I understand that the route has already been announced but lets be realistic, this is not the Macy's Santa Claus Parade, it is the Torbay Santa Claus Parade. We still have a few weeks before the December 1st parade date. People are going to be lining Torbay Road to watch the parade and it won't matter in that case where it starts but in the larger picture it makes no sense to force the parade to squeeze through those narrow streets and potentially cause congestion issues with the parade itself.

Another issue will be the people who live south of Marine Drive, now they are all going to have to get in their cars and drive into the center of the Town to watch the parade. That is going to add to traffic problems considering those people would generally be able to stand by the side of the road and watch the parade and leave their cars home. The more I look at this the more problems come to mind with the choice of starting that parade at the High School.

Every time that parade needs to stop or make tight turns on narrow streets it introduces the possibility of an accident happening. Add to that the fact that it is a night time parade it would be much safer to avoid those situations and have a straight route from one end of Torbay to the other.

I hope they decide to reverse this ridiculous decision and put the parade back the way it used to be and it should be.

Torbay Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

The annual tree lighting ceremony will take place Wednesday, November 28 at the Kinsmen Center on Bauline Line. The event starts at 6:30 and there will be a special performance by Siochana to kick off the Christmas season.

This is also a Torbay Hug-A-Mug event so don't forget to bring your own mug. The weather looks like it is going to be good so come on out and have a good time.

The sponsor for this event will be Take-Charge

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Back Filling Bandit Upsetting Residents and Council

I had to update this story because I was talking about two separate locations.

According to a story on VOCM some residents in Torbay are pissed about someone who lives on Howlett's Avenue that has been bringing in hundreds of loads of fill to their property. From what I have heard it is a pretty big mess.

There is also another spot where back filling is being done that is sloping down over the hillsides of Torbay. It looks especially horrible when viewed from the south side.

This entire issue should never have happened because those cliffs and hills should be protected. It never fails to surprise me how things in our town seem to be upside down. We wouldn't allow a resident to build a small Bed and Breakfast on Dominion Hill which in my opinion would have been an enhancement to the trail yet someone else can dump a thousand loads of fill down over the side of the cliff and ruin the entire view.

I understand that the Town is in the process of drafting a new policy that should be ready to vote at the next meeting but to be perfectly honest it is too late. Sure they are going to make the person stop but what good is that now the damage is done. Unless they are going to order residents to put the landscape back the way it was then anything else is useless. At the very least something has to be done to try and restore some of the historical scenery that has been destroyed by these types of activities.

Anyway if you want to join the group who will be voicing their displeasure they will be at the intersection of Torbay Road and Howlett's avenue at 9:45 tomorrow morning November 16.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Upgrade My Road - Unreasonable Or The Cost Of Doing Business?

That is the question that came to my mind last night when I was listening to the discussion about road upgrades that are required on Quarry Road Extension because of the new Bourne Development subdivision. I don't want to get into this particular situation too much but use it to illustrate how the town has improved it's decision making as it relates to access to new developments.

At first I questioned how could the Town expect a developer to upgrade and existing town road to meet the current regulations. I thought this may be a bit unreasonable however when I went and did some digging I found that this was clearly stated in the original motion that was passed by Council on January 11, 2010.

I think this was a very good decision by Council to require the existing access to be upgraded so that we don't end up with situations that we have in the past. One that comes to mind that Councillor Smith mentioned last night is North Pond Road. Reddy Estates was constructed, we put a bunch of new homes in the area and all the roads leading to it, Convent Lane and North Pond Road are basically one lane roads that now have to handle all the extra traffic. That is the type of situation that is being avoided with this requirement on Quarry Road.

The Motion was as follows.

015-10 Motion - Councillor Smith / Councillor Roche
RESOLVED THAT the Town of Torbay give Bourne‟s Holdings Ltd. approval in principal so they can proceed with engineering and design work on the proposed 21 unserviced building lot development off Quarry Road Extension, no permits will be issued until all normal conditions for developing within the Town of Torbay are met and a Development Agreement is signed.  Quarry Road extension will require widening and upgrading and the applicant will be responsible for the cost of these upgrades.  The open space requirement will be determined at a later date.
Question called.  Motion carried unanimously.
The Development & Planning Officer also gave a brief overview of development statistics  as well as compliance letters information and statistics.

With this in mind if you drive up Quarry Road Extension it is pretty clear that it is a one lane road and certainly needs to be upgraded to meet current standards. The road is narrow right from the fork in the road where Quarry Road meets Quarry Road Extension. It is paved from that fork up to and including under the culvert that runs beneath the by-pass road and the only portion of that road that is wide enough is the area under the culvert. I would suspect that the developer has to upgrade and pave the road right from the fork in the road to the entrance to the new development. I would think it unreasonably to expect them to upgrade and pave beyond the entrance to their new development but I am sure all those details must have been already worked out.

Anyway, so far Quarry Road has not been upgraded but the developer has all the road work inside the actual subdivision done and appears to be stalled right now. From what I gather the developer may have run into some unforeseen issues related to upgrading that road. I don't know exactly what they are so I won't speculate however it is clear that they are serious enough to have stopped this project in its tracks. This appears to have the developer in a horrible situation from what I can see with having a subdivision ready to go and a pile of money tied up in it with no easy solution in site.

Hopefully Council is going to be able to help the  developer get this problem worked out so that this subdivision can go ahead and easy some of the obvious strain the developer is under. I don't know what they can do if anything but I suspect they would try and support the developer any way they can. It is important to keep good relations with developers in our town and maintain desirable working relationships. I couldn't help but feel sorry for her when I saw the expression on her face last night, she certainly does not look happy and really could you blame her.

Some may say it is unreasonable to expect a developer to upgrade existing infrastructure and some would say that it is the cost of doing business. One thing for sure is that the days of building off of substandard access roads are over and that is a good thing for everyone in the long run.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Torbay - Pizza With Santa

After the Breakfast With Santa event sold out so quickly the Town of Torbay has decided to hold a Pizza With Santa event at the Jack Byrne Arena.

Tickets will go on sale Friday, November 16th at 8:30am at the Torbay Town Hall. Tickets are $6.00 including tax and will be limited to 100 tickets, so if you intend to get them I suggest you go there early and line up behind me LOL.

The event will take place on Saturday, November 24th and there will be entertainment by Sonya Abbott from 3:00 - 3:30 and Pizza from 3:30 - 4:00. There is also a skate from 4:00 to 4:50 if you feel like working off some of that pizza.

I just want to add thank you to the staff at the town for getting this event together so quickly after the Breakfast With Santa was sold out. When I asked them about it last week they told me they would see what they could do and they have certainly delivered.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pre-Budget Consultation - Are We Missing Something?

We must be missing something regarding the complexity of having a pre-budget consultation in Torbay. We have been told that it is too late to have something like this, there simply isn't enough time. On face value I accepted that position to an extent because let me be frank I don't know exactly how the budget process works in Torbay. I don't know when the departments start presenting to the finance committee, I don't know when the committee starts meeting on the budget and what there ultimate timelines are with regards to final decisions. This is not my fault though because that information is not readily available and must be locked up in some dark corner of the town hall under lock and key.

Maybe it is protected by the force and you need to be part of the Jedi Council to be able to find it. In that case I would suspect that it is protected by the dark side and Darth Mayor is in full control of the Council of the Dark Side. The mantra would be something like this "Thy bidding shall be done Master, have no fear the masses of unwashed have no idea of the power of the dark side"

One of these days I am sure the words will be uttered "Torbay.....I am your father" LOL.

Anyway where was I before I got sidetracked? Oh yes. We were told that there simply isn't time for any kind of pre-budget consultation or even a public information session regarding the budget. It is too far into the process and it simply isn't fair to allow people to have a say because this is a year when the assessments went up and people are upset. How dare us try and subject Councillors to such possible criticism from residents of Torbay. Who the hell do those residents think they are anyway, we are Council, we were elected to do this, come back and see us in 4 years ....They have no idea of the power of the dark side...GRRRRR!!!

Oh my I am getting off track again, this whole topic is so frustrating that it is hard to contain my sanity without adding some humor to it. Quite frankly the whole notion that it is too late in our little town for this type of exercise is laughable. Why do I say that now when I already said that I would concede the fact that it was late in the year? Well I come to this conclusion because just last night the City of St. John's had their first of 2 pre-budget consultations. Yes you read that right, the City of St. John's had the first of TWO pre-bidget consultations last night, the second will be on the 17th of November.

The first consultation is held to allow people or groups to make submissions to the City with regards to getting funding and what they think should be in the budget. The second session is called a Budget Forum, it will be conducted by an independent facilitator. This session is designed to allow participants to discuss issues related to municipal finance in a round table format. I think this is what Councillor Tapper intended with his motion that was swept aside last week.

How can this be? The City of St. John's Council votes on the budget in mid December possibly the same time as the Town of Torbay. How could they possibly find the time to have these public sessions?

The City of St. John's has a budget around 235 million dollars and the Town of Torbay has a budget of around 6.5 Million dollars yet they have time even at this late stage to talk to residents and get input on the budget that is around a month from being voted on?

Torbay budget document is a half a dozen pages with very little detail and a few pretty pictures. City of St. John's budget document is around 35 pages also with lots of pretty pictures but very detailed. They actually lay out for the public exactly where the money is being spent and how much. Of course that is easier to do when you already have the public input and they know basically what to expect before the budget is delivered to the people.

How can the City of St. John's with such a detailed budget process, that must be huge considering the depth of services offered in the City, still find time to involve the public? Yet our Council can't take it upon themselves to give us a couple of hours to explain their vision for the town and what they intend to do with our money.

Have no fear there is always next year...or the year after..tic toc tic toc

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Breakfast With Santa Sold Out

Well that sucks, if you are not one of the people who got tickets. As far as I know there were 200 tickets and I was speaking to a resident who was at the Town Hall this morning at 8:55 am and there wasn't a ticket to be had and no sign of people in line to get them either.

I emailed the town to ask if they intended to have a second seating and have been informed that they will look into it to see if it is possible. This was sure to be a popular event and it is too bad that a lot of children are not going to get the opportunity to participate.

When you think about it that is pretty amazing pace of ticket sales, 200 tickets sold out in what the town tells me was 20 minutes. That is 10 tickets a minute, from the time that they opened the doors and those town employees must not have even had time to get their coffee.

If I had known they would be that popular I would have stopped this morning and bought a bunch then scalped them to the kids on the morning of the event. I wonder how much I could have made off those sad little buggers with their big bright eyes all full of tears because they couldn't have breakfast with Santa Clause. I could have had the parents at my mercy and charged them double just to stop the kids from crying. Oh I think the spirit of Christmas has overwhelmed me LOL

Hopefully the town has the ability to put off a second seating and people are as enthusiastic about getting the tickets, if the opportunity arises.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pre-Budget Consultations - What Pisses Me Off

You know what really pisses me off about this whole pre-budget consultation or discussion what ever you want to call it? The fact that these Councillors basically ran away from the idea and complained that it was too late in the process to have something like that.

That is all fine and dandy, maybe it is too late to have a comprehensive consultation process BUT this is not a new idea. It is not even new to this council and not the first time they have been asked about it either.

In fact I seem to recall sending them an email last year asking this exact same question. Here is the exchange and you can see that I sent this to every member of council. Guess how many answered me back?
From: Craig Scott []
Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2011 1:59 PM
To: Dawn Chaplin
Cc: Robert Codner; Geoff Gallant; Mike Byrne; Peggy Roche; Carol Ann Smith; Ralph Tapper; Brian Whitty
Subject: Public Budget Consultations
Hi Dawn and members of Council,

I know it is budget time and was wondering if the town held Public consultations with regards to the budget? I have not seen any notices with regards to this type of activity and if we don’t do that then I wonder why? I can’t help but think that input from residents would certainly be helpful when council is deciding how to spend our money.


Craig Scott

After 4 days of not hearing a thing from anyone the Deputy Mayor emailed me back to ask if anyone had gotten back to me on it. Well that response made it perfectly clear that all members of council ignored my request and had no intention of answering me and certainly no intention of discussing any type of budget consultation..........
From: Geoff Gallant []
Sent: Monday, December 19, 2011 10:22 AM
To: Craig Scott
Subject: RE: Public Budget Consultations

Did anyone get back with you on this?

Geoff Gallant
Deputy Mayor, Town of Torbay

So I emailed him back because quite frankly the budget had already been passed and the whole conversation was mute......except for the fact that I had asked council if they intended to do something like this in the future, which clearly by their indifference to my question they did not.......
From: Craig Scott []
Sent: Monday, December 19, 2011 10:48 AM
To: Geoff Gallant
Subject: RE: Public Budget Consultations
No, then I noticed that the budget has been finalized from the looks of it. That tax hike is going to be hard to swallow. I couldn’t believe that we are going to be getting almost a 10% hike in the mill rate. If we have any increase in assessments; which is almost certain; people are going to be looking at a significant increase.

In these times of restraint that is being exhibited everywhere it seems pretty unbelievable that we would be having significant spending increases. Are all councilor in favor of this, surely someone must be weary about doing this and not even giving the public a chance to have a say.

Thanks for getting back to me Geoff


Then he emailed me back once more to praise the efforts of Councillor Tapper but still no acknowledgement of the fact that I had asked if they would do something like a public consultation in the future..........
New assessments aren't due until next year... The mill rate can be re-adjusted at that time to reflect the new assessments... 
Finance is Councilor Tapper's department, if you are looking for offical public comment I suggest you contact either him or the Mayor.
(Councilor Tapper put a lot of great work into this budget to get the programs and services people of this growing town want and need... He actually did a great job of publicly explaining them in chambers on Monday... I think he would be more than happy to explain the details and process to you... )

If you cannot get a hold of them let me know...
Gotta run...-gg------------------------------------------- Geoff Gallant Deputy Mayor, Town of Torbay 709-437-7294

So there we have it and why I am so pissed off.  The level of arrogance and indifference displayed towards members of the public and residents of our town is ridiculous. That email asking about the budget was sent to every member of Council and only one saw fit to respond. Granted it wasn't a response that was earth shattering but it was acknowledgement that they had received my questions.

It also proves that nobody on that council gave a damn about involving the public in any type of budget process. They chose to do what they always seem to do or at least that is the impression that they just ignore the public and hope they will go away or forget about it.

Then when we start asking again this year and to his credit Councillor Tapper actually puts it before Council they all act like it is the first time they ever heard of such a thing and that they would be in favor of it next year. Well it is already next year since the last time I asked and was ignored. I suspect that next year it will be too late as well and then I am sure if nobody asks about it again then it will be forgotten about.

This is the reason why it is so important for people to be engaged and pay attention to what is going on. If you want to stick your head in the sand and wallow about high taxes and lack of services it is no good complaining after the fact. Hold these elected officials to account for what they say and what they do.

When you are sitting in your living rooms and kitchens in December going over your Credit Card Statement and your latest Christmas surprise from this Council try and remember if you had any say in that budget that is sitting in front of you. Almost certainly there is going to be a tax increase in it regardless of what some members of council have hinted towards lowering the mill rate.

Yes I am sure that in this election year there will be the appearance of trying to help us poor tax payers cope with the burden of higher assessments. That won't stop them though from increasing the amount of money that we will have to pay. It is a tax and spend councils gift from the heavens these new assessments. They will just blame it on the assessments and we will get he shaft once again and to make matters worse we won't even have the opportunity to voice our displeasure or get an explanation publicly.

Just think about it, what better time to release the budget to the public then just before Christmas. People are bogged down in the seasons festivities and crazy shopping schedule and Council is finalizing and voting on the budget that will be delivered. Then sometimes after the new year we get our tax bill in the mail and low and behold we finally hear about what the hell was in the budget with regard to taxes. Then after blowing our budgets on Christmas we are then faced with a potential tax increase like we were last year.

Does anyone besides me see the irony in all of this and the utter helplessness that comes along with it?

Get Your Tickets For Breakfast With Santa

Tickets are going on sale for this years Breakfast With Santa tomorrow November 8th at a cost of $6.00 per ticket.

The breakfast will take place on Saturday November 24th at the Holy Trinity Elementary School and will start at 8:30 am.

Click the picture to see all the details.

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Torbay Bi-Weekly Financial Report Page

For those of you who may be interested in where our money goes you may be interested in seeing this bi-weekly financial report from the town. I have created a new page for this and it is located on the tabs for my other pages.

It is pretty detailed and gives you a great insight into where exactly the money is spent and how much. This report will give you an appreciation for the expenses that our town incurs and may answer some questions for you regarding municipal expenses.

Anyway check it out here Torbay Financial Report

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kinsmen Christmas Shopping Fair - This Saturday

There is a Christmas Shopping Fair this Saturday at the Kinsmen Center on Bauline Line from 10:00am - 6:00pm. That is a long time people so we should all be able to find a few minutes to stop by and support some of our local merchants.

This is a public even that is being organized by Coleen Whitty and you can view the Facebook Page to get more info. There is no admission to this event buy you are encouraged to bring along a non-perishable food item for the local food bank.

Pre-Budget Consultations - Great Idea, Maybe Next Year

That seemed like the prevailing opinion of several Councillors on Monday night when Councillor Tapper put forward a motion to have a public meeting to talk about the budget with residents.

Councillor Tapper put forward the motion and basically he said that the Finance Committee which he is chair of is willing to hold a public consultation to discuss the upcoming budget. Now he used the term budget consultation but from his description of what he wanted to hold would have been more of an information session and discussion.

He said that he thought it was a very good idea and thought they could pull something together in the next couple of weeks.

On the round table when each Councillor was given the chance to discuss the motion the common theme seemed to be that there was not enough time to do something like that right now. I agree that there is probably not enough time to have a true budget consultation where people or groups give budget submissions and suggestions. We are well into the budget process right now and certainly an exercise of that nature would not be possible.

Councillor Smith argued that because this is a year where the Municipal Assessments went up that it is not a good time to do something like that. What the hell does that mean? What I think it means is that her fear may be that people will focusing on that and how much our property taxes are going to be. Not that we would want residents having the opportunity to look the Councillors in the face and ask them what they intend to do with property taxes before they pass the budget. For instance last year while increasing spending across the board they also gave us almost a 10% tax increase. I guess it is easier to do that type of thing when nobody knows what is going until after the fact.

Councillor Roche and Byrne both agreed with Councillor Smith about not having the time to take something like that on. They talked about all the work that goes into the budget and how the process is so far along now that it would be impossible to have a pre-budget consultation.

All three Councillors agreed that they would be in favor of having something like this next year. Councillor Tapper argued that none of them may be there next year and I guess that is the kicker. Why do now what you can put off until you are no longer there, let someone else worry about it.

So basically the motion went down to defeat 4-3 - Councillors Smith, Roche and Byrne voting Nay and Councillors Tapper, Gallant and Whitty voting Yeah. The Mayor casting the deciding vote to kill the motion and any hope of the public getting a look at what is in the budget prior to it being voted on. I still think there is time before the budget is voted on to hold some kind of public information session explaining to people basically what is in the budget and where they intend to spend our money.

The problem I have here is that I think that our town has been working behind closed doors for so long that it is going to take time to change the culture. I doubt that our town is alone in this type of behind the scenes fiscal management, I would suspect that it is the same way in most communities. That doesn't mean that it has to stay that way however.