Tag Archives: municipal politics

Pickering debates – Is it really about a casino? What the hell is it about?

Why is the Group of Four
(Ryan, Dickerson, Pickles, Ashe)
so anxious to get it approved before the municipal election?
Do they have personal interest in this development?

Pickering received an application from the Pickering Developments Inc. to rezone three pieces of land near Bayly and Church streets for a “large tourism development”, Durham Live.

What, when and who is going to build this tourist destination area?
Well that’s pretty vague.

Nobody is sure. Even the developer, Pickering Developments, included a long list of possible amenities and the timeframe for this development to take shape over 15-20 years.

As the developer’s legal representative Katarzyna Sliwa indicated, the proposal is not for a casino, there is no detailed plans like that. What the developer wants is to have rezoning done. And then we will see what is going to be built and when. For all we know, they may build a Chinese cultural welcome center.

The degree of vagueness and misinformation about the Durham Live project begs the following questions:

  • Who is the current owner of the land in question?
  • Who profits the most from the re-zoning?
  • What other parties are involved?
  • What is the exact relationship between Pickering Developments and the individuals of this Group of Four?

One would assume that the original zoning was done with careful consideration of many factors. Before one adjusts these zoning plans, specific information should be available as to the reasons for the change so that an informed decision can be made. The unanswered questions and the general vagueness does not permit an informed decision.

This Group of Four appears to have some hidden agenda. One gets the impression that they are patiently going through the motions of hearing from concerned groups and individuals, but will eventually approve the rezoning no matter what issues are brought forward.

It’s time that these individuals in this Group of Four come clean and share with their constituents what this is really all about.
 

Lack of integrity of Pickering Council leaders


 
News Advertiser Editorial (dated Jan 23, 2014) described very well the disrespectful behavior displayed by Pickering’s Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson at the Jan. 20 executive committee meeting.

As I have observed the council and committee meetings for a number of years, I’m not surprised that Councillor Dickerson doesn’t feel he has any obligation to conduct himself in a professional way. He feels privileged, sure that there will be no consequences, he also has the support of Mayor Dave Ryan and of two Councillors: Kevin Ashe and David Pickles. (See the video of September 16th, Council meeting – slide forward to the 36 minute 50 second mark, which is the start of the delegations, Council discussion and voting).

It was the same when he was attempting to defend his election overspending during the 2010 Election campaign in Court. Remember the 288 bottles of alcohol that were found in his basement worth over $14,000? In the end he pleaded guilty and it cost us taxpayers almost $300,000. It all could have been avoided if Mayor Ryan cared about the integrity of his Council, and took appropriate action at the beginning of the whole circus.

But I think it is too much to ask from our mayor. Claiming that this is the “cost of democracy” he basically agrees that it is OK to take city money, buy booze, put it in the basement and still be a Deputy Mayor. To add insult to injury Mayor Ryan presented his Deputy Dickerson with Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Actually Mayor Ryan uses the same tactics his deputy, D. Dickerson,
showed us at the Jan. 20 meeting name-calling. In response to my letter with concerns about his probable conflict of interest (approving donations to charities while being a member of the charity), Mayor Ryan, during the council meeting, engaged in similar name-calling, he called the person who wrote the letter as “naïve and ill informed” (see the clip of the council meeting video).

 

Property Taxes – Can you afford to stand back and do nothing?


 
As News Advertiser reports, new budget guidelines for 2014 for property tax increase  in Pickering  are  3.9% (municipal) and 2.35% (regional). See articles: Pickering could see 3.9-per cent tax hike in 2014 ,  Durham looks to hold 2014 tax hike at 2.35 per cent .

Year after year Durham region and the City of Pickering increase the amount we pay for property taxes. Why not create guidelines to prevent the increase of taxes? Other municipalities can do it so why not Pickering? Windsor hasn’t increased their property taxes in 5 years (see article “Across the river from bankrupt Detroit, Windsor boasts five years without a tax hike”).

Property taxes in Toronto are half of what we pay in Pickering.  For example for a house worth $400,000 property tax in Pickering was $2,300 more than in Toronto.

Here are the values from 2013:

Toronto  Property Tax Calculator
Toronto Property Tax Calculator

Pickering’s tax rate for 2013 was around 1.3% (0.01321446) comparing to Mississauga’s 0.93% (0.00926648) and Toronto’s 0.74% (0.00745765). Almost twice as much! 

Do we get more or better services than Torontonians do? I don’t think so. So what’s the problem? Are our local politicians and staff not capable of preparing a budget that serves the residents?

Maybe some of our politicians are not motivated enough because there is so little involvement from the residents.  Many people complain about high property taxes but they avoid active participation in the City’s budget discussions. As one of the City Councilors described it during a council meeting, where does the arbitrary figure of a 3.9% ceiling come from?