Shrink Slessor Square!

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Campaign Donations

Over two years ago, Regional Councillor John Taylor told a meeting at Newmarket Public Library that he would bring forward a motion to Newmarket Council to ban corporate funding of election candidates. I am not entirely sure what happened to this noble intention. Probably got lost in the undergrowth somewhere.

And earlier this year Taylor said he would not accept campaign donations from developers. His challenger, Darryl Wolk, has no such scruples.

That’s unfortunate. Cash from developers is tainted. The sums may be modest but every donation comes at a high price.

In the last election in 2010, both Van Bynen and Taylor took money from the Slessors (or rather Dwight Slessor Holdings) and they didn’t declare an interest before voting on the Slessor planning application. The law did not require them to.

But now, when everyone including the Mayor, is banging on about transparency it is probably good politics to fess up.

So why don’t Newmarket candidates list their financial backers now, not afterwards when it is too late to make a difference?

They could follow the example of Toronto’s Mayoral hopefuls who are releasing details before the October 27 election. The law currently requires disclosure – but only five months after the election.


Broadband in Newmarket

Super-fast broadband is a good thing. No doubt about it.

So when Mayor Tony Van Bynen tells us he plans to bring high-speed Internet to Newmarket it is worth a round of applause.

The Town would benefit hugely if we all had lightning fast internet access.

It sounds like a fresh new idea – with Van Bynen claiming authorship – but, in fact, the York Region Broadband Strategy has been knocking around for years and involves all nine of the Region’s municipalities. The latest update was considered by John Taylor’s Planning and Economic Development Committee earlier this year and was approved by the Regional Council in May.

Mayoral hopefuls Chris Campbell and Dorian Baxter give the Mayor’s broadband strategy the thumbs down fearing it would be too expensive and roads would have to be dug up again. Their reactions disappoint me.

Ron Pickett, a technology and business innovation consultant, writing in Ottawa Life says broadband has become an election issue here in Newmarket. He estimates the cost of wiring the Town is around $30m. He says Town staff will be presenting a report to the new Council after the election.

Picket takes a swipe at Regional Councillor wannabe, Darryl Wolk, who has criticized the broadband strategy. Wolk points to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a similar initiative reportedly cost $330m and generated only 1,000 jobs.

Comparing Chattanooga with Newmarket is I think wide of the mark. Picket writes:

Chattanooga has a population of 170,000, twice that of Newmarket. Chattanooga is over four times the geographic size covering 370 sq km compared to Newmarket’s 38 sq km. In addition, the Chattanooga service footprint covers five times the city area, which is just less than 1,000 sq km. That is over 26 times the geographic size of Newmarket.

It seems to me if the private sector wants to roll out high-speed broadband across York Region then let them get on with it.

But if, as seems likely, the internet providers cherry pick by post-code, going for the fattest profits with the least effort, leaving slow-speed pockets and dial-up deserts, then this is an issue for all of us.

Super-fast broadband increases productivity, promotes growth and generates jobs.

How curious that Darryl Wolk - one of the most wired-up politicians on the face of the planet – can’t make that connection.

8 days to go.


 

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