-0.1 C
Friday, November 15, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Park debate shape of things to come


Restored Victorian home in Elmira the subject of TV competition

Along with the influx of visitors that comes with the holiday season, Elmira will see one new...

End of an era for MP

Two weeks having passed since the federal election, Harold Albrecht has had time to reflect on his...

Candidates make pitch to voters in Woolwich

Largely sticking to their respective party lines, the five candidates running in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding made their one all-candidates...

Meet the candidates

By Veronica Reiner & Aneta Rebiszewski Five candidates are vying for your vote in...


overcast clouds
-0.1 ° C
2 °
-2.2 °
93 %
90 %
2 °
-0 °
1 °
2 °
-0 °

A Woolwich staff report favouring development in Victoria Glen Park comes as no surprise: the township needs money to pay for its building blitz. Having crunched the numbers, staff sees cutting down part of the wooded area in favour of new homes as an easy way to come up with some $1.5 million.

The report’s findings were inevitable. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’ll see bulldozers rolling any time soon. This was always going to be a political decision, and that means the project remains up in the air. If councillors are tuned in to the public sentiment, the proposal is dead in the water, but governments aren’t always responsive to community demands.

Opponents of development plans – and there are many of them – will be making every effort to persuade councillors to choose the long-term benefits of retaining parkland rather than going for a quick cash infusion. They’re also eager to repeat the success Kitchener residents had when that city’s council looked at selling off some of its land, including parks, for development: The public outcry forced the city to back down.

Chief administrative officer David Brenneman says the township’s proposal isn’t the same thing. Rather than simply selling land, Woolwich would retain control of the development, ensuring that it best serves community interests.

The distinction is subtle, but is unlikely to sway residents, who envision trees being cut down and a naturalized area replaced by homes and manicured lawns. There’s no getting away from that should the proposal go ahead.

While approval of the Victoria Glen plan wouldn’t necessarily lead to the clear-cutting and paving-over of all of Woolwich’s parkland, opponents have a point when they talk about precedent this proposal would set. Who’s to say future needs for cash won’t be addressed by the sale of assets?

This kind of sell-off is likely to be considered more often as governments at all levels face a cash-crunch. Record deficits at the federal level mean cuts are coming. The same is true at the provincial level. That means that the free-flowing infrastructure funding tap will be shut off, leaving municipal governments scrambling for money. We may not see the wholesale downloading of services and costs that came with deficit-fighting in the last decade, but belts will be worn tighter.

Having already run property taxes to unsustainable levels, municipalities facing the option of cuts to staff and service levels just might begin eyeing assets as a funding source. That would clearly be ill-advised, short-term thinking, but that’s not to say it won’t happen: many municipalities are much better at hitting residents with skyrocketing taxes than bringing their spending under control.

This is the heart of the conundrum that must eventually be addressed: public sector spending is outstripping the productive sector’s ability to pay.  As the former depends entirely on the latter, the gap must inevitably cause upheaval as we question the value-for-money scenario: what are we getting for the cash we pour into the system? And how often can governments keep going to the well before it runs dry?

At some point, local politicians will have hard decisions to make. Not just how to keep increases to four per cent, but how to cut by many times that amount. In the long run, the system we’ve developed is untenable, but the crisis will come long before that.

It’s in that context that councillors must weigh the Victoria Glen proposal, and the budget deliberations that will follow.S

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


New watering system is powered by the sun

Many hands may make light work, but automating the process really lessens the load. That’s especially helpful when the work involves relying on volunteers to provide the manual labour.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Woolwich adopts new landscape guidelines for subdivisions as part of greening initiatives

Talk of trees right now typically involved the adjective Christmas, but Woolwich council is focusing just now on guidelines for planting in new...

Virgil Wins the Lottery … but, then again, maybe not

It’s easy to day dream about striking it rich quick by winning the lottery, and all the possibilities that come along with...

New St. Clements fire station officially open for service

The new fire station in St. Clements was officially declared open for service last Saturday. The $1.3-million project...

Sugar Kings turn the screws on Brampton

Another home-and-home winning weekend helped the Elmira Sugar Kings solidify their hold on top spot in the GOJHL’s Midwestern Conference. A pair of...

Woolwich stays course with economic development

Woolwich’s vacant economic development and tourism officer (EDTO) position will be retained, councillors decided this week despite any numbers or measures to show...

Pair of convincing wins sees Jacks improve record

A pair of wins last weekend saw the Wellesley Applejacks jump a notch in the PJHL standings to claim second place in...
- Advertisement -