OPINION: Tough task

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Should the squeakiest wheel get the proverbial grease? It appears everyone opposed to council’s decision to purchase the former Sears building and explore moving municipal operations, the Chatham library and C-K Museum there think so.

Councillors are elected to represent the people, certainly. But they are elected to make the tough decisions. These are decisions that aren’t always popular in the short term.

If council were to listen to the loudest of its ratepayers, then local resident John Cryderman would have been appeased years ago.

If council listened to the loudest voices, the politicians would go against the provincial grain and keep agricultural land tax rates in our municipality – an area with some of the richest land in the province – below the provincial average…oh, wait…

If that bit of sarcasm offends you, then let us switch out a tree bylaw in its place (we have the lowest forest coverage in the province, yet have no bylaw in regard to limiting tree cutting in rural areas). Imagine being a councillor sitting on the board of the local conservation authority and opposing the preservation of the limited tree cover we have left…

Do you want a council that sways in the breeze, or one that looks to the future?

Personally, we would have liked to have had a pre-Covid council that should have had the guts to outlay $13 million in 2018 to fix the Civic Centre and deal with any backlash then. But instead, they pushed the matter down the road and let the issue snowball to the expensive problem it has become today.

And don’t get angry with the development team who purchased the Downtown Chatham Centre and offered a deal that council could not ignore.

Furthermore, even if there were more than a dozen deputations against the decision to acquire the Sears building, and there were additional letters from residents, how can one truly know if that is the opinion of the majority of ratepayers?

We say that while looking back at the history of abysmal voter turnout. No one can know the wishes of the electorate when fewer than one in three gets off their couches and takes the time to go and vote.

Until that changes, well, apparently council has carte blanche.

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