About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

5 Lost Days of Summer

In a press release this morning, the City announced five dates this summer that the shop will be closed because of temporary staff layoffs needed in order to mitigate greater property tax increases for the 2010 fiscal year. You'll remember that the original intention was to co-ordinate with the unions to minimize the impact of the layoffs and avoid the effective closure of city services for whole days, but no agreement was reached.

Here's the press release:

GUELPH, ON, March 31, 2010 – City facilities will be closed and services cancelled for five days this summer in order to implement cost saving measures approved by Council in the City’s 2010 budget. In order to achieve these savings some temporary staff layoffs will occur. Facility closures and service disruptions will be in effect Monday, June 21; Friday, July 9; Thursday, July 22; Wednesday, August 11; and Tuesday, August 24.

The savings from these closures are part of Council’s efforts to minimize the impact on property taxpayers of a loss of revenue during a global economic recession.

The five separate days were chosen in order to minimize disruption to the public. Click here for a list of affected services and facility closures.

Guelph Transit buses will continue to operate on these days. In order to achieve the targeted savings, transit service—including mobility service—will be cancelled on Sundays in August, and 20-minute transit service will be replaced with 30-minute service in June, July and August as part of other service reductions identified in the 2010 budget.

Over the past few weeks, the City has met with union executives to continue to search for ways to achieve the budget reduction and avoid service disruptions. Despite collective best efforts, no solution was found. “While this has been a difficult decision and will undoubtedly be unwelcome news for residents, the measures are necessary to mitigate further property tax increases,” says Guelph’s Chief Administrative Officer Hans Loewig. “We thank all of the parties for their willingness to discuss ways to avoid service disruptions, which demonstrates a collective commitment to public service.”

There will be no closures or disruption of emergency services such as police, fire and emergency medical service (EMS). These services will continue to be available at all times.

In December, Council approved a preliminary budget which included a payroll savings of $1.2 million, representing the cost of five working days for all employees.

I usual try to offer some fair-minded analysis, but I have to admit that I got ticked reading this. Especially the bit about transit. I hope nobody in the City of Guelph takes the bus to church. Or perhaps might like to enjoy a day out in the city on a Sunday afternoon, like maybe at a city sponsored event or festival. Or work on Sundays. That's going to be huge because that's going to impact a lot of businesses and stores that will have to make allowances for staff without vehicle access. Not to mention the young people for whom working on Sunday is primetime for making money during the work week.

The kicker is I spent much of last night looking at the results of the consultation process in regards to the future of transit in the city, which actually had a lot of really interesting ideas (that I plan on writing about soon). But I kept coming back to a single thought: How is the city's transit supposed to improve when we constantly neuter it so easily. Remember 40 minute peak service? Constant fare increases without noticeable improvements in service? How about the pre-existing plan to scale back 20 minute service in June, July and August, the result of which lays-off several transit workers for the summer?

So yeah, I'm not pleased. How are we supposed to encourage transit use in this city when the PTBs (The Powers That Be) keep taking one step forward and two steps back? That was one question that I didn't get answered at the info session last night. Also, I hope that there aren't any heatwaves on those closure days. Sayonara to cooling centres and public pools...


Rob said...

Just another joke in the dramedy film called "City of Guelph: How Not to Govern".

Every press release, or decision made by our elected officials has become more and more ridiculous each time.

From industrial park bickering, to skatepark location indecision, to backdoor politicking, to corporate handouts while affected employees get no help, to "Farbridge Days", this city is starting to look like a joke.

One must wonder what outsiders, or new citizens think when they see the hilarity that ensues! Is this a municipality, or an urban-sprawled three ring circus?

Heck, even the citizens are getting in on it! Anyone want a Sikh temple? How about tonnes of brownfield nothingness? How about "the south has this" or "the wast has this"? Oh yeah, I guess people need somewhere to park their cars as well. So let's build a library. Or not. Wait, why are we millions in the hole? Oh well, let's just raise taxes and cut services!

Brilliant Guelph! The dungy, danky crevices of downtown Kitchener are starting to look appealing when compared to the douchebaggery that happens in this town.

Honestly, it's hard to call this town my home somedays. Born and raised, and now, looking to move out.

K said...

Born but never lived here til the last 6 months, Im a new citizen. Still filled with hope though, and a willingness to try and get something done. Time to put pressure on the powers that be, or better yet become the powers that be.

Cutting transit services is absolutely disgusting though, and sends a very poor message to the less fortunate in this city. Public transit should be sacred, it's the heartbeat that keeps business, community and people moving in a city as an alternate to evermore automobile-oriented infrastructure and costs.