As a successful businessman in Almonte for 41 years, I feel I must comment on the present situation with Council.
I feel fortunate to have been accepted in Almonte and area, but I contribute my success to my ability to communicate and more importantly to LISTEN.
I have seen many Mayors and Councils come and go, some successful with agendas of new industry, job creation, and control on taxes. By the same token I have seen other Mayors and Councils who have not listened to the will of the people, and their term has not been as successful.
In the last month I see that the OPP has been called twice to the Council Chambers. The first incident was totally avoidable and very poorly handled.
A banner was placed in the council chambers and the Mayor challenged the individual to remove the banner. The individual decided not to remove the banner and a heated exchange took place between the Mayor and the individual. The Mayor said the council meeting would not start until the banner was removed and he also said to call the OPP.
Everyone in the council chambers sat for close to half an hour but no OPP arrived. A person in the audience suggested that two chairs be put in front of the sign, which happened, and the council meeting proceeded. The council meeting began without the OPP arriving.
When you look at the situation in retrospect the situation could have been solved so simply, by simple communication, without anger or confrontation.
The second incident involving the OPP I cannot comment on as I was not there.
But the Don Maynard Park is a very emotional issue with many many residents passionately and emotionally supporting the park remaining as it is.
I had the fortunate opportunity to know Don Maynard, not well, but I knew him to be a dedicated man who helped many youth in this community, and turned many young lives around. A previous Mayor and Council decided in their wisdom to name the Gale subdivision park after Don Maynard, and I believe very strongly that the present Mayor and Council should respect that decision.
I understand that selling the park raises $600,000 and the money will be put towards a splash pad and skateboard park in Gemmill Park. I can appreciate the reasons the Mayor and Council want to raise money, and I think that today’s youth need more amenities to keep them busy and off the streets.
Well do I understand the need as several of my buildings downtown recently had graffiti sprayed on them. What I do not understand is why when Mississippi Mills has so much excess property that is not used as parkland, why they can’t list and sell these properties that are non-contentious in order to raise money.
It is not an either-or situation, to sell Don Maynard Park and put the $600,000 towards the Gemmill Park improvements.
One option is to thoroughly investigate and review the list of unused vacant properties, of which I know a few, and list and sell these properties to raise money. Another solution is to downsize the amenities to be put in Gemmill Park. I understand that Canada 150 is next year, but it is not worth creating the amount of anger and controversy in this beautiful community.
When the Mayor and future Councillors campaigned before they were elected to council, they all spoke about communication with the electorate and listening to their concerns. The Mayor and Council are not listening, but are strictly focused on convincing each other what is good for the community without listening or consultation with the public.
For goodness sake, Mr. Mayor and Councillors: each of you talk to 100 or 200 people in your community, and look at compromised solutions that satisfy the electorate. Drive by the water tower and you will see “Friendly Town of Almonte, Mississippi Mills”.
It is anything but friendly these days. Mr. Mayor and Council you have the opportunity to correct this unfortunate situation, and compromise to find a satisfactory solution to all. Please listen to 41 years of business experience.
This letter is written from the heart. I love this community and appreciate what a fine community it is. Please Mr. Mayor and Council, don’t destroy it by not listening and compromising.