Darryl Wolk

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30 reasons why it is Time for a Change in Newmarket

Posted by Darryl Wolk on November 23, 2013 at 8:45 PM

This has been the most embarrassing term of Newmarket Council since we incorporated as a village in 1857. Below are 30 lowlights from the past 10 years on Newmarket Council that illustrate why it is time for a change in Newmarket.  These incidents are in no particular order and I am sure many were missed putting together this initial list.


30 Embarrassing Newmarket Council Moments:


1, Property tax increases are routine every year. Over the last two terms we have seen the following residential tax increases: 2006 3.81%, 2007 6.39%, 2008 6.56%, 2009 4.19%, 2010 3.81%, 2011 5.89%, 2012 3.95% & 2013 3.74%. More tax increasesare likely in the 2014 budget. Half of all CFIB business members in Newmarket surveyed said they are getting poor value for taxes paid. (http://www.cfib-fcei.ca/cfib-documents/on0475-GTA.pdf). Industrial tax rates are too high and it is costing us jobs. (http://www.thestar.com/business/2008/11/26/magna_closes_newmarket_aurora_plants_850_jobs_lost.html)  


2, Water rates go up each and every year. This trend will continue until at least 2017. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1416786-newmarket-water-rates-rising-80/


3, Newmarket sports clubs pay some of the highest user feesin the GTA for sports. Council continues to increase these fees to the point where some children in town cannot afford to play. User fees go up every year. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1419411-newmarket-hikes-user-fees/)


4, Newmarket currently has over 60 people employed on sunshine list. It has increased dramatically since 2010 and continues to increase. Most businesses rank our town hall poor at controlling wage costs according to a CFIB survey. Currently wages, salaries and benefits are a larger expense than all revenues collected through property taxes. (http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/publications/salarydisclosure/pssd/orgs.php?pageNum_pssd=19&organization=municipalities


5, Newmarket is last within York Region in job creation and economic growth over the last 10 years. (http://www.york.ca/NR/rdonlyres/y6fk4qzsx5gscwnlm2p2dskmofv5meshcmylczpfjuimf7al4qzxjassj44e6by2pyitgtc3dnuimpq2mkau23y3pf/rpt+2+cls+5.pdf)


6, Newmarket Hydro was overcharging consumers between 2002 and 2005. Now they are paying us back at a rate of $1 per month. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1935239-newmarket-hydro-customers-reimbursed-for-error/


7, Newmarket Council explores a 15 storey height cap for buildings. SlessorSquare ends up taking the town to the OMB and gets approval for a building much higher than the proposed cap. (http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1420341-we-should-embrace-slessor-square-it-s-our-future/& http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1419688-town-needs-15-storey-building-cap-taylor/


8, Newmarket votes against direct elections for the York Regional Chair position. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1430074-councillors-debate-electing-regional-chairperson/& http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1414986-you-want-to-elect-york-s-leader/


9, Newmarket councillors vote against publishing their voting records on the town’s website. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1439062-newmarket-council-rejects-recorded-vote-change/)


10, Town forced to spend reserve funds on Maystar lawsuit damages. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1447012-newmarket-seeks-options-after-losing-maystar-appeal/)


11, Newmarket attempts to ban the Shiner Circus and ends up paying out a lawsuit instead. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1436681-shrine-circus-returns-to-newmarket/& http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2009/06/09/shriners_fight_newmarket_circus_ban.html)


12, Newmarket spends over $100k on a logo consultant. They also spent $18k to study street beautification and refused to cut the annual $30k staff coffee budget. There is plenty of waste to cut in Newmarket. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1421686-town-scraps-proposed-logo-designs/& http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/3858210-newmarket-spends-18k-on-beautification-study/& http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1432380-councillors-staff-deserve-coffee/)  


13, Old Town Hall project is way over budget and will now cost over $10,000,000. Some were prepared to pay a penalty of almost $3,000,000 to cancel the project without direction on what would happen to the heritage site or the federal grant associated with it. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/3925303-bad-foundation-adds-1-4m-to-newmarket-town-hall-renovation/)


14, VIVA dedicated bus rapid way on Davis Drive has resulted in some major construction that will continue until early 2015. The Yonge Street bus rapid way between Davis and Mulock is about to start in the spring and will be completed in 2017. This project cost $100,000, resulted in expropriation of land and has hurt businesses impacted by the construction.  It is too late to cancel this project so we have to make the best of it. The priority should have been more GO Trains in Newmarket. Increases in fares, cuts to service and bad feelings from the bungled strike at York Council will do little to reduce the empty buses in town. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4207578-next-phase-in-vivanext-work-in-newmarket-to-begin-in-spring/)


15, Newmarket Council turned down the Newmarket Soccer Club three times for financial support on their indoor soccer centre. After attending the photo-ops at the grand opening, Newmarket Council realized the Newmarket Soccer Club was facing financial difficulties. On the back of a napkin, they put together a secret shady soccer loan deal despite other private loan options available to Newmarket Soccer Club. In a controversial close vote, Newmarket Council voted to hand out $2.8M to the new Newmarket Soccer Club Board of Directors as a “loan”. Details of that loan remain hidden from the public. (http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/4087230-town-jumped-gun-in-funding-soccer-club/)


16, The Slingerland Circle situation has become an embarrassing,inconvenient and costly mistake for the people living on that street. It also brings attention to flaws in the Newmarket street and asset naming policies. Many have complained that too many streets, parks and town assets are named after politicians. It is time to put together a consistent policy so that a situation such as Slingerland Circle never happens again. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4191789-councillor-aims-to-change-name-of-newmarket-s-slingerland-circle/)


17, Newmarket Council debated banning the fast food drive-thru. Newmarket also risked a lawsuit by banning soup. (http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2012/06/22/municipalities_face_legal_challenge_over_shark_fin_ban.html)


18, Newmarket has spent more time debating backyard hens than issues such as transportation, growth and job creation. Newmarket Council chickens out on making a decision in the end after wasting so much time on the issue. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4123153-newmarket-chickens-out-on-back-yard-hen-debate/)


19, Newmarket gets caught up in a debate to ban and/or legalize road hockey. (http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1414268-don-t-blow-impact-of-road-hockey-bylaw-out-of-proportion/)


20, Newmarket introduces Hollingsworth parking charges. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1435821-newmarket-to-start-paid-parking-at-arena/)


21, Newmarket hires consultant specific for the Glenway application. Town fails to respond to application in time resulting in Glenway developer going to the OMB prior to Council voting on the issue. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/2538986-glenway-developer-files-omb-appeal/)


22, Newmarket passes a “Infrastructure Levy” during aToronto Maple Leaf deciding playoff game. This turned out to be an additional property tax increase on top of the tax increase already passed at the budget.  Council later blows the reserves on soccer loan, green investments, lawsuit damages and paving private driveways. Again a “infrastructure levy” will be charged to taxpayers to correct Council’s mistakes. (http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4224829-tax-hikes-needed-for-infrastructure-report/& http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/3249358-public-purse-is-empty-find-money-elsewhere/)


23, Every time Newmarket has made the Toronto Star, TorontoSun, National Post or other major GTA media it is for all the wrong reasons.The library incident was no different. The circus associated with that incident led to embarrassing coverage on CFRB 1010, National Post and the Toronto Star. LocalEra article said Council entered dangerous territory with this issue. At the end of the day, Newmarket Council was attempting to censor free speech on blogs and social media. Going down this road proved costly last term in Aurora. (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/03/17/rookie_councillor_insists_on_her_right_to_blog.html& http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/02/23/michael-taube-quiet-suburban-library-a-strange-place-for-a-free-speech-battle/& http://www.newstalk1010.com/shows/jerryagar/blogentry.aspx?blogEntryID=10206655 & http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1417843-library-board-should-reject-resignation/) 


24, A Newmarket Councillor purchased the domains of another Newmarket Councillor and this resulted in negative coverage of our town in the National Post. There was also an embarrassing AM640 exchange between Councillors related to alleged use of the “c-word” on Twitter by family members of Councillors. (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/03/28/newmarket-councillor-maddie-di-muccio-storms-out-of-meeting-over-lack-of-professionalism/)


25, Newmarket insults MADD York Region representative making a deputation related to a Councillor convicted of DUI. She writes about her negative experience at Newmarket Council to the local newspaper.  (http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1447892-council-behaviour-offensive-slap-in-face/& http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1425026-convicted-councillor-should-step-down/ & http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1452490-emanuel-won-t-resign/


26, Integrity Commissioner is called to Newmarket over a Toronto Sun article written by a Councillor who broke confidentiality. Newmarket Council said in public they would vote one way and voted the opposite way behind closed doors. The incident resulted in sanctions and a $5000 bill for Newmarket taxpayers. (http://www.torontosun.com/2012/08/31/newmarket-council-votes-against-honouring-boy& http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/2517287-too-many-people-paying-for-councillor-s-violation/)


27, Newmarket Councillor calls Mayor a misogynist and refuses to apologize for her remarks. Another round with the Integrity Commissioner with the taxpayers once again paying the tab. (http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/4137642-councillor-s-comments-to-mayor-out-of-line/)


28, Regional Councillor promises to donate his taxpayer funded Green Slush Fund to assist a residents group in Glenway with their OMB hearing. Town already picking up their own legal fees should the issue be settled at the OMB. (http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1425026-convicted-councillor-should-step-down/)


29, Newmarket regional representatives sign a pledge calling on the provincial government to raise taxes for transit despite the various billion dollar scandals. Most businesses in town are opposed to this idea according to a CFIB survey conducted in town. Residents also against any kind of revenue tools to pay for transit. (http://www.cfib-fcei.ca/cfib-documents/newmarket0713.pdf & http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/04/06/metrolinx_transit_taxes_rejected_by_66_per_cent_poll.html)


30, Newmarket Council resists Councillor expense policy saying politicians should be trusted to make their own spending decisions with taxpayer money. (http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/3837049-editorial-too-many-politicians-attended-vancouver-event/& http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/1461929-last-call-for-alcohol-on-taxpayer-s-dime/& http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1433848-councillor-expenses-golf-clubs/& http://www.yorkregion.com/opinion-story/2517271-galas-part-of-council-duties-donations-aren-t/& http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/06/01/council_expenses_cities_open_a_window_on_politician_spending.html


On October 27, 2014 there will be a municipal election in Newmarket. It is time to focus on the priorities that matter to you. Based on what I am hearing, those priorities include: creating local jobs, controlling tax hikes/spending, reducing traffic gridlock, making recreation more affordable, smart growth, quality services, hydro/water rates, festivals, transparency and professional representation. I look forward to working on these issues if elected Newmarket Regional Councillor after the next election. Clearly it is time for some changes on Newmarket Council.  Previously I floated 35 positive ideas to be considered as an alternative direction for Newmarket. As always Newmarket, I appreciate any feedback at 905-716-9655, [email protected] or on social media.


Thanks for reading…

Darryl Wolk




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