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West Lincoln MURS — Letters to the Editor (3)

The following 3 Letters to the Editor appeared in newsnow:

West Lincoln MURS needs “breathing room” in budget: reader

Dear Editor,

Controversy has been swirling around Mayor Joyner’s MURS since NewsNow’s recent coverage of West Lincoln council revealed some serious issues.
Several residents wrote to your paper and to NewsNow to state that many in the community are confused about what, exactly, is included in the $23.5 million project that was approved.

Some said that there are far more urgent needs in the community than Joyner’s arena: road, sewer and water improvements, the replacement of thousands of trees destroyed by the wind project, the protection of the health of residents affected by wind turbines, the beautification of downtown Smithville and the historic hamlets of rural West Lincoln.

Many question that West Lincoln is financially ready for such a project. Because the township has put away very little money to pay for it, they will have to borrow millions.

They are conveniently commandeering the $7.8 million community fund that rural residents feel should have been used for the benefit of those most affected by the wind turbines. If the wind company goes bankrupt, is bought by new owners or the provincial government cancels the wind contracts, the township will be forced to raise taxes to pay the debt. We know that taxes will have to be raised anyway — 13.5% in the first three years of the project alone.

When the mayor was asked about a protester who was picketing the township hall about the new arena, he deigned to comment. We need a new arena for the new people who will be moving to West Lincoln, said the mayor. But will those new people be able to afford to live here?

A 13.5 per cent tax increase will raise housing costs, the largest household expenditure. Reasonable housing costs are one of the attractions of West Lincoln.

If we indeed want to bring new people to West Lincoln, a 13.5 per cent tax increase over three years is the wrong way to go about making housing affordable.

But why demolish and replace a structure that is only 40 years old anyway? Canada these days seems to be the Wild West of demolition and building anew. It’s time to challenge our culture of consumerism and disposability.

Let’s send Council a message to maintain, repair and reuse rather than neglect, demolish and replace.

Smithville’s ‘70s era arena is just a small part of a tsunami of mid-century modern buildings in need of refurbishment in this country.

All modern buildings, including Joyner’s MURS, eventually become old buildings.

Reinvestment in our existing built environment must become routine if we truly want to achieve a GREEN ECONOMY.

A green building is one that is already built. The material and energy invested in buildings is considerable.

Construction and demolition waste make up over 30 per cent of the waste Canadians produce. Rehabilitating and reusing older buildings avoids the destruction of natural resources and saves the energy used to transport and process material to create new construction.

Yes, figuring out a way to refurbish Smithville’s arena and other modern era buildings while revitalizing the community to make it a great place for people will be a challenge that will require all the creativity we can muster.

But remember, many people who choose to move to older, small communities talk about their desire to live somewhere that is distinctive, to be someplace other than NO PLACE.

Saving and reusing older buildings, the town’s historic fabric, the material evidence of it’s stories, can help create thriving neighborhoods, good jobs and a vibrant community. Conserving older buildings connects us to our past and strengthens our sense of community.

Our neighbour, Wainfleet, seems to understand this. Their arena is about the same age as Smithville’s. Instead of neglecting it and allowing it to deteriorate, they have invested in it’s maintenance.

Our township has neglected Smithville’s arena and is now faced with a cost of $6-7 million to refurbish it. And no one, it seems, is being held accountable.

Still, $6-7 million is a far cry from $23.5 million. And that amount might just give the Township the breathing room it will need to turn the bleak strip malls and desolate parking lots that dominate downtown Smithville into a place worth caring about, while giving rural residents value for the taxes they pay.

Helen Kszan

– 30 –

Council vs “majority” in final face on MURS: reader

Dear Editor,

Paul Wiebe just fired a booming slap shot right at Mayor Doug Joyner and those on council.

This group of political cross checkers have been elbowing, tripping, and trying to slash into the yearly incomes of the families within West Lincoln ever since this Mayor formed the TAX’EM ALL MURS.

What an amazing slap shot for all of us who are in full support of Paul Wiebe as he parks himself perfectly at the right-hand side of his opponents net that stands behind him.

This slap shot has blown right by the Mayor crossed the goal line and now the “RED LIGHT” has come on.

This mayor and his group want us tax payers to foot a bill for a $23 million facility.

Within a local paper a while back, I’m positive that it was already asked of the mayor to get off his donkey, put his hat in hand, and head off to Queens Park and lobby for some cold hard tax payer cash.

Hmmmmm. Did he go? Did he ask? Seems weird not to go and ask. Does anyone remember reading or hearing anything about him going?

I was only asking him to fulfill his elected job duties as the Mayor. I do however remember reading that he once took the bus from Grimsby to Brock University. Other than that,

its been a lot of photo Ops with him cutting ribbons and his constant promoting of this 23-million-dollar debt expenditure.

One can only imagine what the final cost of this would be with it being politically implemented with taxpayer funds.. Hmmmmmm.

Paul Wiebe understands it and he is extremely passionate about the common-sense use of saving, budgeting and having reserves to draw upon.

I met with him I talked with him and we shared our views on why this MURS project is harmful financially to the taxpayers now, and for many years ahead. Mayor Joyner fails to see that what was once a small town where everybody knew everyone has now become a bedroom community.

The majority of people work outside of this town and most new residents travel far distances back and forth to work, an added expense they already budgeted for without the MURS tax increase added in. The Mayor and council may think well its only 12 bucks a month but that’s 12 bucks they just took away from these residents spending at local businesses. X that by 30 people over a month and that’s $360 a month or $4320 a year from only just one of the many businesses here in West Lincoln.

Raise it the same over the next three years and you just took a total of $12,920 from one business over a three-year period factoring in, only 30 of their monthly customers. Kind of like a perfectly hidden pyramid system, aimed at pinching the homeowner and all businesses small or large.

Most of the property taxes within our community are already at comparable levels of other same size communities whom are receiving substantially more services than the few select services we receive.

Our water and sewer rates are among the highest and climbing. Every tax dollar you take, every dollar water rate increase you force upon people is a dollar you take away from businesses.

Adult children can`t even find vacant rental space to move into within this community.

Street boulevards have dead tress and many trees with disease. Many of our roads need repair and many of the gravel dirt roads need paved over.

The road and side walk areas in downtown Smithville from College Street to Industrial Park Road, are in desperate need of upgrading.

We’ve needed this for nearly a decade and all the Mayor and council has wanted to do is ram this MURS project through.

New home ownership expansion within our community continues to excel rapidly.

Yet, the willingness of council to promote a ”we are open for business” commitment to bring new Companies with higher paying jobs has not been a priority and its just not on their radar. A $14 million arena upgrade proposal got axed and now this new one was approved at $23.6 million. That’s about an 82% increase. The hardship this MURS project will cause for what`s left of the working middle class, the working poor, the elderly and for those on fixed incomes will be substantial. This MURS facility deal smells and it smells bad!

Paul Wiebe launched this as a one-man protest and it is not surprising that its gaining a lot of support he has my full support and its growing fast.

Mayor Joyner has produced no majority of support from the people. He`s a man short on his TAX’EM ALL MURS team though, as Coun. Dave Blysma has called into question the MURS project and it seems the other members are trying to sweep his questions under the ice surface.

Not going to happen! It’s time for Mayor Joyner and the TAX`EM ALL MURS to come out of the net and once again face the majority who oppose the MURS at centre ice for a FINAL FACEOFF!!

Murray Sagar


Confused? Reader joins growing roster

Dear Editor,

I’m SO CONFUSED about this MUR!!!!!!!!!!

Myself as well as at least one member of council is also confused!!

I’m referring to the Multi-Purpose Recreational Facility Survey, a public survey, the results being adopted at Public Works meeting Oct 16, 2015.

Appendix “E” Question #2 showed that a whopping 60.77 per cent indicated that they would not be willing to pay higher property taxes to support a new facility.

With only 5.56 per cent indicating they would be willing to pay higher taxes.

Yet, here we are being presented with an increase of 13.6 per cent compound increase over three years on our taxes, just for the MURS. This is not counting any further increases for other assessments.

I’m confused by the loss of support from other council members for Coun. David Bylsma and his concerns.

I’m confused by council’s decision to turn down a proposed $14 million complex last year in favour of a $23.6 million this year.

I’m confused by the question of needs versus wants; this council has it all wrong !!

I’m further confused by the additions to the“Plan B“ proposal from the Oct. 17, 2016 Design Report and adopted at Public Works/Recreation Committee Meeting Oct. 17, 2016, and then adopted by Council Oct. 24, 2016.

These additions were made without council’s approval. These additions were very close to the `Plan A“ which was rejected at the same Oct. 24 Public Works meeting.

Who made these changes without Council approval?

I’m confused by the fact that the two existing baseball diamonds will be closed at the ‘Fairgrounds’, forcing the slo-pitch out of the downtown area.

Is this not robbing Peter to pay Paul?? That is one recreation activity at the expense of another.

I’m confused by the fact that a 30-year debenture is to be taken out for the MURS.

This 30-year debt will be over and above the maintenance and replacement costs incurred for the complex during that 30-year period.

I’m perplexed as there has not been mention of how many addition staff will have to be hired for the MURS i.e. library, arena, gym, multi-use room, splash pad, etc. etc. etc. This extra staffing, of course, impacts on our already heavy tax burden.

My great grandchildren will still be paying for this MURS project during their lifetime – using the MURS or not.

HELP, I’m SOOOO CONFUSED! Is the tail wagging the dog?

Dave Willis

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