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RURAL COUNCIL SUPPORTS PARALLEL QUEST
FOR IMPROVED RURAL DEMOCRACY

"Carleton County" being sought, to provide better rural governance
Formal announcement of the beginning of the effort to create rural "CARLETON COUNTY", made Sunday, July 31, 2005

RCOC Reporter

On a lazy summer afternoon, at a farm on sloping banks overlooking the Ottawa River, in rural West Carleton, history was being made this July 31, 2005.



A hopeful sign of things to come ---efficient governance of the rural townships representing the areas covered  by the old Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.  This would produce greater value for fewer tax dollars, much the way things were before amalgamation was undemocratically forced upon the well-run townships.
 


View of Ottawa River from front lawn of 169 year-old MacLaren farmhouse


The sprawling front lawn of the 169-year-old home of Jack MacLaren's farm, on MacLaren Sideroad, was the venue for speeches from former municipal politicians, possible would-be politicians, and members of several rural community and farm organizations, who addressed the 50-or-so quickly-assembled citizen-minded guests who attended.

Residents could have easily spent their valuable sunny-summer-Sunday afternoon on any number of family-recreational pursuits, but instead, took the time to confront their overriding concerns over problems of their failing democracy, that seem to be increasingly eroding away the once-proud rural way of life.

 
 


"The rural values that built this country are fast being eroded by inept urban-focused politicians and hyperactive bureaucrats just trying to make work for themselves --to keep their bloated jobs."

                                                                                                                     -West Carleton farmer


 
 

"It didn't have to be this way," said one local, long-time farmer in conversation, before the speeches began. He expressed the sentiment that, "The rural values that built this country are fast being eroded by inept urban-focused politicians and hyperactive bureaucrats just trying to make work for themselves --to keep their bloated jobs."

The man seems to have made an insightful observation. Most of the later speakers, in one fashion or other, touched on the City of Ottawa's inefficiencies, self-serving urban attitudes and lack of interest in rural affairs -- all leading to colossal waste, over-taxation, reduced services, bureaucratic interference, and rural under-representation.

 
 
First to the microphone, host,
Jack MacLaren
,
welcomed guests with his familiar "Back to the Future" greeting.

He stated that this was a proud day for proud rural folk. "We've had enough of the City politicians and bureaucrats, mismanaging our affairs," he stated, and we're here to do something about it; that is, to work towards the formation of our own rural county ---with our own

 
 
  The MacLaren farm is one of the oldest --if not the oldest-- working farm in former West-Carleton "Torbolten Township".

Jack said that the first meeting of Torbolten Township Council, took place "in the kitchen of this very farmhouse".
 
 
 
Mayor and our own Councillors.

Mr. MacLaren noted that rural residents have always managed their own affairs well. "We've always been efficient, lived within our means, and have always worked democratically with our neighbours. We were masters of our own destiny."

"All that has changed since amalgamation with the City of Ottawa."

"Ottawa, at the time of amalgamation had $400 million in reserves. Now it has only $37 million left. Ottawa currently spends $100,000,000 more each year than it takes in. This mad spending is unsustainable, and we're powerless to stop it"

 
 
Ottawa currently spends $100,000,000 more each year than it takes in.

 
 

"...Because of the structure of City Council we will always be effectively out-voted on every issue, by a ratio of 20 to 3. We would never be able to change anything for the better, and inner-city politicians and unelected bureaucrats tell us how to run our farms and live our lives. That's not democracy. That's not effective representation."

MacLaren emphasized that the rural economy is presently under tremendous stresses, already. "And everything City Hall does, only makes matters worse for us. Every day brings us closer to the complete destruction of our rural way of life, if something isn't soon done to localize our governance."

"Having our own Mayor, and rural Councillors throughout the County, we would be managed by people who know rural life and know what they're doing. We would be run far more efficiently, and our elected representatives would be local, thus totally in touch and available."

He closed by stating, "We strongly believe that the formation of 'Carleton County' will give us the opportunity to correct the many deficiencies of the present governance model, and allow us to choose our own destiny, democratically ...and within budget."

He added, "It won't be easy, but it will be worth it!"

 
 

Janne Campbell, President of the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton, quoted the Mission Statement of the Rural Council as:

"The Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton is a coalition of rural citizens and organizations representing communities, property owners and small business, dedicated to the preservation and protection of rural rights, values and freedom from unwarranted urban regulation, through education, advocacy and political leverage."

She stated that the Mission Statement mandated the Rural Council to look at every conceivable way to "protect rural rights, values and freedoms", and that is why the Rural Council is putting forth every possible effort to help make the City's up-coming 'Rural Summit', in November, a success.

  Janne Campbell made it clear to those present, including the media, that the Rural Council is still not giving up on the City.

However, she made it equally clear that the upcoming Rural Summit appears to be the City's 'last chance' to set things right with the rural sector of the City.

"There are many critical issues that will have to be resolved," she said.

 

"But, for the very same reasons as those just listed, our parallel support for the formation of the democratic alternative of 'Carleton County' is a 'no-brainer'. No stone will be unturned, in our search for equitable, fiscally responsible and representative governance," she added.

Campbell said that the Motion, passed at the Rural Council's July 27th meeting, stated the following:

"Whereas we would prefer to see our issues resolved within the City of Ottawa, and whereas the reconstitution of Carleton County may be an alternative option, therefore we support the pursuit of a new, reconstituted Carleton County."

She explained, "The very reason that Bob McKinley, Past President of the Rural Council, first proposed having a Rural Summit, to city staff and rural Councillors, back in December /04, was to strive to resolve our issues within the City of Ottawa."

"So, while we have fully supported the Rural Summit, in anticipation of it reaching some productive outcomes, we are gravely concerned about many of the current activities going on at City Hall ---and that is why we are not putting all of our (farm-fresh) eggs into one basket, so to speak."

 
 
"If we are expected to participate at the Rural Summit in the belief that the City is sincere about addressing rural concerns and issues, then it should be demonstrating that NOW."

...The Rural Summit appears to be "the City's last chance to set things right with the rural sector".

 
 

What are the concerns?

"Firstly, we strongly oppose the rural ward boundary changes, which effectively reduce the rural wards from 5 to 3 and reduce our representation by 40%. In addition to the many public consultation meetings we attended to ask that the number of rural wards not be reduced, we also staged a rally at City Hall on June 8th, the day that the ward boundary recommendations were passed by Council. We had many great speakers and we thank those people and Councillors who attended and showed their support.

"Secondly, despite assurances that bylaws and regulations not mandated by the Province would be put on hold until after the Rural Summit, work is still proceeding.

"Thirdly, the City has approved recommendations from staff asking for significant changes to the City of Ottawa Act, which will further reduce our democratic rights, increase tax levies and violate our property rights. In July, the RCOC sent an open letter to a number of rural and urban newspapers opposing many of the recommendations. The letter was also emailed to members.

"If we are expected to participate at the Rural Summit in the belief that the City is sincere about addressing rural concerns and issues, then it should be demonstrating that NOW. We have grave concerns regarding the accelerated pace of above activities, and believe that the City could easily delay these actions for the next four months, if it wants to demonstrate sincerity and good faith about wanting to discuss these issues and find solutions."

Campbell stated that the Rural Summit appears to be "the City's last chance to set things right with the rural sector" of the City.

Janne went on to declare, how vitally important it is that rurals regain local decision-making on many of the local business and farm issues that impact so heavily on our way of life. The very survival of our rural businesses, farms and communities, depends upon us being masters of our own affairs, and not continue be mismanaged by clueless urban bureaucrats, who are falling over themselves trying to produce bigger and better social-engineered programs ---to fit everyone.

 
 
"Even now, with our higher taxes and reduced services, the City's operations are unsustainable."

                                    - Janne Campbell, President of the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton

 
 

"To sum it up: We're over-managed, and we do not get good value for our taxes. Even now, with higher taxes and reduced services, the City's operations are unsustainable.

"So, if you ask me if the 'Carleton County' idea makes sense; it sure does! As President of the Rural Council, we wish you every success in your endeavours."

 
 
Dwight Eastman, former Mayor of West Carleton, and later, West Carleton Councillor, with the City, had a lot of things to say about the poor management of the amalgamated City of Ottawa.

But, he said that while a lot of the problems are created at the City level, there are many problems being created at the Provincial level, as well. He said, "Not only do we need to fix our local governance, but we need to revitalize rural Ontario, too."

Referring to Ottawa's out-of-control spending, Eastman stated that when he was Mayor of West-Carleton, his salary and that of his entire staff, combined, were less than he made as a City Councillor. With the amalgamated City of Ottawa ---which was supposed to save money--- the spending is off the scale.

 


Dwight Eastman


Eastman praised the initiatives taken by Jack MacLaren, to start pushing for the better governance model of Carleton County, then listed several of the advantages of such a system.

He closed with, "There is no downside to forming Carleton County."

 
 
Randy Hillier, President (and founding member) of the Lanark Landowners Association (LLA), was in his usual good form when it came to telling those present of the horrors of bungling politicians and out-of-control bureaucrats.

He urged those who would work to form Carleton County, that the task would be arduous, but, "You must not take 'No' for an answer."

Hillier stated that farming once grew and prospered as one of the "backbone" industries of the rural Canada. "Now, most farms are suffering ---and worse, we don't have 'backbone'."

"Farming is suffering, but we don't need help from Government. We need less Government!"

 
Randy Hillier
 
"We've lost our property rights, and we've lost control of our Government. Remember when the politicians and bureaucrats used to work for us? Now we work for them."

 
 
"Farming is suffering, but we don't need help from Government. We need less Government!"

                                                
                     - Randy Hillier, President of the LLA

 
 
 
He added, "We not only have to take ownership of our rights, we have to take back control of our government."

Mr. Hillier sees Carleton County as the most logical evolution towards governing ourselves, once again.

 
 
 
Tony Walker talked about the newly-formed Goulbourn Landowners Group, and some of the new problems that more than fifty Stittsville-area landowners have been experiencing, since amalgamation ---caused by City cutbacks on rural ditch drainage maintenance, and by actions of over-active urban-centralist councillors and planners.

With extensive recent land-development occurring on true wetlands around Stittsville, the City is attempting to replenish its wetland quota, by targeting owners of lands who would be otherwise 'DRY LANDOWNERS', except for the fact that they are being flooded out by redirected water from the newly developed wetlands, previously referred to.

 


Tony Walker


The potential result of these false re-designations would be to rob landowners of 85% of the Real Estate-appraised values of their properties.

Does Carleton County make sense to Tony Walker, of the Goulbourn Landowners Group?

"You bet it does!"

(Editor's note- See: Reference Webpage)

 
 
 
Bruce Webster, of the Richmond Village Association noted that a classic example of the need for rural self-determination ---i.e.: as in a "Carleton County," is demonstrated in the City's treatment of the Village of Richmond.

He told of the situation that arose in Munster, whereby a communal wastewater system was needed to replace the failing sewage lagoon system there. A high-performance treatment technology was quoted at $3.8 million, and a fixed bid for that amount was entered.

However, even though the City put out a 'Request for Proposals', for on-site treatment systems, it had other plans for a 'big-city' pipeline, which it did not disclose to Richmond residents.

 


Bruce Webster


City engineers falsified costing and health-hazard data, and by working through its hand-picked consultants, short-circuited the Environmental Assessment process, to ultimately run a pressurized sewage forcemain through the reservoir which is the drinking water source of over 5,000 residents on private shallow wells.

To make matters even worse, not only does Munster still have its lagoons, but Richmond now has a lagoon back in service, plus a huge NEW sewage stink at its mid-Village pumping station, caused by the unmanageable septic sewage from Munster.

(Editor's note- See: Reference Webpage)

 
 
City engineers falsified costing and health-hazard data, and by working through its hand-picked consultants, short-circuited the Environmental Assessment process, to ultimately run a pressurized sewage forcemain through the reservoir which is the drinking water source of over 5,000 residents on private shallow wells.

 
 

And all of this was done for a cost of ---not $3.8 million, but--- $14.9 million in 2004, alone (City's figures), with over $10 million wasted prior to 2004, and over $5.5 million still to spend (on Munster lagoon retrofit, and booster station). "That totals over $30 million ---leaving more than $26 million in wasted tax dollars--- and a Walkerton-style ticking time bomb thrown in".

Bruce noted, "I've laboured you with more details of our case, simply to demonstrate what a nightmare amalgamation has been for us, and why I solidly embrace the concept of having OUR OWN Carleton County --with honest, local and accountable government that would use our tax dollars wisely, (because of local accountability), and serve the public interests the way public officials are SUPPOSED TO!"

"Bring me CARLETON COUNTY immediately!"

 
 
 
Numerous other speakers presented their comments and sound rationales in favour of 'Carleton County'.

Jack MacLaren thanked the invited participants for acting on the short notice of a couple of days, and welcomed all to stay for further discussion --- over some food and refreshments.

 
 

Following the speeches, the barbecues were turned on for a 'good old country get-together' with great food and great conversations --but first-- two special songs were performed by Marlene Black and her daughter, Laura, a duo Randy Hillier introduced as, "the best two minstrels in the Ottawa Valley".

 

Marlene and Laura sang up resounding renditions of their two compositions: "The Lanark Revolt" and "Trouble in the Bush". Both ballads deal with the bureaucratic harassment of farmers during already difficult times, and other  government intrusiveness. The lyrics of "The Lanark Revolt" summed it up well with: "Farmers are fighting so you will still find, Canadian food on your plates, Will anyone care when they are all gone, And we get all our food from the states?" ...The audience loved it.

 

Related Links:

Two different Polls, (taken a year apart), tell the same story:
         ●    Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton Survey - July 2004
         ●    580-CFRA- TALK RADIO - Web POLL - August 1, 2005

Aug  7 -  2005   In Harris' footsteps - Letter to the Editor - The Ottawa Citizen
Aug  5 -  2005   Re-creation of Carleton County invites rural residents back to the future
Aug  5 -  2005   First Steps the Toughest - The West Carleton Review
Aug  5 -  2005   Goulbourn residents voice concern with city decision-making - OVN
Aug  3 -  2005   City warned future hinges on rural summit - The Ottawa Citizen
July  8 -  2005   Carleton County - Back to the Future - The West Carleton Review

The Carleton Landowners Association has created its own website:
     www.carletoncounty.ca

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