City of Orillia: Does Silence Rule, Threaten Democracy?

City council candidates in crowded Oct. 22nd election have a challenge—improve local government and make it more transparent, accountable to the people

By Awakening News Staff

Historians often say that if humans don’t read and understand their history, then the same mistakes will happen again and again.

Keep this in mind and consider the Orillia City Council’s practice of conducting closed-door meetings and leaving inquiries and reports from whistleblowers such as Awakening News unanswered.

Such secrecy keeps the people in the dark and makes it especially difficult for governments to develop trust with their constituents.

So, if little or no documentation was compiled in the long process to build the still-incomplete Orillia Recreation Centre, it’ll be virtually impossible for Orillia’s citizens to understand how to have an effective voice on that issue, since understanding the history of that project is key to fine-tuning its future.

Despite the apparent lack of public documentation of the decisions made to acquire land and build Orillia’s Recreation Centre, it’s important to ask:

  • Was there an environmental assessment done prior to acquiring the land on which to build the centre?
  • Were all pollutants and the source(s) of pollutants identified?
  • Was there an understanding of what type of aquifer and how much groundwater is underneath the centre? (Editor’s note: Orillia’s garbage dump, sewage system, industry, and now the Recreation Centre were built/established on the Lake Simcoe aquifer, which consists of the water that extends underground, beyond the visible shoreline.)
  • Is there a cost breakdown in chronological order, starting with the cost of consultants to make sure no encumbrances (environmental objections) would be experienced after the land for the centre was acquired from the corporate world?
  • Has the project met projected spending targets?
  • If there are cost overruns, were there recorded minutes of meetings addressing these overruns and what caused them?
  • Was there, or will there be, a summation of the above issues that could be published for the voters—prior to the upcoming municipal election?

GETTING IN CONTACT WITH CANDIDATES

Notably, the 18 candidates competing in the Oct. 22, 2018 election for eight seats on the Orillia City Council (two for each of the four city wards) are being sent questions like those shown above. Same goes for the two mayoral candidates.

The candidates also are to be sent pertinent questions about the process, transparency and wisdom of the privatization of Orillia Water Light and Power (OWLP). Stay tuned for our reports on the anticipated results of our candidate survey.