The Fountain Pen, Guelph's On-Line News

May The Fourth Be With You and Other Thoughts

Web posted on April 27, 2017

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

The grass is turning green, the birds are singing, the mosquitoes are buzzing and the flowers are blooming. May will soon be here and it will be time to enjoy the warm weather (or complain that it's too hot) and do some celebrating. We all know that "Star Wars" fans will be celebrating on the fourth or the fifth, depending if they are on the light or dark side of the Force. Don't just Sith there, do something. If you can't wait for May two four to enjoy a few brews, the seventh is National Beer Pong Day. For fans of Rod Serling the 11th is National Twilight Zone Day. Some people live it every day of the year. If you have the need for speed, and want to visit the danger zone, the 13th is Top Gun Day. The 14th is Mother's Day. You know the routine by now. We celebrate Victoria Day (our first unofficial weekend of summer) on the 22nd while in Quebec it is called Journee nationale des patriotes (National Patriot's Day en anglais). Ramadan begins on the 27th. Our American friends celebrate Memorial Day (their first unofficial weekend of summer) on the 29th. This month's full moon is on the 10th and is called the Flower Moon. I covered some of these and a few other celebrations last year with lots of bad puns, so I decided to give you a bit of a break this year and kept it short and sweet. There are many other events worth noting and maybe even getting excited about. Enjoy the festivities of your choice and as always, do it responsibly.

The vote for the next leader of the Conservative Party will take place on the 27th. They really need to change the way they elect a new leader. It sounds like a very complicated process. While every member will have a vote, all ridings will have the same voting strength. There will be points given to each candidate based on a formula. The American Electoral College system seems much simpler. Even our tax form seems simpler. Theoretically ridings with very few members could determine the outcome of the race. Just to complicate things, they are using a ranked ballot. I would have a very hard time participating in this type of voting system. I tend to be a very strategic voter. I cannot blindly rank the candidates. My vote is very likely going to change depending on who might be leading with each successive ballot. I could vote for a candidate who I might not be inclined to support who is in second place to lessen the chances of the candidate in first place who I really don't like, getting elected. There are too many variables to make a truly informed choice. This is why I do not support any type of ranked ballot in any election at any level. There is also something to be said for the old fashioned convention where deals take place with each successive ballot. It also makes the convention much more interesting to watching on TV.

My personal choice for leader has not changed since my first column about the search for a new leader. He is in the middle of the pack, and most of his policies have a reasonable blend of conservative and middle of the road. His platform is not as divisive as some of the other candidates. It would also be nice to have a leader with local roots. Unfortunately I don't think that Michael Chong has enough support to win. The last thing the Conservatives need is a TV personality who doesn't even live in Canada full time with delusions of grandeur becoming the next leader. With their voting system we could get a real surprise that no one expected. It will be interesting to see who does become the next leader and the direction the party will take. The next election is theirs to lose depending on who becomes the leader. I will have my usual look at the black boxes once the dust has settled.

The NDP race is heating up a bit with more candidates throwing their hats into the race. I will have a closer look at their race closer to their convention. They too have some difficult choices to make as to the direction of their party.

I keep wondering why we have planning department here in Guelph. It seems that every time a developer wants to build something, they want the city to change the Official Plan to accommodate their wishes. Ever notice that they all want to make the new building(s) much bigger than the official plan allows. They all want to have fewer parking spaces, increase the density, and to change the set back from the street. They never want to live within the Official Plan. Is our zoning too restrictive and unrealistic or are the developers being too greedy? I vote for greed.

We have two requests for changes right now. One on Wyndham Street and the other in the south end near Clair and Gordon, both from the same developer. I really don't think that either one should be approved unless they meet the current zoning requirements. Personally, I think that anything over six stories in the south end is too tall.

Unfortunately the developers seem to get their way on a fairly regular basis. For the most part the existing zonings seem fair and prudent, though they could be a little stricter in places. Yet there are far too many cases where our elected representatives seem inclined to side with the developer, no matter how many people in the area oppose the changes requested. If that fails, it goes to the Ontario Municipal Board which sides with developers far too often. It really does not help that the Places to Grow legislation expects Guelph to grow at what I consider to be an unrealistic pace with a much higher density. The prospect of having a developer come up with a plan to build some of those beautiful Soviet style apartment blocks is not as far fetched as you might think. Have a look at how Guelph is growing. The number of single family units built last year is the lowest in decades.

Then there is She Who Must Not Be Re-elected who has just realized that housing prices in and around Toronto might just be a little too high, and something has to be done to keep her in power. It is way too little and far too late. We don't know what the repercussions will be, but somehow I get the feeling that the end result might not be what they are hoping for.

Just like with the so called reduction in hydro rates, do not be taken in by this move of desperation by the fiberals. They will do and say anything between now and the next election just to try to stay in power. Stop listening to them. Don't believe that they are doing anything in the interest of the people of Ontario. They only thing they care about is staying in power. They will be throwing a lot of our money back at us between now and the next election, telling us how great they are and how the plan to make things even better (for them).

Let's look at this mess from a completely different perspective. The high real estate prices have resulted in people having to commute greater distances to find affordable housing thus driving prices up in other areas. This means we have more cars on the already overcrowded roads. More cars mean more pollution. Didn't the government shut down the coal plants to cut down on pollution? Aren't they telling us that we should be driving less? But wait, there is more. They have raised the price of gas and other energy with their so called cap and trade scheme. All these people are now giving the government more money as they drive further and further. I can see why the fiberals didn't do anything until now because they wanted all the extra money. Public transit money seems to be spent where they can get the most votes.

By the time some people get to work they are already stressed out from their commute which could take a couple of hours or more depending on road and weather conditions, not to mention the lack of sleep. I am sure that this is causing productivity to drop and costing our economy millions if not billions of dollars. There will be more health issues both mental and physical. Just what our health care system needs after all the cutbacks. The quality of family life must be suffering with people arriving home and stressed out after the long commute. Divorce lawyers and family counsellors will be very busy. These are just some of the hidden costs associated with the high cost of real estate that nobody is talking about.

Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.

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