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Under the Brim

Web posted on December 13, 2006

Dear Santa,

Thank you so much for my early Christmas present. Boy, was it early a full six weeks before that big day. And I'm not complaining Santa, because I really, really needed a new set of tools, and November 13 was your only chance to procure them.

You see, Santa, the old tool kit that I got three years ago was not very good at all. Sure it could build things, but it was mainly little boxes, out on the edge of town. And those boxes were ever so boring they all looked just the same. And the old set was good to destroy things: it could chop down trees, tear down stone houses, rip out the very heart of this city. They were not very nice at all.

So, with my gift, Santa, with my new set of tools, I have great plans. There are lots and lots of projects I want to see completed before I have to trade it in sometime in 2010. Most of the jobs are of the fix-it kind. I want to see the wet waste facility fixed. Santa, you have no idea how much money we are wasting by not treating our own garbage. It has to be fixed, and fixed now. Wet Plant is Job #1.

And we need to fix our downtown. That, Santa, is a huge, huge project and it will take a long time to finish, so I want to see it started now. For instance, I want the Commercial Policy Review re-visited so that the downtown of Guelph receives priority consideration. I want the bar scene addressed so that the businesses that cause the problems are held responsible for the problems and pay for the consequences of the problems. I want to see restaurant patios remain open into the early hours of the morning so that discerning people's presence will dilute the hell that is currently the order of the day or night. I want to see the Library issue settled. Do you think it's too late for us to get back the Post Office, Santa? It would make a really neat library, right in the middle of the downtown. And that would bring a whole lot more people to shop there too.

I want to have the debate over the Loretto Convent decided soon. There's no need to spend lots of money immediately, Santa. All that has to be done is agree on a deal to use it, spend a little to protect it from further deterioration, and keep it on hold until the money is available to convert it to a great museum. I want to have the downtown parking addressed. If a parkade is needed, then build it. But don't make it too big, and let's put some retail space on the ground floor.

I want to see the re-emergence of the Smart Guelph principles for all growth in the city. I want to see infill. I want to see brown-field developments. I want to see sustainable mixed growth. I want to see openness in the running of the Guelph Junction Railway; openness in decision-making; openness and fairness in dealing with all sectors of the community.

And I want to see function rather than dysfunction; open-minded decisions rather than spite-driven prejudicial and pre-determined voting; an approachable government, welcoming to all sides of every debate. I want to see the Guelph Civic League continue to monitor the city leaders, to issue periodic reports, and work towards public awareness of the public process.

And then, Santa, but only then, will I stop making my sign that says "Guelphissauga" and put up my old one the one that said "Guelph The Gentle City".

Thank you, Santa. I know that the new tool set will be put to good use. And if it works as well as I hope it will, I might not need to ask for a new one next time.

Brian Holstein is a resident of Guelph who hosts a show featuring municipal affairs on CFRU community radio. Brian is a keen observer of human nature and the political scene and is unsparing in his opinions.

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