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We attended to meet the candidates, many of whom have no municipal experience or knowledge of the limitations of municipal government. Public questions can be useful but, we did not attend to listen to a few people offering up sermons.

While cheap shots at such meetings are unwise, unfair and just plain rude, they also serve no purpose other than calling everyone's attention to the speaker's social skills. How lucky we are in Chatsworth that such public meetings have no metal detectors at the doors or security guards.

Generally, all-candidates' meetings are arranged and moderated by local organizations (chambers of commerce) and not by the municipality which could be seen as biased. Chatsworth has no chamber of commerce and the "Chatsworth Taxpayers Association" did not come forward to help perhaps because it has endorsed a number of candidates.

So, while not authorized by the Municipal Elections Act, the task was undertaken by the Clerk/CAO, Will Moore, who arranged for Bob Elliot, long-time owner of Elliot's Hardware Store, Williamsford, to moderate at no cost. Mr. Elliot did a commendable job at what turned out to be a one-issue meeting — the biodigester. From my notes, there were seven speakers with topics ranging from,

First: fiduciary responsibility, financial year end, how often members review finances, ranking priorities

Second: unsafe bridge closed

Third: cost of biodigester, vision for biodigester

Fourth: transparency related to biodigester, subsidizing sunset strip

Fifth: transparency, recommendation to find answers on a food & water watch website

Sixth: commendation on bridge conservation

Seventh: clarification re biodigester, is a study being done, who'll pay

Following the meeting, one of the speakers complained he was singled out and shut down by Mr. Elliot, likely because the biodigester had eaten up a lot of time. Has it occurred to anyone that an equal number of electors present were thankful that Mr. Elliot did his best to cut off the flow of one-issue questions? Other questions went unasked because of the biodigester crowd. It's unreasonable to believe that biodigester issues could be solved at an all-candidates meeting. If anyone has a more comprehensive request, then make an appointment on the agenda. The most vocal ratepayers never seem to stand for election.

New candidates are to be commended for stepping up. Unfortunately, some of their proposals are contrary to provincial law. Chatsworth cannot sever more lots from farms to create more assessment. The Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement and the Nutrient Management Act all prevent that.

Chatsworth cannot 'help' business. The Municipal Act prohibits assistance:

106. (1) Despite any Act, a municipality shall not assist directly or indirectly any manufacturing business or other industrial or commercial enterprise through the granting of bonuses for that purpose.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the municipality shall not grant assistance by,

(a) giving or lending any property of the municipality, including money;

(b) guaranteeing borrowing;

(c) leasing or selling any property of the municipality at below fair market value; or

(d) giving a total or partial exemption from any levy, charge or fee.

It will be interesting to see how the vote goes.

Joan Albright





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