Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Is What You See — What You Get?

Posted by auroracitizen on February 20, 2010

Why is Council sticking their nose in where it doesn’t belong — the Board of Education and Wells Street School.

Answer: Votes!

Aurora Council has no business messing with the business of the Board of education. Council would be offended if the Board messed with their business.

They hate it when the Province (i.e. OMB) steps into Town business, but don’t share the same view about them stepping into Board business. Why? Because the folks who live around Wells Street School are active and vocal and represent a significant voting block.

Sound familiar? Does STOP ring any bells? That was the group who were upset about Transmission lines being increased backing on to their properties (Richard Johnson can provide significantly more information for those who are unaware).

Mayor wanna be Morris was all over that group when she ran for Mayor. In fact, that group was instrumental in getting her elected.

But what did she actually do for them – nada, zip, zilch. In fact, she rarely attended meetings and when the poop hit the fan, she was long gone and left them blowing in the wind.

To be clear, we are not advocating for or against the interested folks at Wells Street School  — or the folks at STOP — so don’t bother getting mad at us about either issue. That’s not what this post is about. It’s about the Mayor getting involved where she doesn’t belong and making promises that are more about votes than getting anything done.

Even better, she has the nerve to state “It almost sounds like the review process has a bit of a flaw in it”. Well, if anyone is an authority about flawed process Mayor Phyllis Morris would be an expert after the process of our Integrity Commissioner.

We are just highlighting the methodology of Mayor Morris. She will parade around gathering press coverage, fighting a battle she shouldn’t be involved in, for no other reason than  it suits her election plans.

And before you say this was council decision, another quote “I have met with Councillor Gallo and I have contacted Mr Revington, and it has been decided that a letter should go from my office …”

So beware CAWS, don’t be fooled into thinking that you have Town support. You don’t. You just have the mirage of someone who is pretending she cares when all she really cares about is your vote in November.

22 Responses to “Is What You See — What You Get?”

  1. evelyn buck said

    Here’s another thought. The Province, in an attempt to curb urban sprawl which everyone hates, are requiring municipalities to plan ‘intensifixcation”

    It’s a pro-active approach to several perceived problems It makes more efficient use of infrastructure. It’s a way of getting people out of cars and into public transit, walking or riding bicycles. .

    Even if the Province wasn’t being pro-active, the shortage of developable land drives up the price of land . Detached lots no longer provides sufficient return for investment.It’s the reason for town-house and condos.
    But we look down our noses at condos. .
    It still surprises me to discover that people have no concept of the limits of municipal control in planning. Land owners have rights. An urban municiplaity cannot refuse development applications if there are hard services available.If we do, the decision can be taken out of our hands and we lose the only control we have and that is to influence the details.

    Hydro is a provincial responsibility. They are finding it difficult. They want to sell it because of the cost and political problems. There are no buyers because of the cost and political problems. Didn’t Bob Rae give something away something for next to nothing that cost millions
    of tax dollars. It saved money to give it away to the private sector.

    It’s similar to garbage disposal. We ship thousands of tons to the States every day at millions od dollars expense, in trucks spewing out diesel fumes all the way down the highway. It would be interesting to know if there’s a relative factor between exhaust pollution and coal-burning generation plants. can you belive the figures spewed out by the variety of experts we hear from.

    The Green Bins are hailed as a marvelous success. Despite all the hoopla I am not convinced. At first they said no plastic bags. Then the stuff proved To be so disgusting with crawling maggots, they allowed plastic bags. Now they are saying again, no plastic bags.

    They are not collecting from multiple residential building where people have no opportunity to compost. They are discouraging composting from homes with gardens because they need the material for the composting process to work.

    The region is now talking aboutcharging for garbage. Like we are not already paying with taxes.

    Ecology outfits abound with money from foundations, each one with a vested interest in surviving. And nobody ever challenging their statements because they want to save the planet,don’t you know.

    So we spend billions and tread water and countries like China and India educate their children and race ahead to take over the world without a single shot being fired.

  2. evelyn buck said

    I like the facade of the Wells Street School. I think the little Town houses on the soth side of the park are charming One night I went to watch a grandson’s game and happened to glance in my rear view mirror. For a second I couldn’t figure where I was. I think neighbourhoods design should be attractive. A lot of thought goes into streetscape in new neighboourhoods and they are designed by developers.

    I do not expect the school board’s decision to be reversed. And I do think we should give a thought to what comes next.

    I always thought the park was the most likely area for renewal. The long backyards that accommodated multiple privies in the years before sewers lend themselves very well to re-development.I don’t like the idea of monster homes which would change the character of the neighbourhood. .It seems to me the area should play the same role it always. A place for families, close knit and secure.

    If the school board’s decision stands, re-development of the site will be the next issue to deal with. I am kinda looking forward to thet.The people who went before us did a good job of creating something good and we should do no less. Keep what’s worth keeping, and if that’s just the character .so be it.

    I still like the facade of Wells Street School So…bite me

    • someone who loves this town more than Anonymous said

      Did I read that right? Councilor Buck just write “bite me” ?

      Like, Oh-my-god …. I’m so offended.

      I’m sure somewhere some yuppie do-gooder is consulting a lawyer to see if this contravenes a code of conduct and requires an apology.

      As for me I can’t stop chuckling.

      I don’t agree with her view for the facade but I admire both her conviction, and sense of humor.

      Lets hope no one actually mistakes this as an invitation, because there is a good chance that they would end up biting off more than they can chew!

    • Anon Anon said

      There are certainly enough people taking photos of Wells Steet School. Yesterday I was driving past and spotted another photog. Potential developers?

  3. Tim the Enchanter said

    “Why is Council sticking their nose in where it doesn’t belong? ”

    Because they have nothing to do and they know it.
    Back in the day there was tons of stuff to look after like the police, schools hydro etc.
    But now Town business takes about ten minutes and it’s dead boring so they continuously stumble around in issues that are out of their purview and often out of their weight class, hoping to snag a few votes or a cheezy photo op.


    Draw a north/south line down Yonge.
    Draw an east/west line across Wellington.
    Four corners.
    Four wards – NW/NE/SW/SE.
    Four councillors.
    One Mayor.
    By the time they finish making sure the potholes are filled and the dog crap is picked up they’ll be too tired for empire building and rainbow chasing.

    So future candidates …..
    It’s easy. It’s overdue. Get it done.


    You can not get my vote.
    All you have to do is defend the status quo and argue that Aurora actually does need eight councillors ‘cuz … well, you know, ‘cuz.

    What a funny little town.

    ps. Memo to YRDSB re: Wells St. Pile.
    The day after school ends in June please send in the wrecking ball and put the place out of our misery. That leaves almost four months for the nostalgia nuts to take pictures.

    • someone who loves this town more than Anonymous said

      Wow….I’m not usually onside with Tim, but on this I wholeheartedly agree.

      Preserving the status-quo has lead us to unprecedented dysfunction and lack of community and ethics. It costs citizens oodles of cash to bankroll seemingly “free” PR for those we elect to provide us our services.

      I thought 6 councilors, but 4 may work too.

      As for Wells, I can’t see it finding a use, but Condos? Really.

      Wow, thanks for thinking outside of the box. Yeah condos with a facade….my god, how pathetic. What a slap in the face to history, but no doubt will help secure another useless “heritage” plaque or silly award or something.

      Something so plastic seems like a perfect fit for what the town’s “Farmers” market has become.

    • Anon Anon said

      Hey, Christopher Watts, I thought you loved the farmers market? Don’t hate it just because of the demented Granger’s participation. That would be too much liking giving in to bullies.

      And what do you see as a viable use for the Wells Street School site?

    • someone who loves this town more than Anonymous said

      My opinion on Wells St. is that it is setup and should function as a school.

      Efforts that can find a match for it to be used as a school by all boards of education, private and separate should be made first and foremost. I don’t believe that this has been exhausted.

      Should the Mayor and any of her sycophantic drones be using this issue for personal P.R., most assuredly not.

      A mixed use school for Montessori/daycare/special needs/adult education… would be a great use for Wells.
      This week’s Auroran suggested it be used as a French Immersion school. Considering the shortage of seats, why not?

      I’m still perplexed that given the projected “intensification” of 20,000 more residents in 20 years that we won’t need a public school like Wells, and one in the current location. Where do they expect this increase of students to go?

      If Wells isn’t to be used as a school the town should look to secure it as a historic site and prepare it for public use.

      It’s a shame that so much $ was spent on the Church St. School/Heritage/Cultural/Elitist or whatever they’re calling it now center. There most likely is no $ left to undertake the renovations necessary of Wells to accomplish this because of the significant push for the Church St. School.

      If the town was interested at all in Heritage, and not acquiring or committing silly plaques or monuments, Wells could serve some other facility shortcomings in our community.

      The forthcoming incomplete and sorry excuse for, or should I say “draft” for, a formal rec plan outlines the need for both a Gym and a Youth Center.

      Could they find a home inside Wells?

      I guess not until another $100,000 in studies is to be conducted. Unbelievable the amount of money we spend on studies in this town.

      Newmarket housed an “indoor” Farmer’s market. It was a success, they were even able to hold one around Christmas time.

      With all the rain last year one could only believe how welcome an indoor market may sound. Think less of a flea market but a place where produce and wares could be sold in a common space, maybe in stalls beyond the 10Am-1PM period of the market as it stands today. Local merchants could benefit by sharing the costs, and yes still have access to the park to share in outdoor activities such as elaborately staged special events where no doubt Karaoke continues to spew from the band shelter.

      If all of these ideas are discarded in the pursuit of mucho development $ and meeting provincial intensification quotas and Wells is indeed reduced to condos the downtown “core” will continue to be hollowed out.

      As for trying to keep a part of the building, I don’t see any advantage.

      Keeping a “facade” is something our local politicians do all to well but a building with the rich heritage of Wells does not need to keep a facade if its heart has been ripped out and Yuppie pigeon nests are stacked one upon another in its place.

      Notice how no one suggested to save the facade of the Petch house and build an office behind it….oh wait, my mistake Evilina did just that…..what a joke that was.

      Either retrofit and refurbish Wells St. as it stands, or bulldoze it flat and start anew but don’t believe your doing anyone in the community any favors by doing things half assed.

    • Anon Anon said

      Chris Watts, why such a hate-on for the Church Street School renovation as a Cultural Centre? Because of Ken Whitehurst? Have you actually been there? Use it and own it as a community member and blow off any Morris taint you feel about the place. Again, don’t let the bullies win. Storm the ramparts etc.

      I agree on the Farmers Market. Newmarket’s indoor one has a great following, although not so many veggies available at Christmas and a few too many craftie vendors to my personal liking. But it pulls in the punters and gives access to local honey and egg producers etc. Where do you propose Aurora have a winter market?

      And did you see last night’s council meeting? His Grangerness is stepping down as council liaison as a market manager will be coming on board. Three guesses who that might be?

    • someone who loves this town more than Anonymous said

      Anon, Anon…and on and on…

      I don’t understand why my comments would conclude that I have a “hate-on” for the Church Street School. I don’t.

      I just don’t understand it.

      I don’t understand the fuss around it, the money spent on it, the people chosen to run it or why anyone would bother with it.

      Cultural activities like those being run at this cultural center were done at locations like the public library, they were done in impromptu setups like churches, schools, gymnasiums, community centers. By trying to “centralize” them in this way I see less community building not more.

      In all fairness, no I have not set foot in the Church Street school. I almost did on Arctic/Family/Canada Flag waving day when I was leaving the activities in town park.

      But when I heard that the activities included more of Snoball’s beloved karaoke, and craft making with Deborah Campo. our family realized that we had much better things to do with our time than subject ourselves to more plastic smiles.

      As for the farmners market. The reason there weren’t so many vegetables available at christmas was probably because it was Christmas. Vegetables are seasonal. There are root vegetables and that’s about it. If there were things like cucumbers wrapped in plastic then I would think an eyebrow would be raised as to their origin.

      I thought that given the tie-in to christmas that the crafts section mixed well with the produce, food vendors and farmers.
      More so then it does every week.

      Would it work in Aurora? Depends more on what vendors would be open to the idea than location. The problem with Aurora “Farmer’s” Market is that it isn’t. There are less than 6 “farmers” out of 32 vendors. I doubt the 2010 market will change much from what we’ve seen.
      The change to “& artisan fair” has reduced what was once great to it being nothing more that a flea market.

      I am waiting to hear more about the antics of the recent executive meeting (which i hear there are several) and the connection to why Councilor Granger decided to step down.

      I understand that Granger concocted a “constitution” which I can’t wait to read.

      There is much anger and dysfunction in what remains, and with no market manager decided upon, but that decision being made by approval by council (yup that’s what I hear) then all signs point to the Town crier.

  4. evelyn buck said

    Apparently a trustee at the last meeting had the audacity to suggest the campaign to re-open the school,it has been closed for several years is “selfish”

    Our Mayor took great exception to the comment.

    The fact is people have the right to campaign for whatever they perceive to be in their interest. I have not chosen to participate in the debate for that reason and the fact I am not a public school supporter.

    A neighbourhood has a right to crusade. The board has the responsibiliity to decide. I am happy to sit this one out. As former U.S. President Bill Clinton would say, I do not have a dog in this fight.

    On top of all the other reasons for not restoring the building, is the inadequacy of the site. A modern school with space for neither parking nor playground is not in the cards. It should not be assumed in the year 2010, the Town of Aurora will provide York Region Board of Education with the use of our park and public right -of- way as a school site.

    Mayor Morris has never had the authority to make that commitment.

    If the building is to be declared surplus,It should be returned to the community that built it in the first place. The facade could be saved and half a dozen much needed condominiums would probably fit very nicely into the space bbehind it. What a great location.New tax revenues to share the burden.

    Dave Cooke is a former NDP MLA from the City of Windsor.He must be very well-regarded to continue to be chosen by Liberals and Conservatives for tasks such as this. He will stick to his terms of reference. The right decision will be made.

    One of the great things about blogging is the opportunity to participate in the debate and bring out all the stuff that needs to be talked about,dontcha think?

    • David Heard said

      If there were condos where would the market relocate ?

    • Fred said

      Why would the farmers’ market have to relocate? I might fancy one of the units if it becomes the facade of a loft-style condo, and I’d want my fruit and veg on my front door.

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      Condos would work but I disagree with preserving the facade as a sop to the nostalgia nuts. It would just end up in constant bickering between the Town, citizens and developers over exactly how much of and how accurately the facade could be/should be/is being preserved.
      It ain’t the Parthenon but some how, some way, the taxpayers would get stiffed trying to “preserve” it.
      No way.
      Bulldoze the damn thing.
      Decide on a use.(condos, parking garage, nuclear waste dump)
      Get it built.
      Put up an historical plaque.
      Move on.

      and yes – it’s still a funny little town.

    • White Knight said

      Just think if there were condos, residents would be able to watch the Lone Granger chasing away ice cream vendors from the market all summer. What great free entertainment (comedy that is)!! He dous look a bit like Oliver Hardy after all.

  5. White Knight said

    I agree with the writer of the post and with Walt. I have hears about Wells St. school ad nauseam. I cannot understand why people are so rooted in the past and have so much difficulty moving forward. Heritage smeritage! Not everything can be saved in the name of heritage and nor should it.
    As for Mayor Morris using the issue as an election soapbox… why would we expect anything different from HRH the mayor?? It has always been her pattern and I guess we can’t teach the old dog new tricks.

  6. Fred said

    Have you considered that CAWS is using Morris? I’ve seen and heard it in action. Morris is playing her role as expected.

  7. Robert the Bruce said

    “Why is Council sticking their nose in where it doesn’t belong ”

    This council does the same thing as lots of councils do and for those that know me, you know it is one of my peeves.

    Do the job you are elected to do!!!

    Boards of Education have elected members that are supopsed to be the ones that the public goes to on issues. The Wells St. School issue is the same as the previous Dr. G W Williams issue a couple of years ago. The Town has no right to be involved at all in this issue and by using any Town resources is misleading.

    Unfortunitly, most of the public does not understand the areas of responsibility.

    Town council is elected to make sure that we as town residents have snowplowed streets, garbage pickup, recreational resources, library services, etc. They have NOTHING to do with schools – an upstanding councillor would have said to the residents “Sorry, we can’t effect any change there – you have to talk to the Board of Education”. But, we clearly don’t have any of those.

    By the way…. schools are simply buildings. They get old and become unusable. Yes there is history there, but the history can live on in the pictures and memories. I say get over it and move on, we’ve lost enough time and money on this issue.


  8. Grace Marsh said

    Same thing – different issue. The lighting of the walkway from Mosaics Court past Canadian Tire. Staff told us over and over and over again that it was not Council’s issue. It was private property and the condo corp and Canadian Tire had extensive legal agreements in place complete with very detailed dispute resolution processess, but no, the G05 was not to be denied getting into issues that we had no business in, all for their own self serving reasons. Myself, Buck, Collins-Mrakas and McRoberts held fast on this and all the votes were 5-4, until the final recorded vote in September 2008 (after I had resigned) was the very predictable 6-3.

  9. fed up said

    How insulting to the members of the board and the staff at the board to suggest that they did not follow procedure!! Of course they followed procedure. This is just one last ditch effort to save the school when they know that nothing else will work. And to suggest that someone (Crombie) on this review committee should have the power to re-open the school is simply laughable.

  10. fed up said

    What the “Save Wells Street” group and the mare will not tell you is the actual condition that the building is in. The foundation is crumbling and rotting. The building is full of asbestos. Why on Earth would anybody in their right mind even think that spending 10.6 Million is a wise investment? Old buildings die. Get over it. Many schools in Toronto have gone this way. Take East York CI for one example. The building was falling down, full of mercury in the Chemistry lab floors, and full of asbestos. The facade of the original school was removed and incorporated into the new structure. History preserved. Rotting foundation, mercury and asbestos removed. My taxes are high enough tank you very much without adding this extra burden whether it be from the town tax assessment or from the region tax assessment. Perhaps this should be put on the ballot–BUT then again it really is none of the town’s business. The school belongs to the school board not the town.

  11. walt said

    The Wells Street saga is just ridiculous. Either way, as a community, we’re gonna get screwed.

    Scenario A: the appeal overturns the board decision and the board has to sink millions of dollars into a building that has outgrown its usefulness. We’re on the hook for as this drives up the public school levy on our taxes, for those of us who aren’t in the separate system.

    (Reminder – Wells Street is only a K-6 school, sevens and eights go elsewhere, by the way. But yeah, its an important part of their little community, but who cares about those 12 and 13 year olds, they can bugger off elsewhere, I guess.)

    Scenario B: the appeal holds up the board decision. Preservationists will then huddle with their fellow travellers on council, find a way to bamboozle the town into funding renovations and voila! – another “cultural centre.” Municipal taxes go up as a result.

    Either way, we’re gonna pay for it unless current trends in this town change.

    By the way, did anyone read Gord Barnes pathetic and illogical letter to the Auroran this week where he spoke of the School as an “old girl” and did all sorts of anthropomorphizing about it? Nauseatingly embarrassing.

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