Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Follow Up: Lack of Business Support Already Documented by Town of Aurora

Posted by auroracitizen on September 18, 2010

 In regards to the lack of support for small business this is not something new, the Mayor has known about this directly from the below:

(I reference from the Town of Aurora’s website from the page) http://town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/index.aspx?ArticleID=2949&lang=en-CA

2009: The Year of Business Initiative (page title)

2009 Achievements (subheading)

A Business Retention and Expansion Strategy
In the ‘Year of Business’, the Town of Aurora engaged the consulting firm of Millier Dickenson Blais to prepare a Business Retention and Expansion Strategy. The purpose of the Strategy is to expand and strengthen the Town’s relationship with the business community. The Town of Aurora Business Retention Strategy was presented to the Town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee on December 17, 2009 and is available for download in PDF format.
 Download the Business Retention and Expansion Strategy   (see document EDAC09-10_BRES.pdf)

Town of Aurora – Business Retention & Expansion Strategy, November 20, 2009
(It is filled with pages and pages of demographics, filler material etc. but I note the following: )

Pg 44 – under the heading

Weaknesses
Finally the Town of Aurora’s role in supporting businesses was viewed as being a weakness in retaining and growing businesses in the town. There was quite low recognition of economic development within the business community and it was felt that there was little direct support of small businesses and entrepreneurs, through the provision of advice and guidance. The Town was also seen as bureaucratic with too much red tape and too many layers of approvals, though there was an understand of the need for this it was believed that the Town could provide some assistance through the process.

Pg. 45 – under the heading

Threats
Aurora is not currently seen to be very supportive of their businesses or new business start-ups. Businesses or entrepreneurs looking for support will often migrate to those places they will be supported. Indeed one of the attendees at the focus group, though he lived in Aurora, has established his business in Markham so that he could be close to the town’s Innovation Synergy Centre.

So though it is great to have a study, what is truly happening in order to encourage business? What has happened in 2010 in order to go forward with implementing the Study and turning the Weaknesses around and reducing the Threats? It is far easier to commission a study than to actually do the work to move forward and get results. Perhaps the 1st step is to have a positive attitude towards those businesses.

What do you think?

Is the Mayor sucking and blowing at the same time — or does she really have no clue what is going on in her own town.

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20 Responses to “Follow Up: Lack of Business Support Already Documented by Town of Aurora”

  1. Richard Johnson said

    Hi Guy:

    I got your voice mail and I have to say I was surprised to hear you calling my home asking about my earlier comments related to Northland. I returned your call and got an unusual voice mail with a standard no-name message, but feel free to pose a question here.

    I went back and looked at my earlier posting from 12:56 today and asked myself what you might want to clarify.

    I’m not sure how closely you followed the power supply fight over the five or six years that it was most active, but I trust you are aware of some of what transpired.

    My earlier comment did not mean to imply that Northland was only given ten minutes in total to communicate with the town but I can see how that might be your issue of concern if that is in fact why you phoned.

    Maybe I should have said the following: “The Mayor did not even allow them the courtesy of explaining to Council in the detail warranted, what they were proposing locally and Council passed a resolution rejected local generation the night BEFORE the open house that was intended to inform them. Council was clearly not as well informed as they should have been before taking a vote of suich importance.”

    I took it for-granted that it was common knowledge that Northland did speak to staff and they did meet with Phyllis at least a couple of times. They did ask numerous times when they could sit down with all council to explain in detail what was being proposed. Northland offered site tours which some councillors took advantage of. As far as I am aware, Northland was not given the opportunity to present to all of council in detail however and I think that given the importance of the issue council should have gone to the open house given that after the ten minute presentation that Northland did with the OPA’s input as well, it became quite clear that the follow up questions that proceeded for over an hour indicated a lack of understanding of many critical issues and at least some basic facts.

    At the end of the presentation and Q&A (which I felt that Northland and the OPA handled extremely well) a lengthy PRE-DRAFTED resolution opposing local generation was presented by Evelina and passed by council. This being done the night BEFORE the open house and given what I felt was a level of ignorance and manipulation that was glaring, it was very hard for me to accept the Mayor and Council’s actions without dismay.

    I also thought that the Mayor coming one hour late to an hour and a half Task Force Meeting that was called largely for her benefit and the benefit of Aurora was also inappropriate. When the Mayor did show up she once again demonstrated that she did not apparently understand the identified need or the viable alternatives and she seemed to also somehow forget the history of the issue. The facts did not seem to matter. She seemed to have forgotten that Aurora had asked for an OPA review and Aurora had conditionally supported what the OPA had recommended in 2005 however now Phyllis was now apparently working against their efforts to implement the proposed solution. Phyllis’ stance was inexplicable and her apparent ignorance was inexcusable as far as I was concerned, most especially given that she was arguably elected because of this very issue.

    I’m not sure if that is what you were looking for, but I felt that clarification might be helpful for others, if not for you.

    There were OPA meetings, open houses and offers by many to educate the Mayor and Council (a number of offers I’m aware of were not accepted) but clearly none of the attempts at education paid off; quite possibly because the Mayor, Evelina and Sue Walmer had their mind’s made up as far as the desired outcome was concerned regardless of the fact of how poorly informed they appeared to be from the perspective of some us.

    From my perspective I think the mayor turned her back on me, the Task Force, York Region and the facts, but that is just my perspective. King is now paying the price and I suspect that Aurora and other municipalities will also pay a heavy price as well, eventually.

    I hope that helps to clarify where I stand, but I appreciate that all of this has been said before (many times).

    • KA-NON said

      C’mon Guy. Now is your chance. Substance please. Some meat. “Where’s the beef?”. Let him have it.

      If you do not reply to this with a rational, reasoned response, let it forever be remembered that you were “owned” by Richard Johnson.

      You called him at home? Really?

    • Anon Anon said

      Hey Guy called RJ? WTF? That’s a bit creepy. Ick.

    • Donna Cree Johnson said

      Dear Mr. Poppe,

      When I gave my husband your phone message last night, I had no idea who you were and was most surprised to learn that you were a regular correspondent from this blog. I don’t understand why you would call our home on a Saturday night regarding comments made on this site. I am very protective of my family Mr. Poppe and therefore ask that you never call our home again. Thanks.

    • Guy Poppe said

      Thank you Mr. Johnson

      I apologize that my call caused you and your family concern.

      I was not acquainted nor involved with the Northland issue and was perplexed when you wrote that you were previously strong supporter of the Mayor, but because of this issue, you parted company.

      I gather that both you and Council resisted above ground lines and a plant in Aurora, which was achieved, Thus my query about what happened.

    • Richard Johnson said

      Thank you Guy. No worries.

      Yes. We fought for the government to explore all possible alternatives and to follow its own EA requirements by doing so. As a result of our efforts and with the support of Markham who spent more than $750,000 on the best technical and legal advice possible (two of our consultants were hired by the OEB during our fight), this issue became the first and highest priority of the newly created OPA.

      Aurora fought over head transmission lines given concerns that real estate values could have dropped anywhere from 5% to 25% along the hydro corridor (I have three case studies that support that assumption). Many people were also concerned with health effects posed by living in close proximity to high voltage transmission lines however that was a highly controversial aspect of the fight.

      In 2004 and 2005 I tried to have the lines undergrounded which would have addressed all concerns, however the cost was estimated to be too high (approximately $50 to $70 million more) and Hydro One did not want to set such a precedent. Some jurisdictions (such as Connecticut) demand that transmission lines are put underground in residential areas for economic development and health reasons.

      We fought for years and tens of millions of dollars were spent by the OPA, municipalities and power companies in order to arrive at the concussion that the best economic, environmental and technical solution was a combination of conservation, local generation and other upgrades to the power network. The proposed local generation solution was also deigned to support the government’s “off-coal” strategy and to complement sustainable energy alternatives such as wind and solar power given that it was a peaking plant that would run approximately 5% to 10% of the time during peak demand periods while also acting as a power reliability back-up in times of need.

      Provided the peaker was built in the right place with the right mitigation measures this was a perfect solution for York Region, but then the folks from King came storming in to confuse the situation in an effort to suggest that we no longer need fossil fuels of any kind in the power grid. I’m not sure how you heat your home or power your car, but I begged to differ on their conclusions, at least until viable alternatives present themselves and Rome was not re-built in a day.

      At this point Phyllis turned her back on everyone that had tried to help Aurora resolve our concerns and she actively worked against local generation without providing an alternative that made any sense given the history of the issue. It was amazing. The facts just did not seem to matter and the issue appeared to me to be highly manipulated so that the Mayor’s view won the day.

      Phyllis Morris did next to nothing to seriously pursue undergrounding and proof of that was that Northland offered to build underground lines through Aurora into their bid if at all possible but Phyllis would have none of it. Her friend Bonnie Kraft lived too close to the proposed site for the peaker and I have to assume that was the Mayor’s driving force in her decision making process because she had virtually no facts to support her case other than what I thought were ridiculous assertions and groundless arguments made by CCKT and MegaWHAT (who Sue Walmer jumped on board with after ignoring my pleas for over two years to become informed on these issues given that she was the head of EAC).

      I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Phyllis has no idea how badly she dropped the ball in a precedent setting OPA procurement process (which process also needs to be fixed in some key EA areas). In the process, Aurora and York Region lost all credibility and a less than optimal solution has been forced through by the OPA and the Province, just as I said would happen if the Mayor did not become better informed and more effectively engaged. She blew it, BIG TIME !!!

      It was a sad and frustrating tale, to be sure.

    • Butter Wouldn't Melt said

      Uh, Richard, there was no need for the potted history – again. Guy was just giving you his best disingenuous response.

    • Richard Johnson said

      Sorry Mr Butter… I can’t help myself. The full story is actually far longer.

      I realise that most people have no time for a history lesson which could also be why a lot of people don’t vote, or at the very least why they don’t always vote well informed.

      I get your point though. Unless provoked to clarify a gross untruth or a half truth, I will not raise it again.

    • Butter Wouldn't Melt said

      No worries, Richard. My response was less about your power saga and more about mistakenly taking Guy’s *sincerity* as genuine.

      p.s. It’s very unfortunate that your wife was troubled enough to issue her own ‘cease & desist’ request here.

    • Given Mr Poppe’s recent call to the home of one of our contributors, we think it is time to disengage with this particular individual.

      It was never our intention that someone would actually track down a contributor and make uninvited calls to their home. We apologize to Richard Johnson and his family for any discomfort this behaviour may have caused.

      This situation reinforces our decision to allow anonymous comments.

    • ANONYMOUS said

      “This situation reinforces our decision to allow anonymous comments.”

      Amen, uh-huh and damn straight!

    • Richard Johnson said

      I fully appreciate everyone’s concern about me being contacted at home (most especially my wife’s) but I also appreciate that Guy meant no harm.

      We are all on the same page now.

      I don’t regret using my name and I appreciate that Guy presents his as well.

    • Fred said

      RJ, you’re a nice fellow, but I think you’re naive if you think Mr. Poppe was just calling to chat.
      I agree with the Aurora Citizen’s position. Contacting blog commenters at their home by phone is just not on. There is something unsettling about that.

    • Not Naive said

      Mr Johnson, you are a vocal and persistent critic of Guy’s muse, Morris. I have a hard time believing his motives were benign.

    • KA-NON said

      For what it is worth, I am opposed to censoring Mr. Poppe. First, if RJ chooses to take no offense, who are we to call him naiive. He is an adult, and can make his own assessments. Second, silencing him will weaken the credibility of this blog. Third, though he is a Morris defender, his contributions are only hurting his candidate. All that said, I doubt that there are many people on this blog that are undecided as to how to vote. Might make no difference either way.

  2. Hello! said

    What about Aurora Cable and their solar generators. Bullied! Then sold and moved on. Thanks Evelina! We now have Rogers to deal with. So much for the small Aurora businessman!

  3. evelyn.buck said

    Shoppers Drug Mart took a former Canadian Tire warehouse store and turned it into a beautiful two storey store at the corner of Yonge and Edward Street.

    They put historical pictures of the town on their side wall at the town’s request

    They spent over $70ks on designs and signs.They paid dearly for permits.

    The back of the building faces Edward Street with convenient driveway access to the store.

    They paid the fee for a variance application to put a sign on the back wall.

    After all the work required which justifies the application fee, the Director of Buildings recommended the variance be granted.

    It was Christmas time. The store was beautiful. The business corner was transformed.

    Immediately following the celebratory opening of a beautiful new store that transformed a key location, Council sat around the table trying to visualise, which way is up and turned down the staff recommendation.

    They did the same thing to a new bank on a Bayview Avenue corner.

    Under “the leadership” of the current Mayor, this Council is not only unsupportive I believe there’s hostility toward business.

    The power lust simply destroys the collective common sense.

  4. Richard Johnson said

    Ask Northland Power what thought of when it comes to working with our Mayor and the town. The Mayor did not even allow them the courtesy of explaining to Council in detail what they were proposing locally and Council passed a resolution rejected local generation the night BEFORE the open house that was intended to inform them. Council was very cleary unable to understand many of the mose basic facts about the issue but the rejected what was being proposed based on what I can only suppose was the poorly informed opinion the Mayor, Evelina and Sue Walmer.

    Northland was given ten minutes to present to council regarding a $400 to $500 million project that had economic, lifestyle and environmental implications. Is that fair and reasonable ?

    Furthermore a company called Solar Roofing Systems (SRS) / Open Energy left the town about a year after I asked Phyllis (multiple times) to meet with them in order to discuss ways in which the town could support their solar power panel business. The meeting never happened and they moved to Markham.

  5. Anonymously said

    Isn’t there an Economic Development Committee? Who is on that? Anyone we should know about that is running for council?

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