Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Archive for the ‘Community Corner’ Category

Get Into The Spirits In Aurora

Posted by auroracitizen on May 9, 2011

On Sunday May 29 at 7 pm David Heard will be hosting an incredible and historic episode about our great little Town.

The Aurora Spirit Walk will take you on a journey into Auroras past and share some creepy tales. Then everyone will head to the Filly and Firkin for food, drink and a live presentation and some essence of a silent movie (musically).

There you will watch the world premiere of a special episode of the highly popular TV Show “Rescue Mediums”. An episode that was filmed at the Firkin Pub in Aurora will be enjoyed for the first time by the good folks of Aurora about a month before the rest of the world.

Now that is history….. and the episode has historical significance.

Tickets are $20.00 (advance sales) and 100% goes to The Heart and Stroke and Crohns and Colitis Foundation.

You can purchase tickets from the Filly and Firkin Aurora or call 905 717 6647 for delivery arrangements.

Aurora has great spirit ….you will feel it on May 29.

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Posted in Community Corner, Community Input | 1 Comment »

Election Night Coverage

Posted by auroracitizen on May 1, 2011

If you are interested in a local perspective on tonight’s election coverage, Bill Hogg will be anchoring coverage on Rogers TV. He also recently moderated the all-candidate debates with for all 7 riding’s in York Region.

Working with him on the anchor desk is Jamie Young – former Mayor of East  Gwillimbury.

As well, there will be a number of live local updates across the region and David Tsubouchi will be hosting a panel discussion.

Election night coverage starts at 9 pm.

Posted in Community Corner, Politics | 2 Comments »

AuroraCitizen Continues Growth — Hits 7500 Comments

Posted by auroracitizen on April 26, 2011

On Sept 9, 2010, we celebrated our 300th posting on the Aurora Citizen. At that time we have surpassed 4,700 comments and believed our total visits to be around 250,000.

To commemorate this milestone we published the following post

This is officially our 300th post. We have also surpassed 4,700 comments.

We’ve had in excess of 150,000 visits since moving to the new WordPress platform in October 2009, which together with the almost 100,000 visits on the original site, means we have had almost 250,000 visitors since we started in August 2008.

We’ve been threatened twice by the town lawyers, yet here we are, still offering citizens of this great town the opportunity to provide commentary on what is happening in their community.

Councillor MacEachern asked for more balanced commentary, so we offered both her and Mayor Morris the opportunity to contribute. So far nothing — at least nothing that they have added their name to 🙂

We’ve been blitzed by supporters from both sides of issues and have used our best judgement to encourage dialogue versus diatribe.

We have numerous people regularly writing articles for the blog — some like Richard Johnson publish under their own names, others, desiring anonymity, offer their opinions for debate under the Aurora Citizen banner.

We also have a number of volunteers share the role of moderator duties to ensure that the comments — while somewhat direct and pointed — do not degenerate into diatribe, allegations and foul language.

This forum has become a platform for communicating with fellow Aurora Citizens. It has far surpassed expectations. We are glad to be part of the discussion and look forward to contributing long into the future.

We thought it appropriate to celebrate another milestone.

On April 26 at 3:22 pm, on the post Majority vs. Minority, the Aurora Citizen surpassed 7,500 comments on the website, which reflects a diverse and vocal group of readers. We thank you for your participation.

We have also published 430 posts — received from a variety of sources — and we have welcomed 400,000 visitors since Oct 2009, which together with over 100,000 visitors on the original platform tops out at over 500,000 visitors since we launched in August 2008.

Who would have thought.

Additionally, the former Mayor has sued us, together with a number of named citizens and unnamed commentors.

As a result of this lawsuit, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has intervened on behalf of all participants in online forums to protect their anonymity.

The new Council has declared they do not feel that the AuroraCitizen is a threat to the town of Aurora and has discontinued its support of the lawsuit. Further, the Town is amending their procedures to prevent future politicians from attacking citizens without transparency of their actions.

We thank you all for your unwavering support.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input | 4 Comments »

Sesto Continues to Seek Answers

Posted by auroracitizen on April 26, 2011

April 23, 2011

To: The Auroran & the Aurora Citizen (www.auroracitizen.ca)

Re: Conflict of Interest and Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al.

Furthermore to my letter earlier this month, entitled “Please help me understand how litigation against three Aurora citizens was approved”, I would like to add the following information in regards to the defamation action of Phyllis Morris v. Johnson et al.

I reference the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. (R.S.0. 1990, Chapter M.50) found at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90m50_e.htm .

The Act helps control the actions of our elected officials who hold the public trust. Its main purpose is to prevent them from benefiting financially from a decision in which they were involved in the process. The Act generally states that if there is a matter that comes before Council that would touch on a member of Council’s direct or indirect pecuniary (of or related to money) interest then it is the duty of that member not to participate in the decision-making process for that matter and to declare this conflict of interest.

I would draw your attention to the following sections taken from the above online reference:

Duty of Member

When present at meeting at which matter considered

5.  (1)  Where a member, either on his or her own behalf or while acting for, by, with or through another, has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the council or local board at which the matter is the subject of consideration, the member,

(a) shall, prior to any consideration of the matter at the meeting, disclose the interest and the general nature thereof;

(b) shall not take part in the discussion of, or vote on any question in respect of the matter; and

(c) shall not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 5 (1).

Where member to leave closed meeting

(2)  Where the meeting referred to in subsection (1) is not open to the public, in addition to complying with the requirements of that subsection, the member shall forthwith leave the meeting or the part of the meeting during which the matter is under consideration. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 5 (2).

Record of Disclosure

Disclosure to be recorded in minutes

6.  (1)  Every declaration of interest and the general nature thereof made under section 5 shall, where the meeting is open to the public, be recorded in the minutes of the meeting by the clerk of the municipality or secretary of the committee or local board, as the case may be. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 6 (1).

Idem

(2)  Every declaration of interest made under section 5, but not the general nature of that interest, shall, where the meeting is not open to the public, be recorded in the minutes of the next meeting that is open to the public. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 6 (2).

As referenced by the minutes of the Aurora Town Council meeting of September 14, 2010, then Mayor Morris participated in the closed session portion of the meeting that subsequently resulted in the motion “THAT the Town Solicitor be directed to retain external legal counsel and to take any and all actions to bring resolution to this matter”. She participated in the closed meeting but did not vote on this motion as she left once coming out of closed portion of the evening. It is this motion that eventually led to the litigation against Johnson et al.

The first agenda item of a Council Meeting is the “Declarations of Pecuniary Interest”. For the September 14 meeting Councillor Collins-Mrakas had a declaration on another matter but there were no other declarations in the minutes.

I will allow the reader to formulate their own perspective, but from one side it could be interpreted that ex-Mayor Morris may have violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. She may have done so by not declaring a conflict of interest and through her subsequent participation in the closed session meeting concerning the Town’s direction that lead to the litigation against Johnson et al. In this litigation she would be the sole beneficiary and not the Town. She could be seen as having a pecuniary interest and that she failed to declare a conflict of interest.

As taken from George Rust-D’Eye’s Executive Summary: “The retainer letter signed by the Mayor and the Town on October 6, 2010 leads to the conclusion that both are jointly and severally liable for paying the legal expenses incurred for the defamation action.”

Even if for argument’s sake Ms. Morris sought $0 damages, the fact that the Town was liable for expenses in her legal matters could possibly still show pecuniary interest as there could be either a reduced or no out of pocket expense for her in proceeding with this private action. It is noted that although this action started with the plaintiff as Mayor Phyllis Morris it was later changed to a plaintiff of Phyllis Morris to express that it was a personal matter and not one for the Town of Aurora. Also please note that the Town as per its March 29, 2011 council meeting minutes passed the motion to “pay the legal accounts of Aird & Berlis LLP for the services up to and including December 15, 2010 and for additional outside counsel, Paterson MacDougall for services rendered up until December 21, 2010.”

I note from Mr. Rust-D’Eye’s Executive Summary: “at the same time, Phyllis Morris appeared to have a pecuniary interest in the matter under consideration by the Council, in view of the fact that the debate involved a proposal that the Town provide or pay for legal services for her defamation action against third parties, at that time without any undertaking on her part to repay the Town, whether she was successful or not – the Town appeared to assume the entire financial risk, with the Mayor standing to obtain a personal benefit from success in the proceedings”.

For some it may be thought that her participation in the closed session meeting and the failure to declare a conflict of interest was perhaps committed through any oversight or by reason of an error in judgement. But for others they may ask whether this would be the mistake of a politician with numerous years of experience. As taken from her own website (www.phyllismorris.net) Phyllis Morris had 6 years as a Councillor, 3 years as Deputy Mayor and 4 years as the Mayor with this incident occurring at the end of her mayoral term. Sampling a review of council meeting minutes in recent years, councillors and the mayor for a variety of reasons express a conflict of interest at the start of the meeting. Ms. Morris had in the past (Town of Aurora, Council Meeting Minutes No. 08-22, Tuesday August 12, 2008) declared a conflict on a particular matter. But with this incident at the September 14th meeting she did not declare a conflict of interest nor did she do so at any subsequent meeting in regards to her attendance to the closed session meeting that started the action against Johnson et al.

I allow the reader to interpret the information to their own accord and I stand open to correction on any of the information that I have presented.

Paul Sesto

(289) 221-1450

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Legal, Politics | 1 Comment »

The Aurora Lawn Bowling Club Welcomes you to the 2011 Season!

Posted by auroracitizen on April 6, 2011

Great Sport, Great Weather, Great People ….. that’s what the ALBC has to offer you.

Located in the heart of beautiful downtown Aurora, we have a gorgeous place to gather with friends, play a fun and exciting sport, and spend the summer having a great time!

Whether you are brand new to the game, or a seasoned veteran the ALBC would love to have you join our existing club members for this coming spring/summer and early fall.

Our season begins in May, and runs through to October (weather dependent).

We supply all the equipment, and lessons you may need.

We play two nights a week and every Sunday afternoon, and you get to choose when you want to play and when you don’t.

We have a beautiful clubhouse that is private to members only and when you sit out on the deck and watch over the greens you feel like you are up at the cottage!

It is a ton of fun, and you get to meet some wonderful people who are part of our community!

For more information please contact Kelli Collins at kelli5572@hotmail.com or 416-886-4733.

Kelli M. Collins

Posted in Community Corner, For Fun, Recreation | Leave a Comment »

Vic Paraninfo: 4.30.37 – 3.29.11

Posted by auroracitizen on April 2, 2011

Friday was the memorial service for Vic, who passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday.

Aurora lost a great citizen.

If you knew him — no more needs be said.He will be universally missed.

If you didn’t, you missed one of the things that made Aurora such a special place to live.

In an article from the national Post (June 5 2008), they acknowledged his role in Aurora on the event of his retirement.

A comforting smell of leather fills Vic’s Shoe Repair, where used skates and soccer cleats, arranged by size, line the shelves.

More comforting still is Vic Paraninfo himself, a fixture of downtown Aurora since 1972, with his winning smile, easy banter and hands gnarled from decades of stitching shoes and massaging skates (after having warmed them with a hair dryer) to fit on customers’ feet.

But Mr. Paraninfo, 71, is quitting. On Friday he will hang up his plyers and his French hammer, and turn the shop over to a new owner.

“I’m sad,” he says. “Half my life was spent here. You meet all kinds of people. But I’m happy. It’s time to move ahead, stay home with my wife. She needs me. And spend more time with my grandkids and do some volunteer work.”

Tributes and condolences to the family may be made at www.thompsonfh-aurora.com

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sheila and family for their loss.

Posted in Community Corner, Local Business | 4 Comments »

Is Aurora Friendlier than other Communities?

Posted by auroracitizen on March 30, 2011

We recently received the following note from a reader.

I have lived in many places with my family, from Scarborough, Unionville, Guelph, and Richmond Hill and never have I experienced more unfriendliness than I have as in Aurora. People rarely smile, say hello and try very much to keep to themselves. I joined several community activities and experience the same feeling.

Does anyone have an opinion why this is so?

Aurora has always prided itself on its community spirit — but have we started to change with the growth?

How do new arrivals feel? Do they still feel the sense of community many longer term resident felt when we arrived?

Is it difficult to get involved in programs due to overcrowding? What about adult programs?

We’d be interested in hearing from both newer and older arrivals. How did you get involved? What tips do you have for new arrivals?

Posted in Community, Community Corner, Community Input, Discussion Topic, Growth, Recreation | 48 Comments »

Where Is Our Money Going?

Posted by auroracitizen on February 23, 2011

In her blog, Councillor Buck posted and then posted again that last Tuesday Council committed almost $5000 of our tax dollars to support/subsidize a Jazz Festival in town park. We are not sure why.

The community as a whole — who are funding this contribution — are not able to access this event. They would be required to pay an additional fee to attend.

Further, there are a variety of other revenue sources that have been identified that will contribute to the event coffers.

Some will say that any excess funds raised will be given to charities/community groups — which is a very positive thing.

However, let’s say that the event raises $10,000 after all expenses. That’s great.

But how much of these “expenses” went to pay performers, rental of equipment, etc? Potentially at market rates versus subsidized rates. We don’t know.

So who reaps the benefits of this event — the participants or the community. Are we even sure the organizers don’t take an honorarium or salary for running this event? It sounds like a for-profit venture that happens to donate left over funds to local charities so they can position themselves as a not-for-profit. Rather than a fund-raising event supported by volunteers so that funds can be raised for the community. That’s a different kettle of fish.

Equally important. If the town give $5000 and then the event donates $10,000 — effectively, the town has handed over $5000 to the group so they can donate it to the charity of their choice — versus the politicians making the judgment of where these funds should be spent.

In our opinion, the funds should not have been given — and if Council wants to donate some money to charity or community groups they should do so. That way we know exactly where our tax dollars are being spent.

Better the event only donate $5000 to local charities and then they can accept the full recognition for this generous donation — because they chose to use some of their profits to contribute to the community. This arrangement just muddies the water and we have seen where that has gotten us in past years.

In this case, we are either subsidizing an event or delegating authority to which charity our tax dollars are donated to. Neither which we support.

Posted in Charitable Programs, Community Corner, Recreation | 76 Comments »

Councillors Gaertner and Ballard Against Neighbourhood Network

Posted by auroracitizen on February 5, 2011

Aurora Council finally voted to formally partner with Neighbourhood Network. That is, with the exception of Councillors Ballard and Gaertner.

The always insightful Councillor Gaertner summarized her position with the comment “I don’t really like the idea of sending volunteers to Newmarket”. Possibly one of the dumbest comments we will hear this term.

Imagine, until Neighbourhood Network started, no one from Aurora had anything to do with Newmarket. And heaven forbid someone from Newmarket dared set foot in Aurora to help.

Maybe she thinks we need a big fence around our community so people can’t cross boundaries.

The basis of the concern seems to be that since Neighbourhood Network is supported by Magna, she was concerned that this would create a conflict.

Magna has been a generous contributor to our community and many others. Whether supporting youth soccer with use of fields, supporting the new Rec Centre, supporting the kitchen in the Seniors Centre or organizing the Magna Hoedown, Magna has been a contributing corporate citizen. Based Councillor Gaertner’s rational, should Aurora have declined all of these offers of support?

Many organizations in town, not just Magna, provide support for community groups, whether supporting local teams through sponsorship or financial contributions — or supporting town organized activities like the Santa Claus Parade — and even the Jazz in the Park. Should we also decline their contributions.

As Bart Simpson would say, “Duh!”

Another poorly thought out stance on an issue intended simply to create issues at the Council table.

If these 2 Councillors spent as much time focused on working with Council as they spend trying to hinder Council, we might get somewhere.

It seems in spite of best efforts to sweep the dysfunction out from last term, some remnants remain.

It’s interesting to see who is creating the issues — and who they supported during the last election campaign.

A coincident? We think not.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Leadership | 7 Comments »

Issues versus Personalities

Posted by auroracitizen on January 28, 2011

In our ongoing effort to not filter comments, we have allowed virtually all comments to be posted. We feel that this privilege is being abused.

Recent comments are starting to sound like a Council meeting last term — where issues were rarely discussed based on merits and personalities have become the focus.

This makes it uncomfortable for readers and reduces the willingness for commentators to share opinions that others may not agree.

Soooooooooooooo, moderators will tighten up the criteria. Posts that are not discussing the issues will not be published. Disagree all you want — we actually hope that different POV’s get discussed. But let’s keep the focus on the issues and not the personalities.

We are a volunteer run group — so we welcome any additional suggestions on how to keep the blog a positive forum for discussion and debate.

Folks — let’s keep the debate vigorous and civil. Let’s help put the Aura back in Aurora 🙂

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input | 25 Comments »