Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Archive for the ‘Discussion Topic’ Category

GO Train Now Runs on Weekends

Posted by auroracitizen on July 16, 2012

Spread the word! It hasn’t been well-advertised, but GO Transit has deployed a “pilot program” for Saturday, Sunday and Holiday trains travelling between Aurora and Union Station.

Finally, Aurorans can ride a weekend GO train into the city and back home again (up until September 3, that is). For an adult fare of $7.15 (or $14.30 round-trip), it’s a carefree, relaxing way to travel to see a baseball game, check out the museums or spend an afternoon wandering the streets of Toronto.

Weekend travellers can enjoy six southbound trips from Aurora to Union Station:

  •  11:06 (arriving at Union @ 11:58)
  •  13:29 (arriving at Union @ 14:21)
  •  16:21 (arriving at Union @ 17:13)
  •  17:46 (arriving at Union @ 18:38)
  •  20:09 (arriving at Union @ 21:01)
  •  23:04 (arriving at Union @ 23:56)

And six northbound trips from Union Station to Aurora:

  • 12:10 (arriving at Aurora @ 12:59)
  • 15:01 (arriving at Aurora @ 15:50)
  • 17:25 (arriving at Aurora @ 18:16)
  • 18:50 (arriving at Aurora @ 19:39)
  • 21:41 (arriving at Aurora @ 22:30)
  • 00:10 (arriving at Aurora @ 00:59)

For more information, check out and for the full schedule (showing all stops), check out

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Local Business, Traffic/Parking | Leave a Comment »

Farmers in it up to their ears

Posted by auroracitizen on May 13, 2012

This week saw the genesis of a most bewildering and ill-conceived concept, a Code of Conduct for the Aurora Farmers’ Market.

We in Aurora cannot forget a similarly titled document that was introduced by the former mayor, as part of her “Gold Standard” of democracy and governance. It applied to members of Council and came replete with an Integrity Commissioner.

That gentleman did not last long in his position as he was fired without ceremony when his first decision did not agree with the former’s opinion.

The Aurora Farmers’ Market was created by a municipal By-law passed on April 8, 2003. A copy is attached below for those who wish to read the entire document.

In the By-Law the Town appointed a Market Clerk who effectively administered the market. Lease agreements originally were between the Town on the one hand and the Lessee on the other for operation by the Lessee of a market stall.

At some point the location of the market moved from Temperance Street to its present location in the Town Park.

The Farmers’ Market seems to have acquired a Constitution, exactly when is a matter of some speculation. There was a rumour that former Councillor Granger had drafted one. We don’t know that the copy of the document attached below was his work.

The jam lady, in her capacity as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Aurora Farmers’ Market, has produced a risible bunch of words that purport to be a Code of Conduct for Vendors of the market. Attached below is the only copy we were able to find, and it is with thanks and hopefully the permission of Evelyn Buck.

We will refrain from commenting, other than to say that these words seem to simply demonstrate someone’s heightened sense of ego run berserk.

We would love to have your comments on this latest test of our town’s sanity.

AFM Enabling By-Law 135

AFM Constitution 136

AFM Code of Conduct 137

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community, Community Corner, Community Input, Guest Post, Leadership, Local Business, Politics | 29 Comments »

Is Yellow The New Green

Posted by auroracitizen on May 6, 2012

Yesterday, I had the occasion to drive around Aurora running a number of errands. I was shocked by the volume of dandelions .

It seems like every square inch of town owned boulevard is covered in yellow dandelions — which will soon turn to white seedlings and spread across Aurora.

Residents are fighting a losing battle against these plants in spite of the fact that everywhere I turned people were out digging these pests from their lawns. Trying to hold back their assault.

Since the ban on pesticides, the state of green has diminished.

There are now more environmentally and people friendly methods available of dealing with these weeds, but it looks like to town has thrown in the towel. Resultant, if you are unlucky enough to live near any town owned land, you are going to soon be overrun with the weeds moving onto your property no matter what efforts you make to maintain a healthy green lawn.

If Aurora doesn’t want to be overrun by these weeds — then something needs to be done.

Posted in Community Corner, Environment | 8 Comments »

The Dirty Side of Politics

Posted by auroracitizen on April 21, 2012

Aurora saw the dirty side of Aurora politics poke its head out of its hole again recently. We had hoped that brand of politics had been run out-of-town last election — but alas it continues.

Recently Mayor Dawe made an intemperate remark during a confrontation initiated by Councillor Ballard. Councillor Ballard was making veiled allegations that Mayor Dawe had strong-armed the Aurora Cultural Centre into concessions that Councillor Ballard disagreed with — and Mayor Dawe responded “I have also stopped beating my wife”. Details can be seen in the April 17 issue of The Auroran – page 6.

No doubt — the comment was inappropriate and Mayor Dawe should apologize.

However, what was of equal concern was the additional fall-out of this remark.

In the April 12 issue of The Banner, a Letter to the Editor was published from Evelina MacEachern, former Councillor and recently defeated candidate and vocal supporter of defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris. It was published as an open letter to Mayor Dawe. In the letter, Ms MacEachern takes the Mayor to task for his comments. Was it genuine concern or political opportunism?

It is indeed a strange day when Ms MacEachern can take the high ground regarding language when knowledgeable Council watchers know she drop F-bombs in town hall on a regular basis during her terms as a Councillor. Her language and bullying behaviour was one of the contributing factors to the resignation by former Councillor Grace Marsh and is potentially part of the matters before the courts in the Councillor Buck abuse of power lawsuit against 6 members of last Council.

Knowledgeable Council watchers also know she was the real brains behind much of the political manoeuvring by defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris last term.

So it came as no surprise that her letter was followed up with an email blast — also on April 12 — by defeated Mayor Phyllis Morris which applauded Ms MacEachern for her letter and then tried to align herself with the yellow brick house and the white ribbon campaign. You can see it on Councillors Buck’s blog. Again, was it genuine concern or political opportunism?

Between these 2 people, they caused more pain and suffering by staff and people in our community than possibly any 2 politicians in the history of Aurora. Yet here they are trying to take the moral high ground on this issue.

Then to further demonstrate how dirty politics is in this town, former Councillor, Nigel Kean and also recently defeated mayoralty candidate jumped on their band wagon in the April 17 Auroran adding his own commentary. Surely if these 3 people are all commenting  — it must be genuine concern — not political opportunism?

You may remember the last time these 3 people worked together on anything. It was immediately after the election — where both Morris and Kean were handed stunning defeats — they joined together in Morris’s doomed 6 million dollar lawsuit against 3 Aurora families for comments made anonymously on this blog.

Ballard, MacEachern, Morris and Kean. What a team, selflessly giving to the Town of Aurora with no thought for themselves. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Genuine concern about an inappropriate comment by Mayor Dawe — we think not. If that was really the case, would not a simple email or phone call to express their disappointment have served the ultimate goal of informing Mayor Dawe. Others surely took that option.

No. Instead they choose to try to embarrass and humiliate Mayor Dawe publically. Their standard method of operation.

Political opportunism — you bet!

Jumping on a comment to try to take advantage for political gain and revenge? You simply need to look at the history of the people involved and how they have worked together in the past to accomplish their goals to form your opinion.

We are pretty clear what the intent is. We also believe that while folks in Aurora may have been fooled in 2006 — they weren’t fooled in 2010. And they aren’t fooled now.

Should Mayor Dawe apologize. Absolutely. But he should do it because it is the right thing to do — not because some political opportunists trying to resurrected their failed careers say so. They have no moral basis or credibility to make the case.

Posted in Code of Ethics, Community, Geoff Dawe, Integrity, Leadership | 9 Comments »

Who Should Be on the Negotiating Committee?

Posted by auroracitizen on April 2, 2012

Here is an interesting scenario posed by one of our readers. What are your thoughts?


It is my understanding that by April 10, next Council meeting, two Councillors will have been selected to represent the Town on the Ad Hoc Negotiating Committee. They, together with two nominees from the Centre, plus a facilitator selected by agreement of the two parties, will form the Committee.

Councillors Ballard, Gaertner and Gallo seem to have eliminated themselves from consideration as a consequence of their position regarding the relationship between the Town and the Centre. Councillors Abel and Pirri might likewise have eliminated themselves as a result of the motion they placed before Council February 28 to terminate the existing agreement. Councillor Buck, who would make an admirable representative of the Town on this committee, might have also eliminated herself because of her open and vocal opposition to the entire concept of an agreement to manage and operate the Centre. Assuming that Mayor Dawe is ineligible because of his office, this leaves, by default, Councillors Humfryes and Thompson to represent the Town on the committee.

We are not necessarily getting the best or most knowledgeable people; we have simply gone through and eliminated those whose stated positions tend to render them in a kind of conflict of interest situation. And we don’t need any more conflicts of interest in Aurora. Heaven forbid!

So my question is, how is this all going to play out and will the Town be getting the best possible representation on this vitally important committee?


A further question that arises is since when does a facilitator actually vote? We have never heard of a facilitator voting in a discussion — their role is to remain impartial and “facilitate” a discussion. If they are expected to vote — then how can they remain impartial? Also, how will they be chosen?

This situation gets more convoluted and poorly thought through as the days unfold.

Posted in Community Corner, Community Input, Conflict of Interest, Integrity, Leadership, Town Committees, Town Council | 45 Comments »

4/12/11: Council Meeting

Posted by auroracitizen on April 13, 2011

A reader has suggested that we start to open a post after each Council meeting so that people can share their thoughts and ideas with each other and Council. Going forward we will try to do so. and label as above so you know which meeting to add comments to.

4/12/11 Agenda

Posted in Discussion Topic, Town Council | 8 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 »

Time For A Clear, Consistent Policy for Sponsorship

Posted by auroracitizen on March 28, 2011

Hi everyone,

See below for a letter that I have sent to Mayor Dawe and Councillors.   Anyone wishing to contact the Mayor or the Council members about this matter is encouraged to do so.  (Feel free to copy some of the text, but be sure to express your own views as well!)

Geoff Dawe can be reached at

The rest of Council can be reached at


Elizabeth Bishenden

From: Elizabeth Bishenden
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2011 7:37 PM
Subject: Council policy with respect to charities and not-for-profits

Dear Mayor Dawe and Aurora Town Councillors,

Since taking office as the elected Mayor and Council of Aurora, you have been approached by not-for-profit agencies and charities asking for sponsorship or the use Town of Aurora facilities.  You have at times agreed to sponsor these groups.

Other groups who have user agreements for town-owned facilities often use these facilities for fundraisers for third-party charities.  There does not appear to be a way of ensuring that these groups follow any particular guidelines.

I think it is important for our Town Council to have a good working relationship with not-for-profits and charities.  These organizations contribute to the betterment of life in our community in substantial and tangible ways.  They give us a focus for making the Aurora a strong community for everyone.

However, your Council is not treating all the charities and not-for-profits that exist in Aurora on an equal footing.  Because you don’t have a policy for your evaluation and acceptance of these applications from charities and not-for profit groups, and because groups with whom you have an agreement for one kind of use of town-owned facilities are also using those facilities for fundraising, you are dispensing support arbitrarily.

The only way you, as Council, can begin to choose which not-for-profit and charity groups to support in a fair manner is to set a policy that you then abide by.  This policy, developed with input from all the stakeholders involved, would be the framework on which you could base your decisions.

I encourage you to work in concert with these groups in Aurora as well as with other stakeholders (Leisure Services Department, the Aurora Seniors’ Association, Sport Aurora and its contingent membership, York Region District School Board and its School Councils to name just a few) to develop a framework that treats all organizations the same:  they all have the opportunity to use the facilities of the Town of Aurora for the good of the entire community.

We are really fortunate to have a great community that values many contributors:  those elected and those who see a need and rise to the challenge.  It’s time for your group to take the lead and forge strong partnerships with clear goals and expectations.

Posted in Budget, Charitable Programs, Discussion Topic | 25 Comments »

Guest Post: Question About Zoning

Posted by auroracitizen on March 24, 2011

I was heading out of town this morning I was surprised to see how many houses are up for sale on Wellington Street East.

What’s up with that? Is there some weird re-zoning going on?

Anyone have any ideas about this?

Posted in Community, Discussion Topic, Growth | 4 Comments »

Discussion: What is the Appropriate Use of Electronic Devices during Council Meetings?

Posted by auroracitizen on March 16, 2011

Another great suggested discussion topic from a reader.

I was glad to read in the paper last week that the use of electronic devices during council meetings is under review. The Blackberry activities and twittering that have been going on during meetings have been bugging the hell out of me. I think it is rude, inappropriate and disrespectful to others in the chamber but above all, to voters.

I have heard all the arguments about the “age of multitasking” and being able to pay attention to several activities at once without losing the thread of any. I say hogwash! If that were the case, why is there evidence to show that attention deficit disorders are on the rise or that young people nowadays can only focus on snippets of superficial information and miss most of “meat and details.” I also wonder why basic good manners have disappeared. There is nothing more irritating and demoralizing than having to share someone’s attention with cyberspace, especially during a pre-scheduled meeting.

I have 2 grown up children, both of whom work for large organizations in management positions. While they are Blackberry fiends and avid texters and twitterers, even they acknowledge that it is not appropriate during meetings where one’s 100% concentration and focus is required. If some young people who are relatively new to the workforce can recognize the importance of this concept I would expect older, more experienced people to do the same.

As a voter, I expect my elected officials to bring 100% of their attention to the table when dealing with the town’s business in order to make crucial decisions. I do not want texters and twitterers phasing in and out of the discussions. Nor do I want them communicating with others outside of the council chamber for advice or direction in what to say or how to vote. If I valued those opinions I would have voted for them in the last election. I expect current councillors to use their own noggins and draw their own conclusions and have the decency to carry their own responsibility and do the job they are paid to do. I would be most interested in hearing others’ opinions on this issue.

Posted in Discussion Topic, Town Council | 27 Comments »