COLUMN: Thanks for the 2%

by Phillip Blancher

SOUTH DUNDAS — County Councillors at the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, agreed this week to go with a two per cent increase in taxes this year. A “modest” and inflationary increase over last year. This, combined with a savings in policing costs from the Ontario Provincial Police, means more money for the roads budget and more construction being done this year.

As a resident in the counties, I appreciate the county highways being rebuilt, however the tax increase should not have occurred. With the budget windfall thanks to the new policing cost model, County Council should have held the line and kept the tax increase at zero. There is no need for an inflationary increase. If more roads need to be resurfaced, look in the budget for savings and take it from there, not out of taxpayer’s wallets.

The upper-tier county government model needs to be looked at and the needless duplication between the lower-tiered municipalities and the county eliminated. With many services in the county contracted out to the City of Cornwall or other agencies already, there is a lot of savings just waiting to be found in the county budget. Where there is no duplication between lower and upper tier, then the county should do that job. The old saying of pick one (or a few) thing(s) and do it really well, applies here.

More on County Roads

If the county is going to increase spending on roads, perhaps they should plow them more frequently, or in a different pattern to ensure that the main roads are getting cleared regularly? No offense to the front line workers who are out plowing the roads, but a recent trip home from Cornwall on County Road 2 was harrowing at best. Snow covered road, unable to see the center median, no salt or sand. It’s understandable that all roads can’t be plowed at the exact same time, but with County Road 2 being a designated an “Emergency Detour Route” for the 401, it should be plowed more frequently. Had the 401 been closed during that storm, County Road 2 would have been a disaster.

More on the Roads

As a somewhat hardy Canadian, able to tolerate cold and snow to a point, this writer is ashamed of our lack of skill in driving on the roads in winter. Every year, the number of accidents appear to be increasing, as does the stupidity of some drivers. While the “experts” call for the Province of Ontario to legislate mandatory installation of winter tires (fat chance), it is really the evacuation of common sense that is at fault with most winter accidents. Taking five minutes to do the Tim Horton’s napkin analyses of issues on the road, the conclusion is simple: SLOW DOWN.

Driving a car is not rocket science. If the road is wet, slow down. If the road is covered in snow, slow down. If it is night, and you can barely see due to white out conditions on the road, slow down. If you are driving a transport on Highway 401 in the snow-covered passing lane at 110 kilometers an hour, when the rest of us drivers are driving 80 kilometers per hour in the driving lane, don’t complain when you end up in the ditch, or worse. SLOW DOWN.

Government cannot legislate common sense, that is something individuals have to develop. On the roads, in winter, in Canada, it is something sorely lacking.

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