It seems we are about to have a municipal election. At least judging by all the campaign signs going up, the pamphlets and flyers in our mailboxes and people we don’t know knocking on our doors. Not a bad thing though, this election. Time for a fresh team to step up. Times have changed, the economy has changed — is still changing and here in Champlain Township we had best pay attention to (and take charge of) those changes. If we don’t, then while those changes will certainly still arrive, we might not like them much when they do.
But who to vote for? Who are the best councillors and the best mayor to guide that change? There’s quite a number out there to choose from. They all seem sincere and are certainly pleasant to talk with. They all say that they will work hard for the township’s citizens and we’ve no reason to doubt them. So how do we choose the best one? Or, at least, how do we cut down the number of candidates from which we have to choose to perhaps just two or three ‘possibles’?
Well, there are probably a number of different methods that you might try (let’s rule out flipping a coin) but I can share the one method that seems to work for me. Ask them to give you a one word answer, “Yes” or “No” (no waffling or explanations allowed), to the question “Do you support the construction of a cement plant in Champlain Township?” If you get anything other than a solid, unreserved “No” then they are out of the running. Period. End of discussion. Have a nice day. But why use this method?
Actually, there are two good reasons to ask this question. The first is the specific issue of that cement plant. It was and remains a very bad idea. Dreamed up by people wanting quick and easy access to tax dollars, it will trash our environment, bring in only a handful of low-end jobs and destroy for decades, if not generations, any chance we have for ‘good ‘ economic development. Nobody is going to want to move here or build here when that 400-foot plus smokestack goes up. Kiss goodbye the many hundreds of good paying, secure jobs that would have appeared in our area if we had instead gone after what this area is perfectly positioned for: retirement villages, commuter communities, marinas, retirement and nursing homes, health care facilities, golf courses, condominium complexes and all the service industries that would have supported them. Any candidate who thought or still thinks a cement plant is a good idea is already off on the wrong track.
The second good reason for asking the question is: if the candidate thinks a visually and environmentally polluting cement plant is a good idea, do we want that person making other important decisions about our future? If the candidate is so out of touch with the vast majority of public opinion in this township, or thinks they are somehow smarter than its citizens, should they be allowed anywhere near a township council seat? Nope. Our elected representatives are supposed to represent us and our wishes, not quietly cut deals which they know we do not want behind closed doors.
So who to vote for? This is still a free country, so vote for anybody you want. But for your own sake and the sake of your children, grandchildren and neighbours, ask the question and vote for someone who realizes that its the 21st century in Champlain Township too and we no longer have to accept big, dirty, ugly unhealthy, polluting factories just to have employment or tax dollars.
Colin Affleck, Citizen of Champlain Township