Some reflections on last night’s council meeting. In general, I will not be offering council meeting wrap up notes, that is done quite effectively by Moose-FM and the North Star (online and print). And anyone who wants to understand all of the decisions can catch up with the meeting minutes that are posted to the Town’s website no later than the end of the week. My intent is to add a bit of colour to those issues I believe can benefit from it.

There was another deputation last night on the subject of water fluoridation. The presentation was well prepared and delivered. I did however have the sense that I was listening to missionaries. In this case missionaries trying to save the Town from the evils of fluoridation. I wonder if they are trying to save themselves or are they trying to save me. It appears that the individuals offering an opinion on the evils of fluoridation are in a good position to save themselves, but they insist on saving everyone else. There really is no ‘forced’ fluoridation in Parry Sound. If you don’t want to drink the water you have any number of relatively low cost alternatives; certainly available to all of those who have proselytized on behalf on fluoride removal. But they claim to worry about those that cannot afford unfluoridated water. The the poor ‘unwashed’? I increasingly understand the consternation of people who are ‘petitioned’ to accept a new religion by missionaries. These missionaries sincerely believe that what they are preaching is the truth and genuine. They don’t have solid evidence for their claims about their ultimate deity, or that their way of life is the ‘proper one’, but believe in ‘miracles’ as evidence, and sincerely feel their beliefs are the only path to salvation. These missionaries aren’t in a position to understand the complexity of their own religion, the evidence, or the countervailing evidence for other religions. But they believe, have faith, and the energy to try and change the belief of others.

I’m not big on faith, I am big on evidence. And the preponderance of evidence and statistical analysis suggests that fluoridation has a positive impact on community public health. But if you believe in a truth no amount of evidence will change your beliefs. Faith always trumps logic and evidence. Does anybody truly believe in ‘witches and warlocks’? Does anybody truly believe in the inherent superiority of the Caucasian race? Time and evidence have shown these beliefs are the result of prejudice, fear, and a refusal to try and understand. My cow died and it must be because of that witch. But many people have died and been subjected to inhumane treatment because people believed these to be truths, not opinions.

Please don’t save me. Save yourself, and be sure you don’t harm others in the process.

The issue of the adoption of the Trails Master Plan was postponed to permit public comment. That was a good move in my opinion. Discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting revealed that at initial public meetings there was some controversy on more than one issue, and the committee tried to steer a reasonable path with the Trails Master Plan. Rather than post the final report for public comment it seems Staff preferred to present it to Council as a fait accompli. Council in their wisdom has asked that the report be posted on the website for twenty-one days and public comment be solicited prior to Council’s review at the second meeting in November. I think we have learned that it is better to have open public discussion about issues prior to a Council decision rather than have individuals come back to protest a council decision, again and again and again and again and ….

Parking was also postponed pending an analysis by Staff on possibly allocating some of the costs of parking management to the Parry Sound Downtown Business Association (DBA) who are expected to be the primary financial beneficiaries of free parking in the downtown. It may return to Council as soon as the second meeting in November. The free parking trial has been extended to the end of March 2016.

The creeping expansion of Big Sound Marina seasonal dockage has been capped at 35 slips. I’m not happy with the decision. I believe capping it at 25 would have met market needs and limited local business losses, but Staff supported the increase. As was noted at the meeting, slip occupancy goes up and down depending on the economy. Good weather and lower fuel prices have made boating more affordable and occupancy is up. But that can change quickly. Who suffers then?

I cannot urge people enough to get ahead of issues that are discussed at Council. Council is often left to rely on the recommendations of Staff and their own intuition for many issues. They are interested in your opinion, but they can’t read your mind. Send them a short email with your position, make a deputation, or catch them at a public event. Don’t chew off their ear. They are smart and conscientious, but they need to know what you think, good and bad. Most importantly, stay on top of what issues are coming before Council. That is best done by asking to be put on the council agenda email list. That gets you the full package provided to the council members. Or at least check out the summary agenda on the Town’s website. But don’t procrastinate. The agenda comes out on Friday for the following Tuesday evening meeting. That gives you about four days to track it down and understand if there are any issues you wish to offer comment on.

The Colour of Sunset on the Big Sound (Parry Sound in Colour)