It was already over.

There is a bit of graffitti on the side of Exhibition Park Arena. Stenciled in black paint, in two-inch high letters, a sentence on an otherwise large and blank wall. It reads: “It was already over.”

Only the person who did it knows what it is meant by it — if anything at all, specifically. Maybe it was meant for someone. Or maybe it was meant for all of us. Maybe the person who did it just wanted to get us thinking.

I pass by it everyday. Some days, I don’t even notice it. But now and then, it kind of grabs me, and I get to thinking about who did it and why.

Recently, it led me to mull over the capital “projects” that we’re dealing with as a city — in one category, what has been built, the other, what hasn’t been, yet. I was reminded of how much was rammed through by the last council, while they “had the numbers” (not my words…) around the horseshoe to do it. It seemed as though there was a general mistrust that if they didn’t commit us to all of the Job Ones, on a number of levels when they had the numbers… they might not happen at all… that maybe the voters in Guelph didn’t support their direction, not entirely.

It suggested to me that maybe Guelph was being run by a group of people, a small group, really, who were more interested in changing Guelph, with a lot of talk of “our” legacy, than in serving, and respecting, the people who are actually the backbone of Guelph. People who are taxed in support a direction that doesn’t really reflect them.

You can catch the message, usually in subtext. Sometimes it’s more explicit — that it really doesn’t matter what you and your family did to build this community, this city, or what was to buy and pay off your home, educate your kids, if you are now struggling with the cost of living here, well that’s too bad, but that’s how it goes. Maybe it’s time for you to move. We need our taxes. We’ve got a legacy to fulfill.

It’s all become too much about the powers-that-be trying to help the rest of us, even if we don’t understand why we need it. Indeed: to make a difference. And indeed, we’ve had one misadventure after another. In the meantime, we do have our own property to maintain.

So back to the graffitti. You want to get on with your day.

Thinking back on and reflecting on the results from the 2010 municipal election, perhaps Guelph was saying to the Mayor on Election Night, in light of what had happened in the previous term, “it was already over” for this term.

Which isn’t a place one would want to be in with re-election on Election Night. Essentially, it means, “You can stand on your head if you like. But with all due respect, it’s done. We’re done.”

The other part of “it was already over” relates to extent to which this council’s work seems to be defined by the previous council — which seems to be increasingly about managing misadventures. Sometimes, as what has been built, others, in terms of what hasn’t been. Yet?

About Craig Chamberlain

Ward 3 Guelph resident, dad and step-dad.
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