In case you missed it, a recent Editorial in the Guelph Mercury is worth a read, regarding a new approach Guelph says it has adopted in resolving disputes, towards mediated resolutions over court-determined settlements. Time will tell when it comes to evaluating the extent to which the City is in fact shifting its way of doing things, and the outcomes associated with that approach.
Going forward, we could look to how our outstanding disputes are resolved — though doing so may not be entirely revealing as there will be times when the best and necessary means of resolving a dispute will be through the courts. And mediation does not entirely serve the public interest where transparency and therefore perhaps a measure of accountability for who got us into the mess and how in the first place deserves to be served — such as with the Urbacon debacle. All of which is to say it may be difficult to evaluate the public benefit of this approach, or if it is even happening in any substantial way.
If there is anything that I think can be safely taken from this messaging from the City it is that the powers-that-be may have finally determined that their way of doings things is hurting them, and that it stands to hurt them further come 2014. So, perhaps it is a decision to play a bit nicer, at least when it involves local constituencies like downtown merchants and home builders who could otherwise decide to embarrass you come election-time. Call it housekeeping. And to be sure, using local public dollars to litigate against a local taxpayer doesn’t lend to the best optics.
The bottom line is the political benefits of a “them and us” approach may have run their course. Perhaps the powers-that-be are signaling the days of making political hay when others disagree with City Hall are over.
Not likely, I’m afraid.
Disagreeing without being disagreeable is not we’ve seen from this administration, and it will take an entirely different style from the powers-that-be to make that shift, and to be sure, it WILL be a long walk back for Guelph –including a change in leadership — on our way towards enjoying a better reputation in the province, especially as a collaborator.
So, while it may be not be especially clear what of this messaging from the City is real and what is “smoke in mirrors” going by how one legal dispute or another is handled, I will be watching for how it co-operates with those it should see as its collaborator. I will be watching for what kind of fights we get into, and with whom.
We are not an island. And if there is one certain way where politics gives way to law it is in the fact that there is nothing inevitable about the existence of a Guelph should the Province decide, “We’ve determined the current municipal arrangement regarding Guelph is no longer working”.
Ironic and prophetic in a self-fufilling kind of way, don’t you think?