There is no question that it takes two to tango.
After a decade of spatting and five-plus years without a representative at its table, Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie has made the first move in bettering relations with Wellington County and its social services committee.
This News is baby steps in repairing a relationship that didn’t have to sour as it had.
By virtue of legislation, the county handles the social services role for Guelph and Wellington County. Due to population and assessment realities, Guelph always had higher needs and higher costs. In the end the squabble seemed to be about who had the most say.
Stretching back more than a decade, the city seemed to adopt the approach that it was getting hosed. Kate Quarrie was mayor at the time and we vividly recall that particular city council as always trying to avoid paying its way, whether it was the county home for the aged or associated costs with running the social services system. Some may have viewed this as a hard-nosed way of bargaining to gain a better deal, but it really amounted to a harmful distraction.
The anxiety of that period, coupled with changing senior staff at city hall, spilled over into the next term of council when Karen Farbridge became mayor again. Farbridge had previously been a fair, thoughtful person during her first term on the joint social services committee, but she seemed to adopt the anti-county stance of her predecessor and things just got markedly worse.
It was a disturbing day when Guelph walked away from its neighbour, leaving the county to shoulder the burden of administering effective, fair-minded services to city residents as well as its own.
While much of the activity is prescribed by the province, there are choices to be made in terms of services levels and optional programming, whether that entails affordable housing, child care and so on. We think the county did an admirable job rising above the sometimes petty nature of regional politics to deliver the quality of service Guelph residents expected and deserved.
Guthrie will receive a warm welcome and the opportunity to correct a period of silliness that we are glad may be coming to an end.
Neighbours need to work together. Politicians need to set aside their proclivities for always being right, whether they are or not.
But, most importantly, there needs to be teamwork and a common goal to serve the people such a committee is charged to serve.