How did we get here?

How did we get here?

That’s a powerful question and one some tend to find unimportant. Let the past stay there.

While we understand the admirable quality of looking forward and advancing the cause, people need to know their stuff before good choices can be made. Let’s call it the background – a critical set of facts on which decisions can be based. That background, however, needs to be accurate.

In recent weeks, talk has turned to the City of Guelph and County of Wellington reengaging with a joint social services committee. By default, since Guelph doesn’t have a print newspaper product anymore, we had to go online for city reactions. That was a learning experience.

Apart from aping city talking points, one would be led to believe that Guelph council had achieved the impossible in a recent headline. “City council may gain more influence over social services,” Guelph Today proclaimed. “Additional Guelph perspectives are coming to the County of Wellington’s Social Services Committee this spring,” was the lead on another Village Media story. 

Then the comments began, demonstrating a degree of ignorance about local government and how things work that we have never seen replicated locally. Is that a city issue, the absence of a critical newspaper issue or is it a case of people ignoring history by creating a new narrative for political gain? It appears a combination of those.

To be fair, the sun will still rise in the east and the county, despite this latest slight, will steel itself and do its work. But darn it all, can truth prevail so residents can be served? That is the goal, right – serving the public with integrity, whether city or county resident.

The reality is the County of Wellington looks after social services for both the city and county. By legislated requirement, the county delivers social services at the direction of the province. Guelph, a separated city, in essence contracts provision of those services to the county. Yes, they pay handsomely for that service, but that is the law and unavoidable fact.

Back around 2010, after months of acrimony and misplaced direction from a strategic planning officer no longer employed by the city, a divorce of sorts occurred. Guelph left the committee and has spent the last 14 years or so wandering in the wilderness, laying blame on the county for inadequacies within city limits.

The icing on the cake with that self-inflicted excommunication was the county found out about the change in the Guelph Mercury at the time. No calls between heads of council, no calls between heads of staff – just a headline in a since-defunct print product that always seemed to parrot city council attitudes, whether fair or decidedly not. As would be customary, the city was invited by the county warden of that day to rejoin the committee when and if it suited them. 

Let’s start off on the right foot with a sense of common purpose intent on serving city and county residents well. If this reboot is to work, it will require cooperation and honesty, not petty politics and dreadful spin.

Independent and free

If we had our druthers, this topic would not need to be addressed.

From time to time, we need to be clear on our associations and business practices. Our newspaper is free to readers and we are independently owned and operated.

This past week a reader from Guelph grabbed a copy of the Advertiser at her local library. To her dismay the Druthers Report had been inserted inside our publication. How that happened is unknown. 

We do not distribute other publications within our newspaper for numerous reasons, but most importantly is our inability to be responsible for information our journalists haven’t edited and written.