Good to Know Letters & Opinion

Caledon Resident Believes Mayor Should Give Up Strong Mayor Powers

Caulk sign reading Democracy is better than dictatorship
Submitted to Just Sayin' Caledon

The following letter, written by Caledon resident Nicola Ross, was submitted to JSC for publication:

Open Letter to the citizens of Caledon

In July 2023, Caledon Mayor Groves used the strong mayor powers granted to her by the Ford government. Mayor Groves used this undemocratic power for the mundane task of splitting the role of building services and municipal law enforcement into two separate positions.

In August 2023, Mayor Groves used her strong mayor powers to replace the Town’s chief administrative officer Carey Herd with Nathan Hyde. Hyde came from the Town of Erin where he rammed through a highly unpopular and enormous housing development and sewage treatment plant. The latter will dump effluent from the villages of Hillsburgh and Erin directly into the West Credit River as it enters the Town of Caledon. The effluent will be discharged just upstream from precious brook trout habitat and the hamlet of Belfountain and the Forks of the Credit.

In September 2023, Mr. Hyde announced he was restructuring the town, reducing the number of departments to six from 11. It was also announced that several of the town’s senior and most experienced staff members had been let go without cause and at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers. Since then, as Dan O’Reilly points out in this publication, there has been a cascade of staff members who have been either let go or have voluntarily resigned. At this critical time in Caledon, with the Ford government decreeing that Caledon become a single-tier municipality despite a plethora of studies that indicate this is economic suicide for Caledon, staff experience would be especially important.

In other words, Caledon is in a mess of unprecedented dimensions.

As Wildfield resident Dan O’Reilly and former Caledon mayor Carol Seglins point out, the strong mayor powers employed by Mayor Groves is undemocratic to the point of turning a mayor into a dictator. Mayor Groves made the decisions above without input from council members, the very council members we, as Caledon residents and taxpayers, elected in November 2022. The council members whose input may well have helped avoid the current chaos.

Some residents may shake their heads and think who cares if the mayor used strong mayor powers? What difference does it make? Aren’t there more important things to worry about like the war in the Middle East, the political crisis in the US, the war in the Ukraine, climate change, etc? No doubt the world is in a precarious place these days. But rather than believe Mayor Groves’ use of strong mayor powers pales in comparison with these seemingly larger and more critical issues, it is precisely because of these crises that we need to stop the use of any kind of dictatorial powers.

We live in a democracy and while, as Winston Churchill pointed out in 1947 at the end of WWII, democracy isn’t perfect, it is the best political system available. Our democratic government and our adherence to the principles of democracy including one person one vote are at the very basis of the extraordinarily peaceful and prosperous country we call home. We ignore this reality at our peril, and at no time since WWII has democracy been under greater threat.

It is up to citizens, all citizens, each and every one of us, to ensure democracy continues to reign in Canada, in Ontario and in Caledon. As responsible citizens it is our responsibility to pay attention and to oppose undemocratic acts by our federal, provincial and municipal governments.

In this publication, Carol Seglins and Dan O’Reilly described what we can do to protect our precious Caledon. I’m drilling down on their recommendations. Demand that Mayor Groves voluntarily give up her strong mayor powers. Demand that Mayor Groves consult her Council to make decisions as is required in a democracy and as she is required to do given Caledon residents voted in their councillors.

If you believe Mayor Groves should give up her strong mayor powers and return the Town of Caledon to a democracy then contact the mayor at (905) 584-2272, extension 5130 and/or email her at annette.groves@caledon.ca

Nicola Ross
Caledon Resident

Note: You can also listen to Nicola being interviewed by another publication regarding what’s happening in Caledon here:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1845983/13797287-80-peel-is-breaking-up-where-does-that-leave-caledon

and another article she has written here:

https://www.inthehills.ca/2023/09/can-caledon-go-it-alone/ 

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Just Sayin' Caledon

Just Sayin’ Caledon brings you stories about Caledon people, places and events.

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2 Comments

  • How about interviewing those of us who would happily go on record to say we support the use of strong mayors powers? In this case she used it well to clean up mess left by a high school graduate earning almost $300k!

    • The last that I looked at Staff Report 2022-0259, the mayor of the Town of Caledon earned about one third of that even after the controversial raise. It is worth pointing out that Ms. Groves’ background is that of dental hygienist. Also of note, Ms. Groves could have refused the raise of which she was so publicly critical, and given the difference to charity in return for a tax receipt. She did not. In accepting the new job of mayor and the raise, Ms. Groves enjoyed a pay raise of 191%. In addition, she still receives a paycheque from Peel Region for being a Regional Councillor. See page 3 of Staff Report 2022-0259 available on the Town web site.