Hey kids, who has money for playgrounds?

October 13, 2013

It was a bad week to be a taxpayer, and I imagine you all know exactly what I’m talking about.

That’s right. Local children are once again wasting our hard-earned money.

Some background. A report that came before Guelph city council this week suggested more than half of the city’s playgrounds will need to be replaced in the next three years. A full quarter of our playgrounds need to be replaced immediately.

The only problem is, there isn’t enough money in the coffers to do all the work that’s needed. When I read the story in the paper Wednesday, I was understandably upset.

My reaction, when learning about this, was probably the same natural response as yours: The nerve of these kids to need modern and safe playground equipment in times like these.

Who do they think they are? TransCanada Energy executives?

Don’t they know we can’t afford to waste tax revenues right now? Don’t they know our municipal government can’t just be throwing money around like they’re Liberals cancelling gas plants?

I’m starting to wonder if these kids even read the newspaper at all.

Sorry children, our tax dollars are just a little too tight for your play plans right now. So quit your dreaming. And why do you need all this fancy playground equipment, anyway? What’s wrong with playing in a cardboard box? Boxes are fun.

The only clear solution for Guelph’s children is to get a major playground project proposed by the city, then have it cancelled and moved to another community, and then somehow win a lopsided, bloated compensation deal from city hall.

But that’s not going to happen, not when all of our political leaders are tightening their belts in this new era of austerity.

Well, OK, not all politicians are tightening their belts. At least Mike Duffy, the Conservative senator, had the heart and the conviction to finally start giving some money back to taxpayers.

His alleged new one-man stimulus program for Gerald Donahue, an old friend in the Ottawa area, is a progressive approach to an economic slowdown among residents in the Donahue household.

The RCMP, all worked up over $65,000 that Duffy billed the Senate for “no tangible work,” seems to have missed the point. When you’re trying to turn around the Donahue economy, you can’t worry about the little things, like whether it’s fraudulent.

You just do it because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s not your money.

Unlike local children, Rob Ford is another leader who seems to understand these are difficult times and citizens won’t stand for the status quo when it comes to spending our money. He was voted into office on a promise to finally stop the gravy train at Toronto city hall, and immediately surrounded himself with the cheapest help he could get.

While other leaders of major cities pick expensive, educated, qualified associates for their entourage — you know, people like economists or lawyers — Ford picked alleged drug dealers and violent convicted criminals for his posse.

They didn’t need pricey consultant fees, no sir. All he had to pay them was a Don Bosco High School leather jacket and let them drive his car around once in awhile. It’s an innovative approach to saving public funds, and Ford ought to be celebrated for it.

So kids, you’d better sit tight on that old swing set or that crumbling slide for the next few years. The adults are sorting out more important things to do with your parents’ money, and this could take a while.

-Guelph Mercury, Oct. 12/2013

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