My Platform

I’ve listened to you guys for the last few years about what your issues are.
I think when you’re running for Mayor, part of that is to offer a plan of how you’re going to get things done.
Here’s a link to my platform, these are the things that I think you want done.
Take a look at them, let’s talk about them.
Because I can promise you, if elected, I’ll be working hard to get them done for you.
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Rural communities shouldn’t bear the costs (reduced growth leads to reduced services and increased taxes) of protecting Prime Agricultural Land on their own.

 

Restructure the Budget Process to control expenses.  Start with a base and add inflation.

Get full cost recovery of gravel pit damage to roads, and improved enforcement from the Province.

An improved development plan to reduce pressure on current property tax payers.

Improve the safety of our roads.

Improve the functionality of our roads.

Promote alternatives to the existing High Speed Rail proposal.

Support Agriculture, the largest employer in the province.

Explore Surplus Farmhouse Severance opportunities within the Oxford Official Plan.

Implement the Recreation Arts and Culture Master Plan.

Commit to 100% use of Renewable Energy by 2040.

Oppose importation of waste to unwilling host municipalities.

 

 

e-mail: marcusryanzorra@gmail.com

Facebook: Marcus Ryan – Zorra

Twitter: @marcusryanzorra

Web: marcusryanzorra.ca

Instagram: marcusryanzorra

YouTube: Marcus Ryan Zorra

Zorra Township Budget 2018…

This is still one of the biggest things on my mind right now…

Specifically I’m thinking about five things:
1. Roads
Public Works is the single largest cost department in the budget every year. Zorra has a lot of roads and a low population density which makes it very costly per kilometre to maintain roads. However, they are one of the things residents use most, and they need attention.  Residents have observed this, Public Works has observed this, and I’d like to see this better reflected in the long term Capital Asset Management Plan.  Public Works has some new recommendations for the Capital Budget based on the 2017 Roads Condition Study.

2. Embro and Harrington Environmental Assessments
The Environmental Assessments, almost completed, but not yet decided on by UTRCA (where I sit as a member of the Board of Directors appointed by Zorra) of the Embro Pond and Harrington Pond represent a large cost liability for Zorra regardless of which alternative is selected.  As Zorra is the only “benefiting Municipality” for both structures (as neither is a flood control structure) any costs will be paid by Zorra.  Whether it is to remove the dam(s), or replace them, or keep them, there will be large amounts of capital and/or operating money required.

3. Debt
Given Zorra’s current high debt, the need for an improved maintenance plan for roads, and anticipated heavy capital spending on the Public Works Yard and the Embro and Harrington Ponds in the next 5 to 10 years, I would like to see a significant increase in transfers to the Capital Asset Management Plan Reserve.  If we don’t begin building up money in that reserve then even if we begin reducing debt the Township could continually be going back into debt for capital projects.  That could mean there would be no debt room for a “rainy day” or unexpected grant opportunity (that might require matching funds).

4. Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund cuts
Over the last few years the Province has cut OMPF funding to Zorra by one million dollars in total.  I believe we can anticipate another cut this year.  
This increasingly means the Township must rely on taxation to pay for our capital and operations. This is wrong. Municipalities own two thirds of Ontario infrastructure but only get a total of 9 cents of every tax dollar (the other 91 cents go to the Provincial and Federal Governments).
However, this is our reality: increasingly, we have to pay our own way.

5. When Council debates and weighs options, and prioritizes items in the Budget it sets the tax rate.  This term of Council adopted a 5 year Capital Budget Plan in an attempt to get better control over long term spending.  There needs to be a strong expectation from Council that those items will be completed in the year that they are planned, budgeted, and taxed for.  And an equally strong expectation that Council will be responsible and accountable for the plan.  It’s a work in progress, but I believe that combined with the Strategic Plan, the 5 Year Capital Budget Plan will bring more predictability to spending needs, and that should lead to better control of spending, and therefore taxation.

All this will mean a careful eye on other items in the budget if the tax rate is not to be significantly affected.
I am expecting there will be some hard choices.

The Recreation, Arts, and Culture Master Plan is not expected to be complete until after the 2018 Budget is complete, so I expect that any major budget decisions as a result of recommendations from that Study will be dealt with by the next term of Council in the 2019 Budget…

Marcus Ryan
Councillor Ward 3

FB: Marcus Ryan – Zorra
www.communityschoolsalliance.ca
FB: Community Schools Alliance

Who should decide school closures?

I wear three(!) hats on this issue: as a resident whose children attend A.J. Baker P.S. in Kintore in the Thames Valley District School Board, as a Municipal Councillor in the Township of Zorra, and as the Vice Chair of the Community Schools Alliance.
The position of the Community Schools Alliance is “to have municipalities become partners with school boards in making decisions about where new schools are built and where schools are closed.”
To that end we have made several delegations (through member Municipalities) to the Minister of Education including a very positive delegation I presented at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference in Ottawa in August (https://www.facebook.com/CommunitySchoolsAlliance/posts/1440354912712622).  Specifically I asked the Minister to engage in a “wide ranging consultation process, with all stakeholders including a variety of community groups, and Municipal Governments, to fully consider the significance of schools to rural, northern, and single school communities in developing the policy changes to the Funding Formula and PARG to end the Moratorium.”
I pointed out to the Minister that while schools are not “capital A” assets of Municipalities, they are “small a” assets.   Without our schools Municipalities cannot be complete communities that truly have the ability to plan and develop our future.
This delegation was very different in tone to past year’s delegations, it was open and consultative.  But the proof will be in what type of policies the Minister proposes to end the current Moratorium.
I encourage you to lobby your local Municipal Governments to become members of the Community Schools Alliance and help us to continue to fund research on this topic and advocate on their behalf.
Both personally as a parent, and as a Municipal Councillor, my position is a bit more far reaching: I believe that the decisions about where schools should open and close should rest entirely with Municipalities.
Municipalities have Planning Departments that do exactly this type of work.  Municipalities have Public Health Departments that have a wealth of knowledge on building vibrant, healthy communities.  Municipalities already build the majority of infrastructure in Ontario.  All these functions (Planning, Public Health, infrastructure, and Education in our communities) would be better achieved by having Municipalities control where such a vital piece of community building infrastructure as a school should be.
I know some people would argue that it is too big for Municipalities to take on, but I disagree.  Currently all capital funding is provided to School Boards by the Ministry of Education; transfer that to Municipalities.  Already almost all contracts with Education Staff are (at least initially) negotiated by the Ministry.  The curriculum is almost entirely written and mandated by the Ministry and only administered locally by Boards (and in my opinion not very “locally” as most Boards are too geographically large for their to be legitimately local understanding).
So I believe that not only are Municipalities capable of adding an “Education Department” to Public Works, Public Health, Planning, etc., I think that it would in fact result in better planned communities, more integrated communities, and more local knowledge and democracy in school opening and closing decisions.
All of these topics, and more, will be discussed in an open forum at the 2017 Ontario Rural Education Symposium being hosted this year by the Township of Zorra on Saturday November, 25th in the Embro Recreation Centre.
MOE Staff have confirmed that they will be attending to hear input on the recently announced policy changes…
I hope to see you there too.
2017 Ontario Rural Education Symposium:
To register:

Marcus Ryan
Councillor Ward 3

Mobile: 1.519.301.1634
FB: Marcus Ryan – Zorra
www.communityschoolsalliance.ca
FB: Community Schools Alliance

First Blog post!

I’m starting a blog!

I’ve never done this before, but a Facebook Post or Tweet is not always enough for some complex issues (Strategic Plan, budget, Walker Landfill proposal, surplus farm house severances, recreation plan, etc.), and I know not everyone wants all the detail on all the issues; so, for those bigger issues I will use this blog.

On Facebook and Twitter I will post a link to the Blog article and leave it to you whether to click on to it or not.  I can’t yet say how often I will write blogs, it will be an experiment.  Hopefully it will be useful to you.

Let me know!

Marcus Ryan
Councillor Ward 3

Mobile: 1.519.301.1634
mryan@zorra.on.ca
FB: Marcus Ryan – Zorra
Township of Zorra
274620 27th Line
P.O. Box 306
Ingersoll, ON  N5C 3K5
Ph. 519.485.2490 or 1.888.699.3868
http://www.zorra.on.ca
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