Gazebo at Maplewood Park was the backdrop for many weddings and special events

By Peter Johnson

Did you hear that ‘bang’ last Thursday evening? I think it was the door slamming shut on the last day of March. If it weren’t for that nasty bit of snow, somewhere near the Ides, it might have been a tolerable double-fortnight. But that was just a nasty comeback to those who could start to see patches of grass, whose hopes were starting to rise, only to get smacked down again. We seem to have an inbred desire to dispense with Winter quickly, and get on with the nicer six months of the year.

Spring is such an uplifting time of year; full of hope, warmth and planning for the possibilities that lie out of doors. But the fly in the ointment is taxes. Just like that nasty snowstorm in March, taxes in the Spring take the bloom off the potential of roses, doesn’t it?

In our last edition of the ever-informative NG Times, we saw the impressive salaries that were being paid out of our pockets. I think I’d like to be one of the ‘support staff’, they make a good chunka change. The councilors and the mayor…not so much. For what they get paid, for the time they have to put in, it makes you wonder why anyone would consider doing the job. That being said, I am about to criticize one of them.

As was pointed out in the March 30 issue of the ever-wonderous, mostly-incredulous NG Times, ‘Benefits, Phones, but no gazebo’, the residents of Oxford Mills are disappointed again.  ‘Disappointed’?  How about royally ticked off at getting dumped upon, from a great height, yet one more time? That’s more in line with how I feel. If there were ever any proof needed that the ‘councilors-at-large’ arrangement on council is not ideal, here is some proof.

In what seems to be almost every case where the Oxford Mills Community Association has gone, hat in hand, with a request, it has been stomped on, swept aside, summarily dismissed and otherwise turfed out by council. Oh, but they do it with nice language. They are polite enough to avoid saying something crass, inappropriate or profane like: ‘Bugger off you pests…we have more important things to think about.’ That would be impolite-speak. ‘Polite speak’ looks something like this string of gobbley-gook: “I think there needs to be more design build here and reflection of what type of gazebo is accessible and would serve the purposes”.

For years I read childrens’ written work. Some of it from those who were 8 years old, most of it from 14 or 15 year olds. I am quite adept at reading poorly cobbled-together sentences, with confusing grammar and odd sentence structures. I am familiar with ‘creative’ spelling and thoughts that just sort of meander through and disappear into a mystery somewhere. But, rarely does an educated adult come up with something like that. Most often, not a former teacher.

Now, I know, I can hear you saying that poor Mrs. Tobin was only a high school educator. Only? And I have first hand experience with the fact that secondary teachers rely on the elementary teachers (the ones that they look down at…along their noses) to attend to such mundane tasks as teaching children how to read, how to write and speak clearly. But surely it is not too much to ask that they be able to string together coherent thoughts, themselves. Unless, one has been in politics for too long, which is what? A month, or two?

The art of never giving a clear answer is the mark of a true politician. In this case, if you don’t want to commit funds to help a group of constituents take on a project, blather on about the need for ‘more design build here’, or ‘reflection of what type…’. Send it off to a committee and you are sure that it will die somewhere in the paperwork.

Meanwhile, with those of us back in beautiful Oxford Mills who are wondering, ‘Why not?’, the frustration continues. This is the same group who wanted to take over Maplewood and run it.  They were turned down. It will be run by bureaucrats in Kemptville who are likely to only go near it when there are pancakes being served, or a tree lighting ceremony.

I am reminded of a Health & Safety meeting with the Director of the Upper Canada Board of Education. We were looking at an item which was going to limit the amount of paper that elementary teachers could put on the walls of classrooms or hallways – childrens’ work. The recommendation of one fire department, somewhere off in western Ontario, was to restrict this practice on the grounds of it being a potential fire hazard. If the committee made this recommendation, the implications would have been huge. The Director asked, ‘How many fires have there been in elementary schools in Ontario in the past 20 years, that were accidental?’ ‘One’. ‘So, do we need to do this, then?’, he asked.

The same with the gazebo. How many handicapped people have complained because they were not able to use the gazebo? None? How many people have used the gazebo? Countless? If so, then why are all the rest of the people who have used and wish to continue to be able to use such a structure, denied the opportunity because it has to be studied to death and eventually never rebuilt?

As we fall all over ourselves to be politically correct, or to make sure no one is left out or denied an opportunity, often the end result is too expensive or ends up shutting out everyone. This is the best solution we can come up with, is it? I would like to add my voice of frustration to all of those in Oxford Mills, and the Oxford Mills Community Association who are getting fed up. ‘Horse feathers!’ Give us the pittance that we are asking for, get out of the way, and it will probably be done before Canada Day.

And one more thing: it would be nice – no, it would be a bloody great improvement – if we were to get the odd acceptance of our requests instead of the never-ending, seemingly obligatory ‘No’ every time a request is made on behalf of the sometimes poorly, often mostly-under-represented-constituents in Oxford Mills.

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