Infighting at Cambridge council triggered by multiplex

By  | July 16, 2017 | 3 Comments | Filed under: TIME FOR A NEW MAYOR AND 90% of COUNCIL IN 2018

Opinion Jul 14, 2017by Luisa D’Amato Waterloo Region Record

Is Cambridge really the crankiest city in the province?

Since it got a code of conduct and an integrity commissioner last year, eight complaints have been launched, accusing city councillors of breaking the code, and asking for an investigation.

That is one complaint for every 15,875 Cambridge residents. That is a whole lot more rancour, per capita, than the closest contenders: Ottawa with one complaint per 42,709; Guelph with one in 40,562; Windsor with one in 32,914; and Barrie with one per 27,142.

Meanwhile, north of Highway 401, those cheerful pacifists in Kitchener and Waterloo have registered not a single complaint against their locally elected officials.

What’s going on in Cambridge?

“It all stems from the multiplex,” says Coun. Frank Monteiro.

He should know. Monteiro is the subject of one of the complaints, after he said on a radio talk show that some people, who were not invited to multiplex meetings, were attending anyway, and they were documenting what was said, even though the meetings were closed to the public.

“You can’t do that,” Monteiro recalls telling the radio host.

The complaint alleges that Monteiro wasn’t at the meeting himself, and didn’t report accurately what had happened.

Monteiro has hired his own lawyer, and expects he has run up a $500 bill already.

Still, “there’s no way I’m going to be found guilty,” said Monteiro, a retired police officer.

Several of the other complaints against councillors also have their origins in the multiplex debate. Monteiro wants people to be charged $100 to lay a complaint, which would be returned if the complaint was found to have merit. Council will vote on his proposal this fall.

The question of where the sports multiplex will be, with its new ice pads, gym facilities and swimming pools, has been divisive and emotional for city leaders and residents for many months. There have been tears and shouting.

An early plan to build it on leased land at Conestoga College on Fountain Street in Cambridge, which Monteiro had supported, was harshly criticized as not being central enough, and too close to Kitchener. Another task force was formed, and has developed a shortlist of locations.

But the conversation has bogged down again. Maybe Cambridge will never even get a multiplex, just because no one can agree on where it should go.

To explain that strange phenomenon, you have to go back 44 years to 1973, when the communities of Preston, Hespeler and Galt were forced to come together and create Cambridge.

The city’s residents “became divided because of that,” said Monteiro. “There’s this animosity.”

Signs of that unhappy marriage are still there.

They were clear in the early 2000s, when residents fought each other as the school board considered closing one of five high schools in the city (it ended up keeping them all). They’re clear today, with the multiplex discussion.

The proposed $100 fee to discourage complaints just treats a symptom, like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.

ldamato@therecord.com , Twitter: @DamatoRecord

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3 Responses to Infighting at Cambridge council triggered by multiplex

  1. kefran@bell.net'
    rl July 17, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Here is just another example of how Frank Monteiro cannot get his facts straight.
    This man thinks everything centres around the Multiplex issue.
    There are other issues besides that one that plagues this City.
    To have to pay a fee to file a complaint against someone is another form of suppression.

    This takes away our democratic right and it also puts another veil over Council…I thought these elected officials were put in those positions to represent the electorate who voted them in to represent their voice…Well, I guess I was wrong. It almost seems like we are now entering an era where the public HAS NO SAY at all in any MATTERS because if we do we are classified as MALCONTENTS!!!

  2. wortong@yahoo.com'
    Gary Worton July 17, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Well said, rf. $100 just to file a complaint is simply extortion. Frank (“It’s a done deal”) Monteiro and his cohorts would just love it!
    Closed door meetings without interference from the great unwashed. Deals with the devil ( e.g. multiplex at Conestoga). A councilor’s heaven!

  3. mjqsmith@bell.net'
    Maggie July 17, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    This fee for filing a complaint is just another gestapo move. Every time citizens try to stand up for their rights – we get shut down by rules to shut us up. Just what are our elected body afraid of?? Learning the truth. Finding out a citizen knows A LOT MORE THAN THEY DO!! I think the Mayor/council just want everyone to just go away – stay away & let them have their own way – right or wrong and it is usually wrong – but then again STAFF told them.
    Monteiro is out to lunch. Always manages to get his big mouth quoted & especially by Luisa a’motto – who does not have a club.
    Yes – SUPPRESSION is the word these days at Council. Taxpayers wake up before it is too late. PAY ATTENTION AS THE 2018 ELECTION IS COMING VERY QUICKLY.
    Wake up or shut up – your choice.
    I resent the comment re Cambridge is still divided into 3 re Complex – WE ARE NOT – ALL OF US AGAINST COMPLEX IN WRONG LOCATION – we are from ALL PARTS OF Cambridge. Luisa is about as stupid as Frank. Neither one knows what they are talking about.

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