Same as it ever was - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Albert Einstein once said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” However, the real definition of insanity might be the fact that I constantly forget that Einstein didn’t actually say this, so I have to Google it every time I want to use it in a column and remember that I’m wrong to connect it to Einstein.
Regardless of whether Einstein said it or not (it appears to be traced back to novelist Rita Mae Brown who attributed the quote to a character in one of her books), the reasoning behind it remains valid. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is pretty kooky. Furthermore, the black sheep cousin of this idea (as if it isn’t already a black sheep on its own) is the idea that you can take a concept that has failed with others and successfully pull it off because, hey, you’re you! (Think of psychotherapist Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development, telling his wife that open relationships don’t work to save marriages and that couples delude themselves into thinking they can make it work before positing, “but it might work for us.”)
This brings us to Huron East Bernie MacLellan seemingly taking some advice from a little birdie (Little Bernie?) in North Huron about, for lack of a more specific term, the concept of non-resident user fees.
At the Oct. 19 meeting of Huron East Council, MacLellan made reference to a phone call he received from North Huron Reeve Bernie Bailey. While the two discussed several issues, according to MacLellan, of note was usership at the Vanastra Early Childhood Learning Centre and speculation that as many as 60 per cent of the families using the centre come from outside of Huron East. At the Nov. 2 meeting of Huron East Council, MacLellan said that the centre is regularly subsidized by the municipality and, if so many users are not paying Huron East taxes, perhaps Huron East should be going to other councils - he named Bluewater, specifically - and asking for some funds to help maintain the facility.
To be clear, MacLellan hasn’t formally proposed anything yet; he has just asked for a staff report on users of the centre and where they live and council approved the motion.
Councillor Ray Chartrand, rightfully, asked MacLellan about his motive, citing the fact that, after North Huron huffed and puffed, the non-resident user fees levied in retaliation (at least in the opinions of many) for Morris-Turnberry reducing support funding from North Huron-based recreation centres have failed miserably. (In an attempt to compensate for between $40,000 and $50,000 in reduced funding from Morris-Turnberry, according to Bailey, the user fees have instead resulted in losses nearing $80,000. That number is sure to climb until the fees are scrapped and users return to North Huron... if they even do.)
So after this failure (some might insert the word spectacular in front of failure) why then would MacLellan think a program in the same vein would work for Huron East? I’m not sure. I know Huron East providing this particular service has been a bee in some elected officials’ bonnets for some time, but this hardly seems like the path to follow.
We’ll see how this shakes out once the staff report is prepared and, perhaps, motions are then made and either passed or defeated. But it just doesn’t seem wise. North Huron’s non-resident user fees have failed at the bottom line and fitted the council with the dreaded “bad neighbour” suit - even if its hand may have been forced. It’s not the way forward.