CAG Community Action Group of Cornwall Ontario: A change at City Hall is required!

Sandy Cameron & Gerry Benson
Sandy Cameron & Gerry Benson

CFN – One of the reasons I love and hate Cornwall is the utter needless complexity that some people create.  Instead of finding common ground and working together to better the community, egos whip up strange breezes of weirdness.

Such is the Community Action Group of Cornwall.   Led by a steering committee of ten business people, some of whom will come to city hall and ask for cash while asking the city to cut taxes.

I know.  It’s odd, but it’s Cornwall and one of the reasons I love this crazy town!

Here is the groups latest release as they are starting to go hard line on our corrupt spendthrifts at City Hall.  It is unedited.

In the late fall of this year, Council gave the directive for a target of 3% increase for the 2013 Budget and Administration came back with 4.01% increase. This truly shows a sign that a lot of City Departments are not willing to change in order to get their budgets in line with the needs of the ratepayers.  “We just can’t do It”…is a common phrase we hear when it’s budget time, in our homes, in our businesses, and at City Hall. The CAG feels it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity to get budgets in line with the ratepayers’ ability to pay.


The Community Action Group has been following the 2013 City of Cornwall Budget process with much interest and keen eye to try and find some type of change in direction. We were optimistic in the fall because of the increase in new assessment which should have put the City in a fair position in regards to a 2013 final tax rate. Unfortunately, the CAG sees more of what we have seen over the past 3 years of Council, spend, spend, spend with no change in direction whatsoever,  which is not what is required.


Change is the only way to go forward, and without a change in direction we are just delaying the end result, HIGH TAXES. The CAG continues to believe that a tax increase of 0% is the only way forward. We know that this would mean a lot of changes with the way the City delivers services but what choice do we have.


Our tax rates are way too high compared to:#1- The ability of our ratepayers to pay#2- South Stormont & South Glengarry rates#3- The size of our populationWe continue to live with Champagne tastes, when we can only afford soda pop.  For 2013, Council may get to their target of 3%, but again, this is not the answer.  


The CAG recommends that City Council follow the lead of the City of London Ontario who in 2011 and 2012 were able to get to a 0% tax increase. We are not sure how they did it but it does prove that it is possible. Possibly difficult but it can be done.  One thing is for certain and without a doubt, a major change is required.  We feel all departments and city services need to be reviewed.  The waste and unproductive structures within each area need to be dismantled, reorganized and reassembled so they are affordable. This change would also include a hiring and wage freeze for a minimum of 3 years. The status quo of “passing it on to the ratepayer” is not sustainable.


The CAG is committed to continuing to work with Council and Administration to ensure the voices of all community stakeholders are heard. What’s next for the CAG……..,to date our message does not seem to resonate with very many members of Council but there is hope, the fall of 2014 is municipal election time and the CAG will be there to ensure the 0% message gets heard and the people who believe that it is possible, will need to step forward.


The reality is, if taxpayers in the City of Cornwall do not stand up and push for change and a lower tax rate, it will not happen.Signed, Community Action Group of Cornwall/Groupe-Action Communautaire de Cornwall

Well they mean well.   But if this group truly is serious they themselves will have to take action and look at the hard issues.    And the big one is our Mayor, Bob Kilger, and his relationship with some of the CAG members, and the amount of money that his “good friend” former CAO Paul Fitzpatrick has cost the city in litigation and settlements.   Something that most of the members of the committee of ten know all too well about.

I confirmed via telephone that the steering committee remains unchanged.   Communitty Action Group Steering Committee Members
– Gerry Benson
– Sandy Cameron
– Dr. Michel Dubuc
– David Enns
-Tammie Menard
– Bryan Merkley
– Roy Perkins

100 Letter


  1. Personally I would like to see a “0 %”budget increase for the obvious reason however at the same time I do not believe it to be a realistic target.
    What is realistic is passing a motion in council that would see our taxes rise yearly no greater than the previous years rate of inflation.
    How do we get into this sustainable position?
    Contact your councilor of choice or all councilors and request that at the time of the next municipal election the question addressing this concept appears on the ballot. i.e. Do you as a ratepayer support a budgetary system held to the actual rate of inflation? YES or NO
    I am very surprised that such an esteemed group has not by this time already put forth such a proposal. I am left wondering what “ACTION” in their group identity means. Should their tag simply be Community Group of Cornwall ?
    Time to lobby your councilor.

  2. Has Cornwall ever processed a ‘negative’ budget increase?

    With so many new industries we should also be seeing new homes and that all means a new tax base. Makes one wonder why residences need to experience constant badger with these annual increases.

    Must admit a mute point and that is that a ‘0’ increase is like a negative due to not including inflation.

  3. Did anyone of the members of CAG propose a solution? Your article only states it is possible, but we all know that. We also are in the know that change is necessary, but has anyone provided a viable alternative

    As for city operations, maybe we could take a page from the Hamilton work book and follow employees and ensure they are doing their work. Yes yes and management too. Eliminate the dead wood and find people that can actually get the job done and done right. The color may have changed but the adage remains the same, what is blue and white and sleeps three.

    I can assure you the cost of pensions and poor management pale in comparison to poor work ethics.

  4. “We are not sure how they did it but it does prove that it is possible.”

    This is public record, and is easily found:

    Among the savings & cuts:
    Reserve Fund Contribution reductions and program reductions: $-3,592,000
    Service Efficiencies: $-1,748,000
    Social & Community Support Services – Ontario Works: $-1,000,000
    London Police Services: $-967,000
    London & Middlesex Housing Corporation: $-402,000
    Fire Services: $-252,000

    Everyone needs to ask themselves what type of community we want to live in.

  5. Privatize emergency services.

  6. CAG Members,

    For some time, I truly felt you were attempting to put our City back on track ! Often, you would be pushing Council to reign in their ridiculous spending ! Bravo, I thought ?
    I do have one question though & due to the fact, that your all the movers & shackers around town, what was the legal costs involved in that dog & pony show, that occured tuesday, at City Hall ?
    Make sure, that all lawyers are figured in, (Toronto & Ottawa & Cornwall) ?
    Your group (CAG) has been preaching restraint, well lets see just how serious you all are ? Your response in the CFN would be appreciated, as the other local media, except for Le Journal , have made no mention of this Council meeting.

  7. The CAG members shown here are also involved with the university feasible study.

    Seems kind of odd to ask for cuts in spending with your hand out

  8. Cause they are the only ones that can afford it Hailey….they are the ONLY ones that can afford it!

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