A pig in a poke


A “pig in a poke” is an old saying that goes back to the Middle Ages when meat was scarce but cats and dogs were not.


The confidence man would sell a suckling pig in a poke (bag). If you failed to check the contents of the unopened bag, you were quite likely to get a pup or a cat.


So whenever I hear the term, buying a pig in a poke, I’m inclined to think of successive Kincardine councils.


The last couple weeks, council has been discussing upgrades to the municipal building out on the fifth concession. Water is seeping into parts of the building because of deteriorating siding, the heating and cooling system is ready to fail and the roof needs more costly repairs. It could cost an estimated $1.8 million to restore the building.


It sounds like Kincardine taxpayers bought a pig in a poke. Did council at the time follow due diligence? Or was the state of the building glossed over to fit the political agenda?


To refresh your memories, at the turn of the century, council had approved in principle the replacement of the old town hall with a new building which would have housed the municipal offices and a new theatre at a cost of around $3.3 million.


Things changed when mayor Larry Kraemer and the new council were elected in 2001. Back then, there was a strong anti-town of Kincardine bias on the part of some in Wards 1 and 2. Did that play a role in the cancellation of the new building in Victoria Park?


Whatever, all Kincardine taxpayers have been paying through the nose ever since.


Do the math. The cost of the building on the fifth was $1.3 million plus the cost of converting it to a municipal centre. Add the cost of the needed repairs ($1.8 million) and money already spent on repairs ($260,000 in roof repairs come to mind), and you have almost covered the cost of that new building of 12 or 13 years ago.


But the last council also bought a pig in a poke when it decided to restore the old town hall’s exterior at a cost of $1 million plus; it currently serves as the Kincardine Arts Centre. That council seemed to forget, conveniently, that the basement had a mold problem and that was costly to fix. Now council is talking about spending another $500,000 to upgrade the interior.


So today Kincardine has two old buildings which serve as money pits for Kincardine taxpayers.

And what is council to do now? Fix up the mess on the fifth or look for another building?


Yes, Kincardine likes buying pigs in pokes. A few years ago it approved a medical  centre that allowed water to seep into the basement – more mold. How many millions did taxpayers spend to fix that problem?


If you don’t like paying high taxes, you should demand members of council start doing their homework.




Predictions for 2014.


The sun will continue to rise and set each day. That’s pretty good news.


Politicians in Ottawa, Queen’s Park and elsewhere will remain insulated from the rabble (us). They love those phone answering services; politicians don’t have to talk to electors until the next election.


Despite the politicians, Canada will remain the best country in the world.


Canada will not own the podium at the Winter Olympics, even though I hope they will.