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Dear Members of Council:

In absentia, would have loved to rise on point of personal privilege and thank whoever might have read this for me. Procedurally, however, that would be awkward; hence, I have written to you all with this missive.

Unfortunately, I cannot be there to deliberate a budget that is in the best interests of Guelph. I urge that common sense and sound minds will prevail.

A budget is not to be framed on personal political ambition, on thinking of one’s own self-interest, on considering “what is in it for me”. It is framed in the common good. Of course, we all have ideas and many of these differ. From these, we need to seek common understanding

Creating a budget is part of a social contract engaged in by our citizens wherein we acknowledge a duty to support our community – the young, the old, the better off, the less fortunate – metaphorically we render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. In this way we make Guelph work into the future.

Tonight, I wish I could make determinations on bussing, on playgrounds, on roads, bridges, services and support for all of Guelph. I wish I could say: “I want to pay for a library so others might enjoy its benefits and when I need it, it is there for me”. I wish I could vote in favour of Councillor Mackinnon’s proposal for a 1% levy. I wish I could also vote for a City Building levy to help build a Rec. Centre in the South End and a new, modern, state of the art library in our core.

I wish I could pronounce from my seat at the Horseshoe, “let’s restore busing to 2015 levels and let’s find a way to make 2017 service better than it has ever been.”

I wish that those that come after us, will never be burdened with 60 to over 100 years of decaying sewers, water pipes, roads and valuable, needed engineering. We must guarantee that the good life remains exactly that – the good life in the best city in Canada – Guelph – Our Royal City.

Colleagues: please support a budget that is “Guelph Positive”. Please support a budget that is “Proudly Guelph”.

Please support a budget founded upon the principles of reason, that is principled and that is forward looking. We must develop a budget that is right for all our citizens.

For 2017 we must create, a dynamic, healthy budget that considers seniors, kids, newlyweds, all who choose Guelph, raise families, celebrate our diversity and exercise our right to willingly contribute to the public good via taxes. Living in Guelph is the best experience we will ever share. It is worth it to plan and pay for the best.

Let’s do Guelph right, let’s be “Proudly, Progressively Guelph”. We cannot succumb to populism nor cost saving because it seems to be the lowest common denominator. We have a responsibility to be better than that. We have a duty to build our city.

Tonight, what I wish most is to return to Guelph and rejoin my colleagues.

Unfortunately, I have to eat hospital food (mainly Jello) and suffer the certainty I will have a catheter removed soon. If you wish to trade me places, I’m happy to let you substitute.

Rest assured, my discomfort is nothing compared to the enormous responsibility you face tonight. Please consider: will the budget upon which you are about to vote to make Guelph better? It can only be one way. Our duty is to the future.

In the principles of Christian duty, Islamic Zakat, humanist responsibility to the community, I wish you great wisdom as you deliberate. Namaste, Shalom, As-salamu Alaykum, may peace be in your hearts.