Thursday, October 20, 2011

city councillor’s ‘joke’ gives a bad impression

At the Sept. 26 city council meeting, there was discussion around the city providing home energy audits. They are going to implement a pilot program that provides these audits, and the debate surrounds the cost of providing the audits. It was also noted the pilot program would take place in a neighbourhood heavily populated with students.
Coun. Bob Bell recommended a price of $20, at which point other councillors weighed in on the issue. When setting the price of the program to homeowners, it is important to consider whether the property is leased to tenants.
When it was Coun. Karl Wettstein’s turn to speak, he jokingly remarked that he “would charge students double,” after which he gave a chuckle and assured looks to other councillors around the horseshoe. I am not offended by his comments. I am both a student and a full-time permanent citizen — probably for several more years after I graduate. My concern is that these comments, jokingly or otherwise, represent underlying tensions between Wettstein and his ward, which has a high population of students.
His “joke” was not very funny, nor in good taste. To suggest that anyone would discriminate in price, and unfairly charge a specific group of people more than normal, is to cast aspersions on that group.
If he brings this attitude forward in council, what does he say in private?

Ben Baena, Guelph

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