A Record-Breaking 34 Participating Restaurants Will Paint The Town Red For United Way

The 7th Annual Paint the Town Red event in support of the United Way Community Campaign will have a record-breaking 34 participating restaurants this year.

It takes place Wednesday, July 17th, and the participating restaurants will be donating 25 percent of their daily sales to support United Way of Peterborough. Last year’s event raised more than $16,000, bringing the total to over $75,000 since 2013.

Photo from Paint the Town Red Media Launch courtesy United Way of Peterborough

Photo from Paint the Town Red Media Launch courtesy United Way of Peterborough

“I am thrilled be part of Paint the Town Red this year and even more excited to see restaurants in the County of Peterborough participating for the first time including Jack’s Restaurant in Lakefield and Rallis Burger Family Restaurant in Bridgenorth,” says David Goyette, Chair of this year’s United Way campaign.

Adds United Way Development Officer and Event Coordinator, Erica Richmond: “This is truly my favourite event of the year. I believe that food has the power to bring people together and this is consistently demonstrated during this event as community members support local businesses who are supporting our community. It’s a full circle of support bound together by food, conversation and local love.”

For a full list of participating restaurants, click here—and make sure to hit up one of them on Wednesday for a great cause!

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David Goyette Community Fundraising Event For Art School Of Peterborough

An occasional painter, David Goyette has completed ten new canvasses for the purpose of their sale in support of The Art School of Peterborough. Each piece is large scale abstract in acrylic, measuring 30 by 40 inches.
A not-for-profit organization with charitable status, The Art School of Peterborough is dedicated to providing a professional level of instruction to both adults and children in a wide variety of studio media. The proceeds from the sale of David’s art will help fund the Richard Hayman Youth Bursary for young people who have an interest in art but are unable to pursue it due to financial constraints.
The show and sale of David’s art is open to all and will take place on Wednesday (May 8th) at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, 120 Murray Street (at Water Street). Doors open at 5 p.m. and a presentation takes place at 5.30 p.m.


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PtboPic: David Goyette's "Be Brief!" Cake From His Book Launch Last Night At Splice

Our "Backroom Briefing" columnist David Goyette sent us a picture of the yummy looking cake from his book launch at Splice yesterday. Proceeds from his new book Be Brief!—which extols the virtues of brevity in public speaking—will go toward The Purple Onion Festival, Peterborough’s celebration of local food and culture. More info about the book and how to get a copy here. (The book is not edible, only the cake was.)

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Peterborough Author David Goyette Releases New Book "Be Brief!"

David Goyette, Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett and the man who pens our "Backroom Briefing" column here at PtboCanada.com, is releasing a new book called Be Brief!: Fifty Milestone Speeches In Fifty Words Each.

According to a release, the book "extols the virtues of brevity in public speaking through the example of 50 original milestone speeches, each of which is 50 words in length." The speeches are divided into five categories—political speeches, business speeches, special event speeches, family speeches and personal speeches.

This is Goyette's third book, and the proceeds from Be Brief! will go toward The Purple Onion Festival, Peterborough’s celebration of local food and culture.

The official launch of the book takes place next Thursday (September 13th) at Splice (379 George St.) at 5 p.m. and is open to all.

Books are available from the author David Goyette and at Happenstance Books in Lakefield.

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Backroom Briefing Q: Why Does It Seem Like Decisions Are Made So Slowly At City Council?

GOYETTE'S BACKROOM BRIEFINGQ: Why does it seem that decisions are made so slowly at City Council? –Bill, Peterborough

Goyette:  The question is fairly general in nature, so I am going to respond in kind.

First, the conventional wisdom. Government is slow. In a race with a turtle, it would strike a subcommittee to review the risks associated with winning. The file is under active review. It will be determined in the fullness of time. The perception of lethargic government is so fully ingrained in the broader culture that we presume it to be self evident. And it is undeniably rich territory for the jester: “If it was forced to proceed through City Hall, the aging process itself would be slowed down.”

Because speed is relative, we see the measured march of the public sector in relation to the hustle and headway of the private sector, and the comparison is not flattering. Neither is it fair, and here’s why.

Unlike the private sector, the public sector is not driven by revenues, margins or profit. Its shareholders have expectations that go well beyond financials to include every aspect of public life, the breadth and complexity of which cannot be denied. As a result, government becomes a pleaser and a purveyor of inclusiveness, generating practices that necessarily chew up time.  Government operates in a fishbowl, and that means it has to present favourable processes as well as favourable services. Those processes are extensive and often imposed by other governments. Government leaders understand that the most meaningful and grounded decisions—the ones that are likely to come back and bite you—are those that result from genuine community consultation and input, which takes time.  

I am not an apologist for slow government. Neither are most people I have met who work in government, the vast majority of whom want to be part of a prideful organization. The issue has to do with the manner in which the above noted public sector characteristics are perceived by public sector workers. Unfortunately, some will use those characteristics as a rationalization for inefficiency, creating a culture of acquiescence and resignation.

To my mind, the answer lies in accepting the reality that government proceeds at a pace designed to serve its uniquely public purposes. The trick lies in creating a workplace culture that resists the temptation to let constraints become crutches, and pays permanent homage to the idea of doing things better. And faster.


David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

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Backroom Briefing Q: What Happens During Closed Door Meetings Before City Council?

GOYETTE'S BACKROOM BRIEFINGQ:  What happens during the closed door meetings that sometimes happen before (and delay) City Council meetings? —Elizabeth

Goyette:  We begin with the principle that the business of the public must be conducted in public. The democratic underpinning for this has to do with both the watchful inhibition of wrongdoing and the ethical promotion of accountability through transparency. Public exposure of government decision making increases public trust and decreases the invitation to impropriety.

Nonetheless, this fine principle can easily bump up against the practical realities of government decision making. A public meeting about a personal matter involving an identifiable individual may offend his or her right to privacy. A public meeting about a lawsuit may reveal information harmful to the case or offend solicitor-client privilege. The Ontario Municipal Act (Section 239.2) permits meetings or parts of meetings of Council or its Standing Committees to be closed to the public for situations like these, and the City of Peterborough’s procedural bylaw identifies nine such situations. The most recent of these was added last year, with some debate, having to do with education and training for Councillors.

Here’s what happens at a “closed session” meeting.

The meeting is held in a Committee Room, and begins in public or “open session,” followed by a vote of the Councillors to close the meeting to the public. Staff presentations frequently take place, and staff reports are printed on bright yellow paper to identify them as confidential; they are not publically distributed. The procedure for the meeting follows that of an “open session” meeting with the notable exception that formal voting by Councillors does not occur: a direction may be given to staff; a straw vote may be held to judge the will of the Councillors; or a consensus may be reached through discussion. The reason for the avoidance of a formal vote is optics—that is, the laudable avoidance of the perception of deal-making behind closed doors. 

When the Councillors come out of the “closed session” they head into the “open session,” typically in the publically accessible Council Chambers. Public reports are distributed by the Clerk on the matters that have been agreed to: these are prepared and edited in advance to respect the confidentiality that brought them to the “closed session” in the first place. Councillors may speak to these reports in the “open session” before they are voted on, but rarely do because of the challenge of respecting the confidential elements of the matters they have just dealt with. The formal vote then takes place in public.

Many observers register surprise when they first come across this closed door process, because it appears to offend the highly desirable principle of transparency. In time, they come to see it as the necessary practice that it is: a means of permitting the City to protect its own corporate interests by meeting in private, but only when it would be harmful or prejudicial to those interests to do so in public.


David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

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Backroom Briefing Q: How do You Deal With Conflicting Ideas Between Politicians & Public Servants?

Q: How do you deal with the challenge of permanent professional staff who have conflicting ideas of how our City should run compared with a temporary and yet democratically elected Council? –Michael VanDerHerberg.

Goyette: Michael is an owner of the wonderful Silver Bean and the proprietor of Peterboroughcareers.com. He indicates that his question arises from a DBIA presentation on a new public square for Peterborough. It also goes to the heart of decision making in local government.

The three traditional branches of government—legislative, executive and judicial—enjoy separate and independent areas of balanced responsibility, all functioning at the will of and in support of the electorate. City Hall deals primarily with two of these branches: the legislative branch (elected City Councillors who make laws) and the executive branch (appointed public servants who administer laws).

The fundamental distinction is that Councillors represent the value laden and often short term views of municipal electors, while public servants represent the objective and often long term interests of the municipal corporation.

Of course, the two groups work together and are reliant on each other. In their working relationship, the lines of responsibility inevitably flex and blur, based largely on the forces of personality, culture and the corporate appetite for change. Manageable conflict can be expected to arise as a result of differing perspectives: short term interests versus long term interests; popular opinion versus professional expertise; popular spending versus prudent financial management; publicity versus privacy; innovation versus inertia; the fanciful versus the practical.

Conventional wisdom holds that the best decisions are obtained when the two branches are in comfortable balance. My own experience is that the executive branch—appointed public servants—are more likely to be dominant in smaller municipalities and those with part-time Councillors. With larger municipalities and full-time Councillors, the legislative branch tends to exercise more authority. 

As I see it, the City Peterborough is now experiencing a change in this balance involving a strengthening of its legislative branch. Elected Councillors now have computers, smart phones, tablets, IT support, their first-ever modest discretionary budgets, and staff dedicated to assist them in their work. This is, I believe, a very healthy trend that will provide Councillors with resources of the sort already made available to the local MP and MPP.

Like any relationship, the key to success is to ensure a fair balance of responsibility and to create conditions conducive to mutual respect and compromise. In the ultimate expression of that relationship, and to the extent that we value representative democracy and electoral accountability, City Council is always supreme.


David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

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Backroom Briefing Q: Could Peterborough Set Pace As First Municipality To Adopt "Gender-Based Budgeting"?

 Q: Could Peterborough set the pace as the first municipality to adopt “Gender-Based Budgeting?” –Betsy McGregor

Goyette: Betsy is the federal Liberal candidate for the Peterborough Riding and a compassionate supporter and coach of Special Olympic athletes. Her question follows on an International Women’s Day article published at Mykawartha.com by the Peterborough & County Older Women’s Network, of which she was an author.   

The concept of gender-based budgeting is both innovative and challenging. The movement gained some traction in Australia in 1984 before it was shut down there in 1996. Advanced by feminists and progressives interested in gender equality, it has had occasional implementation elsewhere. The idea is that the process used to develop a budget is made to include an assessment of the impact of that budget—primarily its expenditures—on women and girls.

For example, do the expenditures set out in the City of Peterborough operating budget favour men and boys over women and girls? When the City spends tax dollars on the West 49 Skateboard Park on McDonnell Street, is that a disproportionate or unfair benefit for boys? When it spends tax dollars on parent and tot programs at the Sport and Wellness Centre, is that a disproportionate or unfair benefit for women?

Budgets are more than just the allocation of dollars to priorities; they are expressions of values. And values are never neutral. Nor are budget makers or elected decision makers. Budget making is an art as well as a science, and there is no doubt that imperfect budgets embody the imperfection of unintended bias. There is also no doubt that a budgetary lens on gender bias would serve as a tool for advocacy for women’s rights and the promotion of gender equality.

The central challenge for Peterborough is not how the City would go about viewing its budget through a gender equality lens—we could create a model for that—but how we would accommodate all the other deserving lenses at the same time, such as expenditures by neighbourhood, by age, by income, by population density, by accessibility, by ethnicity, by disability, by health or environmental impact, and on and on. That splintered house of mirrors would so blur the budgetary vision as to render it sightless.

It seems to me that the answer lies not in the creation of a better budget device, but in the promotion of a better budget lobby. Organize and advocate. Show up when budgets are being developed. Reveal the wrong. Describe a better end state. Make it real and personal. Be seen, be heard, be passionate and be compelling. Make your case to those who are elected to be the guardians of community values. In the end, social change has more cultural grip when it is motivated by reason and emotion rather than compelled by technique.

People issues are best resolved by people pressure.


David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

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Backroom Briefing Q: What Kind Of Social Issues Do You Deal With At City Hall?

Q: We’ve had high unemployment and prices keep going up. What kind of social issues do you deal with through the Mayor’s Office? –Rennie Marshall

Goyette: Rennie—the person who asked this question—was a candidate for City Councillor in Monaghan Ward in the 2010 municipal election. She is an inveterate political groupie and informed City Hall watcher.  (A Cityhallic?)

Municipal government and its association with the delivery of social services has long been a moving target.

 In Ontario, the first framework for local self government came about as a result of The Municipal Corporations Act of 1849, better known as The Baldwin Act. At the time, cities and towns had a limited role in providing social services that was focused on the funding of charities.  The modern welfare state in Ontario really got underway in the late 19th Century with the Great Reform government of Oliver Mowat, at a time when poverty was associated with a moral failing that was remedied by “Houses of Industry and Refuge”—the original poorhouses—or jail.  

Toronto hired its first “Relief Officer” in 1893. Compassion for First World War disabled soldiers and their families led to the introduction of a number of social services such as Mother’s Allowance and the first public pensions, as did the Great Depression that gave rise to a variety of employment related benefits. Civil and human rights movements have propelled the modern municipal agenda that now includes social assistance, housing, hostels, employment, counselling, child care, wage subsidy, nursing and homemaking—the bulk of which are mandatory and cost-shared between the City and the province.

When people ask what issues we deal with in the Mayor’s office, my answer is all of them. Our role in the field of social services is to provide cooperative leadership in setting an agenda, choosing priorities, finding the balance between compassion and fiscal responsibility, reviewing reports and agendas, liaising with staff, preparing reports and motions, advocating with other levels of government, communicating the City’s plans and programs, and carrying out constituent relations.  

It’s this last category of social service that Rennie likely has in mind. People communicate with the Mayor every day, and some of them do so in person and unannounced. On their arrival at the Office—which they often see as a place of last resort—they are sometimes confused, resigned or despondent. Some recent examples we have dealt with involve personal issues of homelessness, food, inability to pay bills, family violence, child custody, depression, addiction and banishment from agencies. (There are also the angry, like the person who mailed his parking ticket payment to the Mayor in a large, heavy envelope containing 80 carefully and individually wrapped loonies.)

It may come in different forms, but it’s all social service.


David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

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Backroom Briefing Q: Will Athletic Facilities Really Help Drive Population Growth?

Q: The Mayor has been quoted as saying that there could be more population growth if the community had more “athletic facilities.” I believe that there is just such a link. Could you expand on this thinking? —Bill O’Byrne

Goyette: Bill is a regular and welcome visitor to our office, and the Chair of Sport Kawartha—an impressive organization with more than 30 sports group/associate members that launched in April of 2010 with a mandate to value, improve, recognize and promote sport participation in the region. You can see the savvy in the man: He quotes the Mayor and then seeks confirmation as a method of promotion. I like it.

The Mayor was responding in February to a report on the City’s growth. He said that we might consider building new sports facilities and other infrastructure to attract young families to the City.

The question has to do with the reasons people move to a new location. These can be divided into two categories: One is a set of “push” factors at the point of origin that trigger movement, such as a lack of economic or educational opportunity; personal issues such as divorce, retirement or a preference for independence; and cultural discomfort such as religious or political conflict or persecution. Another is a set of “pull” factors at the point of destination that attract movement, such as jobs, education, the presence of family or community, climate, and a host of personal perceptions of benign conditions. These are all tied to the stages and cycles of life, as well as psychological outlook. For many, the grass can easily look greener on the other side.  

The research indicates that because of “distance decay,” people are more likely to move to places that are closer to them rather than further away. It also indicates that you are more likely to adopt a new hometown if you already know it. That means that people who move to Peterborough are statistically more likely to have come from somewhere nearby, and have been here before. The arrival here of people from the GTA and those who have prior cottage or rural experience would seem to bear this out.

Do athletic facilities rank highly as a drawing card for these newcomers? Not on their own, and not to the degree of other factors such as a new job. While they are probably more important in retention rather than attraction, they are undoubtedly part of the bundling of community benefits—the “infrastructure” that the Mayor referred to—that inform smart economic and tourism promotion. There is consensus that we have an entrenched deficit of sports facilities in the region, and the remedy for that, which is well underway, stands on its own merits as an issue of the quality of community life.  


David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

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