In its deliberations over the past five years, city council has often flouted the rule of unintended consequences.
The most egregious of these is the failure to provide adequate downtown parking. You’ll remember Mayor Karen Farbridge’s glowing description of the revitalized downtown that is vibrant and exciting. Her state of the city address emphasized council’s determination to make the downtown the jewel of the city. Well, that didn’t happen.
Here is part of the tangled web of promises and postponed capital projects. In 2007, the newly elected Farbridge council’s prime project was a new downtown library. However the resurrection of the derelict Loretto convent converting it into a new civic museum took precedent. Five years later, the library remains a figment in the former chief librarian’s mind.
Next came the $34 million wet waste composting plant. Affectionately known as the microbe motel, five months after completion it is still not operational. The victim of this capital project was the proposed $16 million Wilson Street parking garage. It is now badly needed, if for no other reason than to provide free parking for city employees working across the street.
The Federal and Provincial governments in 2009 made an offer the city could not refuse. A tri-government stimulus package of $74 million was granted with the city’s share one third of it or about $25 million.
To help pay for this and other capital projects the city called its $30 million loan to Guelph Hydro to complete this and other projects so as not to go over its debt limit.
The ensuing chaos on city streets was a three-year and counting sentence to inconvenience and, in some cases, just dumb planning
The effect of lower tax revenue and slow development impacted city budgets.
Underlying all this was the disappearance of the Wilson Street parking garage, downtown library, and the south end recreational centre.
The Farbridge administration has willfully spent money on pet projects that affect the few and afflict the many.
Studying the amount of time a vehicle can idle and telling a mother she cannot skate on the civic rink in front of City Hall pushing he child in a stroller, is mindless.
The huge problem taxpayers face is how to recover from the excessive and misguided spending perpetrated by the Farbridge majority in council.