The Town and Gown illusion

posted May 13, 2013

When it comes to illusion
It can become collusion
leading to confusion
And that’s not amusin’

Because of public criticism of the city and university teaming up to stop a private student housing project at the corner of Stone Road and Gordon Street, the empire placates the great unwashed with a little known Town and Gown Committee.

Who knew? Who knew (besides the city and university bureaucrats) that the T&G met four times a year with a sub-group meeting monthly? Who knew that the quarterly meetings are open to the public? On Thursday May 16, the public is invited to attend one of the quarterly meetings to be held at 2 p.m. at the university centre. If interested, you have to ask which room has been assigned.

The time is interesting, as most citizens are unable to attend an afternoon meeting except those on the public payroll.

This sudden revelation falls on the heels of a lengthy Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing that rejected the city, university and a neighbourhood association’s arguments. The 1,100-bed student housing project will go ahead. The Board gave the city staff and applicant, Abode Varsity Housing, two months to refine the design.

The rewrite of a city-produced news release in the Mercury, stated that the Town and Gown committee exists to foster a healthy relationship between the university and the city. It goes on to say the key ingredient is communication.

For starters, the T&G committee should look into possible collusion between city council and the university management that objected to the student housing project during the OMB hearing.

Do you get the feeling that dog won’t hunt?

It is yet another example of the Farbridge administration papering over the real facts by using a semi-official committee, whose membership apparently has no members of the public in its ranks.

That T&G committee was well known among administration insiders but it was the best kept secret in town. Bureaucrats, who don’t like to work evenings because the public may show up.

There is the matter of conflict of interest with three members of city council who are employees of the university. While they may, or may not, declare a conflict when matters, concerning their employer, come to council, the perception that the university has three, possibly four sure votes on council sets a dangerous precedent.

With a record number of OMB hearings on the city books, one would assume that the staff would have a good feel as to whether to object to a proposal or go with the flow.

Unfortunately, city staff must adhere to the wishes of the Farbridge-dominated council that has earned the reputation of being the most litigious on record.

This is no small matter and may result in even more legal costs before the next election.

1 Comment

Filed under Between the Lines

One response to “The Town and Gown illusion

  1. Well, we did save $1.3B on the waste facility. I guess she is ready to spend that on legal fees, instead of reversing the 3.87% residential increase in taxes, to support her decrease on multi-unit dwellings (that by the way make a huge profit for the owner) or the decrease in industry taxes, that appear to be in line with the taxes, Kitchener, Cambridge, TORONTO, etc charge. Funny that Guelph has to support Industry and Mult-dwelling owners to make money while we dig deeper to lose ours.

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