Monthly Archives: May 2013

City Hall civic lawsuit enters new phase

Posted May 5, 2013

This dispute involves the firing of Urbacon Buildings Group Corp, contractor who was to build the new City Hall and renovate the old City Hall into a Provincial Courthouse. The firing in September 2009 meant the city had to hire two other contractors to complete the work, the cost of which has not been revealed.

Urbacon responded to the sudden termination with a $19,000,000 lawsuit. Entering the fray were lawsuits from the architects, Aviva, the company holding the completion bond, and subcontractors.

This week Derek Schmuck, the lawyer hired by the city to defend the action, sent an email stating the city “made arrangements” to have testimony by three witnesses to be placed on the trial record this month.

Unanswered are why these additional witnesses, who apprently did not testify during the trial are being asked to do so now. Why is this being brought forward now by Mr. Schmuck? Will the plaintiff lawyers have an opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses? If they did testify during the trial, why is it necessary now to have their testimony inserted in the trial record?

It would appear that the city is fearful it will lose the lawsuit and want to introduce new evidence to support its decision to fire the contractor.

Dare it be said? Do the three witnesses include the Mayor and former CAO Hans Loewig? They were the key players in the decision to dump Urbacon.

Schmuck added that the verdict in the case should be completed by late October. A further hearing to determine damages will be held after the verdict.

Win or lose, the cost of this misadventure will be a controversial talking point in the 2014 municipal election.

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Joining the walkout club

Posted May 5, 2013

Colleen Bell, City of Guelph Director of Community and Social Services, is leaving to take a job in Oakville. Ms. Bell joined the city staff in December 2011, three months after her predecessor, Ann Pappert, was promoted to the top civic staff job as Chief Administration Officer.

That senior staff move has not exactly worked out. The reasons for Ms. Bell’s resignation after only 17 months on the job were not revealed. Ms. Pappert’s learning curve as CAO has, at best, been graded as a C minus. Perhaps she was not quite ready for prime time.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board and transfer Ms. Pappert back to her former job and hire a qualified CAO who is experienced, independent and can smooth the present bureaucratic and fragmented city operations.

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FUNNIES – Blame it on the banana

May 1, 2013

We take you now to the Mayor’s office at City Hall. It is lunchtime and the Mayor is on a working lunch noshing on a bowl of tofu and cranberries with a dash of honey. Her brow furrows as she reads the report of the new costs of the Farmer’s Market renovations. The one where council approved spending $170,000 but staff raised it to $500,000.

“Your Worship! Your Worship, I have exciting news,” the Lord High Executioner blurted out. “I think we have found the solution to keeping you in power forever.

The Mayor looked up with the look of someone who doesn’t want to know. “So this can’t wait until I finish my working lunch. Work, work, work, it’s all I seem to do these days. My ceramic water pitcher is not getting completed to my satisfaction.” The mayor’s words trailed off as she remembered that she forgot to turn off the kiln at home.

The Lord High Executioner could hardly contain herself. “ But Your Worship we can adapt to a simple psychological experiment using a banana and five monkeys.”

The Mayor looked up with an incredulous look on her face. “Bananas? Monkeys? Whatinhell are you talking about?

Undaunted, the LHE described how the Monkeys attempted to reach the banana at the top of a stairway in their cage. “When the first monkey goes up the stair to get the banana the other four monkeys are sprayed with cold water. When a second monkey attempts to get the banana the others jump on him, preventing him from getting the banana. You see they didn’t want to get sprayed again and figured it out that would happen if any one of them attempted to get the banana.”

“Get to the point,” the Mayor snapped. I was planning to have a banana for dessert.”

“You see Mayor, substitute yourself for the banana. You have these seven members of council who have supported you blindly for two terms in office and are lusting to replace you.

“Every time you sense someone in the group is after your job, you pour cold water on them, figuratively speaking, by taking away some of their perks. This reminds the rascals to behave and do what they are told.

“See Your Worship, you are still the top banana in the city. “

The mayor ‘s eyes glistened with the thought that she could be mayor for life. In banana circles it’s known as the Hazel McCallion syndrome. But then, she thought, she may be mercilessly ridiculed for her banana stand. Oh! She thought that would never happen.

Moral of the story: Never covet the banana as you can easily be replaced.

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CITY VIEW – If only the university was located in Fergus

Posted May 1, 2013

Valerie Kampf, writing in the letters pages, protests the Abode Varsity Living student housing project, recently approved by the OMB over the protest of the city and the University of Guelph. She claims that students will be living in a “non-official residence setting”.

Really? I guess she didn’t read the OMB judgment that pointed out the university houses only 5,300 students on campus out of a student body of 22,000. The lady lives in Fergus where she is not affected by the scores of students who flock into Guelph’s single family neighbourhoods. They occupy illegally converted homes that are cut-up into small-scale dormitories with up to 12 students.

She’s not around to witness the “kegger” parties organized by young entrepreneurs when beer is illegally sold and there are no relief facilities. Does she realize that the pubs on the university campus are shut down on weekends thereby forcing students to go downtown to drink or attend a “kegger?”

Thank goodness Abode sees a dire need and sure, it makes money just like the university has been doing for years leasing its lands to private enterprises along Stone Road.

It’s apparent to folks in those neighbourhoods taken over by the students that the university doesn’t give a damn about where students live so long as they pay their tuition and fees.

This is a growing and important issue that council will have to tackle. If it doesn’t, it will be at its peril.

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