Posted June 30, 2013
The Farmer’s Market renovation project is yet another example of how our city administration can fumble a project so dismally.
Last fall city council approved a 2013 budget that included spending $170,000 on renovation the Farmer’s Market, a jewel in the downtown part of the city.
That initiative had to be investigated by someone prior to implementation. In our city nothing happens without the express approval of Mayor Karen Farbridge.
Was the city staff instructed to perform a renovation of the market including a two-month relocation to Exhibition Park? If so, was there staff planning that led to the approval by council of the $170,000 in 2013? If so, why did the cost almost triple later?
The public who patronized the market and its vendors, were never asked where the temporary location should be.
Out of the blue, the staff responsible for the renovation said it needed $500,000 to complete the job. This figure was never approved by council and the entire project tumbled into confusion, incompetence and misuse of the public trust.
So a crisis developed. Here we are eight months after initial approval of the market project and staff cannot find a contractor to do the work at the budgeted price before September 1.
And our Teflon Mayor, what does she say about all this? Nothing, nada. She adroitly shuffles the project out of her office offering no opinion as to what must happen to resolve the situation. That’s how the lady works. If a project goes wrong, she disappears into the closet. If it goes right, and few do, she claims credit through the press, her blog and in taxpayer-paid press releases.
Oh, she uses all the buzzwords such as innovation, robust, integrity, vibrant, streamline, ad nauseum.
This mayor is a closet mayor. She tightly controls city business so that there is manifest fear among staff members who are afraid to speak their minds. The mayor rarely appears to speak in public only in situations where questions are not asked. In almost seven years she has never held a press conference to allow the media to question her policies.
Back to the Farmer’s Market, staff now say they have cut the specifications on the project to reduce the cost. What specs were dropped?
Is this what happened with the overbuilt $34 million Organic Waste Processing Facility to accommodate waste from the Region of Waterloo? Is this the same facility that operated at less than 60 per cent of its planned capacity in 2012?
Is this another example of wasteful spending on paving bricks purchased in the U.S. that failed to be delivered on schedule unnecessarily tying up Carden Street for months?
It could be argued that waste management is an abstract thing in most citizen’s minds. But fool around with the Farmer’s Market and you have kicked over the bee hive of public anger and distrust.
Because of the Mayor’s close ties with the unions that comprise some 80 per cent of civic staff, don’t expect any heads to roll for this example of stunning incompetence.
When you compare Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who faced the media daily about the flooding of his city, to Guelph’s closeted mayor who ducks every time something goes wrong, it is to weep in anguish.
Her legacy as mayor, as an absent public persona, has been utterly discredited by a track record of wasteful spending, bungled operations, dysfunctional council and staff, record tax and user fee increases.
We deserve better.