Posted February 13, 2014
When Coun. Bob Bell stated recently that the Hanlon Business Park has cost taxpayers $40 million; Mayor Farbridge rushed in with figures denying Bell’s assertion.
In her denial, the mayor said the city was not “losing money on the project.” She cited the city is on track for meeting its adjusted cash-flow projections.
Madame Mayor in English please!
Then she went on to say the city’s financial exposure is “about $20 million” spent so far on purchasing and servicing the land in the 675-acre project. Of that acreage, 380 acres can be used for a business park.
She failed to mention that the city spent $14 million as its share to complete the Hanlon/Laird interchange that opened last year and was part of the development of the park.
Okay, following the money in Farbridgeland can be a daunting task. Coun. Bell has an advantage because his sits on council and as a businessman, he can follow the money where no ordinary Guelph resident fears to tread.
The mayor said the phase one will reach the break-even by 2017. So far of the 123-acre phase one site, only 41 acres have been sold. The mayor says $11.7 million is going to the city as its share of the private/public partnership with Belmont Equity Partners.
The role of this newly revealed partnership is unclear. The bottom line is the citizens of Guelph financed this enterprise. Did Belmont Equity Partners put up the money in return for a piece of the pie? Who is Belmont Equity Partners?
Now we learn that “almost all of” phase two land has been sold to an unnamed private firm.
The Mayor, we hope is not financially illiterate. But using words such as “almost” and “about” and expressions such as “adjusted cash-flow projections” does not inspire confidence in her explanation. Her explanation that the city’s investment in the Hanlon Business Park is on track and viable, remains on shaky ground.
If anything, in one interview the Mayor has muddied the waters even more. Then to go on and state that phase one will create 3,700 jobs is pure unadulterated drivel.
In one breath she says that phase one has “almost” sold out and that will create thousands of jobs. She goes on to say phase two will create 2,600 jobs and 1,700 jobs in phase three. How does she estimate that? Is she clairvoyant?
Back to the phase one prediction. When will those 3,700 jobs come on stream? And where will the workers and their families live? Will it be in the hi-rise condominiums downtown that the city citizens are helping to build?
If that many jobs are created in phase one, it will mean a population increase of about 12,950. The Farbridge administration has failed dismally to approve sufficient affordable mixed-use housing in its seven years in office. Its new housing starts fall below the standard set by the provincial Places to Grow policies in the past three years.
Readers will recall the rallying cry of the Farbridge gang in 2006 when they decried “urban sprawl”. They succeeded as only 152 new single-family detached homes were built in Guelph in 2012.
More evidence that we are now in re-election mode when the mayor makes such vague statements that are devoid of details.
Before forgetting, remember the delay in constructing the Hanlon Business Park caused by a group of environmental terrorists? They chased the contractor off the site, damaged his equipment and even threatened him at his home.
And it was all in the name of protecting the habitat of the Jefferson salamander. It was a contrived myth that ended up costing Guelph more than $1 million. In the end, there was no evidence of the existence of Jefferson salamanders.
And what did the Farbridge administration do? They greeted the occupiers at city hall, ordered the police not to arrest them for trespassing on public lands. Then the city sued for $5 million. The defendants, collectively, did not have the cash for a bus fare to downtown.
Do you think the mayor is believable now?