July 29, 2017
According to a report by Rob O’Flanagan in Guelph Today, a new downtown community centre is about to open in the former Akers Furniture building located at 42 Carden Street.
The tenants in the building are described as social purpose organizations and entrepreneurs, working across many sectors while engaging collaboratively to serve and enhance the community.
Some of these include the Chalmers Community Centre, functioning as a supplier of food and clothing programs for the city’s “marginalized;” Guelph dance, Out on the Shelf, Local Immigration Partnership and the Neighbourhood Support Coalition. The 10 Carden Street organization, founded by the Guelph Civic League, is the driving force behind the centre. It has already moved into the renovated space.
Not for profit organizations with a financial and social benefit can access the community bond program. The bond program has raised $1,325,000. Some 84 investors have invested in the two series offered earnings of three or four per cent.
In addition, some $500,000 has been raised through sponsorship with a program target of $700,000. It appears the city has donated $50,000.
What are the details of the business plan?
What has the City of Guelph donated and committed to guarantee repayment loans?
What collateral was provided to investors guaranteeing repayment of the bonds?
Can the bonds be traded or transferred?
How much is 10 Carden Street investing in the project?
What are the estimated rental charges to support servicing the bonds?
Who owns the building?
What are the terms of the contract to rent the building?
Did the city building inspector issue a building permit for the renovations?
Who is in charge of managing the building?
Is there any other debt including lines of credit and short term loans from a financial institution?
What are the terms of renting space in 10C?
The public has the right to know these details if any public money is involved.
The occupation by three tenants closely associated with 10 Carden Street demands careful scrutiny to avoid political action affecting city operations or civic elections.
At a time when city finances are stressed due to the money invested in Guelph Municipal Holding Inc. This failed enterprise has cost citizens $161 million and will take time to clean up without depending on increasing taxes and user fees.
City council needs to report the situation following the independent audit of GMHI by the KPMG accounting firm.
Pouring money into corporations is not in the city’s best interests. While the culture at city hall has markedly improved in the past three years, there is still much to be done to lower the escalating property taxes imposed in the past ten years.
Next year, citizens will have the opportunity to express their views through the ballot box. In June there will be a provincial election followed by the civic election in October.
In view of the fact that the 10 Carden street organization has received public money for the 10C project it would be in their interests to carefully explain to the public details of the project. Particularly it is in those areas where city has skin in the game.
On paper, it looks like a worthwhile project but needs more explanation of the structure and execution of the enterprise.