Tag Archives: Innovation Guelph

Time to stop spending on the Innovation Guelph’s lust for the Reformatory Lands

By Gerry Barker

February 26, 20118

Oh, while we absorb the Mayor’s statement that our property taxes are the lowest since he became mayor, lets review the outstanding major capital projects the city council must consider.

First, after 19 years the central library project currently estimated to cost $53 million is still a figment of council’s imagination.

Next comes the South End Recreation Centre, estimated cost $63 million in which some $3.5 million has already been spent to prepare the architectural design and site preparation.

Then along came the Guelph Innovation district.

This was a dream of the former Farbridge administration that the current Guthrie administration keeps on the front burner.

This, despite the fortune of public money that has been spent already on planning, consultants, land use, function and probability.

If you wonder why the city’s operating overhead is 50 per cent higher than either Cambridge or Kitchener, this is a perfect example of irrational spending.

Tonight, council will again review the project. Once that is over it has has no title or control of the lands, no planning control or any decision regarding land usage.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Why is the city staff spending time to plan a satellite community on lands in which it has no title, no authority but a degree of chutzpah that stretches the imagination?

Why?

Because it doesn’t own the land but in the past seven years has spent public fund designing and laying out a town plan that includes zoning and types of buildings.. The Province of Ontario does own the property that includes the former reformatory complex that was closed years ago and now wants to liquidate it to recover its investment.

For some reason, that defies explanation, the city mandarins believe they will get the extensive property for nothing.

The best estimate is that the property contains more than 250 acres and is probably worth, to the province, some S25 million.

So let’s get down and dirty about this.

June 7, the provincial election will be held. Recent polls show the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne are 19 points behind the Progressive Conservatives. The NDP and Liberals are tied at 23 per cent.

The most interesting statistic is that more than 50 per cent of eligible Ontario voters would not support Ms. Wynne.

The Tories are in disarray over the former leader Patrick Brown’s alleged sexual misconduct. They are also split due to the foolish “Take back our Party” campaign that has divided core conservatives.

The Tories Hari Kari act may provide them with a margin of victory. We’ll know later in March who is elected PC leader, and the policies of the party.

Is it possible that NDP leader Andrea Howarth could pull off a “Bob Rae” and win the most support leading to a minority government?

The Ontario electorate faces a disturbing choice June 7.

Right now we don’t know whom the PC leader will be following the snap leadership convention to replace Mr. Brown who is running for his old job. In fact, at this point, I don’t know whether we have PC, NDP and Liberal candidates in Guelph. Been away for a while.

The one factor that most Ontarians know is that Kathleen Wynne is viral in terms of performance governing the province.

In this scenario, do you really believe that the Ontario government is about to give a $25 million property to the City of Guelph for nothing?

Our Mayor seems to believe this according to recent statements. He believes that giving away the infrastructure of Guelph Hydro to a corporation that offered a small minority of its shares (60 per cent), might be a case of dreaming or hallucinating.

Until the June election is decided, the government may not be ready to give away the reformatory lands, AKA the Innovation Guelph District.

Has the city made any proposals to take over the lands? Perhaps an offer? Or a share of the development profits? Or set up a 3P arrangement? That’s a Public Private Participation Project.

Don’t hold your breath on that one.

The city for eight years has tried to set up a 3P deal for the Baker Street parking lot. It’s still a parking lot.

So then council approves spending $20 million on the Wilson Street five-story Parkade. It’s not hard to figure out where that $18.5 million special dividend from Guelph Hydro is going.

When Derrick Thomson said a year ago there was a $170 million shortfall in the newly minted ten-year capital spending program, you have to ask: Where is the money for all these projects?

For the last ten years there has been a parade of financial mangers whom have been unable to stop the spending on unproductive and special interest projects that constantly drain the city’s ability to conduct its business in an orderly and common sense manner.

Mr. Guthrie is no different than the former mayor in this sense.

Two issues stick out:

His support in a closed-session meeting to approve high percentage increases to three senior managers. The other is his support of the giveaway of Guelph Hydro to Alectra. It remains the worst deal ever made by a council in the history of this city.

And that friends, is what he is going to run on.

 

 

 

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Are you ready for another four years of Karen Farbridge as your Mayor?

By Gerry Barker

October 9, 2017

There were some events this past week that confirm that our city is controlled by a political minority that has held power for the past ten years.

The most startling announcement came from a division of Innovative Guelph. Two Guelph councillors, Leanne Piper and June Hofland, were promoting an event that would feature former Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge. Ms. Hofland is named co-chair of the event while Ms. Piper is serving on a panel with Brenda Halloran, former Mayor of Waterloo and Chris Fonseca, councillor in the City of Mississauga.

As the keynote speaker, Ms. Farbridge, a veteran of 11 years as mayor of Guelph, is being promoted to “Raising women’s voices: Overcoming barriers to Women’s participation in politics.”

The Innovation Guelph (IG) organization is hosting the meeting November 14 at the Farquhar Street offices of IG. That is to set up a campaign school known as “Guelph Wellington Women’s Campaign School” It is a collaboration of several (unidentified) Guelph community partners devoted to helping women overcome barriers and support them through the political campaign.

The promotion is titled: “Ask a female politician.”

Sounds like the Lavender Hill gang is on the warpath.

Since Ms. Farbridge’s defeat in October 2014 there has been a drumbeat of recrimination by Farbridge followers over their leader’s resounding defeat by, horrors! A man.

In years past, Innovation Guelph was a project initially financed by the city during the Farbridge term as a favourite project.

It’s mission statement is: “Innovation Guelph is building prosperity for community wellbeing by providing mentorship and business support services that help innovative enterprises start.”

So, do these lofty goals have anything to do with pure political action?

Let’s check out the composition of women members of council elected in 2010. Including the Mayor, six women were elected to city council. Along came the 2014 election and only four women were elected to serve. Three of the four are supporters of the former mayor and two are involved in the current “Ask a female politician” initiative.

What can I say? Asking the former mayor to speak at a gender-focused event to help women overcome the alleged barriers to obtaining political office is like throwing up a barricade where none exist.

Their motives are entirely sexist. What’s next, a forum for men to overcome the barriers of political office that some women claim exists?

Further, why is IG involved in sponsoring this forum that strays from its own mission statement? Is it not an organization dedicated for all people in the Guelph/Wellington area regardless of gender, colour, or sexual preference?

The program says there is no charge to attend and all genders are welcome.

Her hardcore supporters are still feeling the pain of the Farbridge surprise defeat. As for the rest of us, perhaps we may attend this self-serving soiree and ask some pertinent questions about Ms. Farbridge’s involvement in the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI) fiasco.

According to the announcement questions from those attending will only be asked of the three-person panel and not the keynote speaker. Of the panel only Coun. Leanne Piper represents Guelph.

Here are some questions that should be asked of the former mayor:

* As chair of GMHI, why were most of the GMHI meetings held in closed session?

* What was the role of CAO Ann Pappert as Chief Executive Officer of GMHI for four years?

* Did she report to you as chair of the GMHI board?

* Did GMHI, under your leadership, ever earn enough revenue to cover its operating expenses and if so, from where and how much?

* How could GMHI send a total of $9 million as dividends to the city’s general revenues between 2012 and 2015 when it was operating with a deficit?

* The shareholder’s equity is listed on the KPMG GMHI consolidated audit as $63 million. What form of equity of the shareholders (i.e. the Corporation of City of Guelph) made up that $63 million and is it recoverable?

* Why did GMHI borrow $93 million in two debentures from a subsidiary of Guelph Hydro? What happened to those funds?

* Why did Ann Pappert resign ten days following the May 16, 2016 report by Pankaj Sardana that she co-signed?

* Finally, is Innovation Guelph just another tool in the former mayor’s visionary toolbox to support her pro-environmental, power self-sufficiency and sustainability agenda to Guelph?

Regardless, three years ago voters soundly rejected Ms. Farbridge’s performance in retaining power by shutting down public participation using closed-session meetings. To now participate in a meeting to have women encourage you to run and donate to your campaign is not only premature but in my opinion, politically stupid.

But perhaps the announcement makes it clear what your intentions are concerning the October 2018 civic election with the following exhortation:

“ASK HER TO RUN AND SUPPORT HER CAMPAIGN.”

Come to think about it, perhaps Ms. Farbridge is setting the stage to run as a Liberal in the June 2018 provincial election to replace the retiring Liz Sandals.

Now, wouldn’t that be special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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