Tag Archives: lawsuits

Behind the bafflegab: This is a bad idea

Posted July 10, 2012

When the Mayor speaks, duck! Because it’s likely about spending your money before she gets it.

Case in point.  Members of the corporate administration, finance and enterprise committee, voted to approve a $3.1 million grant to the London, Ontario based -developer of an 18-storey condominium property at McDonnell and Woolwich Streets.

While the mayor acknowledged that her feedback indicated the natives believed this was a grant – read that—taxpayer incentive to private developers to build downtown.

The Mayor said that these “grants” were based on the anticipated increase in property assessment.  That means the city could be receiving more taxes over the years.

It works this way. The developer completes the project and after meeting the city criteria, receives his grant. The catch is if the assessment on the completed structure does not produce increased taxes, there is no recovery of the grant.

This is a house of cards if there ever was one. It’s based entirely on the property being assessed at higher levels over the years, resulting in increased property taxes.

But what happens if the economy in Ontario turns south and assessments decrease instead of increase? The city has no say in assessing properties. That is done by a provincial agency operating at arms length from the city.

Essentially, this handout is nothing but a further drain on city finances and will not be the responsibility of this council.  It’s an unnecessary financial hand-me-down to future councils.

Our city has no business providing incentive grants to private residential developers. This is a competitive field and does not need grants. Developers need timely, efficient and fair adjudication of projects. This has not been the case in Guelph during the Farbridge years.

The Farbridge administration has made doing business with the city a struggle for entrepreneurs.  Two independent consultants have reported that Guelph is not friendly toward business.

On the surface, the light bulb has apparently clicked on. So that steps are being taken to streamline and fast-track residential development applications. You have to wonder how this sits with the group of Guelph developers and builders who sued the city for $2 million because the impact fees on their projects were almost doubled by this council.

Before reading on, remember it’s a major element of the Mayor’s personal goal to revitalize downtown.

In the past six years, her determined drive has delivered a public transit terminal on the edge of downtown; a skating rink in front of city hall, complete with imported roadway bricks; demolition of three properties on Wyndham, Street costing $5 million; Spending $15.5 million on a new civic museum, resurrected from the derelict Loretto convent on land not owned by the city.

This stage of the Mayor’s dream has been supported by a majority of like-minded councillors.

Yet the ratio of 84 per cent residential assessment to 16 per cent commercial/ industrial has barely changed in six years. Meanwhile, the University has exploded with growth in the same period. Its meager provincially mandates payment in lieu of property taxes exacerbate the crushing financial load on residential taxpayers.

The Mayor and her cohorts have failed to manage the nightlife problems downtown. This has left the area blighted with human waste and bereft of little control. An attempt two years ago to install temporary pissoirs for men only turned into a disaster. All it proved was that night visitors downtown pee etcetera, in public.

To turn the area into her personal dream, she decided what was needed was more people downtown. So, in the past few months we have witnessed a new system of fast-tracking, higher density condominium projects.

This is yet another example of bureaucratic bafflegab.

The city has a number of tools to encourage development, giving grants to residential developers downtown isn’t one of them.

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It’s time for the good guys to stand up

Posted June 15, 2012

Since the beginning of the year there has been a series of revelations in the management of the city of Guelph that would curl the blood of Rasputin.

The ongoing saga on a $33 million compost plant that is yet to work, is money already spent.

Intrigue and conspiracy floats through the halls of power in 1 Carden Street with the Mayor and her sidekick, Chief Administration Officer Ann Pappert conducting inquiries as to who, how and what is being leaked. The civic plumbers are hard at work.

Meanwhile the Chief Librarian announced that a new downtown library would open in 2017 costing $63 million. Her announcement added that a fund-raising specialist is being hired to raise another $10 million to equip the new mid-town edifice to literacy.  Is it perhaps true the ancestors of the Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal were hired to design the new library?

Then the Mayor got huffy with Coun. Cam Guthrie, who persuaded his fellow opposition councillors to file a freedom of information request. It started when a staffer refused to give Guthrie a copy of an air quality report from the Ministry of the Environment regarding the new compost plant.

Enter the Integrity Commissioner to investigate how the story got into the public prints. His report was so sanitized as to be laughable. Can you image John Stewart of the Daily Show getting his hands on that situation? The wags at the Hall are speculating on how much the Commish charged for his one-sided report.

Along comes the proposal to create a river side park at  the intersection of Gordon and Wellington streets. There are several businesses currently operating on the proposed site including my favourite, Angel’s Diner (the smoked meat is to die for). That proposal is projected to cost $9 million. Lawyers, man your wigs, this is going to be a bonanza for you when expropriations start.

What is it with Mayor Farbridge and her council supporters? They seem bent on calling in the legal beagles when they don’t get their way.

The lawsuit count includes the new City Hall with the fired contractor suing for $19 million; Fighting the Wellington-Dufferin- Guelph Public Health board over spending $10 million (Guelph’s share of the $17 million cost) for a new headquarters on Stone Road; the $233,000 spent on outside counsel to get rid of a lawsuit launched by the relatives of Lt. Colonel John McRae over his World War I medals.

These examples are only a handful of how your money is being spent, or, will be spent. The noose of financial ability of the city of Guelph is being tightened.  The collective arrogance of the Farbridge coalition of sticking more than $90 million of added debt on future councils presents unprecedented fiduciary irresponsibility.

Now is the time for good men and women in this administration to stand up and refuse to allow any more reckless spending.

This party’s over.

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