"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

It's Hard To Keep Track

In the heat of the debate on the Multi-million dollar works and parks yard last night I made refernce
to priorities of some Councillors. I did say was million, dollars  a my year goes to the Culture Centre .
it is actually not quite  that amount.

The 2014 approved grant amount to the Cultural Board is $377,000 and the operational budget for the building for 2014 is $175,022.

That tally is $552,022. No rent is charged. Revenue from facilities rental is forfeited. According Tao asset management that represents a charge against the municipality. 

Queen's York Rangers pay $131,000 annual rent for the former hydro facility. 

Church Street school represents considerably more investment that the former industrial office building. But  rent for the, hydro facility as a base , annual charge to the municipality to support culture centre  activities is $683,022.

It's not a million. Neither is it an inconsiderable amount.

Many staff hours were spent re-writing an agreement that was entirely contrary to the municipality's interest. 

The new agreement gave Council the authority to determine funding. They did exactly what was required in the old agreement.

It gave Council two seats on the board. The Mayor and Councillor Abel were appointed.

To no advantage. The Board continues to meet in secret  but now with two elected officials in attendance instead of one.

The public are no better informed  than previously. Public money is spent in secret.

My point  in last night's debate was about  town priorities and where  the need for new facilities for parks and works fitted in.

Culture Heritage Park  with a  potential price tag of 11 millions ,hundreds if not thousands of staff hours and  a $25,000 consultant study later public opposition came to bear and the project was

More staff  weeks and potential  $11 million  gift of land to attract  a University satellite  campus on our border .

Time spent on study and  deferral of decision on library square properties for a fab lab that
never came to be and sundry other esoteric schemes  and  themes.

Town hall expansion cancelled  with $300,000 spent and staff time wasted.

Heritage District Designation Study abandoned after community opposition and  $35,000 spent for no good purpose.  Now $135,000  spent on a snow melt treatment facility design never necessary in the first place.

Now on the eve of  the election a decision to spend $27  million on a parks and works facilities  that could have been provided  at a fraction of the cost.

If readers have been making a mental tally of all the funds expended  for no useful outcome, I  commend you, I certainly find it hard  to keep up  to the ongoing excess.


Anonymous said...

There are too many visions and not enough hard-headed fiscal knowhow.

We require some softened corners to make our lives bearable, occasionally enjoyable, but there has to be a better way of determining what is needed, what is wanted.

The public only bestirs itself when it is on one side or another of a really dirty fight. At times like this the council chamber is packed.

The invitation to tour the town works department and get a free hamburger brought out less than ten people. There is no doubt that the joint-ops centre is needed, if only for the safety of those working in it.

The additional $10 million price tag seems in large measure due to a boondoggle error made when the first estimate was prepared, very much on the low side. The added floor is a bargain on a cost per square foot - the majority of the building's cost is what's underneath.

If this town is to continue growing and prospering it must continue to act as a magnet for new residents. And as their new homes are built, development charges will continue to fill the town coffers and permit new facilities to be constructed.

But this is not a never-ending circle. Once all the development land has been used, what then? Where will the money come from, just to maintain the facilities and services that we have, much less to add to these?

We require a higher level of intelligence, experience, competence and financial knowhow on the part of future councils if these matters are to be dealt with successfully.

Most of the present council simply don't show evidence of what will be required in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

The dollar total of the grant/purchase of service is the only amount that is pertinent. The "operational budget" costs would be incurred by the Town regardless of the building's use.

So, you only exaggerated by about two-thirds.

Anonymous said...

I look only at the out-going which cannot continue given the projected in-coming. Aurora pays more in service charges than comparable town. That is pertinent to me.

Anonymous said...

Anyone using " visions " in their campaign material will forfeit my vote.

Anonymous said...

17:30- The provincial mandate is to develop up. Have you not noticed the condos being built along the Yonge corridor starting at the York Region border (Steeles) which has come up to Richmond Hill now. When Yonge st. is done then there’s Baview, Bathurst etc. You can collect a lot of revenue from developers and residents in a condo building. Don’t bother wasting money with the OBM fighting it either. York Region needs those future development charges to pay down the debt that they have incurred. $2.4 Billion of debt. I’m sure Mayor Dawe can tell us all about it on his campaign trail.

Anonymous said...


My faith in regional, provincial and federal governments is close to zero, likewise in their planning abilities.

Aurora has a target population by 2041, I believe, and it should be up to us to determine the best way to accommodate that number so as to optimize our lands and social amenities.

The Yonge Street you refer to is an eyesore and an unpleasant place in which to raise a family.

We should be planning multiple story building developments, say five floors, as found in a lot of European cities. These would be planned to include area parks, playing fields, recreational buildings, schools and would also provide an excellent public transit facility. More people living on less land are a natural for buses and parking would be scarce and expensive.

But for heaven's sake avoid a glut of high rises, which economically might make the most sense from the standpoint of maximizing population per square foot. This is a small town and even if it grows to be a medium sized one we should never agree to sacrifice those things that make us who we are.

Let those who wish to mandate their lives into sterility go somewhere else, like Markham, with its new University.

Anonymous said...

You're repeating yourself, 19:33. It must be contagious.

Anonymous said...

21:05 – I think all would agree with you, but 20:04 is right. The only say we will have when it comes to condo development is how many stories they will be able to develop and maybe its landscape, Multi story buildings is the new development in the Region including our Town. It is going to be the revenue tool that we will all depend on. The debt that has been created is dependent on this type of development, and it’s the only way to house all the new population targets.

Anonymous said...

"Many staff hours were spent re-writing an agreement that was entirely contrary to the municipality's interest."

BUT... the staff are not there to determine what is the Town's interest or not. The staff would have spent many hours doing something else instead. This is piece of fluff to help you make a point about something that happened a long time ago and is not on the table now.

Something that councillors - present and future should remember. Talking about how much time staff spends doing their job is moot. Staf are paid to work 5 days a week / 7.5 or 8 hours a day. With exceptions for vacations and holidays, they show up to work and do "something". That something can be writing documents for a project that is misguided or a project that is the best thing for the Town. The fact is, their time is paid for - EVEN IF THEY DO NOTHING ALL DAY. To say that $x was spent doing documents for the hydro building is an insult to my intellegence.

The only time that staff costs should be brough up is in the case of overtime. Overtime should be used when there is a specific deadline and the job can't be done to meet it.

However, there used to be a joke about municipal workers. "Why don't municpal workers look out the window in the mornings? Because if they did, they would have nothing to do in the afternoons".

Stick to the real facts and stop trying to pad your argument with fluff.

Anonymous said...

Visions are contagious ? Or inflated rhetoric is contagious ?

Anonymous said...


It is a sign of too much salt.

Fred Elliott said...

08:53, repetition must be contagious, I say, repetition must be contagious.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about the whole "agreement that was entirely contrary to the municipality's interest" thing, 08:20. It is merely an opinion, and Cllr Buck's perspective is well-known. Thankfully, it wasn't shared by the rest of Council.