"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

Thursday 18 April 2013

Now You See It Now You Don't

The McIntyre Heritage Park had a booth at the Home Show. Situated with the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society. To the average observer, the plan would appear to have substance and authenticity. What do we know about it. The name McIntyre is familiar. John McIntyre owns one of the properties involved. He is a long-time member of the Historical Society. Also, an honorary member of the town's Heritage Advisory Committee. I think we allowed his family name to be used. But has Mr McIntyre suggested the town spend ten million of the Hydro Reserve Fund to buy his property for a Heritage Park. I am not aware of it but it would hardly be kosher. Bruce Spragg, real estate developer is owner of the third property. Council has seen neither hide nor hair of that individual. Yet promoting the sale of real estate is his business. The Historical Society owns a property. They have not been part of the presentations so far. There have been three. Thanks to Councillor Abel, who received the delegation at HAC which opened the door to the third presentation which opened the door to directing staff to make a different assessment to the one already made by the elected body. Rumours are circling of withdrawals or resignations from what has been called a committee of citizens but isn't. Maybe it's time the town took a hard look at the Historical Society. Who are they? How mny are they? What accountability is there ? Can anybody simply pay $5.membership and infiltrate the organisation to use it to promote a commercial hard-sell. We know of the Mayor's strong support for the scheme. Maybe he's the eminence gris behind the scenes. Maybe it's Councillor Abel,who made it possible for Mr.Albino to lobby HAC and get a secod opportunity to repeat a presentation after Council had already made a decision. Councillor Abel brought forward the resolution to direct the Director of Recreation to make an assessment of the proposal. Like Council's assessment was not good enough William Albino is the only name we know promoting the scheme. What do we know of him He joined the Historical Society in February. By March he already had his wagon hitched to their horse and wheels in motion. A internet search to discover what credentials Mr.Albino might have in the field of Heritage Parks came up empty. What would qualify him to make such a recommendation to the municipality? The only information provided was in association with the province's E-Health scandal. I don't know the connection. Only that he wasn't the whistle-blower. I believe that was the Honorable Peter Kormos. recently deceased, Member for the Provincial Riding of Welland. Now you know everything I know. Except for bits of scuttlebut and names I can't publish for reasons of privacy. A majority of Council,under the leadership and guidance of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are prepared to spend hard-earned resources to buy a pig in a poke. For all I know,the town might even have funded the booth at the Home Show. The administration has authority to spend money on what they think might be an economic promotion. They did it before without Council approval. Maybe this Blog will flush it out. So far, in terms of identifying an organization with substance or credibilty behind the Heritage Park scheme, we have Nothing,Nada, Zilch,Zero nor a scintilla of evidence. Amen my friends.


Anonymous said...

All I can offer is a general observation about the Historical Society based on a good # of years living in Aurora. Their membership is always in flux with older individuals dropping out & new-comers taking an interest. So what is fascinating & worthy of strong support one moment has vanished from their radar the next. ie " We don't have the numbers to do the Museum "
It's a bit like rate-payers' groups that form around a common cause & then disperse when their aim is achieved. Or members of boards who move on if they get ambitious or if
too many questions are asked of their activities.
What I think
'm saying is that should something go wrong, and it will, there will be only the town on the hook for the costs and liabilities.

Anonymous said...

Me, I'm puzzled that it is somehow verboten to say you believe something is a scam when it appears before Council. Isn't that your job? And isn't that just what councillors Gallo & Ballard said about Lucid? The rules seem very flexible according to the Mayor.

Anonymous said...

For the most part museums are not particularly important to or popular with the general public, especially small town museums whose raison d'ĂȘtre seems to be as a showcase for that community's heritage.

The Royal Ontario Museum has operated at significant losses over the years and has to keep creating significant displays that will attract the public, usually very expensive.

Unless a museum is of national or international interest, and has a very specific focus, and there are some very successful ones, they tend to gather dust.

It's great to have a heritage and a place to display it, but these things must be kept in perspective. Is the recently relocated and reconstructed Petch House an example of our heritage? I saw it several years ago and there is absolutely nothing about the present version that brings to mind the past.

The three buildings on Yonge Street should be relocated as a part of the Stronach land donation, or given their own siting. This could be done for far less than $10million and would create a point of interest away from the very centre of town and having adequate parking.

And a superb condo with ground floor retail/restaurants.galleries could be built in their place.

Some day moneys from the Hydro Fund will get used, but not for this silly and irresponsible idea.

Anonymous said...

I think this ' plan ' might be stoppable. Several councillors have insisted upon ' sustainability ' for the project. That truly cannot be guaranteed, is in fact impossible. It does boggle that Aurora cannot obtain any tax revenue from its Centre and still wishes to indulge in an exercise of further loss.
If one cannot advance in tiny steps,it is disaster to try to move by leaps and bounds.

Anonymous said...

3:18pm is right.

I would buy a condo unit right now. I would do anything to be able to walk to Dollarama or LW. I mean, they are Aurora encapsulated!

Our downtown is wretched. Banks, lawyers, and deep discount crap stores!

Anonymous said...

Mayor Dawe's Bully-Pulpit is wobbly. I'm not sure how many people are going to be impressed if he keeps repeating that HE thinks the Heritage Park is a good idea. " Moral 'suasion " doesn't work too well when residents are looking at a potential money-grab.

Anonymous said...

"...create a point of interest away from the very centre of town..."

But, isn't that ridiculously counter to one of the aims of the proposed Heritage Park - to have a "point of interest" in the very heart of Aurora (its historic core)?!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the satirical suggestions, 3:18, they were good for chuckle.

Anonymous said...

Totally off topic
Have you seen the Grade 11 English course? They have been assigned Dracula and Edgar A. Poe ! T'is to ' get them interested ' in reading.

Anonymous said...

5:47 PM Then maybe the aims of the proposed Heritage Park need a bit of work? As far as I can tell, the neighbours have not been consulted. This is so unnecessary with the Stronach proposal coming on line. We do not need this sucker and cannot afford it.

Anonymous said...

to 4:04 Pm
I don't want to rain on your parade but the existing condos on Yonge are selling so well that they are not even being advertised. People who know others are just lining up for those large apartments before they are even cleaned out. And, no, I am not in real estate not interested personally. So Sher should have closed her deal. No?

Apples & Oranges said...

"This is so unnecessary with the Stronach proposal coming on line"

Two completely different concepts.

Anonymous said...

OK Councillors Thompson, Gallo and Abel have all said that they would require sustainability. Can't be done. That could change but it is a good basis from which to begin.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who are familiar with the downtown area of Toronto, east of Church and west of University, from Queen Street south to Front, think back about 20 years to this rather seedy, ugly bit of land.

Today it is vibrant thanks to condos, excellent up-scale shops, first class restaurants and many fine galleries. This didn't happen due to a master plan.

It came about because a few people or companies had a vision for a future where people could live, not just in their homes, but their lives. And this vision was matched by the necessary planning and zoning foresight that have all come together today to create a vibrant world and way of life enjoyed by thousands. And yes, the high-rise condos followed along but they were a complement to what was already under way.

Look at Unionville, a shopping and dining destination that draws people from afar. And the art on display is no slouch either. Granted, this was in part because of the buildings that existed, but also because some people had an idea for an elegant development program. And if one builds it, they will come.

To 6:02 PM - if you think this is satire and just something for a chuckle, you are a bit of a knot head.

Aurora has seen plans designed by consultants at a cost of I don't know how many tens of thousands of dollars. And the result to date is ZILCH.

Our town has no leadership with the necessary vision, not just to plan, but to go out and find the people and the companies whose business it is to build a living, breathing community. This will not happen overnight, or even in five or ten years. But unless it has a beginning, our main street will be nothing but a bunch of buildings without a soul.

Anonymous said...

Is there any way we can get a film crew or 1 guy with a camera into that boarded up old wreck and see exactly what the town is supposed to be paying for that the market will not pay and has refused to pay for years? I think that might prove the point that we are being taken to the cleaners here.

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear from the one Heritage Committee member who voted against this scheme.I hope he reads this blog and will share what has transpired at those meetings.Please do share because I want to listen.

Anonymous said...

To 9:40:

Was it David Heard? I thought he had quit (remember that public resignation during an open Forum?), but I don't think he followed through with it.

Anonymous said...

To 11:09pm I am a friend of David and am privy to the town asking for the resignation in writing.The park plan had already began its course and David believed he needed to see this though, and the public had a right to know what was going on.Now you know what I know.I will tell him I saw this.

Anonymous said...

David was in attendance and a member of the comittee at the March HAC meeting according to the minutes (found here: http://www.aurora.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=61175 ) April minutes have yet to be posted and may not be until the committee approves them in May.

Anonymous said...

Did John M.declare a conflict?Does it show in the minutes?

John Abel said...

I would like to draw attention to what I said on the Heritage Park at Council April 9th. If you refer to Rogers telecast at or around the 1 hour 45 min mark.

I clearly state that I am not interested in spending any Town money on this initiative. Certainly not $6 million.

It must be sustainable and not cost the Town any money once established. No funding to maintain this project.

Yonge Street is prime real estate that should be used for intensification and maximize tax assessment opportunities, or for the development of condos with shops.

My thinking is along the lines of the anonymous posts of April 18, 3:18 PM & 8:09 PM

True I brought forth a Motion to ask Staff to prepare a report. I did so in my role as Chair of the Heritage Advisory Committee - HAC.

the HAC voted and recommended that Council direct staff to prepare a report on the Heritage Park initiative and costs for a Feasibility Study. It was not unanimous, but it did carry.

Councillor Humfryes volunteered to prepare a Notice of Motion. For clarity and to move along the recommendation in a timely manner.

Councillor Humfryes had to attend to an urgent matter as the time line for Notices to the Council Agenda drew to a close.

I stepped forward to meet the deadline.

I believe it is a good practice to allow residents who prepare initiatives to proceed through committees to allow full and complete discussion.

There is a small cost, that being staff resources to be utilized. Council directs Staff, and that is part of their job description.

It is not a large cost, but it is fair.

Very similar to the Fluery Playhouse initiative.

I am a regular reader of this blog, and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute now and then.

What's a "knot head"? said...

"To 6:02 PM - if you think this is satire and just something for a chuckle, you are a bit of a knot head."

Moving three heritage buildings (one a national historic site) to a park over on Bayview to make room for new condo towers was a serious, non-satirical suggestion?!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I am reading that some folks would rather see the MacIntyre and Hillary Houses bulldozed for condo developments. Really? What an insult to history and heritage. I love the idea of this heritage park in the middle of town. I think the initial offering as presented by Mr. Albino needs to be modified, but that, in my opinion, is why he comes to council, to keep communication open. The group suggesting this project needs the Towns input, needs residents input and support. It is a wonderful idea, let's not let the proposal die before those of us that support it see a more concrete plan. This is a real chance to preserve more of the towns heritage. There must be a happy medium, we will find a way.

Anonymous said...

This blog is so funny, especially when other councilors add some spin-er-oni. I do not buy what Sir Abel is selling like its snake oil.Now there is a historical reference.

Anonymous said...

12: 29 PM
There are very few on the blog and around Aurora who share your sentiments but you are welcome to them.

Anonymous said...

Is that you Sandra?

Anonymous said...

11:23 AM April 19

You may not know it but heritage buildings get relocated regularly. How do you think many of the "pioneer villages" came into being, and things of that nature? Did you know that London Bridge was transported from where it spanned the Thames River to Arizona? Sometimes a bit of imagination can work wonders.

The approximately 4.5 acre property on Yonge Street has the highest potential assessment of any land in Aurora, and to saddle it with a 'heritage park' is about the worst thing one could do. The initial cost being bandied about and the financial self-sustainability that is a pre-condition are irresponsible.

What might also be added to the project is a small boutique hotel, with the condo units above it. This concept is becoming commonplace around the world. And, goodness knows, Aurora can certainly use some competition for the HoJo.

Speaking for Myself said...

12:38 PM, how many people "around Aurora" have you polled in order to be able to comfortably and confidently speak for them?

You're only really welcome to speak for yourself.

Anonymous said...

2:27 PM
You are so silly with your Name of the Moment. Always got to be front and centre. Pun intended.

Front & Centre said...

Pun? Okay, if you say so...