"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

Monday 11 May 2020


Another story perfectly illustrates a problem with our town’s business operation. It happened during the Dawe administration but was a carry over from before. The town CAO came from the Region during the administration prior to Dawe. I believe he was manager of statistics in the Region’s CAO office. I’m not aware of any experience managing a municipality. $75,000 was included in several budgets for education after appointment. He enrolled in something called Institute for Excellence, aced it, and received certification in excellence.

A 20 year lease for the Hydro Building to Queen‘s York Rangers and eviction of the town parks department was enacted. Parks built a gazebo there. Picnic benches and garbage receptacles, all to our own sturdy design were constructed during the winter months. A dismantled barn was stored in the yard; heritage salvage. The clerk used the office building to store records. The parks department could have handily transferred to the hydro building, leaving the entire site at the end of Scanlon Court to expand the works department. Making the joint parks and works boondoggle completely farcical.

Councillor Gaertner gushed her appreciation of the CAO for accomplishment of the lease to Queen’s York Rangers without specifying why.

Public Works handled renovations to the Hydro building to suit the Rangers’ purpose. Final cost was never public. As landlords, the town is responsible for building upkeep and insurance. Then the town paid half a million to the federal government for a contaminated shed occupying a corner of the town  park for over a hundred years.

Rent was presented as an asset. Forfeited market value of the property, tax revenue and opportunities for employment were not presented as an offset.

During the Dawe administration the lease was extended from 20 to 30 years.

The Municipal Act requires public property, rendered redundant to municipal needs to be so advertised. It must then be offered for sale in competitive bidding. That advice was never conveyed   to Council. The Chief Financial Advisor was not asked to report on merits of leasing the property versus realizing the asset or continuing use for the parks and other needed purpose.

Leasing the Hydro property was never a legitimate option. The Municipal Act requires that a property redundant to needs must be advertised as such and sold to the highest bidder.

You can’t give away an asset worth millions to a pal. Well, they did.

I never believed gifting the Hydro property to the Rangers was the brainchild of the CAO. I have did not believe Aurora property owners had a responsibility to save the Rangers from the oblivion intended by the federal government.

I had no appreciation for the deal. The Town's interest was not well served.

The blog often takes me off on a tangent.

Another story from the Dawe administration was to be the pillar of the post.

Frank Stronach had a parcel of land approved for servicing. ..75 lots...I think. It was to be sold by auction.

The CAO recommended the town acquire the land for recreation purposes. Market value was cited as the cost. Of course the cost was more and the implications far-reaching. Paying the cost of land with all approvals and servicing units available, ready for shovels into the ground was preposterous.

Real estate deals can be discussed out of the public eye. The deal never happened and the discussion never became public. It was never clear where the direction came from to pursue the purchase. In the circumstances, I assume prior discussion in the Mayor’s office for it to get to the council table.

The arguments against it were real and several and terribly obvious. The town would forfeit development of seventy five lots and tax revenue from seventy-five new homes. Changing the designation would move the property from asset to liability....a switch from black to red in the accounts columns.

The CAO had no argument in response. He was in the difficult position of defending a recommendation that probably wasn’t his in the first place.

But that’s not all.

The Planning Act requires the municipality to process an Official Plan and update it every five years.

Master plans, prepared by consultants at an average cost of $100 thousand a piece for various public services are based on needs forecast by the Official Plan.

Firehalls, recreation, schools , equipment, stuff like that are part of the calculation for lot levies which must also be updated every five years. As public planning board, Council is kept busy, talking and talking and talking at public meetings. After listening to developers and their experts talking and talking and talking about their plans, after the planners have read lengthy reports with comments from all and sundry about merits or otherwise of plans and the public are invited to say what they think about the plan.

OMG thousands and thousands of hours of endless talk, round and round it goes into the planning process. Thousands of hours of payroll time go into planning proposals that produce absolutely nothing in the end. The whole exercise is about multiplying the value of a property without any actual physical changes.

Somebody has to pay for it...Guess who my friends?...It’s you, that's who...and future owners.

You can’t take seventy five lots out of the Official Plan forecast without scrambling the whole shebang.

Nothing would be the same. The idea never got off the ground.

For all practical and economic purposes, it should never have been on the table in the first place.

But it was how much of the Council’s time was occupied during the Dawe Administration.

And before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Being on council for all those years you must have some idea how all this crap happened or why? That Hydro building virtual free lease and the purchasing of their old mold asbestos building clearly benefitted the federal government or someone at the federal government. Who benefited in Aurora? Nothing is done in government because it's a nice gesture. The CAO and his environmental friend went over to Richmond Hill and have recently disappeared. Many more director heads have disappeared in Towns all over the Region. They use to stick around for at least a full election term, and have a replacement fairly quickly. Not anymore. All this money spent on so many plans and projects...and no money to finish or start them because of this Virus. Taxes will be raised to God knows what, increases being planned for goods and services to God knows what. The very near future will be a tell all to these politicians that we"ve elected.