Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Expropriating an $11.5 million gamble

We totally agree with the expositor editors assessment and compellling call for caution PR 'there has got to be a better way to spend that kind of money -or better yet, add the money to the public coffers and lighten the burden on an already stretched taxpayer

Expropriating an $11.5 million gamble pointof view Posted By JOHN CHAMBERS

Council should be commended for wanting to see improvements to the south side of Colborne Street. A derelect eye sore to be sure, a major face-lift and revitalization would be a major shot in the arm for a downtown begging to return to its former glory.

But should this council risk an $11.5 million price tag to expropriate a block of 41 properties in order to clear the way for redevelopment? In trying economic times, there has got to be a better way to spend that kind of money -or better yet, add the money to the public coffers and lighten the burden on an already stretched taxpayer. "We have waited for the private sector, but we have to accept now that it's not coming, so we have to do something bold," said councillor Mark Littell, chairman of the South Side of Colborne Task Force, on the proposal to expropriate the property, and he's right.

But if the private sector hasn't been able to address the growing concerns of the south side of Colborne Street to date, shouldn't alarm bells be going off around council chambers?

It's important to remember that council is elected by the constituents to represent them -council is not and should not be in the property acquisition business -especially at the cost currently pegged for this plan.

Bottom line, city residents can't afford to see any of their tax dollars go to a project that can't be fixed with a simple cash injection; $11.5 million is just a start for a project of this magnitude. The question remains of where some of the residents living in that block will go -an interesting social question and topic of future debate; How much will it cost to demolish the properties? Will we discover there are now environmental concerns or learn that a potential developments' footprint is too big for the allocated space?

There are just too many unknowns to move forward at the taxpayers expense.

And frankly there is nothing worse than taking on a multi-year commitment to pay for something that may not ever materialize.

If this council was truly interested in moving forward with the property and its redevelopment in the best interest of the taxpayers than they should have sought actual proposals from interested groups, businesses, individuals and government on what a redeveloped property would look like, and once an option is selected than move forward with expropriation if need be; but have the common sense to make sure all of the partners, and their money, is locked into the project before putting residents on the hook for a proposal they can't afford.

1 comment:

Q-jumpers said...

We , the Brant-Taxpayers Coalition , totally agree with the Expositor editors assessment and compellling call for caution There has got to be a better way to spend that kind of money -or better yet, add the money to the public coffers and lighten the burden on an already stretched taxpayer

We are also concerned with the process of reaching this important decision in one council session without the normal public consulltation process.

Why did we not follow the normal council procedure and open the Expropriation by law to public input, scrutiny and debate? If the budget process ,is open to public input and takes 3 months, how can a expropriation budget by-law –that accounts for !0% of the annual operating budget be approved in a one session council meeting with little or no public input, scrutiny or debate ?

We have more questions that we would like answered before we prooeed with this out of the ordinary Expropriation By-law. See Pro-Ative Rants or http://makeaccountable.blogspot.com/.for other questions for which we need answers.

We will share the public and member answers that we receive with our political representatives to ensure that we use our tax money wisely and construtively in our community.

Sieg Holle BS MBA
Communiations Director
Brant Taxpayers Coalition