Wednesday, March 11, 2009
A informal information meeting was held on March 5,between Mayor Hancock and Sieg Holle of the Brant Taxpayers Coalition at the Station Coffee House and Gallery to review concerns and the status of the expropriation bylaw
Mayor Hancock (MH) City of Brantford
Sieg Holle (SH) Brant Taxpayers Coalition (BTC)
Questions answered – City (MH)
Are we paying too much? What is the future impact of the expropriation? SH
MH – The $11.5 m is a budget only; our internal target is lower and will reflect true market conditions. A seasoned third party professional has been assigned to ensure that reasonable, not windfall prices, will be paid
The success of Harmony square will be duplicated, resulting in an increased tax revenue base that could lower taxes in the future and finally revitalize south Colborne street to a better use.
Cities have other considerations to take into account in the public interest. Paying a social premium is often necessary to ensure good governance, and the meeting of strategic city plan objectives. Selling Moody’s adult entertainment building to Laurier University is a good example of a necessary social premium or cost that the city should incur.
People and existing business displacement costs? SH
MH-Using Harmony square as a recent example, where a block of buildings were demolished, people and businesses were successfully relocated.
This project is phased over time, and the City has and will work with those people affected in the next 2 years.
Compensation levels have yet to be defined and is part of the on- going legal expropriation process. Public works is involved to make sure that the people transition is painless and effective.
Who bears the costs of the land and building remediation? Will we sell the land to new users? SH
MH -The cost of remediation of land and buildings will be that of the new purchaser(S) from the city. The sale and terms of sale to new parties cannot presently be disclosed and the question is premature in the existing process. Such terms will be disclosed to the public and vetted by council prior to being implemented in the future.
Is the Process hasty? Will the process be challenged at the OMB? What safeguards are in place to ensure that money is not overspent? Are you open to an independent Auditor General function and other independent public project oversight methods? SH
MH- I do not believe that this Colborne revitalization process is hasty or as ill considered as suggested by some. The need to do something on South Colborne has been discussed and documented for many years. When elected, I had personally made the core revitalization a priority, and have only recently come to consider the expropriation option when negotiations with private developers failed. .Do nothing is in my opinion, not a option.
The process has been visible and not haphazard as reported. Both in camera committees and public meetings were held before this decision and bylaw was reached. Internal and departmental meetings have been held to ensure the proper execution and implementation of this plan of action. The use of an experienced third party to negotiate the best terms for the expropriated properties is also in place as a additional safeguard to property overspending.
An OMB expropriation bylaw challenge is possible in the next 30 days. The need for additional independent oversight resources, such as Auditor General is not necessary at this time.
SH- Thank you for your response Mayor Hancock