Parking Lots As An Economic Development Initiative
We'll see tonight at Council what the newbie Councillors--Dilkens, Marra and Hatfield--- are made of. The Agenda deals with a municipal parking lot for the new Sutherland employees. Will they go along with this seemingly odd transaction. The other Councillors are stuck. They voted for it in camera in the past Council it seems.
Remember the story in the Star about the Keg parking. First the Star had to go to a Municipal Freedom of Information Application Act appeal to get the data. Then we learned that
- "Municipal parking spots that would normally cost $1.25 an hour are being given away for five cents a day for customers of the Keg Restaurant who park in the city-owned garage attached to the DaimlerChrysler building."
To be honest, Mayor Francis was made to look like a fool in that story and the Editorial written by the Star. It was not one of his shining hours.
The poor Mayor. No wonder he needs a team of PR flacks. His justification:
- "It was a deal breaker," Mayor Eddie Francis said, explaining why the city had to cut a deal.
Ludicrous. He should have said it was an EDI, an Economic Development Initiative as is being done with the municipal parking lot for the Sutherland call centre employees.
What, you did not know about the EDI. I did not recall hearing about it either. It turns out the City agreed to spend up to $500,000 to "support the development of a municipal parking lot" for them. You see, there was a desire that the employees' cars not intrude into the neighbourhood.
I asked the City's Brenda Andreatta to send me the Council Resolution that authorized the EDI and the background Administration Report that served as the justification for it. I was curious to know if the parking fee was free or 5 cents per day or a normal hourly rate.
After several exchanges, I was given the Resolution and have posted it above. As for the Report, regretfully, I cannot post it. You see it was a verbal one. Yuppers, the spending of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars was decided based on what someone said. As for the amount of the parking fee, I have no idea. I was going to ask a Councillor but the deal was concluded by the previous Council. I wonder if one of the newbies knows.
I must admit I would have been curious to know whether the vote was unanimous and especially if the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget supported it since he was such a penny-pincher. No such luck I am afraid.
I have to admit I am at fault. It was presented openly at the Council meeting on October 10, 2006 and I should have picked it up. That was a month before the big announcement was made about Sutherland opening up in Windsor. Here is what the Resolution at Council said:
- "Consideration of Committee Reports
Moved by Councillor Lewenza, seconded by Councillor Postma,
That the Report of the special In-camera meeting held October 4, 2006 BE ADOPTED as presented. (M235-2006)
See it was all there for anyone to read and fully understand. That is how that past open and transparent Council operated under this Mayor.
Of course there is more to the story than that.
First, I told you that the CAO runs the City. The cost of the parking lot is said to be $305,000. (I do not know if a Tender was issued for his but someone else can check that out.) However, the Report on Monday wants to give the CAO the right to charge up to $500,000 against a reserve fund for this project. I don't get it, why another $200K? Is the City estimating that bad? If so, Heaven help us on the East End arena costs.
But that is not the big story. The second point, and what this is all really about, has nothing to do with Sutherland but everything to do with the Ambassador Bridge. It is an other silly attempt by the Mayor and Council to harass them as they did with the Interim Control By-law and the Sandwich heritage designation. Someone better give our local politicians a copy of Bill C-3 and tell them to stop wasting our money.
How do I know that this is about the Bridge Co. Easy. Gord Henderson told me and you in a column on 11-04-2006:
- "By the way, nobody's talking about this. But the announcement is a double whammy of welcome news for west-end residents.
In addition to the jobs, it could checkmate any Ambassador Bridge company plans to twin its bridge, a development feared by many area residents.
The building that will house those 1,000 jobs stands in the direct path of the bridge company's most logical route to a second span.
A double whammy indeed."
NOTE TO COUNCILLOR JONES---As the protector of Sandwich, please make sure that a proper archeological investigation and supervision of the work is carried out on this parking lot site immediately and that the people doing the work are "moving a millimetre of dirt at a time with a trowel and not bulldozing with a large bucket." It seems to be undisturbed land unlike the houses on Indian Road so much more care is needed.
Oh and isn't the parking lot within the Interim Control By-law area too. Make sure that the law is observed by the City in your Ward please!