I see in the Guardian that the University proposal included a site proposal? That’s pretty much the opposite of transparent and accountable.
How has a location been proposed? When was the public meeting to discuss possible locations? When was the call for tenders for lands? When was the public meeting to discuss the fate of whatever lands the city has pledged?
Is it Heritage Theatre? Is it the old city hall in Bramalea? (Both of which I would support in a public debate on the topic, as an aside)
How does this government, the majority of whom ran on platforms of transparency and accountability, get away withsecret backroom negotiations to give away city properties without so much as a single Public Consultation?
There are many stakeholders in every decision that gets made. Don’t we, as citizens and residents, get a say in where we want this built? In what land we give away to a university presumably not at fair market value? Don’t we local businesses, restaurants and bar owners, get to discuss where we can best support student living and best capitalize on the presumed influx of consumer traffic? Will there even be student living? Will there be dorms? Are we leaving that to private landlords? Are there going to opportunities to invest in student rental housing stock?
More importantly, why do some people on city staff get this insider information to use or share with their friends and the rest of us don’t? Don’t we, as real estate owners and investors, get to bid on the lands the government seemingly plans we are otherwise now just giving away? Maybe I wanted to build a Heritage Theatre Towers condo project. Or a Robson Block Entertainment complex. Don’t we get to even talk about that?
Or maybe theybproposed the current police headquarters on Hurontario, since they seem to be moving. Hypothetically, just as Rogers wanted to buy the old Nortel complex, maybe there is a big employer that wants that building for a headquarters (which could bring more jobs than a 1,000 student satellite campus could ever bring).
How does the city get off just making these decisions with no consultation, no notice to other potential stakeholders, no respect for the taxpayer who is ultimately shouldering the costs for pledging these capital assets (in the form of lost revenue a sale could have yielded, or other lost opportunity for ahigher or better use for the mystery properties).
I am not a big fan of the city owning vacant real estate in the first place. I think there is no reason for it to own any real estate not currently used in city operations. How long can it just own an empty Heritage Theatre, for example? Not only is it a waste of money, but it guarantees no productive use of the properties by the private sector while it sits vacant.
And now they seem to have made a deal to give this (or these) properties away? For what? A glorified classroom space that is smaller than every high school in the city?
If there was a chance for public input, a real dissemination of information and a fair opportunity for the private sector to weigh in the project to ensure the lands being dedicated were the best lands, in the best place and that the city wasn’t squandering the properties on less than optimal uses, then fine, the process will reveal the best location. I will happily abide by the results of the process.
But what we seem to be getting instead is a political decision being made by who knows who behind closed doors with no input, no disclosure and no council oversight. Thank you, but one Inzola lawsuit is enough for me, thank you kindly.