Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Newmarket’s While Elephant

Last night there was a Newmarket council meeting and vote regarding the possibility of a $3 million cost overrun on the renovations to Newmarket’s Old Town Hall. As this recent Era Banner article states the town set the original cost before an architect even fully assessed the job.
“The original $5.9-million figure was submitted with grant applications before an architect was called to see what needed to be done with the building to prepare it for the transformation.”

I pretty sure that most of these councillors would not call a contractor to gut their home based on their own estimates and then hire a professional to work out the real price after the fact, so why are they so willing to do so with our money? It’s not as if this is a small cost overrun either. The article mentions an additional $2.4 million would be needed but spectators at last nights council meeting are talking numbers over $3 million and of course we won’t know for sure unless the town spends another $150k to get a more accurate estimate. The way this is going we could be 50% or more over budget, good governance? Good planning? Good councillors? You decide!

Personally I think this is totally irrational; this job should have been fully assessed at the very beginning and compared to the cost of a new building. Old does not make a building valuable, it might make it historically significant but it’s not valuable unless it maintains utility and affordability. This building is quaint but is that enough? Why not just tear it down and build a new one from scratch using the same styling queues but with modern techniques, or just incorporate the north façade into a new building, at least cost out such an options for comparison. As it is I don’t thing this project is a good value and before this is over we will be hitting $9-10 million, what else could we have gotten for $10 million?

Last night’s vote was to supply the additional $150,000 needed to fully cost the job but a tied vote failed to solve the issue. Next Monday’s Council of the Whole (April 12) will address this issue again so I think its important that tax payers use this extra week to contact their councillors and express their concerns over what appears to be gross mismanagement in costing this job and let them know your opinion on whether we should spend the money for the full renovation, a scaled back version or cancel the whole thing. Even if you don’t agree with my viewpoint, be heard! Too few of us make the effort.

Oh by the way here is the newest take on the story and a list of who voted how
The vote:
Mayor Tony Van Bynen,
Ward 1 Councillor Tom Vegh,
Ward 3 Councillor Victor Woodhouse
Ward 5 Councillor Joe Sponga

Regional Councillor John Taylor,
Ward 2 Councillor Dave Kerwin,
Ward 6 Councillor Dennis Ramsarran and
Ward 7 Councillor Chris Emmanuel

Absent: Ward 4 Councillor Larry Blight


Liz J said...

Holy cow, this is pretty bad.
I really miss having the Old Town Hall as an affordable venue for small scale community events -- but I know what people in that area want, and with the big park space coming east of Main Street, I bet they will say "put up a parking lot where the Old Town Hall used to be."
Damn. I am going to have to go to council meetings, I guess. Already freaking out about seeing 75% of Davis Drive businesses closed down, then hearing that the whole bus lane project might be delayed as long as four years??? Newmarket will look like a ghost town!

Canadian silver bug/Green Assassin Brigade said...

I was hoping to procure some of that stone retaining wall the old house has at the sidewalk. I need to terrace the drop off in my back yard.

Anonymous said...

you have no idea how many white elephants are trotting around Town. Like good media tactics, they only show you one. As me a question...

Canadian silver bug/Green Assassin Brigade said...

Anon, if you've got provable incompetence, graft, ect, I'm more than willing to entertain guest posts.

Anonymous said...

you wiped out my page long post. since when can you buy local corn in July?...

Canadian silver bug/Green Assassin Brigade said...

I've wiped out no comments, if things go missing its all bloggers fault, I only erase abuse or comments likely to generate a litigious response from someone

Moderation is not on, so comments should show up immediately,, always copy comments before posting incase the platform loses them. Then you can just paste them back.