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Speech on the issue of the Commodore's Cove Lighting

By: James Jeff McLaren
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My Speech to council on why the City should not take on the private formerly agreed on responsibility to light a pathway

Here is the story as I understand it:

1) A developer agrees to provide some public benefits by managing a system of lights and by lighting a public pathway as two conditions of building a condo complex on the waterfront. In other words a deal in good faith was made.

2) Now that they have built the condo complex they want to be absolved of these conditions that were granted in exchange for building the condo complex. In other words: now that they have what they want; they do not want to keep their end of the bargain – that is the public benefits part.

3) So they ask us to let them out of the deal and take on the burden ourselves: in other words the waterfront condo owners want the rest of the city to look after their public benefits responsibilities and have the rest of the public pay for one of their community promises. This does not strike me as a good deal for the city.

Taking on unnecessary fiscal liabilities is not fiscally prudent.

We have a firm contract though site plan; we don’t need to do this; it is not necessary.

It will get a lot of others thinking of how they can get the City to take on their burdens.

It sets a dangerous president for future deals we make under the formal Community Benefits section 37 of the Planning Act. Because everyone who makes a Community Benefits promise will know that they just have to wait for a compliant council to get out of their Community Benefits deal.

However the report suggested that we need to do this for consistency of lighting and quality of waterfront experience. If these concerns are serious, we really could assist with the cost of making them consistent without assuming ownership and maintenance responsibilities. There are in fact many different ways to mitigate these concerns and improve the waterfront experience without adding this burden to the City.

It has been suggested that there may be a safety issue due to the vertical sea wall but this and any other safety issue can also be handled without assuming ownership or maintenance obligations of the lighting system. We do not need this liability to mitigate other liabilities.

It has also been suggested that we can get a formal service level agreement from the condo corp. The irony that they want one agreement torn up so they can take on another is funny since most homeowners are expected to take care of public boulevards in front of their homes, and downtown business are expected to take care of the public sidewalks in front of their business. To say that they will only do this now if Council makes a new deal strikes me as suspect and unbelievable – because they benefit most from doing general maintenance: they use it most and it is their curbside appeal that is at stake. The notion that the condo corp will stop taking care of the pathway and drop their curbside appeal just to get back at Council for not releasing them of a promise strikes me as naive.

It has further been argued that this is a small amount and it won’t break the bank. This is not a reason to assume the liability. It is a troubling indication of a cavalier attitude to fiscal prudency, the management of city funds, and an aloof disrespect of the hard earned money people pay the city in property tax.

If you believe that justice has anything to do with honouring contracts then this is an unjust request – I have not been given any reasonable or legitimate reason to justify this request.

Thank you

Added on: Feb 7, 2017
By: James Jeff McLaren
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