what’s found in the ground belongs to the crown

The Error Banner recently reported on the Town of Aurora’s successful application to The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program here: http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/5818738-federal-funds-mean-improvements-for-aurora-facilities

Among 4 capital projects to receive funding is the Armoury:

$91,500 for rehabilitation of the Aurora Armoury, including asbestos and soil remediation as well as electrical and mechanical system retrofits

At first glance it sounds like a $100K gift from the Federal government, but like most activities under the less than transparent Harper government there is reason to be sceptical.

The first is that the initial amount the town determined to remediate the armoury was only $120,000. I questioned that amount in a January post of this year while addressing soil contamination issues: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/farmed-and-dangerous/

Now we learn that the amount has ballooned to over twice that number and sits at $275,000 with this federal funding only providing a third of the amount needed.

I’m interested to learn how the number of $275,000 was arrived at, and does it factor in an environmental assessment of the property? An environmental assessment wasn’t a condition of sale and I am not aware that such assessment has been done to date.

I’m not the only one voicing my disappointment Clr. Mrakas makes the same point at the Tuesday August 25th council meeting. You can watch the Robbers TV footage here: http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=69&sid=3186&gid=236884 Clr. Mrakas starts @ 2:17.

@ 2:17:39 Clr. Abel ups the ante and mentions that the town could have gotten the building for $0 at the time it was negotiating the purchase price.

I 100% agree with him.

This was Clr. Buck’s position at the September 9th, 2014 meeting of council as reported in The Auroran here: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=8139

It was a view shared by David Heard who also gave a delegation at that meeting.

Instead the agreed purchase price was $514,000 with a mere 10% savings being championed as a success.

So much for keeping hands out of your pockets.

The purchase price wasn’t the only thing that the town neglected in their procurement process.

After meeting with the town’s CAO, solicitor and Clr. Thompson I was told they were unaware of the soil contamination issue on the site. That it was not disclosed to them by the DND during their negotiations.

A point that seems to be irrelevant given that the Armoury has been listed on the publically accessible Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory since 2007: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/fcsi-rscf/fsi-isf/00008383-eng.aspx

I found this information through a simple Google search and am still perplexed how anyone purchasing a property from the DND would not have thought to reference this list, let alone do basic research into the property.

With both Mayor La-de Dawe and M.P. Lois Bown jumping at the opportunity for a photo-op celebrating the transfer of ownership neither seem willing to address this serious issue to their respective constituents.

If the Town is claiming the Federal government did not disclose the soil issue then one has to question why our mayor would voice his pleasure that “the Government of Canada has acknowledged Aurora’s significant capital needs,” instead of questioning the sizeable burden the federal government has offloaded onto Aurora.

The whole thing shifts the notion of establishing a cultural precinct to a pre-stink.

Where we should expect adequate representation through our M.P. with matters like this she too has demonstrated a complete absence of leadership.

Over the past decade this is a government that is more than capable of making messes than cleaning them up.. Where there is no question that we have been handed a mess, it is our responsibility to clean-up things at that level this October.

So far hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to provide little more than a photo op for our Mayor and M.P. : http://www.aurora.ca/TownHall/Lists/News%20and%20Public%20Notices/CustomDisplayForm.aspx?ID=47  something that hardly qualifies as providing an “exceptional quality of life for all”.

If the town indeed has a strategy for the use of this building, which our past CAO hinted at but never revealed: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/a-chink-in-the-armoury/ it certainly hasn’t been communicated clearly to businesses and residents

To prevent this heritage site from becoming any further of a money pit the town needs to seriously regroup on this project and deliver an extensive facilities report on this property necessary to identify viable uses and additional buried costs.

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