Aurora’s Hallmark Moment

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In 2008 Hallmark Cards began its restructuring by cutting 195 jobs in Toronto.

Cuts were increased in 2013 wiping out 75 jobs here in Aurora.

Last year assets from Aurora’s Distribution Center were auctioned off leaving the only remaining evidence of them as part of Aurora’s economy being the rather large empty shell of a building on Vandorf:

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This realtor lists the 215,000 facility at $5/sq Ft.  Minimum Rental Term is 36 months and the listing reports the landlord will divide to suit all configurations from 50,000 sq Ft up.

The question should be why has the town been unsuccessful in attracting a business to fill this facility?  Its businessaurora website which has no link to any listing details for the property is obviously of little to no help.   This begs another question.  Just how effective is the town’s full-time staff member responsible for attracting and retaining businesses?

There should be straight forward answers to both of these questions until one factors in how the town likes to roll the dice on every possible opportunity to acquire more real estate without consulting the public.

At a town meeting of March 18th 2014 there was a closed session item whe council discussed aquiring it:

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Three months later the noticeboard that ran in the June 18th Auroran included this:

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Bylaw 5734-15 is attached to the June 23rd Agenda reads:

WHEREAS The Corporation of the Town of Aurora (the ”Town”) deems it necessary and expedient to acquire for municipal purposes

The combined area identified here is 13.74 acres.  What municipal purpose did the town have to deem it necessary and expediant to draft this bylaw exactly?

What possible motivarion would the town have for restricting a Business buying or leasing it, thus contributing to the town’s economy and tax base?  A month had barely passed since the announcement that Magna was leaving Aurora.

In The Auroran Mayor La De Dawe is quoted that he expects the owners of the Magna campus on Wellington Street East to be “working diligently” to find new tenants.

Obviously the expectationlevel for the town has been set much lower.

The intent to purchase certainly set the stage in August of last year when Sport Aurora proposed the town “lock the building up” so it could lease it out to Volleyball teams and others.

The selling feature: 42 foot-high ceilings.

With ceilings this high it’s hard to understand why those advancing such a grand vision could still have their collective heads in the clouds but listen to this profound statement reported in The Banner’s coverage :

“Its potential is only limited by engineering solutions and financial boundaries.”

So in other words, it’s potential is only limited by, like, reality?

A reality which is so inconvenient that the delegates couldn’t comment on what the full cost to retrofit the building would be nor comment on a funding source.

Having been burnt recently on a heritage Disneyland proposal the town ended up pissing away $20,000+ to a consultant to tell them that there was no private interest I was happy to learn that at least one Clr. asked this group specifically if a public-private partnership was considered for this proposal.

The answer : no.

WTF?

The Town is not exactly flush with cash, having locked up some of the Hydro Reserve Money borrowing against it to debt finance the its Joint Ops centre.   A project that was initially projected to cost $14 Million that ballooned to $26 Million.

Let’s not foget that the town also recently incurred an unexpected $600,000 expense cleaning up mold it found while renovating one of its existing rec complexes.

To re-cap, SportAurora comes to the town with no business plan, no funding source and no public-private partnership identified, no comprehension or recognition of the engineering solutions or cost to retrofit a 215,000 sq ft facility for their use while fully expecting the town “lock up the building” (and 14 acre site) for them.

I guess it too much to expect a group, that has been given free office space at town hall to reduce their overhead costs, to invest any of their own money on investigating feasibility of their grand visions.

John W. Gardner once said:

“The hallmark of our age is the tension between aspirations and sluggish institutions.”

A dynamic that sums up SportAurora perfectly.

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