With a dearth of large-scale shovel-ready projects on the horizon the crowning achievement of Mayor La de Dawe’s two terms in office will be the deplorable roll out of the Town of Aurora’s Joint O(o)ps center.
From a site selection which resulted in significant soil issues, a public consultation that amassed a headcount of under 10 people. To change orders that cut storage space to failing Gold standard for LED certification, the whole project is now a case study for other municipalities in worst practices.
And this isn’t something where Mayor Dawe can simply throw staff under the bridge for the project going over time and over budget as he himself sat on Joint Operations Centre Financial Monitoring Task Force formed back in 2014.
Dawe is quoted in this March 2014 Auroran :
We need to respect wherever the costs come from, how we spend those dollars, and I believe we will be doing exactly that as we move forward with this project.
Although the Joint Oops Centre has proven to mark a significant turning point in how business was conducted at Town Hall it is anything but the judicious investment, the triumph of sound planning and forward thinking based on rigorous and critical analysis of current and future needs that the Mayor claimed during his 2015 address to the Chamber of Commerce.
From this brochure, it states that the new Operations Centre will play a crucial role in greenhouse operations yet October of last year was the first time the public learned that the greenhouse was not complete. I understand that to winter its plants and trees the Town had to put them into trailers.
The greenhouse isn’t the only missing piece.
At the April 4th meeting council was informed that there is also a staircase missing that isn’t even at the design stage, that trash is still at the Machell yard because dumpsters aren’t operational and that the soil concerns are still an issue on the site.
I can’t help but notice that costs keep being added after the project is said to have been completed. I have made the point repeatedly that capital projects cannot continue to be managed in this fashion. Getting one price and thinking that’s it, but then finding out afterwards that there are many other items that are added in after the fact that add to the overall costs of a facility pretty substantially. Certainly in the case of the JOC where these ‘added costs’ are now close to a million dollars, I believe the Financial Task Force who monitor and examine all the financial and budgetary aspects related to the delivery of this project should provide an explanation as to why so many components were removed to meet the budget targets.
That explanation was already given by Mayor Dawe during that 2015 Chamber address:
Too often we are governed by a patchwork of ad-hoc policies, practices and procedures. We do so in the name of expediency and the result is often short-term gain for long-term pain.
A better summary of Dawe’s leadership has yet to materialize.