The response from our elected officials to the steady stream of letters hitting The Auroran about the nearing $60 million White Elephant that is Library Square should have been extending the opportunity for productive dialogue.
Instead what got spat back to us was Clr Humfreys adorning her cheerleader uniform to try and muzzle the outcry in a laughable puff piece.
All feelings and no facts is exactly what I have come to expect from Clr. Humfreys but it is a new low for The Auroran.
Merely acknowledging that Covid is a problem doesn’t make it go away, and simply believing the town is in good financial shape doesn’t address the pressures a massive spend will have on how it will have to change service levels to function both in the short and long term.
Shortly after this article was printed Mayor Mrakas announced that the town’s application for grant funding from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program was denied:
Mrakas claims the decision Aurora’s grant application failed was because Aurora’s financial position is strong and has health reserves.
Yeah, I’m not buying that.
Even if the town has a hydro reserve fund to draw from it would be exhausted to make up their share with the Province and the Federal Government making up the other 73%. So what plan exactly does the town have to pay for the operating costs?
This is the exact question asked page 6 of the Ontario Program Guidelines:
c. A project must meet the following minimum technical requirements:
iii. Demonstrated ongoing financing to manage operating pressures without creating operating and/or capital cost-pressures for the Province, municipalities, Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards, from new infrastructure
So how exactly is Library Square not going to create operating and/or capital cost-pressures for the Province and the town? Of course it is.
Which is why Page 9 of the same application continues this point:
(6) Financial sustainability: Projects must have a financial plan in place to operate the assets and not seek senior level government support for ongoing operational funding.
And what is this financial plan exactly for the operation of Library Square? We have already seen an increase in taxes. Will this be blended with high user fees? I can’t imagine sponsorship $ will be at the same pre-covid levels.
For the mayor to state “Funding strategy approved in December 2019 was not dependent on external funding.” is a little more rich than the town believes it is. I’m convinced the Mayor and his co-hort of ass-hat councillors are gaming to get things done regardless of how Covid has changed Aurora and the globe.
Well guess what ass-hats, it’s no longer the 2019 timeline.
Neither the province nor the federal government will be making it rain down money for your wet dream.
Aurorans know this, that’s why there are weekly letters in The Auroran telling you to stop.
That’s why the poll in the Auroran is 90% against:
This Council should have been pumping the brakes on the project pre Covid but instead they let it snowball.
They added a theatre instead of multi-use space. Cineplex is limiting its operations due to covid.
Then a $2 million bridge to the library feet away yet failing to address accessibility issues at same library.
Most recently a $7.5 Million purchase of buildings to control development close to the site when what they really need is to retain large sections of that property for optimum parking and vehicular control that they failed to plan in the primary square design.
But hey, why address the issue when you can with spew out social media and press puff pieces sprinkled with pom poms.
Clr. Humfreys is the wrong Clr. to pull this off. She was on council when the town purchased, refurbished and handed over the Armoury with cost over-runs of $1 Million. She was on council when Mayor La De Dawe went $2 Million over budget on the Joint Ops Centre. She was on council when the skate park they built had to be demolished to be rebuilt at a cost of $1 Million.
These are big Oops moments that came with costs that were not properly factored in. If Aurora is in good fiscal shape it hasn’t been because of this council’s decisions. Nor the last 7 or 8 even.
Awarding a tender for the Library Square visioned in 2019 isn’t a step forward in Aurora’s 2020 timeline.
It is a historic project because it was visioned in another age and it needs to be taken offline and seriously re-tooled.
Council members like Humfreys or Mrakas that are cheering on this bloated elephant and remain unwavering in diverting course are only getting done what they want done and clearly not what the majority of Aurorans want done in this new reality.
Put the fucking pom-poms down.
The game is over, and just because you lost, doesn’t mean we all have to.