Mayor Mrakas never goes anywhere without his selfie stick and his empty soundbite about how his leadership is all about “working together” to get things done.
Well on Tuesday April 25th council was fully in attendance at the council table working together and definately got something done.
That something was defeating Mayor Mrakas’ notice of motion that he blindsided the entire town with seeking a feasibility study to move the town hall.
You can watch the debate of the item at 58:40:
And no shortage of thoughts shared on social media. In one facebook group alone the topic received over 100 comments but no sign of the mayor engaging with citizens in support of his motion.:
The majority of this feedback was not favourable, and that didn’t change when it came to council.
After the meeting the Mayor lashed out on his blog stating that it is incumbent on Council to seek facts before arriving at any decision.
Well the facts were staring the mayor in the face, the night of the meeting and the weeks leading up to it, but because thy were inconvenient Mrakas is trying to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist, so let’s review.
Fact – At the meeting there were 5 delegations on the subject. 3 against, and 2 in favour.
Fact – The motion was defeated with 4 votes against, and 3 votes in favour.
If the Mayor expects that “working together” to be get in line and create a voting block as we saw last term then perhaps he shouldn’t have run around endorsing candidates in the last election.
Fact – Mrakas endorsed his vacation buddy (link) Michael Thompson in Ward 4, and he was re-elected:
Fact – Mrakas endorsed Sandra in Ward 1:
Sandra lost, and that seat is now filled by Clr. Weese.
Fact – Mrakas endorsed Marco in Ward 2:
Marco lost, and that seat is now filled by Clr. Gilliland but that didn’t stop Mrakas from getting him to come delegate in support of this motion.
It should be eye opening to Mrakas, and humbling that unlike the previous term he can’t just float bags of flaming shit around and get his gang of 4 votes to applaud them into the first stages of acceptance.
Instead of remaining neutral Mrakas piced sides during the election and the math no longer supports a gang of 4 votes.
Working together means something a lot different this term then last and Mrakas is starting to learn exatly what it means to work together as a whole, not just a clique.
In his speech at council Mrakas read from prepared notes quoting Jane Jacobs that “you can’t rely on bringing people downtown you have to put them there.”
Fact – There is already a healthy population downtown. The North West and North east corner are multiunit residential, the west and east side of Yonge is residential behind and above commercial.
There are no shortage of people to be downtown, just a reason for them to be there. Town hall isn’t a reason.
What people does moving the town office bring downtown exactly? The town is spending money to discourage in person visits having launched City Portal for building permits, and now we learn of a Garbage tag portal for garbage tags. How busy is Town hall? How much traffic does the mayor believe will shift to downtown?
If the Mayor doesn’t have some idea of this then he doesn’t need a feasibility study he needs a clue.
Fact – Carl Elefante, former president of the American Institute of Architects points out that the greenest building is the one that already exists. An unnecessary demolition of town hall creates a huge impact on the environment, adjacent to the arboretum and is diametrically opposed to the Town’s own Environmental Action Plan
Fact – Town square is delayed, no tally on how much it will go over budget, and there is no operating plan for Town Square.
Fact – Skateboard park at AFLC was an epic fail and has to be replaced, representing a total cost of $1.5 million.
Fact – Joint Oops centre went $2,179,100 over budget, and it is still not finished.
Imagine similar disruptions like these to a capital project like town hall effecting the continuity of service to residents and business.
These 3 recent capital projects fail to inspire confidence in the community that the municipality that can plan and execute capital projects effectively, regardless of what nonsensical awards of excellence are awarded.
Fact – Aurora Town Hall is being upgraded, with at least 3/4 of a million in spending for 2023 alone.
Here is a breakdown of those expenditures approved in the 2023 budget totalling $789,000:
Led 3rd floor – $135,000
AV chambers – $104,000
Skylight sealant – $221,700
Walkways – $37,300
Refresh carpet paint – $292,500
You can see the items here:
It’s surprising that the Mayor, who championed on being fiscally responsible and working together to approve the 2023 budget would be looking to abandon the current building and walk away from all of these resources.
At around dozen facts I’m going to stop here as none of them indicate there is any feasibility in trying to move town hall downtown.
I have to say that the compulsion the mayor has to consolidate everything into the downtown core seems shortsighted and very misguided. There is nothing wrong with spreading destinations out through the town. The community centres aren’t in the downtown core, schools aren’t in the downtown core. Not everything needs to be downtown.
What is most laughable in the Mayor’s pissy justification for his unfeasible motion is that he claims this move would contribute to Aurora’s downtown somehow becoming the envy of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
If this is a goal, it should be to make the entire town the envy, not just the downtown. But that will require a lot more changing of the facts.
And seeing as the facts aren’t so easy to change, perhaps the buildings could .
A friendly amendment that could have been made at council would be to change the wording of Mrakas motion to move the model of town hall to the downtown core:
Mrakas could opt to do this himself, moving it in his gas guzzling overcompensating pickup.