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While the waterfront development has come a long way and opened the door for private-sector investment, it was supposed to unite our community, but instead it divided it. It did not need to be that way!
What can we learn from that experience? I am all for sound investment and development but with 7 councillors on the Waterfront Committee, it was difficult to present and have other options approved. Before my term of Council ended in 2010, I presented a resolution to not have more than 5 councillors on any committee. The resolution was approved.
I have had concerns about the financing of this project from day one. The initial proposal was asking for the provincial and federal levels of government for $5 million each while the taxpayers of Thunder Bay would have been responsible for over $50 million of infrastructure work. That funding was also subject to private investment being at the table or the city would have been responsible for the whole amount.
When the main motion for this project was presented to Council I asked for an amendment (which was approved) to include:
Equal matching funds from other orders of government (1/3 each)
Project expenditures to stay on budget
Acquisition of the lands required to open up the public access from the Central Avenue overpass
Since then I have and continue to remain vigilant on how this project is going forward to ensure that the interest of the public and taxpayers are protected.
As I believe in open government, transparency and accountability of elected officials, letters to the editor and media coverage about my concerns, as well as copies of the above resolutions will be available for public scrutiny.