New Parks and Recreation Department
my letter to the
editor of the Intelligencer Mar 13, 2004 responding to the letter of that
day "Slap on the Face" (not printed)
my letter to the mayor and council
of Mar 18, 2004 concerning the Mar 2003 JFGroup Report
Mar 26/04 I have added the Table 1 from my letter to City
Hall that I didn't have time to include yesterday. As you see I have changed
the title of this item to be a little clearer. It should be pointed out that
the March 2003 report by the JFGroup was titled "City of Belleville Parks
and Recreation Administrative Office Location Review".
Those who attended the meeting at the Quinte Sports Centre the evening
of March 24,2004 will have noted that the project has morphed into "Quinte
Sports Centre Upgrade and New Parks and Recreation Administrative
Office." It seems to me that the public should have been told what was going
on a year ago and given opportunity for input into this plan. What was clear
from last night's meeting is that much more comprehensive planning is required
before any changes should take at the Quinte Sports Centre site. This $1.6
million upgrade does not address any of the main concerns of the Belleville
Bulls re extra seats, private boxes etc. Belleville needs better planning
and much more public input on major issues such as this. Let the mayor and
council know what you think. But remember like my dad always used to say
"Money doesn't grow on trees." If this $1.6 million project proceeds something
else will get squeezed out in the budget process. My primary concern at the
moment is the affect on the New Library. The money allotted for the library
is almost certainly nowhere nearly enough. Either a top up or bridge financing
now called "transitional financing" * will be required or we will have
to wait years for the library.
* You will recall that most members of the previous council claimed
that they were not being unreasonable in refusing to bridge finance the
Quinte Cultural Centre. They claimed that this was a consistent practise
and that bridge financing would be denied for all such projects. Of course
this was quickly broken in the case of the new medical clinic.
You may have noticed the article in
the Intell of Tuesday Feb 24. At Monday's council meeting Barry-Bryan Associates
presented their plans for the proposed Parks and Recreation Department
offices at the Quinte Sports Centre. The council approved the next step
in the process i.e. proceeding to tenders. It was pointed out that this
does not commit the project but will provide firm costs for budget considerations.
While I would have preferred that the project be stopped in its tracks
right then and there, there is still time to voice your concerns to your
mayor and councilors. New councilors Denyes, Coughlin, Thompson and Boyce
asked some good questions and indicated that they have already been getting
some flack on this issue.
When and how did this all start? I gather City staff quietly put this
in the 2003 budget. And even those councilors such as Paul Carr who got
in a proper snit because they claimed they were not adequately informed
about the QCC project seemed to have no problem with this item. At a council
meeting sometime in the summer of 2003 the council passed approval of granting
the design contract without even a whimper; it was just buried in the the
Reports and Resolutions section and accepted without even reading as I recall.
This may indeed have been at the same meeting where Mr. Gerry Boyce pointed
out that those Parks and Rec offices could easily have been incorporated
into the old BCI building after the Montesori school had committed to another
location. That $1.6 million would have virtually guaranteed that that the
city would not have to spend anymore than the $3 million it was willing
to commit to the library. And you know that if and when we get a new linrary
it will cost a lot more than that.
It seems that the old council certainly had a comfortable working
relationship with our city staff. This is good to a point but what other
worker gets to chose the location and design of their work place to suit
themselves. This seems to be what is happening here.
I will try to follow up with more information on this. But for
now just think.
The council would not provide bridge financing for $2.7 million (the
QCC was just asking for the cost of the bridge financing NOT $2.7 million)
for the Quinte Cultural Centre project. If you are not aware of all the
benefits this project would bring to all the ccitizens of Belleville please
refer to the QCC section
of this website. But they were (and possibly still are) prepared to spend
1.6 million of your tax dollars and mine to give 12 Parks and Recreation
department staff the office of their choice. If you are outraged by this
please let your mayor and council know. If you have been following the City
of Ottawa budget considerations this may give insight into the kind of cuts
we may experience here. Just think of all the important sevices that
will have to be cut and the magnitude of service fee increases that will be
required to make up for that $1.6 million.
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Last Updated on Mar 25, 2004 by John R. Meale