I believe it is incumbent on Council to seek facts before arriving at any decision.
At our last council meeting two motions were proposed. Both seeking to provide direction to staff to provide a report on the feasibility study on a matter as a means to providing Council members with information about an issue before being asked to make a decision. Neither motion asked for a decision on whether to move forward on these 2 issues – simply to gather information and open a dialogue so that an informed decision could be made at some point in the future.
In one case Council supported the motion to seek more information – and in another it was determined that no information was needed, effectively making the decision without having all available information to consider the idea..
The first motion was to direct staff to provide an analysis of potential future options of the use of two of our largest financial assets – the Town Hall and our property on Yonge Street. To bring a report to Council for their consideration that explored the potential opportunity — and costs — of selling our current town hall property and rebuilding on existing municipally owned property in our downtown; a rebuild with retail on the main floor and underground parking.
During the discussion, comments were made about it not being the right time, too much construction already happening in the downtown area, it should be residential, and even that it would take too much staff time and they have more important things to work on. The motion failed with a 4-3 vote, with Councillors Gallo, Gaertner, Gilliland, and Weese opposing.
The second motion asked for a feasibility study on selling alcohol in our Town Park during family-friendly concerts in the park. This motion, passed. There were no comments about it taking staff time or being a waste of resources. Is selling alcohol in our town park a better use of valuable staff time than investigating economic development in our downtown?
Most concerning is that the decision about the highest and best use of the Town Hall and our property on Yonge Street was made without the benefit of all the facts.
It’s unfortunate that Council could not have worked together so that both motions were successful since I believe the best way to make any decision is with the benefit of more information. That opportunity is now lost and now any examination of the potential for additional initiatives to revitalize our downtown core is stalled indefinitely.
I campaigned for a thriving downtown core that would be the envy of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and believe that we should be examining any opportunity to revitalize our downtown core — sooner versus later — so that the potential economic impact can be realized by our community as soon as possible.
I will continue to work towards getting things done.