City Staff fails to live up to promises made to Public/Council

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Aerial shot City Hall (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

On multiple occasions, since last fall, City Staff have told council one thing at a meeting and done something completely different.

When the decision to buy 89 Hudson street occurred, staff were asked if they would be willing to keep the property looking nice. At that time, Council was assured that grass would be laid, possibly a few trees planted and that the property wouldn’t become an eyesore.

A picture of the lot at 89 Hudson Street, June 6, 2021. (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

Within days of the purchase, it appeared as though this might be the case, however, what has happened since is that the property appears to have been left otherwise. Overgrown vegetation, no trees, little grass and no visible maintenance at all.

A few months ago, when Pointe Des Chenes was closed, council was assured the overnight campground would be secured from the day park area.

No buildings at PDC have been boarded up and the property is not secure as of June 6, 2021. (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

We asked how they were going to proceed with this and at what cost.

Susan Hamilton Beach responded.

“Approximately ½ of the site has permanent chain link fencing. For the remainder, Public Works will use agricultural fencing which is quite inexpensive. We will use roll fencing with cedar poles to apply some form of division between the two areas for now,” said Hamilton-Beach. “The buildings will be boarded up for security reasons and staff will be on-site while the day park is open. Since the site is shared with the day park and campground, until a future use is determined, permanent fencing is not planned.”

As of June 6, 2021, none of this has occurred, almost one month after campers were required to have their property and belongings removed. Another observation is that there appears to be a considerable amount of garbage which remains to be picked up and cleared in the area.

The third situation still requiring attention has to do with the new Downtown Civic Plaza.

During discussions about spending the $8.4 million on the Downtown Plaza, Councillor Matt Scott asked about whether the ground had been tested for contaminants. He was assured by Deputy CAO, Community Development and Enterprise Services, Tom Vair, that tests had been done.

We called Scott asking for any follow-up comments and whether he had been provided with the testing results. He advised that he had spoken with Vair and was told “it’s information not normally given to councillors”.

Given that the situation is regarding the safety of children, whom are the intended users of the proposed park, not to mention that it was shared with council that the testing had been done, why is there a reluctance to share the results?

Maybe related to the fourth situation we are now going to share?

SaultOnline filed a Freedom of Information request regarding Pointe Des Chenes back last February. After a time extension filed by the city, we received the results of our request around the beginning of May.

We asked for everything to do with Pointe Des Chenes back to 2017.

“All city documents from 2017 through to today regarding Pointe Des Chenes campground. This includes but is not limited to emails, phone records, camping numbers/records, paper documents, COVID instructions, waiting lists, etc.”

When we had a chance to review the documents, what we immediately noticed was that the results of any water tests conducted were missing. As you may recall, contaminated water was one of the main reasons for closing down PDC campground.

We found notification that campsites #21, #3 and #38 were to have “test water wells” put in place as of December 17, 2017, but never any test results showing the water to be “bad”.

An excerpt from our FOI documents around Point Des Chenes, this is from the Lions Club to the City.

We also found the city promised the Lions Club they would install meters on the water usage for both the day park and the campground, and that also never happened.

So, in two separate instances, the city says they tested something and yet there have been no results provided as proof that any testing occurred. This is yet another example of where city staff stated something, this time to a media organization, and it appears it may not have happened.

Going back to the Downtown Plaza, results of a conversation last week with Councillor Matt Scott indicate that he has yet to see that tests were actually done and the land is safe to build a park on.

Finally, if you have travelled up Gore Street lately and get to the new stop sign with a flashing light on Albert, you’ll see that both the sign and light remain obstructed by a tree. Again, this was supposed to have been remedied by now, as per city staff.

The light going north bound on Gore Street as well as the stop sign are partially blocked by the tree, June 6, 2021 (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

Stay with SaultOnline as we continue to explore discrepancies in what staff and council say has been done and/or what is going to be acted on.

13 COMMENTS

  1. We used to be seasonal campers on lot 21 almost 2 decades ago. We had been there almost 15 years. Nice spot, seemed like the biggest site and only neighbours on one side. Which, for several years, was one of my dad’s closest friends and their family.

  2. We called Scott asking for any follow-up comments and whether he had been provided with the testing results. He advised that he had spoken with Vair and was told “it’s information not normally given to councillors”.

    And why not? That’s a veiled way of saying that any results are simply “none of the counsellor’s business.” It is his business…it is all of our business, as Mr. Gray’s excellent article points out. What an arrogant response on the part of Mr. Vair.

    Perhaps this is part of the problem: that we have inexperienced elected counsellors who are intimidated by unelected veteran city managers who essentially run the show. ?? If this is the case, we can change the mayor and city counsel members all you like, and it won’t make a whit of difference as long as the tail wags the dog.

  3. A lot of mis informed people commenting attacking City Council.This is about City Hall staff not doing their jobs .The staff were to test the water they did not.Many other things that were not done .They closed the THE CAMPGROUND claiming the water was contaminated. There is no proof of that.Something does not past the smell test here. Those Dept Heads need to resign and this Park reopened .The repairs to this Park while it is now closed should be completed with the 8.5 million for the Park downtown .Who agrees?

  4. Time to drain the swamp at City Hall .Wait ! Mayor Rowswell tried that when, the CAO stopped his City Credit Card while on a Trip to Russia!

  5. They need to cut the fat at city hall. Too many ppl employed there and, according to this article, too much slacking off. This is unacceptable!

  6. There sud also be emails of a local business man willing to put fwd $250000 plus dollars to fix it up and run it

  7. Our city council is totally inept..They are in it for themselves to keep their pockets and those of their friends pockets lined. At this point all our city council need to go and we the people need to put our mark down in a box to change thing come time to vote. It is us who can decide how we proceed. Let’s hope everyone can now see through the shady political speakers

  8. The shit winds are blowing. Sitting back waiting to see where it’s all going to land and on who. 🍿

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