Cancelling Downtown Plaza… not on the agenda

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Concept drawing of ice rink at proposed Civic Plaza ( City Agenda )

Even with the Province of Ontario telling the city their project duplicates many of the available services in the area, the game of money shuffle is on at city hall.

The report to council suggests a couple of options to continue with the project moving forward. The first, given the city is already looking at a bare bones project, doesn’t make sense to Deputy CAO, Community Development and Enterprise Services Tom Vair.

“To reduce the scale and/or features presents a difficult decision point that could impact the success of the plaza,” said Vair.  “In addition, removing features/elements that would equal $2M would seriously compromise the plaza given the relative cost of each element.”

Instead, the city intends to find dollars elsewhere, pointing towards another project the Province said yes to as a possible source.

The McMeekan Arena twin-pad replacement was given $18 million by the Province of Ontario with an announcement made by Ross Romano earlier this year.

That money saved Sault taxpayers from having to foot the bill of the $32 million replacement on their own, something council was comfortable with doing.

Now, because money was saved there, it is the first target for city staff in the second option, finding money elsewhere.

“The City received positive word that the Provincial government will contribute $18M towards the twin pad arena. This project was approved to proceed solely with City funding and this funding announcement was a major boost for the City,” says the report to council.

They also suggest reaching out to the federal government who has another newly announced funding stream, even though FEDNOR has already granted $500,000 in funding for the plaza.

This report also makes a note that this project is well supported by the community.

“Brook McIlroy led a number of community engagement sessions with two public input sessions, a series of First Nations input meetings and an online survey. The vast majority of feedback from these sessions has been positive,” state staff.  “In addition, the BIA has voiced its support for the downtown plaza and is taking an active role in the fundraising campaign.”

A poll taken by our organization shows 76% of 5,062 votes are against the plaza, and although there are a few positive public responses on various social media channels, many express the same thoughts as Jim, one of the people who publicly commented.

The plaza is a major waste of our money. It is not needed now and it will never be needed. Many of its components are already in place within minutes of this location. The taxpayer dollars put toward this folly would be better spent upgrading or expanding other amenities of this type around the city.”

The one option not on the agenda, was cancelling the project completely despite some councillors going on record not to support it if the NOHFC funding request was declined.

“While I’ll hesitate to support it at this point, if any of the proposed funding doesn’t come through, I don’t think I will hesitate not to support it.” – Councillor Shoemaker.

Related story: Letter from Province may put Downtown Plaza Project on ice

The discussion around the project will be aired live on our Facebook page as well as on SaultOnline.com/ONNTV Monday night starting at 4:30 p.m.

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. The only people who will use this overpriced plaza are the junkies. There has to be foot traffic downtown first. The only way to create this is to have businesses people will want to shop at on Queen Street. Once this is established you create the plaza. The only thing I can think of that Council wants to proceed is to create a lasting legacy

  2. Suggestion: buy the General Hospital property from the current and apparently indifferent owner, tear the building down, and put the model plaza there.

  3. Council and Mayor are “LIARS, LIARS, LIARS!” They say their polling showed a majority support for this colossal waste of taxpayers monies. Hogwash! They lied when they mentioned inaccurate information for reasons pertaining to them shutting down the RV park at Pointe Des Chenes which was a revenue generating business and then they turn around and try to erect a plaza that will cost the taxpayers millions. If it is such a good business plan, why isn’t the private sector paying for this white elephant?

  4. It is simple send an e-mail to your councillor and inform them that if they continue to support this outlandish spending on foolishness that they will lose your vote period.

  5. They had better cancel it. They know damn well that the city cannot afford it without struggling (as usual). If they have any money to spend there are a dozen far higher priorities.
    Everyone knows exactly what they are, including the mayor and council. Give your heads a shake.

  6. Our lovely city council, doing whatever they want, never mind what the people that elected want…Provinzano wants his trophys before he leaves office, at any cost… Glad he’s not running again…….

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