After a flashy cheque presentation from a property management company, SaultOnline has learned that as of last week, the city is now $400,000 closer to it’s fundraising goal for the Downtown Plaza.
This would be great news except, according to Tessa Vecchio, the goal is way less than the $2.0 million deficit NOHFC left in the budget for the project.
“The original target for fundraising was $600,000. We have Rotary at $200,000; Clark McDaniel with $200,000 for a total of $400,000,” Vecchio told SaultOnline/ONNtv.
This begs to question, where does the city intend to find the other $1.4 million for the project?
Deputy CAO Tom Vair is already on the record saying that cutting the project any further isn’t desirable as this is already as basic as the plaza can be. These cuts were made to get the project down from a price-tag over $10 million to the current $8.4 million it now sits at now.
A few options are available. One would be to violate a policy put in place almost a year ago.
During the September 28, 2020 council meeting, the new debt financing policy that is now in place, states only 60 percent of any debt can be external (for example loans from a bank).
The last time they were going to possibly do this was in relation to the McMeeken twin-pad arena. The currently rapidly deteriorating facility, which due to age and significant safety concerns, was originally going to be payed for completely by the city taxpayer. MPP Ross Romano saved any discussion about that by bringing $18 million to the table at the last moment.
That brings us to the next option. Could council make a decision to use some of that “saved” 18 million and put it towards this project?
There are other assets the city owns which could also be sold in order to offset the remaining cost too. One piece of property, Pointe Des Chenes, has been rumored to be in consideration. At last check, the property has not been deemed excess and the process to sell it hasn’t been started by the city.
At the last meeting the city met behind closed doors again, by choice, to discuss the disposition of land. Meaning, they want to sell a couple of properties. Which ones and at what price won’t be disclosed until they agree in a public setting.
This second chance for councilors to look at the project in-depth and take in all the public reaction, is all because the province deemed it a duplication of many of the services already available in the community.
What the city will do to make up the $1.4 million? That may depend on whether councilors stick to their previous positions when they stated that not another taxpayer dime will be used for this project, and whether that will be enough to defeat what has become a publicly unpopular initiative. Expect to see a decision made next Monday at 4:30 p.m. during the upcoming council meeting.
Stay with SaultOnline/ONNtv as we continue to cover what many are starting to see as a legacy project in the community.