Friday, July 3, 2009

City doesn't have track record to manage harbour

Reprinted from July 2, 2009 Oshawa This Week
Guest Columnist Adam Mercer

Few people in the City of Oshawa would deny that the harbour should be well-managed by an agency with the money and clout to do a good job for the people footing the bill; the taxpayers of Oshawa.

In a recent opinion column, Councillor Brian Nicholson essentially posed the question, "Why will the federal government not honour the recommendations of David Crombie and let the City of Oshawa manage the harbour or appoint a body to do so?"

Seriously? Does council as a whole not understand this? Staying informed about events in the city over the last year or two should provide the answer to that question with little difficulty, but in case anyone has forgotten ...

The City of Oshawa has a habit of making business decisions that don't make much sense to an outside observer. The Cullen Miniatures are still out there being stored at the expense of the City of Oshawa. There was never a plan worked out as to what to do with these things once the city owned them. If they cannot plan something like a $250,000 investment, why should they be handed millions in federal cash to do whatever they want?

Taxpayers are also on the hook for something between $14 and $17 million for the cost of rebuilding City Hall. Oh, and there are all the other building projects that have happened in the city that were such a great idea we have had to remortgage the only asset the City has that makes money, our local PUC.

If that were not enough to discourage anyone from allowing the City to take over the management of the harbour, the recent discord among members of council itself might be the straw that broke the camel's back. Between accusations made regarding hidden agendas, letters being hidden from public view, the now infamous "stooges" comment and the massive mishandling of the Ombudsman's report on some of the activities of council, it is hard not to see why there are questions about Council's ability to function on any major question. (Editor's Comment---Don't forget that Council actually voted to refuse voters information about the rationale, impact and ramifications of the change to the General Vote---a system not used in any large city in the country. If the general vote was better, don't you think it would be used widely?)

That's especially valid when it concerns an issue as economically and environmentally sensitive as the harbour.

From the Federal Government's perspective, it is looking to hire the caretaker of an important public asset in the Oshawa Harbour. Our council is confused because it is not even on the short list despite making poor business decisions, mortgaging the City's assets to spend more than it has and it seems incapable of unifying long enough for a photo-op.

If we have to look for positive and important accomplishments, there is always the massive PR effort to bring Kiss to Oshawa.

If you were hiring for an important position in your own company and someone dropped off a resume with highlights like that, would you even interview them?

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