Weighing the price of apathy

We have two white elephants not really paying their way. However, you as a taxpayer will be paying for these, like it or not

Not long ago we were blessed with a mayor and council decision to become the proud owners of a “class-act events centre”. It was touted as being needed and that it would be brought in at a fixed budget and on target. Most of us know the eventual outcome of this. There were cost overruns for various unexplained reasons. There were several discussions as to the efficacy of such a venue. There was no real tangible referendum-like poll taken. As a consequence, we now have a “class-act events centre” that doesn’t generate much net revenue for our fair city.

Recently, city pundits, behind closed doors (reserved for in-camera discussion) decided that there was a need for another class-act building. The question was where to put it. As everyone knows, the final decision of where to put it and what to build was sealed by most of the last group of councillors behind closed doors. The public (we, the taxpayers) had little or no real say in the matter.

Some time ago, the council of the time paid $2 million-plus for a parcel adjacent to the events centre. Nothing was said about what would be done with this property at the time. It was in the future reference file. In the interim, a local hostelry nearby had asked council as to erecting a multi-storey building on its property. However, the city pundits refused to grant the necessary permission, rezoning, etc.

Now we have a scenario where not only is a multi-storey building going to be built in this same area, but the property in question was proffered for use by the hockey school for a dormitory (multi-storey). How hypocritical is this? All of a sudden the city has poetic licence, if you will, to do whatever it wants, and the plebian businessman gets his nose rubbed in the dirt.

On top of that, the land was acquired for about $950,000. Imagine your hard-earned tax money paid into a project at a giveaway price. There are no apparent tax benefits for the city for several years. So now we have two white elephants not really paying their way. However, you as a taxpayer will be paying for these, like it or not. Who knows, your children may still be paying for these things after you are gone. Enough said.

How  could this happen, you might ask? It’s very elementary, my dear Watson, as Sherlock Holmes might have said. When we look at the voter turnout in the Nov. 19 civic election, an abysmal 33.5 per cent of the eligible voters in the city, we begin to understand why some of these so-called “transparent dealings, showing fiscal responsibility and financial restraint” were nothing more than meaningless, political rhetoric, or “heifer dust” as the cattleman might call it.

The long and short of it is that not enough of the registered voters in the city cared enough to get off of their dead fannies and vote. Once again, apathy prevails. When will some people learn that one vote can make a difference?

Ron Barillaro