I am sure many of you have heard of the Tremont Purchase that was the local conversation du la jour in 2004 – 2005. In the same vein that the Recreation “Tents” were the main conversation this past couple of years. The Tremont Purchase was the subject of the first OPP investigation on the way business gets done in this town, and guess what? We still have a few of the same faces around the council table. Plus others that have a huge say in how things get done locally. I was advised not to take this subject on and to let sleeping dogs lie. But all of the information in this post is available to the public. In light of yet another OPP investigation that started around this time last year and especially in an election year this file deserves another look. I will refrain from adding any of my own opinions or comments for obvious reasons. The first part below are some questions being asked of council from a Voices of the Electorate (kind of like Better Together Collingwood on steroids) newsletter from the Spring of 2005. The second part is a report of the affair from the towns financial auditors of the day Gaviller and Associates. You be the judge if there was any fire amongst all that smoke.
A bit of background first Steve Assaff was the chairman of the BIA at the time and Paul Bonwick was a paid consultant for the same group.
Vote to Purchase the Tremont on 24th January 2005 went like this:
Terry Geddes, Sandra Cooper, Rick Lloyd, Ian Chadwick and Joe Gardhouse voted for the purchase.
Mike Edwards, Norm Sandberg and Kathy Jeffery voted against it. Carrier was absent.
A few of our questions for council… • The Agreement of Purchase and Sale on the Palace Livery was actually entered into by a private individual and then that offer was taken over by the Town. Were councillors aware of this fact?
• Council was given an in-camera presentation by former councillor and MP, Paul Bonwick who was paid a substantial amount of money by the BIA to lobby council to make the purchases. Did councillors know that the presentation by Mr. Bonwick was a paid lobby?
• Who represented the Town’s interests (legal and otherwise) in this process?
• Did councillors even see the pre-existing offer? Why did they see ﬁ t to take over an existing offer expiring that night at midnight rather than negotiating its own deal that included safeguards in giving time to make a thorough investigation of the property and it’s options?
• As a member of the BIA executive, as council’s appointed representative on the BIA, and, as a member of council, what knowledge did Councillor Rick Lloyd have of this entire situa- tion, and what did he disclose to council during that in camera session?
• When at least three neighbouring properties established value ranges for half-acre properties in the area at less than $700,000.00, how did we end up paying over a million dollars for each one of these?
• Although these two heritage buildings were purchased with the idea of demolishing them, council is now considering options for saving them. Either way, does anyone really know the TRUE costs: purchase of the land, renovating or demolishing, repaving, curbing, consulting fees and possible more? We think the ﬁnal tally will be over THREE MILLION DOLLARS – equivalent to almost 10 per cent of our entire yearly municipal budget!