A year ago I was at the council meeting when the airport commercial development was first presented to council. I was quite shocked at the time that there was so little engagement from council that evening. In fact Kevin Lloyd was the only councilor who asked any questions about it. I wrote the following post a few days after that council meeting:
I have been following this story quite closely over the past few months. Last week I was on a bus ride from Prague to Braunschweig in central Germany with some time on my hands, so I decided to jump headlong into the middle of the fray on this issue and posted a blog about it. Unusually, I came out on the side of the developer (Paul Bonwick) and accused certain members of council (who I am usually supportive of) of being deliberately obstructionist to settle some old scores. As per usual I used some fairly blunt language in that post, and its title was quite provocative. This obviously got me some attention. I was very quickly brought up to speed on some of the back story behind this potential development.
This is speculation only and I state very clearly these are not my views or opinions, but the following is a sampling of what is being said:
1. The airport development is a sham.
2. The development is being put in place to drive up the surrounding property values. CCAC (the developer) will get all its t’s crossed and i’s dotted, then will flip the land to a potential new developer and make a nice tidy little profit.
3. Town of Collingwood gets nothing from this deal anyway because the surrounding development land is in Clearview Township, so what is the upside for our town?
4. Clearview is a big winner along with CCAC. Clearview gets 99% of all development charges and future property taxes. CCAC gets the increased value of the property it develops. Collingwood gets its name on the airport sign.
5. If this actually is a $160 million potential deal and the only thing holding it up is Collingwood Town council not agreeing to sell a little strip of airport access land. Why doesn’t CCAC or Clearview Township, for that matter, just make an offer to buy the whole thing? Apparently its worth around $6 million so offer TOC a $1 million over the odds. But that, as far as I can see, has never been proposed. So why not? If I were talking those types of numbers, with that potential upside, that would be my first play.
6. No development at all, the land is going to be used for fracking. (Never going to happen).
7. Now Rick Crouch has chimed in below suggesting a casino is going out there. (Edited after the fact).
So there you have it folks, as per usual nothing is as clear-cut as it seems in our town. The above certainly does make sense especially with the past history of the players involved. This story has legs and has the potential of being more divisive than the Admiral Building. I would like to know what the in camera stuff about the airport are all about, there are obviously some fairly onerous legal ramifications surrounding this whole affair, what could they possibly be? Also the press release that was supposedly from the “Town” on 29th December, was apparently not sanctioned by the “proper channels” and the mayor knew nothing about it. It was signed by Brian Saunderson and Mike Edwards. Kevin Lloyd has been having a very public “hissy fit” about the whole thing.
One last thing. In my previous post I very publicly and quite unfairly attacked Steve Berman. Although I sometimes have not agreed with his methods, he has done more to bring transparency and openness to the local political scene than anyone else in our town. I unequivocally apologize to Steve for my disparaging comments about him.