The original estimate to replace the aging Burgoyne Bridge in St. Catharines was set at $52.5 million. That figure was thrown out quickly when the low tender came in at $69.91 million. At this point, the projected cost of the replacement bridge has soared to $91.35 million.
In a Niagara Falls Review article, Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Selina Volpatti, who has been questioning the costs of the project, fears that the project could "end up with a $120 million cost."
As a result, a task force has been formed to monitor the situation and to determine how it came to blow the original budget. The task force will be looking into e-mails and correspondence between the Region's former commissioner of transportation and its former commissioner of public works, although there is no presumption of any wrong-doing, just answers to questions as to how the project got so out of hand budget-wise.
Stories like this will become more common as we go forward. I do like that the new Niagara Regional Chair Alan Caslin listened to councillors' concerns and set up a task force to look into the budget overrun. That would never happen in Fort Erie, especially now that the Chamber of Commerce runs the town. mayor Wayne Redekop has little power to rein in this council's spendthrift ways. The recent $500 K "gift" to the struggling racetrack and the $500 K "gift" to the already rich District School Board of Niagara for a new theatre at the new high school because a few dance moms want to hold their recitals in Fort Erie, yet OK'd the request to have the wrecking ball take down a heritage building and bell tower should make taxpayers realize that the new council does not care for the average person in Fort Erie, only those with a "vested interest," namely making money at the taxpayers' expense. When will the "jobs extortion" end? Only when people and the local media take a good, hard look at the connections and the cabals that have formed over the years that have nothing to do with providing jobs and a better life for regular folks.
Which brings us to the Kinsmen Pool and the real cost of its restoration and/or replacement. The original estimates are probably very low in light of inflation and cost overruns in other projects.
I can't help but feel that the taxpayers are going to pay big to achieve the dream/political ambitions of a Cassius-like member of council. Despite the statistics that show a sharp decline in the Kinsmen Pool use in the years prior to its closing in 2012 and the millions it would cost to replace; despite the paid-for study recommendation that the cost of refurbishment was a waste and time limited, some are still trying to save the pool that is a black hole of neglect on the landscape.
Perhaps if council weren't so easily extorted into giving "gifts" to other endeavors, there would be money available to replace and operate the outdoor pool.
We wait until July when the Kinsmen Pool is set for re-opening.
IS THIS ANY WAY TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS?
The Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce is having a golf tournament on June 22. Big problem! The problem is that the tournament IS NOT BEING HELD IN FORT ERIE!
Even the various brochures put out by the Chamber and the EDTC boast about the fine golf courses in Fort Erie, yet the CofC event is at Legends, quite a ways down the road from Fort Erie. Why? You may ask. I wonder too. After all, Bridgewater is the go-to place for chamber types. And there's always Cherry Hill although it is said that Jimmy T. wore out his welcome there a long time ago. (And I forgeot to mention the very fine I.C.C. course in Stevensville.)
What is wrong with these people? I think they have been lulled by the CofC takeover of the Fort Erie Council into thinking they can do anything they want. Perhaps they are just trying to suck up to the Niagara Parks Commission which runs Legends. Whatever. The Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce has delivered a slap in the face to local golf courses.
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