Wednesday, May 13, 2015

THE BURGOYNE BRIDGE: WHEN BUDGETS GO WILD

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.

30 comments:

  1. On the subject of the Kpool, any citizen that bought a property with a pool like that on it would be able to pump it out, put in some recirculating pumps, get rid of that shack of a changebuilding (?) and enjoy the swimming and diving very quickly. Here they have to overthink the whole thing, probly have to repaint it instead of a quick sandblast, because it just aint "pretty" without a bright new paintjob. Sometimes simple just isnt an option when some facility is run by a town seemingly obsessed by how "things look". Clean up that mess and get some water in that thing. Whats wrong with these people.

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    1. It all goes back several years when the pool was not properly maintained or upgraded as new regulations went into effect. Those upgrades were never done, but grandfathered in as long as the pool remained open. Since it was closed in 2012, that is no longer applicable. So, in order to re-open the pool, it will need even more costly upgrades to bring it up to current codes. That was also revealed in the study that council had before it when it decided not to do anything about the pool because of the high cost of either option. That was a wise decision by the previous council which was trying to save the taxpayers money. Remember, that council, often vilified by the media and some people, delivered a very good budget that added to the reserves and had the lowest tax rate in years.

      Brace yourself for a big hit on your taxes in the next couple of years. All because voters believed a bunch of lies and misrepresentations about four decent men who worked hard for their constituents. Now we have a council that is, save one, totally in the tank for the EDTC and the CofC. Everything they do will be filtered through that connection. The Kinsmen Pool is simply a ruse, to lull a few people into thinking that this council is on the people's side.

      Meanwhile, the plot to cede the Bay Beach Properties to a developer (a deal made years ago) is about to enter its next phase. Once again, the people of Crystal Beach and those who care about our waterfront must brace themselves for another fight to save our last good piece of beachfront property.

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  2. This council want's to pick at an old wound, (Bay Beach) and pick away at the scab that has hardly begun to heal, this is an area even angels would fear to tread, for a council that got themselves elected by promising to bring the Town together again, they are too stupid to read the danger signs, There are three items of concern the shore line (66feet chain reserve) belongs to the Federal government, also as Donnie Lubberts pointed out, much to the chagrin of Mayor Doug Martin, there are two rights of way, criss- crossing the Beach property ,these un-opened road allowances were never closed by the George Rebson family, as under their ownership that question was moot., so in my opinion the actions of this new council are precipitous, under the Municipal Act of Ontario the neighbouring home owners have to be recompensed for losing their enshrined rights of way, we have a pretty good idea of how much the Town would have to come up with , as a valuation of the " Molinaro" giveaway has already been established.

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  3. Typo. Rebstock, sorry!!

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  4. Why should the Mollys of Oakville have another "go" at anything here interms of a "public/private" partnership. They dont know the market here and their silly project. The town planners got into bed with some big city types, pushed some demented idea about an extinct amusement park "theme condo development" and it didnt get past first base. Word is, when interested buyers were looking into the most basic of details the "promoters" couldnt even tell them what the maintenance fees will be, and the prop taxes? dont even ask. Is this the type of developers anyone would want selling anything in their community? As usual, lotsa talk but very little results. And for this a "law suit" is filed suggesting the keeper of the agreement didnt fufill their end of the agreement? It would seem the shoe is on the other foot. If these fools were paid to get this project done in any context, in any place, it would be them that would be looking down in shame at the dirty carpet in some courthouse. while some judge shakes his head at these incompetant boobs.

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  5. Wasn't that estimate of the Burgoyne Bridge done by Ron Tripp when he started at Regional?

    Do you remember one of his estimates shown at the OMB hearing by Eric Gillespie? It was hand written on a piece of paper with no financial calculations, just the words "say" the Molinaro amenities would be worth....

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    1. The early estimates were done before Tripp came to the region. Many still remember that it was he who put in the "state-of-the-art" drainage system at Thunder bay Beach that destroyed the beach. Nice job, Tripp. NOT.

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  6. For all their percieved expertise once these shoredwelling concrete addicts got out of their comfort zone where big money is apparently camped out looking for underground parking and expencive shopping they couldnt deliver the goods in a town where a golf course breakfast buffet is used to deliver the "state of the town adress" by the Walmart shopping mucky mucks and to no ones surprise they got the hard stare from the financial end of the potential market for their lakefront file cabinet. There must be people closer who understand the unique nature of this area. How about asking the Niagara Parks Commision to help in this regard. If council members are impressed by money,these are the people that have it and know what to do with it, (and what not to do with it). A Niagara Parks idea on what to do to with such a unique area such as the Bay Beach property would go a long way to get these development driven types off the back of this tiny community. Can you imagine if someone didnt get free of that taste for easy money what the Niagara Falls area would look like today? The NPC know how to hold developers back and create and preserve what is an example of what to do for people all over the continent. Fort Erie should get a little of that expertise, and not just along the river but along the lakeshore as well, especially in what is left of public waterfront in the Crystal Beach area. We will be honoured if they could help us a little bit to show us how it was done,

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    1. CorruptionFighterMay 14, 2015 at 2:53 PM

      Some excellent ideas here Mr AM. Better than most that come out of 1 Municipal Drive for sure. Problem is, as you have identified, certain senior staff, politico's and their like minded connected cronies wouldn't ....drum roll please.......GET PAID !!

      Don't forget the Dirty Doug 'F Bomb" to the region when they offered to chip in a couple years back to keep the beach public. We're long over due to have someone dragged off in cuffs here for their filthy doings. Then watch the rest of the rats scatter.

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  7. I believe Ron Tripp had a disagreement with the other Town engineer over the Bernard Road project, mostly to do with using a pipe that would extend way out into the lake , the design would have had four fingers on the end which would have diluted the storm water, that would have kept the beach safe from erosion. holding ponds are acceptable, and will be needed on the FE Canada Motor Speedway to stop overloading the sewer system ,Ron Tripp made a wrongful use of the Drainage Act to stick the costs onto people that did not cause that flooding, the people who did cause the flooding got off scot free. the houses with the small lots and raised septic beds. illegal according to Niagara Region standards. Kim Craitor passed the same comments. that mess was started by Town Manager. R Rienas who now works for the Peace Bridge Commission.

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  8. Remind me again who is the Regional CAO and who is the Head of Infrastructure, public works etc,? Hmmmm, Oh now I remember ,Schlange is the CAO and Tripp is the head of infrastructure and public works. Perhaps they should have looked at their record here in Fort Erie?? Wonder if heads will roll??

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  9. Get this! The Planning Group that our Town staff selected for the Bay Beach Master Plan has a partner Ron Palmer who testified at the OMB that the Molinaro condo was good use of our limited waterfront space. But he is not allowed to have an opinion this time around.

    The Baird Group is involved again, Mark Kolberg, the same coastal engineer who testified at the OMB hearing on behalf of the Molinaros.

    Lisa Campbell, named as another advisor attended the same Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority meeting in 2011 as Rick Brady.

    AND THIS IS A FRESH START!
    I know that I am shaking my head.

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    1. Ron Palmer should not have been part of the Bay Beach situation at all. He was part of the C.A.U.S.E. Study of 1996. That alone should have been a conflict, yet he was allowed to opine on the Molinaro Plan. Funny how when he was part of the C.A.U.S.E. Study which recommended that the town purchase the Bay Beach Properties if it becomes available and only sell off the north portions to purchase other lakefront property. The town bought the property with gaming money. In 2003, someone had the bright idea to sell off the north section of the property to fund the Friendship Trail. Thanks to fierce opposition from the community, that plan was scrapped and all the property, save one small piece, was to remain public. That was, until Doug Martin took office in 2006. Soon after, the property, including the once sacrosanct waterfront portion was up for grabs, stealthily packaged as a P-3 agreement. Once again, the people had to fight to save the beachfront property for public use. The Molinaros pulled out of their own self-imposed deadline. Months later, just in time for municipal elections, the Molinaros filed a frivulous lawsuit against four councillors. Now, the council has decided to hire the very consulting firm that was a major player for the Molinaro project. And now we're back to Ron Palmer as the "consultant" that will help "plan" the future of the Bay Beach Properties. This is just icing on a turd. We know what the ultimate plan is.

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  10. Jimmy really isnt pretty enough for the Cherry Hill crowd. Kind of boorish too. That is a real family driven social club with some golf thrown in. Attend one of their fourth of July events if you want to see whats going on. We think they would look at Jim,(and a lot of other semi canadians sideways). Someone asked at one of their meetings, in regard to the menu planning, "what DO Canadians eat anyway"? It got a big laugh, (its a play on a line from the play "Annie"). Jim eats horserace dust, and they just aint serving any of that, not yet anyway.

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  11. It will be another season of the Cb supporters versus the East Fort Erie "I Hate cb"
    war. It is too bad that there is not a meeting of the minds to support all of Fort Erie. But then the mover & shakers think that CB is still a down & out community
    although they haven't visited it in decades. Thibert is only 1 of many with a single minded mind set & he is doing all he can to suck money out of all the taxpayers for his own agenda. Lets not let reality get in the way of his agenda!! Now the like minded council as dictated by Thibert will do his bidding & to hell with the truth & the best interests of the rate payers. "it is all about me & my needs & wants" typical
    self absorbed Liberal. Don't read, don't investigate just trust me for I know all!! Obviously a whole bunch have been convinced that his Cult is the saviour of Fort Erie.

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    1. Personally, I don't think it has anything to do with party labels. I think it has everything to do with character. We have a number of people in powerful positions who are bereft of character. I know that in a political wold, there are tough choices that have to be made that the average person does not understand. It takes very little insight to figure out just who is not not working for the average taxpayer here in Fort Erie. Unfortunately, the present council was elected against a backdrop of a well-organized campaign to oust the previous council that tried to work for the average taxpayer, especially those who see our waterfront as our greatest asset that must be carefully managed and preserved for future generations. To some, our waterfront is seen as a profitable asset to be sold off/given away to out of town developers for "considerations" and personal gain. Nowhere in their plans is there any room for future generations or the desires of regular folks.

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  12. The costs for the B bridge in "St. Kitts" is sure to run way over the first estimated costs. How do you think a specific company gets the go ahead after the bids are in? We didnt know the supports were in such bad shape, or, lets replace all the base concrete so we dont have to think about all that 20 years from now, and so on. Its an old game and only getting worse. Expressions like "wont know for sure till we get in there" should be the name of the company doing the job. The unfortunate thing is with cost overruns like this all the other work that should be done doesent get done, or is greatly reduced in scope. And so it goes, some "dee-lux high school theatre" or a half million here and there to a horse track so mismanaged and underutilized someone needed to sell it quite literally across the river, while the one outdoor pool in a town of over 30 thousand breeds mozzies and tests the durability of rusty chain link fencing for lack of attention. Swimming in debt at the Sugarbowl Park. Sounds like the name of a bad made for TV movie. But it isnt. Its the reality for the people in that neighborhood. Shamefull.

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    1. While people can look across the park at the Taj Mahal fire station that was badly positioned to begin with. Another example of poor planning that has marked Fort Erie for years.

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  13. The chamber moving their annual golf tournament to Legends makes perfect sense to me. Maybe Bridgewater thought they were the only game in Town but guess what they are not. $175 plus HST to play a world class golf course may be a bit pricey but to pay$150, for bridgewater last year was a bit rich. Legends is world class not so sure about Bridgewater. Either way to pay $175 plus hst to play a shot gun is pricey. So what are the funds raised for this event to cover?
    No mention on the web site? Is this for the declining pool or for a better purpose.?
    I am sure all parties will have a great time although I don't see a full shot gun start.

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  14. Doesn't make sense to me that a chamber chooses to not support a local golf course...in the town the chamber belongs too. Legends is advertised as being in Chippawa/Niagara Falls, which last I looked is not in Fort Erie. Makes no sense at all...nope. Legend has it, There is a reason they are not going to Cherryhill. It had to do with a certain board member of old(not on the current board) pushing to move the tournament to Bridgewater and someone at their end completely forgetting to let Cherryhill know when that decision was made. Not nice no, not nice at all. Bad business practice actually, in my opinion. In fact, extremely unprofessional.

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    1. CorruptionFighterMay 19, 2015 at 12:36 PM

      who cares.......the CofC / EDTC is a big part of the problems of this town.

      Money money money before all else and to hell with the consequences for the rest of the town no matter what they are.

      Let them destroy themselves, FE is better for it.

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    2. How about the fact Cherry Hill is a PRIVATE MEMBERS ONLY Course. Not open to the public in which the board of Directors has ONE Canadian on it and the rest is made of Americans.That would be the reason....ughhh

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    3. nope, not the reason, good try though. There are lots of members and in the past all you needed was a member to host the tournament for you..and get permission for you from the board.. Anyway, point is, in my opinion, the local cofc should be supporting local businesses..not ones miles down the road.

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  15. this is a widespread problem. We should be supporting locally and Canadian.
    I heard that the Pan Am Games souvenirs were made in China, none Canadian manufactured, this is insulting, in my view.

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  16. Pan Am games stuff made in China is just the tiny tip of the iceburg. Shop at a Walmart or a Dollar store lately? Dollarama was called Chinarama for a long time. Shop local and purchase Canadian goods? Where? Even now the term "imported" (from wherever) carrys a status that demands a higher price for whatever reason. The CoC goes down the road to a facility that isnt in the town they claim to support. Most of those puppets will do what they are told. They probly would have gone to some upstate club if they were told to. Maybe next time, if the new landlords at the track tell them to. Probly a nice start to what is going to be a long series of foot in mouth moves, (or is that a golf club in mouth move). You decide.

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    1. This really bothers me that the CofC is not supporting local golf courses. Years ago, when I was doing PR work for a major corporation, I went ballistic when I learned that the big district meeting was being held in Montreal. This was an American company and the district included all the states on the Eastern seaboard of the US. Hundreds of suitable places for such a meeting, but they chose not only out of the district bit out of the country. Well, it was too late to change the venue of that event, but they never, ever held the meeting outside the district again, In fact, they passed a motion to that effect at the meeting in Montreal. Guess I wasn't the only one to see the stupidity of the choice.

      Same with CofC. Have it in your own district or not at all. Simple. As to "Made in China" another story comes to mind: I worked for a large religious organization in Fort Erie. We would send out rosaries to special people (big donors.) We were required to make sure that the "Made in China" labels were removed from the rosaries before sending them out. They were billed as "special rosaries" from a very holy place. Made me sick, but I needed the job.

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  17. yes but the Pan Am games should showcase Canada and Toronto. So what if the goods are more expensive at least they would be Canadian and support Canadian workers. I know about Walmart, I try to buy anywhere but, but sometimes that's the only place that sells what I am after. Sickening.

    Another beef of mine is that orchards with fruit blossoms are getting rarer, our crops are being plowed over for subdivisions and grapes for wine [not quite as hard to swallow, but still]. We should first be developing land that has already been ruined or with poor soil. Buying fruit in cans from the other side of the world is RIDICULOUS.

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  18. So true from an observer, in St. Davids On. we were able to buy a can of peaches from the convenience store there,packed in South Africa, step outside the door and take a photo of our friend holding it against a backdrop of acres of peach trees loaded with ripening fruit right up against the paved parking lot. They also had jam from Croatia, but they use chemicals there no one would suggest should be in your food. When the fruit plant there closed they were down to making some mashed fruit paste that went into barrels then into cookies somewhere in the USA. Its too bad they couldnt develop trees that grow fries, burgers and hotdogs. Then they would really have something the public craves and would revive the industry, considering what is served at public events around here.

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  19. Oh Happy Day///despite desperate lobby Russ didn't get the CAO job. Maybe there is hope for us yet.....but I am dubious. A drop in the bucket for this Councils many sins.

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    1. Congratulations to Tom Kuchyt for accepting the CAO post. So far, he has done a good job and it is hoped that he will continue to do so.

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