New West Mayor Wright tells us about his plans for the City's waterfront
"Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into!" to quote Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. If it weren’t so expensive maybe it would be funny, but unfortunately this is nothing to laugh about. In recent editorials the media was espousing the virtues of this wonderful park project. Our elected Mayor and Council support this project; the provincial and federal gov’t supplied money for this project but what about the taxpayer?
Did anyone ask us if we wanted to spend over $1,033.00 for every man, woman and child living in New Westminster on a park? This is based on the reported cost of $54 million to complete the park adding $8 million to purchase the park and divided by the 60,000 residents of New Westminster.
When the Mayor announced the land purchase for $8 million and a complete park for $25 million in 2008, did he do his homework? Or did he rush into this announcement as an election goodie for the people of New Westminster? In hindsight, should we have taken an option to purchase on this property and done some research first?
Is this starting to look like fiscal mismanagement? I cringed when I read the City Administrator quoted as saying “It’s not going over budget”. Mr Daminato the park ‘IS’ over budget! We are only getting half the park! Followed by and I quote “We’re managing the project in such a way that we control the money”. Yes, you certainly do, with the recent Mayor and Council's approval of a $17 million loan by-law for the park. Thus providing the city an option to borrow an additional $9 million if they need to. Was this by-law passed knowing it was going over budget? Is this the control the city is talking about? Is the cost to borrow this money included in the estimated $62 million for the park?
Where will the spending by this Mayor and council stop! Can we afford anymore “visions”? Yes, everyone would like to see the banks of the Fraser River cleaned up and converted to green space but is this the right time? Is the rush to ‘spend’ money actually costing us more in the end – I think so! We have facilities that need upgrading (Canada Games Pool), parks that are in serious need of repair (Queens park roads), boardwalks that are sinking into the river (Quayside Promenade) and dare we mention a new high school to name but a few.
In summary, many in our city disagree with Dominato’s comments that the pier is financially well and sound. Math says it is not. An election promise of a complete park for $25 million by March 2011 is now simply just not true, nor I fear, ever was. Like Hyack (Spirit) Square and the cost overruns associated with it, the Pier is not the first project to go over budget and likely won’t be the last. However, considering the multi millions of dollars at stake this could be the biggest in New Westminster’s history.
- Post by James Crosty. James is a past member of the Quayside Community Board and an active member of the New Wesminster community.