Resident fears big cost overruns for New Westminster pier project

Post by James Crosty in

27 comments


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.

27 Comments

Well Well Well this city again spending money like an out of control child. I understand the latest is the federal grant for the park good be in jeopardy. Mayor and council and MP Peter Julian have requested an extension on the March 2011 project completion deadline, not going to happen unless all the cities in the country get the same exemption. I see a train wreck coming. Just how much more debt can the city afford?

The Concord property on Vancouver's waterfront is assessed at $400K. How much did New Westminster pay for this water front property? I hope not more than that? Otherwise this could turn out to be a big financial headache for Wayne and company (and tax payers). This property is apparently contaminated (similar to concord property) and thus should be almost worthless. Tell me they didn't pay more than a few bucks?

Re: We are only getting half the park!
Has something changed? Is it shorter, narrower, unserviced? What's up? If you sell me a large Turkey for $54 and then only give me half a Turkey it becomes a real expensive Turkey and it's not that useful. It doesn't feed my family like it was supposed to. I'd be better putting my $54 somewhere else to get a full meal deal.

Could part of this park end up being expropriated for the new perimeter road when it's built? Do we have some sort of long term assurance that we can get to this through the adjacent land? That's the only way isn't it? It has railway tracks all along the side and no good place to put access directly into the park. Well, if it's expropriated maybe we can get enough for it to get outta hoc for it otherwise councils in the future will need to be budgeting around the costs of servicing the debt as well as servicing the property.

If we do need an extension in order to get the grant and if we're not sure we can get that, maybe it's time to sit back and take a deep breath, look at all the issues and make sure this is something the community really wants to develop given all the risk and uncertainty associated with it.

Answer to AliceinNewWestland - the city paid $8.5 Million for the property. That's $10M less $1.5M discount for the clean up of hazardous contaminated soil the city has to remove. That is a whole other issue that has not been fully disclosed by the city as well.

After reading all the historic and prehistoric stories on the New Westminster waterfront it will be interesting to see how the city will deal with all the artifacts they are going to find. Do the Feds and the province even know they are funding a prehistoric 1st nation dig? Have all concerned 1st nations and the appropriate regulators even been notified.

This article is horribly misleading. This contaminated brownfield has been a blight on New Westminster's waterfront since the advent of containerized shipping made it's wharves obsolete.

After much delay and sustained demands from city residents, the city/fed government are finally doing something about it and the city has somehow managed to get the feds to foot most of the bill.

What is the alternative? leave it a hazardous toxic brownfield sinking into the river while $400K-500K condo towers are built all around it.

Opponents of this plan look a gift horse in the mouth. So what if the park has half as many benches or defers the tennis court for 5 years. It will be paths, field, bike lanes and playground rather than crumbling dock, rotting creosote piles. The only reason to oppose this work is a personal axe to grind and it shames us all.

Will get your head out of the river, we all got misled by the city and our great grand children will be still paying for this when we are long gone. I hear the Feds are looking at pulling the grant, do you have 30 million you could give the city to finished the project? Maybe we could ask tenth to the Fraser to organize an online fundraiser. Give you head a shake, I think some river water might have got in.

6 million for landscaping. 2 blocks -4th to 6th st. 213 metres. That's $28,000/m. Gov of BC estimating guide for May/2010 puts irrigated lawn with trees at about $30/sq. m. So we should be getting a 900 metre wide park, right??

You know the Hamlet quote about smells...

The senior management team at the city are paid very well for their services. They are clearly not promoting decisions that are in the best interests of the city and this has been going on for years. The millions of taxpayer’s dollars the city has been giving away needs to stop! All the city directors should be looking at the big picture the needs of the community and not the developers. We need some city decision makers who will look out for the best interest of the public, not a pack of lapdogs. City council is out of control!

Will, your comments are off the mark on many fronts
The public was not calling for a park.
Only the downtown people were, who get everything they want from this Mayor.
The math behind this is atrocious.
Where was the public process on this?
Where was the due diligence?
The property was bought, and then tests were done to ascertain the level of contamination.
The Mayor needed an election
announcement, and he got it.
This is all a little too complex for him. Now we have an incomplete project, huge public debt, crumbling infrastructure and a skyrocketing tax load - all to serve the lower mainland's newest bedroom community.
Will, do your homework.

"horribly misleading" Will, it would do us all a service if you would stick to the true editorial content of fiscal and time mismanagement and not endeavour to distract from the issue with neo-political ranting. There is nothing misleading in the facts. “A gift horse in the mouth”!? This is no ‘gift’ as it is our Federal, Provincial and Municipal taxes that are paying for it. Make no mistake you and I (taxpayers) will be paying for it!
I am disappointed that you feel it necessary to take a legitimate opinion and try to twist it as a ‘personal axe to grind’. As a fully involved member of this community there is nothing personal about shedding light on a project that is going “horribly” wrong and “horribly” over budget from what was promised in 2008.
To reiterate and make abundantly clear “ I personally” would love a park that I can dip my toes into the Fraser River, but that isn’t what is going to happen. Is it Will? Many of us want a park that offers the citizens freedom for access to the outdoors as well as freedom of information and freedom from the burden of higher taxes as a result. While I have acknowledged your rebuttal, unlike you Will, I encourage debate on this matter. As for ‘shaming us all’, you seem to be the only one so far with an apparent personal axe to grind. I am disappointed that a “digital media” website owner would berate fair and just opinion as personal. Your comment only brings into question your sites impartiality. While I will not sink to your level, I have dignified your errant comment with my reply for the sake of debate. Taking it to such a personal level only demonstrates how weak your argument really is.

This Will character sounds like a real piece of publicately paid for work. Is he head of the Wright cheer leading squad? Will and his friend the water boy are a pair of political opportunists. Save it for your own political propaganda on 10th to the Fraser Will. There are a lot of the community members that are on to you.

Easy does it here. Not everyone is on to the doublespeak of the Mayor and the way he is very economical with the truth.
You see, Will is with a group called Next. Next is a group that fancies itself in terms of being technologically astute, avant-garde and on the cutting edge of many things.
They are onside with the Mayor and accept the Mayor's shallow approach to managing this city. They will soon catch on, and realize that the Mayor has the intellectual depth of a bird-bath.
This is something that is already fully recognized around the Metro Vancouver table. Derek Corrigan pulls him around by his nose ring.

And I thought Bush was wrong for the job. It looks like Waynes World will not be getting the 'Full Meal Deal' and the rest of town will be picking up the tab. Should we recall our top decision maker for poor foresight or reduce compensation for inadequate performance? A partial park equals partial pay. When our council debates their own compensation without any hesitation, we had all best beware. Poor performance and bad judgement for full pay is just not Wright!

Good governance requires due diligence, and it needs to be wrapped in a blanket of sound judgement. But what due diligence and sound judgment did the Mayor show when he rushed into his purchase of the pier property just before the last city election?

Yes, we would all like to see the waterfront opened up to productive use once again. But the pier property wasn’t going anywhere and it’s doubtful that any other purchaser was looming in the wings. So what was the Mayor’s big hurry?

Here’s what it looks like to me: The Mayor wanted something to dangle in front of the electorate in the days before the election (before they could figure out what a money pit it was going to be for the city's taxpayers). The Mayor's re-elction agenda drove the purchase timetable not due diligence or sound judgement.

It’s terribly obvious that this is how the whole pier saga unfolded and anyone suggesting otherwise is either stupid, naive or wilfully ignorant.

Finally I read some material that captures and shows the nonsense that has been going on in this town. It is all about who you know.
Developers rule, unions rule. An unholy alliance? You bet. The nonsense in the Mayors office is tolerated by the union money backed bunch of four so that they can do all of the stuff their controllers want. Reminds me of the city in the fifties, it was all so crooked.

I'm surprised at Will's comments. Not too long ago, he was opposed to the Mayor's attempt to use his neighbourhood park to get the school board out of trouble. Now it seems, he's in favour of the Mayor's intent on building a park without any accountability for where the money will come from.

I'm from New West but I'm not happy that this project has ballooned to the current figure of $62 million, nor am I happy that I and my children and grandchildren (should we stay in this city) will be fronting this cost for years to come, particularly when we aren't even getting the full deal we were promised of a full park. I'm also ticked that we're paying so much more than the original $8 mil and $25 mil for what is now, half a park.

What gives Will?

Everyone knew that this would be a big job and so many warned that the city's estimated costs weren't anywhere near what the final bill would tally.

I want the pier park as well. I want that toxic dump cleaned up as well but to front these costs now and to hand over that bill to the citizens is over the top fiscal mismanagement. This could have been done, nay, should have been done in layers over time and not all at once.

Mayor Wright hasn't a vision for this city that represents the needs of its citizens.

Our taxes are one of the highest per capita around and now they're set to get higher.

Will, I'm ashamed you're against public discourse and feel compelled to label the critic here names in your argument for the pier park.

As one poster already pointed out, this is no "gift horse" but a taxpayer paid project and we Westies foot the bill in full!


Will you like to pretend you know what is going here in New Westminster and show us all how smart you think you are, but you know what when in comes to New Westmimster you are truly cluless. You are not winning any friends here.

Somewhere councillors announced access will be an easement thru Larco's 25yr old undeveloped property from 6th st to 8th st., where 1000 units(last count) of 5 x 35story towers will be. So what this looks like is a taxpayer funded 54 million dollar front yard for Larco. I guess the developer-provided amenity is the easement?

OK, I think Will gets the message. Let's leave him to tend to his lightweight, self-absorbed, superficial issues blog.
The real issue is the litany of ridiculous, self-serving decisions being made by a group of incompetents in city hall. As stated earlier in this blog, lack of vision, control by special interests and poor planning have led to a situation that has dramatically changed New West in a way that is ill advised and unsustainable.
With the tax burden, business and industry simply cannot compete. New West has become a bedroom community.
Skyrocketing taxes, mounting debt, and aging infrastructure spell a recipe for disaster. Rasputin, occupying the Mayor's chair simply is a self-promoting, intellectually challenged opportunist.
Perhaps, the folly of the pier park will allow the public to see through this charade.

A friend emailed me and directed me to this site. I'm intrigued by the mention of the group n.e.x.t.
Perhaps if one of the organizers reads this, or if this is brought to their attention, possibly they could enlighten some of us lesser lights as to what it is.
Who is it organized by? How is it funded? Does it cost to join? Who can join? What are it's goals?

To I am intrigued, I just read your post and googled the group "next. I am covinced that it is either a weight watchers group or an AMWAY support group.

Just a little FYI - N.E.X.T New West is a social networking group that meets every month at a new venue in the City i.e. museum, pub, restaurant, business.
N.E.X.T stands for Network.Engage.eXcite. Transform New Westminster. We are all young professionals that live and/or work in the city. We have NO political agenda or affiliation. Our goal is to connect the younger demographic in the City. There is no cost to join and we currently have over 150 members. Come and check us out Wed June 2 at the Terminal Pub from 5pm to 8pm. All young professionals that live and/or work in New West are welcome to join! Check us out on facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=169334474673&ref=ts.

First time on this site. First time commenting.

First, I have no doubt that the 'Robin Hood' of this editorial would prefer to see a discussion of the 'fiscal mismanagment'issue and not the cheap personal attacks, amusing un-related comments and organizational explainations. Does no one actually care that this is fast shaping up to be New West's landlocked 'fast ferries' both financially and environmentally?

Secondly, is it not odd that our labour-slate of Wright, Harper, William, Cote and McEvoy is so quick to spend tax payers money to clean up this site instead of having demanded the previous business owners to do so? Why did they not insist on this before purchasing the site? Are they not suppose to be 'for-the-people' and 'against-big-business'. I guess it is easier to spend public money than to stick to party principles - especially at election time.

Last, how does NEXT(our young professionals) feel about being left a legacy of higher taxes and depleting infrastructure thanks in part to the mis-management of the park and other out-of-control city expenses (salaries, new civc centre et al)? The Park alone is costing each 'young professional' over $1000 each and climbing. That is their cost (and every man, woman and child) for having voted these officials in...and that is on top of the high tax burdon they already pay? Realistically, can you afford to be a 'young professional' here in New West any more?

Just sayin'.....

While I don't know who Will is and I am not a member of NEXT I appreciate that for the first time some people are caring enough about the city to counteract the noisy, negative yelling from the likes of Mr. Crosty. I've been to the meetings where a lot of the questions raised be people in this blog have answered and watched Mr. Crosty talk through the presentations and basically whine the whole time.
The fact of the matter is that Downtown New West is getting better. Much better. And its some of us younger people who are moving in because we can afford the place are happy to see this happen. Of course I am concerned about the budget, but this is no Olympic Village fiasco.

Dear Not will,

The lowest form of character assignation are the ones that don't have the class to identify themselves. My record in this city speaks for itself and certainly is not the representation you make. If your the kind of young person moving into the downtown be respectful and do your research, but I suspect you are not the person you say you are.

At the very least we agree about concerned over the budget. Regarding the Olympic fiasco and comparison, on a per person basis Vancouver - New Westminster you may want to look at the numbers again.

James Crosty

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