Letter to the editor – Kemptville College

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Dear Editor,

If you are cursed with an interest in politics, you never get it out of your system. I’ve sat on the sidelines for a few years now, but feel I have to say something about some of the candidates for municipal office in the coming election. Years ago, as a councillor, I participated in the process to build a new Municipal Centre. I supported the need for a new building but, along with Councillor Harley, the audit firm of Deloitte & Touche, and our Treasurer, I accepted professional recommendations that this financing deal was not in the municipality’s best interest, and voted against it for that reason. Throughout the process, the community was kept up to date and members of councils’ views were fully and frequently expressed in public. The night I was directed by the majority of council to sign the 10-plus volumes of contract documents, at least in my own mind, I was confident that the process had been open fully to public and council participation.

The process to acquire Kemptville College was and is mired in closed door secret meetings. We still do not have access to all relevant data so that we can appreciate whatever effort was put into the process. Was an outside audit firm brought in to examine the business case and financial plan? If so, where is that analysis, and what were the conclusions? I presume our MPP, Steve Clark, was fully involved in the process and helped with provincial expertise to confirm the wisdom of such a purchase: was he? What is the zoning of the property we have purchased, and what is the zoning of the remaining college land? Is the College actively using their property as a teaching location, or is it an investment opportunity? How much has this acquisition cost the taxpayers to date, and how much will it cost going down the road? How much revenue are we getting now? How much do we owe, and to what institution?

All the foregoing questions should have been answered before the contract was signed. I fully understand the need for “in camera” discussions during negotiations where competing bids were under consideration, but that was not the case, as I understand it, with this process. While {I hope} all of the current council members were fully involved IN ALL DISCUSSIONS/CORRESPONDENCE/EMAILS, not one of them demanded that this process be more open and above board. Any member of council could have asked to be heard on a “Question of Personal Privilege” and raised the issue of secrecy at a council meeting, asking for justification. Neither Mayor Gordon, Councillors Tobin, Bertram, or Onasanya protested this blackout of the press and public, or offered acceptable justification. Council members could have objected and supported the taxpayers, but I don’t recall any effort to do so. Consider also the stupid decision to sell off alumni memorabilia, where are the protests from members of this council. Reminder that all emails related to municipal business are the property of the taxpayer, so I’m assuming that the CAO is ensuring these records are kept, not “inadvertently” deleted.

So the question is: as this incredibly stupid purchase mistake continues to unfold, do we trust any member of the current council with our vote? Will we continue to support secrecy, or bring in a new team to protect our tax base. Can anyone from this Council be trusted?

Bill Gooch

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