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January 24, 2012

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$50,000 sigh.

Sorry Ray. I can empathize that seeing your old store razed like this must be heartbreaking. Especially when everything about this process has, is, and likely always will be, prefaced with "eventual" and "temporary" ... which really means "we have no idea what we are doing but we certainly don't mind screwing over anyone and everyone involved because that's just what we do here in Guelph in the name of progress".

And then I read that Ian Findlay is laughing about the whole thing. Ian, the local merchant/councilor who was one of only two council members on the original panel that ended up picking a site that "coincidentally" ended up out front of his store. Ian, who "accidentally" referred to me twice in council chambers as "The Family Theft Store" and got yelled at by Gloria Kovach. Ian, who was able to vote to evict a competing business that was selling thousands of used DVDs And VHS tapes a year for less than he was renting his for. The weak/non-existant conflict-of-interest laws in this town disgusts me. And imagine having the character that would pick the wings off of a fly and then laugh about it. Disgusting.

Ray:
Next election I suggest that you run in Ward 2 to improve the Councillor representation for that Ward.
I also think you should sue the Councillor for his comment, maybe that way you could recover eeome of the loss that you took as a result of this premature buyout of the Wyndham Street properties, This "brilliant" act by Council resulted in the loss of several affordable apartments, financial stres to businesses and the complete loss of property taxes on those buildings. Does anyone know just how much these buildings were paying in taxes?
What was the rush especially since the Library was taken off the ten year forecast?

The taxpayers lose $500,000 a year and he pisses on my grave. Nice.

Ray:
Ouch, the City loses a half a million a year by aquiring two buildings on Wyndham Street that they did not need for at least ten years - that is terrible - $5 million over that period of time. Thanks for the tax amount.
I am serious - run for ward 2 next time. I will give you a donation for your campaign.

Ray
I would consider moving to ward 2 just to vote for you. Run Ray Run.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWwUJH70ubM

The one thing that bothered me about this transaction was before the city bought the buildings they were leased and rented out. The next day(so to speak) the city owns the buildings and they are unleaseable and unrentable. How does this happen? We have bylaws and building codes that are supposed to be followed. We pay alot of people alot of money to come up with these laws and enforce them.

Serious?
Are you well....serious? Sue a councillor for his comments.

May I direct you to the ice rink thread next door. It's THIS type of attitude & mentality that causes cities and people to over-protect themselves.

I could probably sue for loss-of-income or loss-of-ability to earn a living or some such thing, since the reason I was evicted has long since evaporated, and there appears to be no reson why council jumped the gun. This coming April Fools Day(!) will mark 3 years, 3 years that I could have still been doing what I used to do. But I am bigger than that, certainly much bigger than Ian, I licked my wounds and moved on. It still doesn't make his attitude any less hurtful though. I just wish that he would try to sue me, but I doubt that he has the stones.

Ray i'm not familiar with the exact details of your eviction. Did the City do anything illegal, or in violation of any contracts, in their purchase of the building and what they did with the existing tenants?

It was worse than illegal, it was immoral. After three 5-year leases and then a 3-year one, they got the landlord to evict me so that my blood was not on their hands. It was actually a condition of sale that all of the block be vacant beforehand, and those who didn't leave voluntarily or because they were given cash payments by the landlords were given the boot with no compensation whatsoever. And then the City, honest-to-God, said "It was the landlords who evicted the tenants, not us." In my case, I was promised compensation if I moved by both Peter Cartwright and the rest of staff, but they were able to renege because they said it was the owner who evicted me and not them. Sorta a Catch-22, in a really mean-spirited way, certainly a violation of most of the laws of God and morality. I was there 18 years, and would have been for at least the next 18. And now it's just the most expensive parking lot in the province, one that costs the taxpayer hundreds of thousands a year. And, ironically, I am also one of those taxpayers as well.

Actually it doesn't cost taxpayers 100's of thousand a year, you just made that up, and that building wouldn't of stood up for 18 more years. The City couldn't rent it out because it violated every code imaginable. If you had a valid case to sue for anything why didn't you? That option was available to you, so if you didn't act on it, you can only blame yourself. Plus, as a casual visitor to your previous store, it was just a lot of crap.

I agree, it was just an eyesore on the downtown!

half a million a year? I'm pretty sure your thrift store didn't even come close to that number. do you have any stats to back that claim up or are you just trying to make people feel sorry for you?

It wasn't just my store, it was 4 businesses and 20 apartment units. Taxes alone were close to $100,000 a year, carrying costs another $200,000 based on $4 mil aquisition at 5%. That brings us up to 300 large. Then figure out what the 3 businesses that were bankrupted were generating a year in payroll taxes and PST/GST. Some of that might be recouped down the road, but we are now going to buy Club Denim and 148 Wyndham for $3.8 mil. which means another $150,000 in carrying costs and approx. another loss in city taxes of about $60,000. Throw in 3 years of utilities and insurance, paid security guards to evict squatters, and another mil borrowed to pay for the demo, and the total comes to WAY north of $500,000 a year. But then anonymous pricks like DC, Frosty, and j are hardly interested in the truth anyway.

It's a real bummer suffering a financial loss to a personal business Ray, I respect that personal feeling of being betrayed.
As you know as a seasoned business man, the rules of engagement are often dirty, but they are the rules.

If the City didn't violate any contracts or breach any terms, i'm confident it was nothing personal against you Ray, its simply business, which doesn't always account for the touchy feely nice stuff.

While the figures you've provided seem close to reasonable, there is a missing piece not being discussed. what if the City had NOT obtained the buildings and land at that time. How much difficulty would there have been in obtaining the properties "last minute" or closer to? Come library time, the properties could easily be worth another million bones. The time to buy a property or building is NOW...when you have the opportunity!

It's nor personal Ray, it's business

I really wonder sometimes what people are thinking. I try to be objective and put myself in their place but sometimes I cannot figure it out. The demolition of buildings on Wyndham St is disturbing. We purchased buildings several years ago and are now demolishing them. Millions spent. We have allocated more millions to buy and presumably demo more buildings. We are currently spending millions (?) designing the new library. Yet nobody seems to put forth reasons why we need to spend $50 million (maybe more ?) building this thing. It is moving forward as a necessity and nobody is questioning why. I have asked for information on usage stats and found the responses to be inaccurate if not downright misleading. It is difficult to get decent information which for a project of this size is shocking - yet we are committing ourselves to spending millions. The process is eerily similar to the organic waste facility - just do it because we need it. Anyone who dares to question it will be branded as someone who doesn't care about children. Question the organic facility and you don't care about the environment or our children. We are not supposed to question things any more.

I don't understand how we can be moving ahead with such a massive project just because a few people said we need a big new main library.

No doubt I am indeed an anonymous prick, Ray, but for the record, that wasn't me who posted the comment at 12:23am this morning. I have always thought that you got royally screwed by the City on this deal.

As to others saying this is just business, well sure, one can say that most things are "just business". But I do think the City ought to have been more respectful to both the existing businesses and residents during this project. Kicking people out of their homes and stores only to have the site sit vacant or razed for years is a bit heartless.

Does anyone reasonably expect that the end goal of this process - the downtown library - will actually be built within the next ten years? And more importantly, does anyone care?

I could be wrong, but I don't think that there will ever be a new library on that site. C3 was just smoke being blown up the butts of council and/or staff by "consultants" from Toronto who were either woefully inept or criminally insane. The whole premise is predicated upon 300 low-level condos in the Baker St. lot providing enough profit that the library would in essence be built for free. We tried to tell them that no one wants to live in a $300,000 low-level condo in the Baker St. lot but nobody would listen. And now if the next civic election provides enough of a turnover in council, (cross your fingers!), then everything will crash to a halt. It is Thomas' Video being able to vote on a matter that would potentially put a thousand new customers in front of his store that seems especially disgusting about the whole matter.

Unfortunately, municipal governments absolutely top the list of easy targets when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. Not the only reason the buildings were left unrented, but lawsuit avoidance tends to work its way into every aspect of decision making.

Also, who wants to invest in a location that's up for demolition? It costs money to move, whether you're a homeowner or a business. This issue keeps coming up.

Any word on the cost for shoring up the buildings to either side?

I'm a huge supporter (and user) of public libraries. I think they're vitally important and almost always underfunded. But even I question the need for a new building. I'd rather see that money spent on books, e-readers, computer terminals, net access, more local branches (in existing "storefront" buildings, and more library services. If the current main library building is too small, then the answer isn't to build a bigger one, but to de-centralize the library's collection to existing and new branch locations.
There's not much public benefit to a massive building.

They claim that the buildings on each side might not need to be supported; I hope there's no risks involved. If they weren't maxed out on the borrowing front then everything would be coming down at the same time. This way, there's going to be 3 separate demos which maybe doubles the bill. Yet another million gone forever.

So I might owe an apology to Frosty, DC, or j, apparently somebody has hijacked at least 7 other people's names, in this case to slag me. Seems like another reason to have at least some control, maybe letting the Merc. know your real name etc. I don't really like to slag people unless they are the right slagees to start with.

I remember when the existing library was built, we were told it was built so it could be expanded. What ever happened to that idea? I certainly agree that we do not need a new big building even if the City had the money to build one. Here is an idea, why not join up with the huge library at the University of Guelph!!!! Just a thought.

Thanks Ray. Im glad that you know that it wasn't me slagging you in that post. Fwiw, the Merc does know my real name, I just choose not to use it here for everyone else to see.

Re: joining with UG library. That should be explored. Most university libraries are moving away from paper copies of many items and choosing to go with electronic copies instead, thus freeing up valuable space. A difficult fight indeed for a community-based library to negotiate space in a university library, but if UG President Summerlee is serious about building bridges, he should at least entertain the idea. Maybe those doctorates on City Council will come in handy afterall.

Hi Ray
It was not me that slagged you at 12;14 this
morning.

I wonder what I was doing up at that time? Probably work-related.

Sorry that someone was trying to push your buttons on something that must be difficult to watch, Ray.

I recently acquired an e-reader; greatest thing since sliced bread. Anyone who thinks a new library is a done deal has their head..............in an extremely awkward position.

If perception is reality, we're on track to building a haunted library.

Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!

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Joanne

Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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About Chris

  • Chris Herhalt
    covers municipal affairs and politics for the Guelph Mercury. Prior to joining the Mercury he worked at The Record of Waterloo Region and at The Canadian Press. He can be reached at cherhalt@guelphmercury.com