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OPINION: It is for a few chosen insiders to know

Founders Hall on the Charlottetown waterfront with the outdoor skating rink located in front. 

(Guardian File Photo)
Founders Hall on the Charlottetown waterfront with the outdoor skating rink located in front. (Guardian File Photo) - The Guardian

Charlottetown taxpayers appear to have been ripped off by these transactions

BY KIRSTEN CONNOR

GUEST OPINION

RE: My opinion piece, ‘Selling out our heritage,’ by Kirsten Connor, March 30, 2017; and then, ‘Big cheque for green space,’ Jan.20, 2018; ‘Nothing secretive about land sale,’ Jan.6, 2018; and the Guardian editorial: ‘Expensive outdoor rink,’ Feb. 1st, 2018.

It is deplorable that this whole heritage property was ever allowed to slip from public hands. It should have been preserved, and with a little imagination, could have had so many uses benefitting the citizenry.

The city made the right decision recently by showing vision and leadership in purchasing and keeping this plot of land green, however belated.

But while applauding the city's purchase of the property on the corner of Water and Prince for $1.25 M, the murkiness surrounding the communication between the city and CADC, resulting in the city paying a higher price than needed, should be of interest to taxpayers/voters.

The mayor says, in the 'Big cheque for green space' article, Jan. 20, 2018, that the property was sold without council’s knowledge about a year ago.

The media reported the $3.25 M sale to a private developer, who apparently now in turn has sold off the corner lot to the city for $1.25 M, leaving Founders Hall remaining in the hands of the developer.

Mr. Waite of CADC admits the corporation did not directly consult with the city before selling the property - but the corporation was not trying to hide anything. He further says: “there was quite a bit of noise going around it at that time." Whatever that means.

He continues: "If the city had approached us at the time and said they wanted to purchase it, I am sure that, as shareholders of CADC, they would have gotten preferential treatment on the thing."

Many questions come to mind for both the mayor and Mr. Waite to answer.

For the mayor:

As a 15 per cent shareholder and with representation on the Board of CADC, why did the city not know CADC had intentions to sell this property?

Were the city representation on the CADC board not paying attention to board business, or absent from board meetings, or kept in the dark by the board administration?

For Mr. Waite and CADC board:

Why would CADC not have canvassed the city, who they have worked with from its beginning, with regards to their interest in purchasing all or part of the property for sale?

Why would CADC not have put an offer to the city, as a shareholder, reflecting 'the preferential treatment' Mr. Waite mentions in the 'Nothing secretive about land sale' article Jan. 26, 2018, that the city might have gotten?

What was the impetus for disregarding the city, indeed other publicly owned entities as well, for acquisition of this important heritage landmark, in favour of a hasty sale to a private developer?

Most importantly, did CADC take its instructions from its major shareholder, the provincial government?

CADC was created to help develop and enhance the provincial capital area and has spent massive amounts of public funds while playing an important, albeit at times also a devastating role in trying to fulfill that mandate, working in close co-operation with the Charlottetown municipality for many years.

Why suddenly this disconnect?

How all this has come about, that Charlottetown taxpayers appear to have been ripped off by these transactions, comes back to the usual: It is for a few chosen insiders to know and for the rest of us never to find out, in spite of our transparency-ridden government.

- Kirsten Connor was chair of the City of Charlottetown’s Heritage Review Board from 1979 to 1986.

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