Editor: I ask: what would you do with $2 million if you were in charge of its distribution?
I suspect most of us know what they personally would do with this kind of windfall. A picture of my dream kitchen sits patiently stuck to my fridge as a kind of motivator…but public money is something totally different, and more thought and consideration of its distribution is definitely warranted.
This public money sits in a vault somewhere at the Civic Centre in a jar called For a Lack of Something Less Dramatic; The Slush Fund Jar. This “jar” is filled with our tax dollars. We in fact contribute to its fill via all sorts of complicated highways. But at the end of the day, it is there for use by council and directors to use for stuff that will help our community improve, progress, enhance and so on.
A few years ago – when Randy Hope was mayor – this “jar” was used to fund a feasibility study to study how Chatham-Kent could improve their tourism sectors. I read it, and it was very detailed, but no follow up was done and nothing seemed to result from this cookie-cutter document that stated a lot of very well-known information. Nothing unique to our community and needs were written, nothing creative and all pretty normal template stuff that perhaps a university tourism major could produce as one of their required research theses. Yet no action was taken or follow up on the results of this report. The cost? About $500,000.
Then two years ago when the topic of the homeless situation was brought to the forefront, another feasibility study was launched at a cost of $250,000 from this “jar.” Still no follow up report on the results have been published, as far as I know.
So now, we have the Downtown Chatham Centre scenario looming ahead of us. What to do with this dinosaur that has seen many economic battles? No need to regurgitate the details since we have sliced, diced, and have discussed all its woes and possible outcomes ad-nauseum.
We have a portal at City Hall; via their Facebook Page where people can send in ideas and opinions; this is great.
However, council approved the allocation of $2 million from this infamous “jar” to hire a company to do a feasibility study on the Imagine proposal for our DCC.
More rhetoric, more studies and less action. I think if we would be willing to do a study of this nature than perhaps, we should hire some engineering students in their final years at school to put this study together instead of hiring some fancy-shmancy engineering firm from Windsor or Toronto who has little to no knowledge of our community and our needs and who charges a great deal of money to complete it.
We’ll pay for a cookie-cutter study resulting in a kind of Cambridge Mall template, and that does not serve our community or our tax dollars wisely.
Would the current DCC consortium pay this out of their own pocket? Since they are the ones that came up with the Imagine idea? Not very likely!
There are local engineering companies here in Chatham who would love to undertake this project. They only need to cross the street.
How could this $2 million be better utilized?
The W.I.S.H. Centre has great programs for the community; they need monies for program development and building renovation.
The Black History Museum has been begging the city for some signages and improvements for years.
More benches along the bus routes for people waiting for the buses, that take forever to arrive. More bus shelters are needed there.
More trees to be planted at Tecumseh Park.
Speed bumps along some streets where young punks drive at 100 km/h. because it’s cool and the noise enhances their testosterone levels.
Filtering systems along McGregor Creek to clean the floating garbage.
More bus stops along major routes.
Creation of a quarterly flyer to the community as to Council’s projects and focus.
I am sure with $2 million, all the above can be done.
Therefore, I urge and suggest that the old and new council thinks carefully as to priorities and needs of the community, before allowing council to dip into the proverbial “cookie jar” and pay $2 million for a study that will not end in any result.