I am writing in response to Mr. Bentz’s PAL Update letter.
http://netnewsledger.com/2011/10/04/waterfront-update-mark-bentz/ or read at the end of this blog
Mr. Bentz talks a lot about things that are supposedly happening. Lots of money being spent. More of it is Provincial and Federal money as opposed to Municipal dollars. Whew. I thought that it was all coming out of OUR taxes. Those people that fund the Provincial and Federal governments sure are generous. We should send them a thank you card when all is said and done. Really nice folks.
“The sheer size and scope of the project is amongst the largest in our city’s history.”
Mr. Bentz makes it sound like we are building a launch platform for sending people to Mars down there. We are not. Its simply a waterfront development. Its scope and size are modest compared to other such projects in the country. Its not really that big and its not really that complicated. Its not. The new courthouse is a big project. The new hospital was a big project. Both are much more complicated than the waterfront project. Both are much more expensive.
We have made this project more complicated that necessary by saying the project was shovel ready when it was not even close (no EA Study yet) and then trying to do 48 months of construction in 18 . One might think that a project of this size and scope, as Mr. Bentz describes it, needs to be completed ASAP then you need to have a grisled veteran of construction in charge. Someone who can organize and cut through the work site bullshit and get things done. One might think that. If one did think that then one would not be working for the City of Thunder Bay. The City of Thunder Bay placed someone in charge with no experience. Sit back and savour the pure genius of this!
There never was a plan. What eventually made it to paper changed daily. Inexperienced people in charge. Nobody had any idea what they were doing. That is how Brook McIlroy doubled their fee from $3M and change to just under $8M. Lots of design changes and they got paid for every one.
I believe that, yes, $57M was spent but the taxpayer did not get $57M in value for that money spent. Many things were done and then redone. Prices were higher than expected. This was supposed to be a $40M project. It ran almost 50% over the original budget. Why?
Yes. That was a preliminary budget but still. You can get within 50% of the estimated cost by simply drawing eight numbers out of a hat. What good is a budget estimate if it is that far off of reality? The private sector does not operate that way. Only the government does. Cost overruns are common place on government contracts. Contractors love them. Easy money. Happy contractors make for happy politicians.
I do not know of a single waterfront development that has a hotel component as part of that development where the hotelier has not been named upfront. There for everyone to see all along. Right from the start. Perhaps Mr. Bentz can name a few public developments that had a secret hotelier that was unveiled to the public after the development was complete. Listening to him tell it, there must be many examples of this.
Also, as of yesterday, there is no work going on at the train station. None. If they are working on the train station, they are doing a very good job of hiding that fact.