Fraud: deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right – Merriam Webster Dictionary
I am writing in regards to the Canada Ontario Infrastructure Fund and how it relates to the Waterfront Development. According to the Canada Ontario Infrastructure website:
To be eligible for funding under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, projects will be required to demonstrate the following:
a. Project incrementality – All eligible recipients will be required to attest, in conjunction with their project application, that the work to be undertaken is an incremental construction activity that would not otherwise have been constructed by March 31, 2011 were it not for funding from the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. Federal and provincial funding could be used to provide sufficient funding to allow a project to proceed that would not otherwise be built, or could be used to accelerate a project planned for future years so that it can be completed by March 2011.
b. Project readiness – All eligible recipients will be required to provide information necessary to determine if the project is construction-ready and likely to be substantially completed by March 31, 2011.
c. Project merit – As part of the online application form, all eligible recipients will be required to provide a description of the project benefits, which may inform the evaluation and selection of projects under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. For projects involving the rehabilitation of existing assets, such benefits could include: public health and safety, energy efficiency, accessibility, and/or extending the economic life of the asset consistent with sound asset management principles. For projects involving new construction, these benefits could include: adding new public infrastructure for which there is a demonstrable need, replacing an existing asset that has reached the end of its useful life, but is still needed to provide public services, or improving the energy efficiency, accessibility, safety or quality of public infrastructure in a community.
d. Financial leverage – The Government of Canada is seeking to leverage additional funds from either the province, municipality, not-for profit sector or the private sector to provide additional economic stimulus. The ability for a given project to leverage additional capital will be considered when making project decisions as well.
e. Endorsement – Prior to final approval of funding, projects must be duly authorized or endorsed by, as applicable:
(i) In the case of a Local Government submission, a resolution of its council; or
(ii) In the case of a non-profit or private sector body submission, a resolution of its board of directors
(iii) In the case of i) or ii), the resolution must be submitted before a contribution agreement is signed.
As you can see, “adding new public infrastructure” is mentioned under Project merit.
As you are aware, the part of Marina Park that was declared surplus to the needs of the park a few years ago, is being sold to a private developer. The Administration of Thunder Bay is using money from the Canada Ontario Infrastructure Fund to make improvements to this Surplus Lands specifically to make them more appealing to the developer. These lands are no longer part of the park, no longer an asset to the community or could be classified as public infrastructure. The Surplus Lands are not eligible for funding of any kind under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund if it is going to be sold to a private developer.
Paragraph “d” mentions using the projects to “leverage” additional funds from the private sector. I believe that does not include direct subsidization of the private sector component of the project with Infrastructure Stimulus Funding. I believe Mr. Harper is not in favour of spending public money to subsidize millionaires by building arenas/stadiums with public money. Why is this any different?
The City has already spent huge sums of money from this fund to provide sewer and water to the Surplus Lands. The City has already spent huge sums of money from this fund to build a pumping station that will be required for the condos and hotel. I do not believe the addition of the two public buildings being constructed on the project warrant the construction of a new pumping station.
Now the City wants to spend an additional $1.1M for site remediation of the Surplus Lands. The purpose of this work is to prepare the land for sale to the developer. That is its only purpose. No public infrastructure will be built on this land. None. One hundred percent private construction on this land.
Using Infrastructure Stimulus Funds to prepare a property for sale to a private developer is not the reason this fund was created. Using the money in this way may jeopardize any future requests Thunder Bay may have for Federal and Provincial funding. ie The Arena/Multiplex.
The City of Thunder Bay is spending millions of Infrastructure Stimulus Funds, (taxpayers dollars) to increase the appeal/value of a piece of property that it is going to sell, in a few months to a private developer for around $500,000. Yes. millions of Infrastructure Stimulus Funds invested in a couple of acres of surplus land that will be sold to a private developer for a price that is a tiny fraction of that investment. That developer in turn will build condos and sell them at a profit. The hotel…. is yet to be determined.
Is City Administration committing fraud? I believe so. As far as the “intentional” part of the definition, I consider Council now informed of this issue. I expect them to ask Administration questions on this issue. I believe that, as elected officials, no member of Council will want to be part of project that will defraud the public of precious tax dollars.
I want to know why your newspaper is not investigating , what I believe to be fraud, or even a possible theft of public funds. If this story is not in the public interest, then what is? Why does your paper exist at all?