Wholesale Hawkesbury

To the Editor,

The town of Hawkesbury had an opportunity to sell the Christ Roi property for a dollar before Hawkesbury borrowed to spend $700,000 to demolish it, along with a mosque. The buyer would have assumed the cost of demolition and then built three brand new, esthetically pleasing condo towers, each with 20+ units generating taxes in excess of $350,000 a year. The city decided against it. Now there are more interested buyers and some are offering the same dollar as Asco did prior to the demolition. This time, the mayor is listening.

If the city council wants to sell our assets, they should need to answer some important questions. If the town pays to remediate a property, then is the cost of remediation swallowed by the town or is it passed onto the buyer? For example, how do we get our $700,000 back from the buyer of the Christ Roi property plus the actual cost of the land? Had Asco gotten the land it would have saved us spending the $700,000 in demolition, they would have given the town at least 60 new modern housing units and the taxes generated off of them as well as access to the water for us to use. A smart move.

What would the city allow certain properties to be used for? What about esthetic integration? It doesn’t take a huge leap of your imagination, to visualize what those condo buildings could have looked like. Just look across the river to Grenville and you’ll see those two beautiful units, completely full and generating taxes. That could have been us.

How long can a buyer, of any of the city’s properties, hold onto said property, before they can in turn sell it? I’m concerned that developing anything other than residential mixed with water access, leaves room for a buyer of the Christ Roi property, to turn around and sell the property to anyone else without consequence. It could be then turned into almost anything the new buyer wants i.e. gas station, department store, restaurant, etc. Do we need more of these in Hawkesbury?

When Hawkesbury’s city council sells “our” land, it is subject to follow certain rules. For example, the plan must be approved by the CAO, but in our case the CAO is also the mayor. Does this not pose a conflict of interest? It seems as if our city council passes all sorts of bylaws to facilitate its agenda and so far, three years into its mandate, council has not delivered on any of the promises made during council’s election campaign. In fact, I would say that things are at a tipping point from bad to worse.

Hawkesbury has seen a negative 3% (-3%) population growth during the last two years. We’ve lost businesses and jobs over the last 2 years. The biggest loss was the Jean Coutu Distribution Center where over 100 jobs moved to Quebec. Anyone who walks down Main Street may notice the off vacancy…it’s epidemic. Have a look at the TOP Report – Local Labour Market Plan, Finding the right path to labour force development, developed by the Eastern Ontario Training Board.

We need to ask ourselves questions when we elect the next mayor and city council: What criteria does the city council look at when selling property? What is fair market value? What benefits come from the sale of the property? Can we afford more non-taxable establishments on prime real-estate? Does the sale of any property lend itself to Hawkesbury’s Strategic Plan? Lots of questions.

I’m sick and tired of our town being rated as one of the worst towns to live in Ontario. We have so many great things here, great restaurants, stores, location, waterfront, cultural center, community groups, access to nature, golf courses, glider club, equestrian facilities, job centers, high tech manufacturing, food manufacturing (thank you Leclerc for making some of my walks smell so good!!!), car dealerships, a best-in-class hospital, gyms, lots that are ready for development, etc. We have so much!!! I am sick and tired of being almost-last when we should be near the top or at it. We need people who care about this town in a way that shows through cooperative actions that benefit us right away. I’m sick and tired of the deflection and excuses that come out of city hall. They have let us down time and time again.

Stephen Sockett,
Hawkesbury


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