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NEWS RELEASE · 12th October 2011
Merv Ritchie
It was an unusual debate at Terrace City Council last night when the Mayor put forward his motion to put the Co-op property up for sale. - VIDEO ATTACHED BELOW - Councillor Leclerc opened the discussion after making a motion only to discuss the idea. She then spoke against the concept of listing the property for sale and referred to previous commitments they had made as a Council body, to include the public in any debates and discussions on what to do with the property and the City’s plans for the downtown area.

She stated they had not had these discussions and it would not be right for them to sell the property without having them and listed a variety of potential uses for the property explaining, “[…] because those are things that are for the people and they’re for the growth of the people, they’re for the history of the people, for the kids that are coming up, my grandkids that are coming forward. So if this motion comes forward I will not be supporting that.”

Councillor Downie also spoke against the proposal beginning by stating “This was out of the blue!” After stating how they hadn’t discussed the options for the property in detail during their tenure he exclaimed, “This almost sounds like a fire sale. […] This was property gained by the City, ah, I’ll argue the wisdom of it at the time, it showed vision for the future.” Downie then referred to Pernarowski’s submission, “This request for proposals seems to me to be saying we’re going to ignore all of the community input and all of the proposals on community space and just sell the land. […] If we look at the downtown plan it clearly says that community engagement is required in the disposition of the Co-op property. It’s black and white.”

Councillor Bidgood stated the council should have a self imposed moratorium on major capital decisions just prior to an election, that these types of issues should not be made and ‘handcuff’ the next elected council body. Councillor Pollard argued against the moratorium idea stating they were elected to make decisions right up to the end of their term but agreed, due to the diversity of opinions the issue should wait for the next term. Councillor Christiansen stated she agreed with most of the issues raised and agreed it was too rushed and should wait until after the election, seeming to continue with the theme she argued when the money was committed to demolish the structure; that it was fulfilling an election promise. Councillor Martindale did not speak to this or on virtually anything during the Tuesday Council meeting.

Pernarowski continued to argue his position but conceded there was not support.

After this debate closed the report from the Administration on raising the salary for the mayor was brought up. Pernarowski removed himself from the debate, handing the authority of chairing the meeting to the alternative Mayor scheduled for this time period, Brad Pollard. Bruce Martindale, speaking for the first time, stated he was likely in a conflict as well as he had expressed his intention to run for the Mayor’s position, and stood along with the mayor and left the room.

This debate to increase the salary was wide ranging. Discussions included the ability to fund an increase, the comparisons to other communities, the ‘optics’ of increasing the salary for the community, raising it the full 16% all at once and raising the wage by a lesser amount. Once everyone had there say, the recommendations of the Administration, those put forward by a diverse committee of community members, were accepted as proposed; 6% in the first year, 5% in each of the next two years bring the full increase to 16% over three years.

The committee, which debated this salary included; Gordon Stamp Vincent from TDCC (Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce), Kam Siemens from TEDA (Terrace Economic Development Authority), Jeannette Anderson from TDCSS (Terrace District Community Services Society), John Jensen from the Kitimat Terrace and District Labor Council and Marylin Davies a former Terrace City Councillor.
Comment by les watmough on 16th October 2011
The mayor has a raise. Remember the city staff. They will be wanting a raise too. Les.
co-op curse
Comment by taxpayer on 12th October 2011
The mayor just got my support for re-election! When is council going to get it? It was a huge mistake not to mention a conflict of interest buying the co-op in the first place. The money lost in taxes over the years, the insurance to cover liabilities, the cost of securing the building, and the interest lost on that money is probably close to 1 million by now. Has anyone actually done the math? That I would love to see.
The cities mandate is not to dabble in realestate unless it is for city buildings. They are competeing with other building owners now that pay taxes on their properties. Who is paying taxes on the co-op now? To me this is a conflict of interest.
The next question is who is going to buy or invest in property where the city is going to dictate what exactly you can build on the property. There are zoning bylaws that regulate what type of building can be built on the co-op property. That is the only input the city should have on what gets built there.
Yes we the tax payers are going to loose a bundle on this fiasco, and the longer they try to play god, the more it will cost us. So get with the program and get rid of it ASAP. Give it away if you have to. The sooner someone with actual money and buisiness sence gets building on this site the sooner we can start to recoup our losses.
I hope council has learnt a lesson and stays out of the realestate buisiness.