Why, when the City owns millions of dollars of land and buildings within 2 km from the current Adelaide St. site, why did they decide to rent 233 Carlton at what is clearly a premium price?
Why not renovate one of the existing buildings that the City already owns in a more suitable location in the downtown area that is actually close to the existing site?
Why did the City not choose to construct a new building on vacant city land for perhaps half the cost, instead of spending millions of dollars on leasing and improving 233 Carlton Street, a building the city does not own?
Commencing in July 2020, the broad WE organization including the charity, their for-profit companies and more importantly the Kielburger brothers have come under scrutiny in Ottawa and across the country over their business dealings and non- transparent practices. Supporters and advocates of the Cabbagetown Coalition have sent us copies of email sent to the media, Councillor Wong-Tam, the Mayor and other City officials and we appear to be having some success in directing the focus to the 233 Carlton site.
Our goal is to continue to “get the message out” with respect to our longstanding concerns of SSHA’s unfair and wasteful practices, systemic secrecy and suppression of public consultation, and Council’s lack of oversight and accountability on spending of millions of taxpayer dollars. We strongly believe that any decisions made by staff through delegated authority should be open and transparent.
At the July 28/29, 2020 meeting of City Council on Councillor Wong-Tam successfully put a motion to Council (MM23.28) asking the following three questions:
- how did the property first come to the attention of senior City Officials?
- who from the WE-related organizations communicated with the senior City Officials that may have affected final delegated decision-making on site location and financial terms?
- if the value paid for the lease agreement is inline and competitive with fair market valuation for comparable properties?
The City Manager and the Executive Director, Corporate Real Estate Management are now instructed to make public, as soon as possible, the following information about the recent lease agreement for 233 Carlton Street, and to also report to the September 30 and October 1, 2020 meeting of City Council.
So, some progress has been made — but the deal is about more than money and influence. It’s also about the appropriateness of the choice of location and the safety and security concerns that this engenders.