The three following letters from Dunnville resident Clifford Ahrens asking questions of Haldimand councillors, received no replies, and speak resoundingly to the lack of transparency In this council. Editor
Mon Jan 22
It is interesting to watch Haldimand County council try to figure out at their January 16 meeting where to place the blame for the explosion in the cost of the Cayuga Library and Heritage Centre since 2013. It was a bit like watching a group of children play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
We saw the same happen when Haldimand County council tried to figure out where to place the blame for the explosion in the cost of the Dunnville Waterfront Park and Market.
In this case Ward 2 Councillor Fred Morison, and General Manager of Planning and Economic Development Craig Manley were the reason the costs for Cayuga Library and Heritage Centre are out of control·
It was Morison who in 2015 convinced the County to move the project from the publicly-owned Market Square to the privately-owned Cayuga Hotel site, adding $820,000 to the project cost in order to purchase and demolish the old hotel. And it was Manley who in 2016 recommended the closure of the County Museum because he thought the parcel of land it sits on was “landlocked.” This mistake led to the last-minute addition of the ‘Heritage Centre’ to the library in partial replacement of the museum, inflating the project budget by a further $675,000.
My question to the Mayor and Council is – why was Ward 2 Councillor Fred Morison involved in the decision making when he had (in my opinion) a clear conflict of interest after acquiring the derelict property on Talbot Street then voting to move the library to Talbot street making the acquired properties substantially increase in value?
Inquiring minds want to know
Clifford Ahrens, Dunnville
It is interesting that no one from the council has answered my question – even the mayor has side stepped it and not replied.
So I am asking for the second time – Why didn’t the Ward 2 Councillor Fred Morison step aside or our Mayor Ken Hewitt order him to step aside when council was voting on the Cayuga Library relocation when there was a clear conflict of interest and Ward 2 Councillor Fred Morison would personally gain from the Cayuga Library and Heritage Centre moving to Talbot St.
The mayor Ken Hewitt and the Council I guess actually did sort of respond to my question in the council meeting of January 24, but only in their usual indirect manner.
Ward 5 Councillor Rob Shirton stood up in the council meeting of January 24 and asked if there was ever any real reason why the library project was moved from the Market Square (which is the correct, legal, and well-known name of the parcel the county insists on calling the Village Green) to the Cayuga Hotel site. At the end of an extremely long and meandering response, CAO Don Boyle came out with “it’s unpatented land, so the county doesn’t really own it, so they didn’t want to invest a lot of money on it, so they decided to leave it as public open space, and Six Nations was on board with that plan.”
This, of course, is untrue – CAO Don Boyle was trying to justify their support for Ward 2 Councillor Fred Morison’s self-serving plan. The Market Square was patented to the Village of Cayuga on November 18, 1861, so CAO Don Boyle’s justification collapses.
Clifford Ahrens, Dunnville