Watching 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 was a bit like watching a group of children playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
Yet the targets they should have been aiming for were sitting right there in the room : Ward 2 Councillor Fred Morison, and General Manager of Planning and Economic Development Craig Manley.
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.
Without these two men’s interventions, Cayuga would have had a better library in a nicer location sooner and at a lower cost. The rest of the County would also not be facing a tax increase.
It’s time for the members of Haldimand County council to take off their blindfolds, place the blame where it belongs, and implement the obvious solution : move the library back to the Market Square, sell the Cayuga Hotel site at cost to Morison (who is a commercial real estate developer), and leave the County Museum where it is.
Spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is not child’s play.