“Are we spending like drunken sailors? I say no…” Haldimand mayor Ken Hewitt

Council and staff’s single-minded pursuit of its $30+ million new consolidated administration building (CAB) on their own terms, with virtually no consultation with the general public, has led to a veritable cascade of errors, assumptions, outright lies and manipulation. And an utter lack of trust from the general public.

The most egregious error was the assumption that Haldimand residents would sit still while the county sold the historic Cayuga courthouse grounds to a private developer for housing, in order to pay for the new CAB.

An outright lie came as staffer Craig Manley told council that when the present admin building was torn down (at an estimated cost of half a million dollars, the Haldimand Museum and log cabin would be landlocked and therefore they would have to go … a lie Manley called ‘a mistake’ when he was challenged on it.  A second lie came when Manley said Victoria street was an unopen road allowance although it is paved, signed and leads past the courthouse and jail right down to the museum property. The museum advisory committee was not consulted beforehand, although a councillor Fred Morison met with them after this decision blew up in their faces. We are told the tone of that meeting was such that a longtime member of the committee quit in disgust.

The manipulation came when councillors blindly took his statements on faith, even as residents were telling them they were incorrect. Councillors are paid enough they should do some of their own homework.

All this led to a decision to build an extension onto Cayuga’s new library to house some of the museum’s collection, at an extra cost of some $460,000. Cayuga residents should have been enjoying that library two years ago on the current library location.

The detailed costs of all this are listed in our front page stories, but add up to some $1.6 million when the cost of demolishing the current admin building is included.

Cost of keeping the status quo? $140,000 over the next few years for a new roof and HVAC system for the present museum, which a staff report says is in good condition. And we would get to keep the provincial grant of $12,100 per annum.

Talk about a waste of money.