Once again, very little of interest happened at Council this past Tuesday night that would interest just about anyone. There was a standard presentation about Brock University which pointed out all the benefits the communities get from its presence without mentioning any of the costs. There was a presentation by Regional staff about trying to boost growth in Niagara. When the latter were finished, I went out and had a discussion with them on the relative merits of growth just to stay awake for what wasn’t to come.
The only thing of any interest was a brief discussion surrounding the fact that the Thorold Seniors haven’t yet signed off on a clause which will allow the City to let others use the facilities, thereby making the Seniors Centre a community building. The importance of that is that the City would no longer have to pay over $35,000 per year in property taxes, which comes out of our pockets. Council has the right to ask this according to the following section in the Seniors’ lease:
“(b) Landlord’s Use of Premises – Again acknowledging the special rental arrangements, the Tenant agrees that the Landlord may, on reasonable notice to the Tenant and unless the facilities have been previously booked for other uses, make use of the facilities located on the ground floor level of the Premises for public purposes in connection with any of the municipal undertaking of the Landlord.”
The question of the state of the discussions with the Seniors arose because Council was asked to approve a budget overrun to pay for last year’s taxes on the building (the City’s lawyer and the Seniors’ lawyer will be meeting about it soon).
They approved the overrun, not having much choice, but Councillor Paone commented that he hopes this meeting will settle the matter and not just lead to numerous more meetings because this was the last overrun he’ll vote for. Council’s disappointment with the Seniors in light of all they’ve been provided was expressed buy a number of Councillors and even the Mayor voiced his displeasure.
Maybe it’s time to play hardball. According to the same lease, the City has the right to terminate the Seniors’ lease on the property. If they wish to continue to cost the taxpayers even more money than is already being paid on their behalf for the cost of the building, then maybe it’s time we demand that the City exercise its right, as follows (the breach being denying the City use of the facilities as per (b)):
“(c) Early Termination – Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein contained the Tenant and the Landlord, where the Tenant is in breach of any of its covenants, shall have the right to terminate this Lease on six (6) months written notice to the other party and at which time the demise herein provided for shall be fully ended and complete.”
I don’t particularly want to see the seniors of Thorold lose their centre, but enough is enough. Besides the cost of borrowing, the City spends more each year on repairs and utilities than the Seniors’ rent will cover, even when they reach full rent.
I don’t mind paying taxes for services in Thorold, but I don’t want to pay extra for absolutely nothing. This has to end.