Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Questions on Watson Island/Pembina make for theme of Public Comment period at Council session

The public commentary period of Monday's City Council session
delivered only one resident to the microphone, offering up a number
of questions related to Watson Island development plans

The value of the public commentary segment of City council sessions was on display on Monday evening, as one member of the public gallery came forward as part of the Committee of the Whole opportunity to ask questions on the city's ongoing plans for Watson Island

Larry Golden, a frequent contributor to City Council sessions, was the only member of the gallery to take advantage of the opportunity on the night,  making inquiries related to the recent Pembina/Watson Island Open House at the North Coast Convention Centre.

With the City resident putting a focus on a desire to see more transparency from the City on the issues related to both the parcel of land that is to be occupied by Pembina and the larger Watson Island site.

His first concern was related as to why the City had decided to keep the land and lease it out as opposed to the original plan to sell it, and how that in his opinion, it has made the City liable for any clean up  that may be required in the future.

He also had some concerns over the city's use of the Legacy Corporation, first when it comes to the financial shift of land to that of an asset,  and then towards how the City plans to handle much of the day to day operations on the site through the Legacy Corporation, as opposed to having them reviewed through City Council.

In addition to the actual land of the Industrial site,  his questions for Council focused mainly towards the proposed dock facility that he believes will have to be rebuilt, with Mr. Golden asking as to who will be responsible for that work.

As well he had questions as to the nature of any power supply requirements for the Pembina site, that he suggested that the Pembina officials had advised him would have to be delivered by the City.

Mr. Golden then asked that Council provide for more transparency for the public, particularly as to how they plan to approach any of that environmental work that is required as part of the Watson Island redevelopment plans.

In response the Mayor observed that the City has plans to provide more information on the City's Watson Plans in the New Year, as for the 750,000 dollars it has essentially been related to a shift of land to asset and comes from the previously unpaid taxes for the site.

On the themes of the environmental clean up issues, the Mayor noted that they have a schedule of activities required by the Ministry of Environment, with the model moving forward one where the Ministry will identify areas to be remediated, on a site to site basis.

Using the Pembina proposal as the example, the Mayor observed that Pembina will come and do an assessment of their site and will conduct any remediation work and pay for the work, with the city then pay them back over time through lease hold improvement agreements, with that schedule still to be determined by the Ministry of Environment.

Mr. Golden then returned to his theme on the Watson dock and how it will require a fair bit of work, and how there may be some significant cost to the city to reimburse Pembina for any work required.

To gain further clarification on the Tax Sale aspect of the 750,000 dollars, the mayor called on Corinne Bomben, the City's Financial Officer to further explain some of the details related to the topic and how the Tax Sale process works in this instance.

She called attention to her report of last week that addressed the issue of the Tax Sale process for Watson Island.

The Watson Island questions made for the only public comment contribution from those in attendance when it comes to Committee of the Whole portion of  the night.

You can review the presentation to Council and the follow up answers from the City's Video Archive, starting at the 25 minute mark.

More background on the City's plans for Watson Island, as well as some history on the industrial site can be found on our archive page here.

For more notes related to Monday's Council session see our archive page here.

A wider overview of Council Discussion Topics is available on our Council Discussion page here.

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