Re: City breaks ground for new civic centre, The Record, Sept. 28. You just know that the "silly season" is upon us when the "shiny shovel brigade" poses for a photo op at Hyack Square in front of a picture of the multi-use civic facility, all in shiny new hats to protect them from possible contaminated debris from the real site across the street.
Since all incumbent councillors have chosen to throw their hats in the ring, it is fitting that the city coffers have purchased them new ones that offer some protection. We also assume that they get to keep their shiny new shovels too. They can be recycled to facilitate shovelling out more dirt during the campaign or taxpayer dollars if this tax-and-spend cabal gets re-elected. Too bad the invitations to view the photo op, through some city hall administrative snafu, didn't get to any taxpayers so they could attend as well.
Granted there are some good things being consolidated in the new facility and yes, council did have some input into the external finishing materials which don't fit the historic character of Columbia Street, but was there enough public input into other aspects of this "iconic" structure? For instance, were the various downtown restaurants consulted about having a new city-sponsored competitor?
We doubt it. But perhaps they are assuaged by the fact that their multi-use civic facility competitor will have to pay the city "living wage" and food prices must reflect that cost. Many may not be too happy if this concessionaire is given an exclusive right to provide banqueting services for conventions.
Since the mayor and city manager engineered the closure and sale of the Burr Theatre, with the unanimous agreement of all incumbent councillors, to finance the expropriated land on which the civic facility will sit with its touted 350-seat "theatre" to replace that lost performance venue, we would ask the following technical questions so the theatre community can plan for its use. What are the proscenium and stage dimensions? Will front-of-house staff and actors also be required to be paid a "living wage" as per the city policy for folks using city facilities? We could go on, but generally the civic facility - "must uncover cost feasibility," perhaps in more ways than contemplated here.
E.C. "Ted" Eddy