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Admiral Collingwood costs are here

The latest but not the last chapter in the Admiral Collingwood development debacle has opened! Today I received the package of information from my Freedom of Information Act request required to get the financial information the mayor and his supporters denied me at the council table.

The package contained the invoices and expense account reports from staff, consultants and our town's legal firm, dated from January 22, 2007 to August 29, 2007. It also contained a summary page which I have linked through this site (click here for the PDF)

Bottom line (to August 29, 2007): $84,005.48 of your tax dollars have been wasted with this escapade. And we are still pouring them down the drain as a result of this council repealling the development's legally and democratically approved HIA this winter.

Of that total, $68,836.92 went to lawyers and $14,719.97 to consultants (so far - see below). remember, this is just the town's side: the developers have had to pay their own costs to defend themselves against council breaking its word.

This is just the latest - and certainly not the last accounting I'll have to demand. There is still at least one outstanding invoice to add to this total - from our heritage consultant David Eckler. If it's similar to the invoice from ERA Architects (included in the package), it could add another $13-14,000 to the total. I have also confirmed there will be other legal invoices since the last noted date (Aug. 29).

But wait! There's more - like those self-sharpening Ginzu steak knives of TV ad fame, we're not done yet. There are still negotiations over the Section 37 payment - previously agreed upon for a six-storey development, now a legal battle over what is fair for the town to demand for a reduced five-storey development. Plus there are still more meetings, discussions, legal consultations and reports for the new site development to come (the clerk has confirmed that legal bills will still be submitted for this project).

Ka-ching! The cash register is still humming away.

What the report didn't include - because staff don't log their time by project - is how much it cost us to have staff put in their time to do all the work required by repealling the HIA. Hundreds of hours of staff time - time that could have been used on more productive efforts - wasted. Not to mention resources such as printing and paper, phone calls, etc. If we had a better way of logging staff time and resources, that figure could easily add several thousand more dollars to this mountain of waste.

If we include staff time and resources into this, this has cost us at least $100,000 so far, probably much more.

And of course there are those lost revenues - development charges, taxes, permit fees, BIA levy - that may still arrive in future but have been delayed by this act. No one at town hall will estimate how much we could have been paid to date, had this development been allowed to continue, but the developer has suggested it is a very significant amount. We could have had a good chunk of that cash now, had we not pursued this folly.

So that figure of $84,000 already spent on this dog's breakfast is just the cost du jour, the tip of the proverbial iceberg because it doesn't include staff costs, outstanding invoices or ongoing costs. The amount will climb over the next year as more time and effort is spent on the revised project.

Where's the accountability we were promised? Probably in the same dark hole where transparency and openness were consigned to.

Months ago when I wrote about this waste of tax dollars, I predicted the total would top $100,000. Seems I was a few tens of thousands short if we include the hidden staff costs. But being right isn't something to boast about here. Wasting tax dollars to further personal agendas is never something to boast about - which is probably why the mayor and his cronies wanted to keep me from getting this information, knowing I would make it public. Of course they're embarrassed by it!

I really wish I didn't have to say it, but... I told you so.

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