Kitchener City Council has already been in the limelight before, courtesy of Rick Mercer. Now local reporter Record Terry Pender is putting the city's purchase of a portion of a large industrial site under the microscope. The results aren't pretty.
If I interpret all this correctly, the city originally purchased the land from South Kitchener Holdings at almost double the cost that Michelin sold it for. The reason given was that SKH had agreed to do all the environmental clean-up, so it was a 'good deal'.
However, Michelin must have gotten wind of this and felt the air had to be cleared - They are paying for the cleanup themselves.
Councillor Geoff Lorentz and Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr justified their actions as follows:
...Lorentz said yesterday that if he had known Michelin was going to clean up the site, he might have voted differently on the purchase agreement.
"Nobody told me: 'Hey, we can get a deal on this because Michelin was going to clean up the site,' " Lorentz said.
"I don't think anybody on council had that information."
Lorentz is angry at Michelin for making public the environmental remediation work, accusing the company of trying to protect its corporate image after disrupting the lives of hundreds of Kitchener workers.
"They put a lot of people out of work in this community and caused a lot of hardship, and now they are worried about their reputation -- that's a hard pill to swallow," Lorentz said.
Michelin closed the former BF Goodrich plant in the summer of 2006, throwing 1,100 out of work.
Mayor Carl Zehr said he didn't know anything about Michelin's cleanup deal with South Kitchener Holdings...
John Gazzola, the only councillor that had raised concerns and voted against the deal, is also now the only one to take responsibility. "I really don't think we did our homework, to tell you the truth."
"The difference in price was to clean up the land -- that's fine," Gazzola said. "But if Michelin did it, why are we paying South Kitchener Holdings for cleaning up the land?"
Michelin's announcement provoked Gazzola to raise the issue again. "Someone isn't really putting all the information out," he said...
Indeed. It would seem that most council members are either trying to cover something up, or else they don't have a clue.
On the other hand, what can you expect from a crew that has to go to an Elton John concert to see how the auditorium works?
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Thursday Update: Answers needed on Goodrich deal. (Record)