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Mayor's absence breaks log jam on former AUPS building shell

Posted September 10, 2019

New Tecumseth councillors broke along the same voting lines last night except Mayor Rick Milne who was absent from the meeting which resulted in a 5-4 vote to demolish the former Alliston Union Public School building at 25 Albert Street and shift focus to the recreation centre property as a new administration centre site.

Since the start of the new term of council, nearly every vote related to the AUPS site have been deadlocked at 5-5. Mayor Milne, and councillors Wayne Noye, Fran Sainsbury, Donna Jebb, and Shira Harrison McIntyre have supported building on Albert Street. Deputy Mayor Richard Norcross, and councillors Michael Beattie, Paul Foster, Stephanie MacLellan, and Allan Lacey are opposed.

But because of the tie votes, the project, which grew to an estimated cost of $18 million, and requires nearly $8 million from reserves, and the remainder in long term taxation to finance, has not progressed beyond knocking down the original school building which contained asbestos, and securing it with a fence.

In committee two weeks ago, councillors voted against spending money to electrify and heat the building through winter. But a 5-5 vote saved it from immediate demolition. But when it came forward for ratification last night, the Mayor's absence (which at this post the reason was not provided) marked the difference.

A motion to defer the vote by councillor Noye required unanimous consent because it had already been deferred once, when councillor Noye was absent. Last night it failed 5-4. The mayor had not publicly announced in committee previously that he would be absent last night, and was aware the recommendations were on the agenda to be ratified in council.

Demolition is estimated to cost $362,000. The report to council notes demolishing the building would "include an increase valuation of the subject lands." No decision has been made beyond demolition though proceeds from an eventual sale of the AUPS property would be applied against the new build. As would the sale of the current administration centre at Wellington and Church Street.

"Staff have had discussions with our subject matter expert (Marc Ronan) and received a formal opinion that the value of the (AUPS) land would increase by an amount greater than the expenditures indicated in the table above should the land be completely un-encumbered."

All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri