Is Mayor Dean Fortin’s Alternative Approval Process for JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 09-057 ILLEGAL?

JUST WONDERING…

– Gregory Hartnell, President

Concerned Citizens’ Coalition

 

I am not a lawyer, but I seriously wonder whether the ongoing ‘Alternative Approval Process’ (AAP) for the JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT, undertaken by Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin and Victoria City Council, is even legal at all, it has so many things obviously and glaringly wrong with it.

The first problem was the difficulty in finding the petition forms themselves.  

For some strange reason, the City of Victoria did not send out Elector Response Forms for this AAP to every eligible voter on the Victoria Voters’ List, as one would logically expect.

Voters with computers could, and can still, download and print the petiton form from the City’s website: johnsonstreetbridge.com

or from the website of the opposition group: johnsonstreetbridge.org

However, even if one were to get a petition form and read it carefully, much vital public interest information has been left out.

Why would the length of the amortization and the cost of the loan per annum be required to be printed on two different dates in a newspaper advertisement and not on the petition form itself?

How can voters endorse or reject a borrowing proposal without knowing the length of the amortization or the amount of the yearly cost to the taxpayers?

There were also other problems with the process, pertaining mainly to published comments from the spokesperson of the project, Mr. Howard Markson, saying that the City could borrow ‘up to $52,000,000 without having to increase its annual payments.’

This is certainly confusing as the amount of the borrowing in question is $10,000,000 less, the well-known figure of $42,000,000.

The Mayor has also made a number of extraordinary statements that he cannot substantiate, designed to cast doubt on the prudence of a referendum, such as that costs of borrowing might go up as much as $8,800,000 if a referendum were successful.

He also said in a December 9 article by Roszan Holmen that ‘the debt load won’t increase property taxes.’

What he neglected to mention was that the debt load of $3,121,000 per year was amortized over 20 years to become a whopping $62,420,000, total payable by the taxpayers of Victoria.

When one considers the primitive distribution and publication of the petition; omissions of vital public interest information from the petition form itself; misleading, irrelevant or erroneous published comments from the Mayor and Mr. Markson, apparent interference in scrutineering process by City staff (petitions ‘rejected’ before Jan. 4), the ethical propriety and legality of this AAP is doubtful. 

It is my sincere hope that some public-spirited lawyer or a larger legal team of pro-bono lawyers is already looking into legally challenging the results of this seriously flawed process, if need be, in the public interest.

GREGORY PAUL MICHAEL HARTNELL

CONCERNED CITIZENS’ COALITION

CCC

 

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