If it walks like “A Doug” and acts like “A Doug”, well then…
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If it walks like “A Doug” and acts like “A Doug,” well then, it’s obviously “A Doug.” A Doug Ford move that highjacks the best interests of voters. The voters of Port Hope are presently dealing with “A Doug” with the decision by the province to stop Ontario Power Generation (OPG) selling its surplus land in Wesleyville to the municipality of Port Hope. The deal, which was several years in the making, would’ve seen the town grow by 1,334 acres. An opportunity for the municipality to control its destiny and a considerable amount of growth that will inevitably happen west of town.
Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson said he was completely blindsided by the Ford government’s decision to arbitrarily cancel the deal.
Member of provincial parliament, representative of Northumberland-Peterborough South, Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Parks — and local boy — David Piccini betrayed the trust of voters. The newly created CORE (Centre of Realty Excellence) governance body’s own procedures weren’t followed with the deal negotiated well before the changes announced by the government in February.
The agreement to purchase the land between the municipality and OPG was scheduled to close on the 31st of March but OPG received a notification from MPP & Board Member Todd Smith to put the deal on hold. It was subsequently cancelled.
OPG officials said they received correspondence from Ross Roman, Minister of Government Services and Consumer Affairs requesting the transaction be “Set Aside” due to “emerging provincial land use initiatives” and “other Provincial priorities.” Then a directive from Energy Minister and Board member MPP Todd Smith, on March 25th, ordered OPG, “Not to proceed with the transaction” and further directed that the “transaction be cancelled.”
So how does this recent action by the provincial government, to cancel this obviously very unique opportunity for Port Hope to control its destiny, “walk and talk” like “A Doug?”
The loss of 1,334 acres of “Prime Lake Ontario Waterfrontage” probably set off a hue and cry with Ford donors over the loss of opportunity to build on or own a piece of this prime real estate. Land that is easily serviceable and already has easy highway 401 access.
The fact that the Municipality was getting it for a mere $18.34 Million must have seen particularly galling. I mean, then they would have to deal with the Municipality if they wanted to develop the lands and would likely pay a much higher price— which as I indicated earlier — would have been income for Port Hope.
The Centre of Realty Excellence did not exist during the ongoing negotiations between OPG and Port Hope. And Bill 84, the legislation that created this government body, didn’t exist before the end of February 2022. Piccini’s complicity in going along with Port Hope during negotiations was likely of some interest to Ford and his advisors.
He likely knew about the conflict in timing of the announcement and OPG’s commitment to sell to Port Hope and surely knows the value this 1,334 acre means for his home town and yet, he had the audacity to claim that the cancellation of this historic agreement to purchase these significant lands was all above board. And, that he doesn’t want it to become the election issue, it so obviously is.
The premises of CORE are important to Ontario development. Proper vetting for environmental impacts and steering towards projects that increase long term care capacity or more affordable housing are important. But, the difference here is that the Municipality isn’t a developer or private builder. It is a lower level of Government. One, that I would add, exists at the pleasure of the Premier & IMHO. It is no different than another entity or Ministry of the Government when it comes to being a responsible steward of the lands in question.
Now why is that important? Well as Mr. Piccini has said publicly many times when government lands become “surplus”, they are offered to government entities first, to use according to their needs. OPG is an entity of the Government, so is the Municipality of Port Hope. And as such, CORE “principles or Directives” needn’t or rather shouldn’t apply.
Therein lies the reason why this cancellation is, “A Doug.” The 1,334 acres of in Wesleyville of prime Ontario lakefront frontage is worth considerably more than the “pittance” being paid by the Municipality.
To suggest anything other than that, is gaslighting.
It also makes me wonder what will happens now with the Brookside property in the Town of Cobourg and how the town will be affected by this obvious thumb-on-the-scale decision by the Ford Government?
Only time will tell. June 2 is a referendum on the failures and negligence of Ford and his complicit caucus.
We voters can decide whether or not the deal is dead by casting our ballots accordingly.
The cancellation of the sale of the lands in Wesleyville is no different than so many others made by the Ford Nation. It was clearly killed to satisfy party donors.
Don’t quote me on that.
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