Councillor Tom Jackson, who is also a board member at the Hamilton Waterfront Trust, has revealed that the HWT ran a deficit of just over $474,000 for the fiscal year 2011. The size of the deficit came as a surprise to Waterfront Trust observers because HWT chair Bob Charters told City Council in mid November 2011 that the Trust was in a surplus position of $170,000. That prediction came with only the 4th quarter results yet to be heard.
In an exchange of emails with the Bay Observer, Clr. Jackson noted that the Waterfront Trust isn’t the only provider of recreational amenities that is operating in the red, noting : “ our Libraries do not make money….our recreation centres, parks, playgrounds…..none of them operate in your “businesslike management” fashion. So, let’s close them all and see what kind of a Community we would have.”
Clr. Jackson repeatedly cites the value of the waterfront trails and other amenities, apparently to deflect criticism of the lack of financial oversight of HWT. No one has criticised the trails or suggested that we shouldn’t have them, as I pointed out to the Councillor yesterday:
“… Kaye and I do take our grandchildren to the West Harbour and the Beach Strip and I agree they are transformative facilities; but I hope you are not suggesting that, were it not for the way the HWT operates , this couldn’t have happened. Then we as citizens would be forced to make a choice between having nice recreational facilities and transparency in spending public money. I believe we can have both…you seem to imply that it’s either-or. If you believe that the public sector is an impediment to businesslike management of infrastructure projects, one could ask why have you spent the last 23 years in public life? The western trail to Princess Point, Pier 4 and Bayfront Park were all built prior to the inception of HWT; as was the Confederation park portion of the trail system. What has been added (by HWT) are great facilities; but surely not so great as to justify setting up a parallel universe that operates completely outside any normal public scrutiny and at the same time threatens to compromise the professionalism of city staff.”
It’s not about free hot chocolate and fishing rods for the kids, Councillor, it’s about doing the public’s business …in public. What a novel idea.