Regional Council candidate Chris Emanuel today slapped down Tom Vegh for promising a new library and seniors’ centre when for the past four years - as a library board member – he failed to move the agenda forward and get anything done.
Emanuel paints a picture of Vegh as all talk and no action. Someone who was unable to show us what his new library would look like and what it would cost.
In promising us a new library Vegh is just spinning another yarn:
“Not only has the board failed to complete a study on what a new library would look like, what size it would be, where it would be located, but he couldn't even get Council to agree to pay for that study.”
Over the years I’ve sat in on a number of presentations to Council by Library Chief Executive Todd Kyle and I don’t recall Vegh banging the table, demanding a new library. Had he done so I think I would have remembered.
Emanuel points out that the Town’s library is open 6 days a week:
“One of the drivers for not opening 7 days a week has been the cost.... I can't imagine not moving forward on a 7th day because of cost, but he's now able to justify a new facility... how many days will it open?
Vegh identifies site for new Library
In a Tweet last week (8 October 2018) Vegh says the combined Library/Seniors’ Centre would be located on Paterson Street on the Hollingsworth Arena site. Vegh says he wouldn’t sell the site to developers. However, in 2015 Vegh was in favour of doing a deal with the swashbuckling pseudo developer Sandro Sementilli to redevelop the site (but not for a library). His Progressive Conservative colleague on Council – Jane Twinney – voted against. The deal fell through.
A letter from Emanuel now going out Town-wide repeats his earlier claim that Vegh is promising two new multi-million dollar Town buildings.
Emanuel says one of them is the combined Library and Seniors’ Centre – which is uncosted - and
“the second is a reference to a Community Centre that he has committed to in Copper Hills.”
Vegh flatly denies this.
An unqualified "no"
“A new community centre in Copper Hills is not in my platform nor in any of my campaign literature. Neither the Town or I are entertaining such an idea.
When Copper Hills was built 10 years ago, the site plan included a new school... The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) had an option to purchase that land for a school. In 2015 a group of Copper Hills residents approached me to help them convince YRDSB to exercise that option before it expired in 2017. I explained to them that the Town does not build or operate schools, but promised I would work with them and the local school trustee…
In 2017 the YRDSB purchased the land but said that the local school-age population does not justify building a new school. However, they may be open to building a school/community hub. The residents think this is a good option and I will continue working with them, the Trustee, and our MPP to make this happen. Let me stress that this is a YRDSB project, not a Town of Newmarket project…”
If Vegh delivers a community centre people won’t care who paid for it. They will remember he pushed for it.
Vegh courts the senior vote
Tom Vegh’s platform is full of pledges for seniors:
“Newmarket’s seniors’ population has grown by 30% in the last decade but housing options have not kept pace. Tom Vegh will
(1)Double the number of housing subsidies for seniors
(2)Provide incentives to build apartments and condominiums in Newmarket
(3)Triple the number of spaces available for supportive seniors’ housing.”
Emanuel accuses Vegh of having a shopping list without prices.
Emanuel is much less specific than Vegh:
“We must make sure our community is affordable – housing and recreation programme must not be out of reach for families, seniors and young people.”
Developers will pay
Emanuel says Vegh expects developers to pay for his (Vegh’s) promises through Development Charges. (This is money paid over to York Region and the Town of Newmarket ostensibly to offset the additional costs of growth – the sewers and roads and so on.) But Emanuel insists this won’t happen as developers are already paying the maximum allowable (90%) as set out in Provincial legislation.
I don't know if that is true but Emanuel says it with such conviction I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Emanuel says Vegh expects the Federal Government and the Province to foot the bill for his supportive housing program. And while they do provide grants that help offset some regional costs why, he asks, should
“any reasonable person believe that they will triple that commitment. And when they don’t triple that commitment is Tom Vegh’s plan to raise property taxes or blame other levels of government for a promise he knew was unachievable?”
Emanuel says it is unrealistic to expect spending on housing in Newmarket to be tripled without a similar percentage increase across York Region – and that would cost a stack of money – approaching $1 billion in operating and capital costs.
“Newmarket represents about 7.5% of the region’s allocation of housing and, while Tom Vegh may consider himself to be a savvy politician, I don't know how Newmarket's two members of Regional Council could convince the other 19 that Newmarket's should just be tripled and their communities would remain stagnant.”
Promising the earth
According to Emanuel, the assumed 40% hike in property taxes includes 3%-5% for a new regional road.
I don’t know what costs would fall on the Town of Newmarket from the construction of this road. It all seems a bit up in the air to me. Emanuel points to Davis Drive but I’m not sure how relevant that is when the Province picked up the bill in its entirety. There were the costs of expropriating land which fell on York Region but I always believed these were passed on to the Province. (I am now disappearing into the weeds.)
Emanuel says Vegh has a load of other promises including a new tennis facility and a parking structure downtown. All uncosted. Emanuel says his accounting of the 40% tax hike is a conservative estimate but concedes not everything Vegh is promising is likely to happen.
“But that begs a bigger question, does he believe they would (happen)? Or is he promising things he simply knows he cannot deliver on.”