Brantford’s Municipal Election: is education worth a “blank cheque” to a city?

The latest missive, “What’s education worth to a city” from The Expositor that tries to rationalize Brantford City Hall’s decisions regarding:

– the sale of former valuable commercial land on the southside of Colborne St. to Wilfrid Laurier University and the YMCA for the proposed Laurier-YMCA for $2;

– the approval of $2.4 million to replace a wastewater trunk line to prepare for the proposed Laurier-YMCA;

– the sale of the Market Square (estimated commercial value of $30-40 Million) to Laurier for $5.8 million

can be found here.

Following are the issues this piece raises:

1) “Heads and beds levy” is mainly a shuffling of THE taxpayer’s dollar from one government agency to another or one level of government to another.  You cannot equate this with tax revenue generated from private enterprise.

2) Some candidates for municipal election have talked about the need to educate Brantford citizens.  Its estimated that only 11.2% got the memo.

3) Some candidates have cited business’ need for skilled labour.  With the closure of Mohawk College, Elgin St. Campus, Brantford now has less skilled labour education.

4) The Adventus Research Inc. study was funded by The Grand Valley Education Society (a not-for-profit organization funded mainly by the education sector and government). Given who the client is, how objective is this study?

Over the last 15 years Laurier, Nippissing, Mohawk and Connestoga have benefited from many generous deals with government and the private sector to create the downtown campuses. Why after 15 years of post-secondary presence downtown has the study’s predicted “452 to 559” jobs not filled the vacancies along Colborne and Dalhousie Sts. with commercial ventures—particularly

Brantford's Municipal Election: is education worth a "blank cheque" to a city?

Expositor Place, 53 Dalhousie St., Brantford

Expositor Place where the Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe now sits idle?  Since the building opened the other commercial spaces have sat empty.

5) You don’t need to spend thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on a study to determine if the construction/refurbishing of buildings, and the increase in the population of a segment of a city is going to have an economic benefit.

6) Perhaps there would not be so much confusion and criticism of the post-secondary issue in Brantford:

  • if the public was asked directly via referendums what they want for THEIR downtown
  • if debate, planning and deal making were done in the open
  • if deal making was not done at the eleventh hour

The Adventus study states that “excellent communication between all parties (the academic players, the City and the greater community) has been a hallmark of the downtown Brantford revitalization project.”  This may be true for the first two parties, but when it comes to the citizens of Brantford as a whole, they have been left outside closed doors.

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