In response to this open letter to Council, Mayor Fred Eisenberger sent me the following statement on the (now defeated) proposal to build a glass enclosure in front of City Hall as part of the renovation process (edited slightly for clarity):
City Hall is an important project with a significant expenditure of public money.
Two years ago I supported building a new multipurpose civic centre. Building new would have cost less in the long run, accommodated additional staff, and reduced our need to pay rent elsewhere.
I had concerns with the renovation option, but that said, that is the path we are now on. City Hall should be a people place inside and out. While I didn't agree with the renovation option, I have always said and continue to say that if we are going to do it, we should do it right.
Early on in the planning process, City staff had identified an option to increase the functional space at City Hall. The proposed (now defeated) enclosure of the entrance would have achieved this.
The Foyer space would have expanded the useable public space, included the Business Enterprise Centre and computer terminals, and provided a one stop, seamless customer service delivery counter, minimizing the public's need to go upstairs.
Regrettably, however, the project has been mischaracterized from the very beginning.
Clearly, in these uncertain times we need to be even more cautious with the public's money.
We are accountable and need to invest public money wisely. Funding for the project would not have been funded by a federal infrastructure grant, council's strategic capital fund or surplus from the renovation.
Additional useable space makes sense. Building while we are renovating makes economic sense. In these economic times, I respect the public's concern but I will always continue to believe in this community and aim higher for the hardworking citizens of this great City.
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