In the whole fiasco over the Board of Education building, it's important to remember that City Council holds the keys. The HWDSB deal is predicated on the Board selling 100 Main Street West to McMaster, and the McMaster deal is predicated on $47 million in funding and leasing commitments from the City.
Council needs to step back and ask a straightforward cost/benefit question:
We should not pursue a downtown health campus at any cost. Desperation planning can only result in a bad deal that costs a lot more than it delivers. Council has a history of unwillingness to walk away from a bad deal.
The HWDSB Trustees have their reasons for deciding that their best option is to sell 100 Main Street West, demolish Crestwood and construct a two-storey building next to Limeridge Mall and surrounded by surface parking - though we must take them on faith until the Board releases its study comparing a number of potential locations.
However, Council is under no obligation to facilitate a deal that serves the interests of the school board but does not serve the public interests of the city.
Nor is Council obliged to guarantee the success of McMaster's plans - especially if the net effect is to remove a building and a group of daytime workers, only to replace it with a cheaper building and another group of daytime workers at great public expense.
Council should tell both the HWDSB and McMaster to go back to the table and work out a creative arrangement that actually serves the city's public interest:
Finally, the solution should embrace mixed-use and include the addition of new residential supply. The downtown core will not thrive as long as it remains a monoculture of 9-5 employees who flee to suburban homes at closing time.
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