Posted by: HamptonIona | March 5, 2011

Speak Up Now on City Council Vote to Purchase Convent Land

Last November, the Planning Committee passed a motion that allowed for the City to consider purchase of a portion of the Soeur de la Visitation convent site and that the City had until March 31, 2011 to implement this decision.  The City took three months to come up with a land valuation, which was only released on March 1.  Councillor Hobbs is currently holding a series of public meetings with the community which will not be finished until March 7.  As the next Planning Committee is not until April 12, Councillor Hobbs is bringing forward to the March 10 Council meeting, the decision as to whether the City should acquire the land.   While public delegations are allowed to speak at the Planning Committee, there are typically no public delegations allowed at full council meetings.  Therefore only Councillors and Staff will be able to speak to this issue on March 10.

It is imperative that you write to Mayor Watson, Councillor Hume (chair of the Planning Committee) and all Councillors immediately and include the following points.

  • Ask for the matter to follow the proper procedures by having it go first to the Planning Committee meeting where the public has a delegated right to express their opinion.
  • Ask for the Council on March 10 to extend the deadline for the decision to be made until April 13, allowing the matter to be heard at Planning Committee on April 12 and full Council on April 13.
  • Inform the Mayor and Council, that while it took three months for the City to release the appraised value, the public is only able to consider the actual amount of the levy from March 1 to March 9.  For those planning to attend the later public meetings, the public has only been given less than a week to make a decision. 
  • Ask for this process to be conducted in a transparent manner with a detailed explanation of how the Ward vote on the levy will be tabulated and whether this methodology allows for sufficient time to gauge the public opinion post the 6 public meetings.

Background Information For Your emails/Letters:

  • While the matter has been in the public eye for several months, we have not had a firm grasp on the potential value of the land and have only just seen it.  Peter Hume originally estimated a value of $3 mln .in November, in February our Councillor was indicating that $5 mln. was the value and it was only on March 1 that we were told that it would be $11.5 mln.
  • Similarly, Peter Hume had originally estimated that the levy would be approximately $4/yr per household for 20 years and it was only on March 1 that we were told that the levy would be $97/yr for 10 years.  The public has not had the time to focus on these amounts as they have only just been released.
  • Even though there had been three public meetings on March 1 and 2, the public was not informed by Councillor Hobbs that she was bringing this forward to Council on March 10 Council until at 5:30 pm on March 4 and more broadly in The Citizen on March 5. 
  • There has been limited discussion with the community as to whether the appraised value of $11.5 mln. is appropriate or the terms of reference .  As it turns out that the vast bulk of the funding is coming from the community, not from City funds, the community needs more time to understand the basis for this appraisal and what it is composed of.  The City often hires consultants and rejects their findings if they are deemed to be inappropriate.  Without knowing more about the appraised value, we do not know if the City has any room to adjust it to a figure that is lower but possibly still acceptable to Ashcroft or defensible at an OMB expropriation hearing. 

It is not recommended that you go into details with your feelings about the development or the performance of our councillor.  It is not appropriate at this time.  Please keep a respectful tone.  The key message is that the city is not performing in a transparent manner in how this final decision will be made and is not following due process.  Our new mayor has expressed concerns about transparency at City Hall.    This needs to be our focus at this time.

Please find attached a list of email addresses for our councillors and mayor:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;



  1. At the Churchill Seniors Recreation Centre meeting, Councillor Hobbs claimed that Council cannot extend the deadline past March 31st because it would risk legal action for delaying Ashcroft. I pointed out that the zoning is slated to go to the OMB, and a hearing has not yet been scheduled, and until the OMB has reviewed the matter, Ashcroft can do nothing with the property. I then asked Counicllor Hobbs, in consideration of the many questions yet to be answered, whether she would put forward a motion to extend the deadline. She said she would not.

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