Cllr Abel MOTION, May 22nd, 2018 Council Meeting: Re: Post Secondary Economic Impact Analysis (The Armoury) after Council deliberation was defeated.
You can watch Council at 03:04:21: https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=11061 or read the transcribed meeting below. Cllr Pirri was absent.
“So we do want to see those economic impacts. And so that’s why it’s important that we bring this forward and let our citizens understand what kind of investment we’re making.”Cllr Abel, Town of Aurora
Cllr Abel: “I will read it and then ask for a seconder.”
Mayor Dawe: “Your choice.”
Cllr Abel: “Thank you. My choice.”
Cllr Abel reads his motion: Post Secondary Economic Impact Analysis
“Whereas the Town of Aurora and Niagara College, through its Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI), have entered into a partnership agreement to establish a post- secondary learning and training campus at the Aurora Armoury; and
Whereas there are economic and social benefits associated with the presence of a post-secondary institute (PSI); and
Whereas a report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) states that measuring the economic impact of a PSI can be done through an economic impact analysis; and
Whereas, as stated in the York Region Post-Secondary Investment Strategy, the economic impacts depend on what type of investment is chosen; and
Whereas those wishing to measure the economic impacts of their institutions, or understand the methods, findings and limitations in studies done elsewhere, would do so through an economic impact analysis;
 Now Therefore Be It Hereby Resolved That staff be directed to undertake an economic impact analysis for the post-secondary Canadian Food and Wine Institute; and
 Be It Further Resolved That the report be completed within two Council meeting cycles, so that Council and the public can be presented with the report on the economic impact analysis.”
Mayor Dawe: “Seconder please.”
Cllr Abel: “Come one. There’s one.”
Mayor Dawe: “Cllr Kim, thank you.”
Cllr Abel: “I thank Cllr Kim. I think it’s very important of coming out of 18 months of closed session the public should be aware of the social and economic benefits. And if having studied and had a look at the post secondary investment strategy, which we did not do. But it outlines what a model looks like a location and funding. So from York Region, and we all have a copy of it, a model, they recommend is along what they call science, technology, engineering, and math. And that’s what the York Region is looking for in a post-secondary institute, namely university higher education. These are the ones that have a great deal of economic impact. And identified culinary is not one of them in the top area. So, I think it’s important that if we’re going to say post-secondary has economic and social benefits, that we understand what they are. Also with the model, it’s a location. You need a location to outline and then as well understood that the main funder of any campus is the province. Now, a satellite campus can cost anywhere between 50 million to a full blown out campus 800 million dollars. So if you don’t have the province that means we’re picking up the tab. So we have to understand that we’re not in a position to sink millions of millions of dollars into a post-secondary unless we have the province. The province requires an investment strategy and it has to have an economic analysis before you can apply and for them to consider. If you don’t have that then it’s not a business model they’re interested in even looking at it. So if we’re going to go and take this route and make this investment, we should understand what those impact benefits are that we talked about. Primarily, this spin-off economic are the activities associated with the students and primarily, if you have residents that’s where you get your activity.
So for example, in Bradford, they made a loan to Laurier of 1 million dollars. It was a loan. It was five years, it was interest free and they had a mandate which is called strategic mandate agreement that they had to provide 450 students. Now, they started off with 39 and they had several abandoned buildings and their secret was that they turned in some of the residences, the buildings into residences, and so now they have all those abandoned buildings. 11 of those buildings are residences and they were devastated because they had three or four, major Massey Ferguson that withdrew. They were big industry so that’s why the downtown was abandoned. Our Armory in the Town park is not an abandoned place. So, we have to understand that if there’s going to be benefits, the long runs are with income tax from people that graduate and graduates from culinary wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in Aurora. So we do want to see those economic impacts. And so that’s why it’s important that we bring this forward and let our citizens understand what kind of investment we’re making.
Mayor Dawe: “Other speakers please.”
Cllr Kim at 03:09:43 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=11383: “I applaud Cllr Abel for wanting economic impact analysis. In many cases, they’re very useful. In this case; however; I’m not sure whether I want to put in staff time or any other options for an economic impact analysis, only because these types of impact analysis reports are already out there. When you read reports from Lethbridge or London, Ontario, Kingston, you see that the common trend is when you have economic downturns, the university towns stagnate and that’s actually a good word when the economy is in a downturn because you don’t want the economy to go down, you wanted to stay flat. So they actually buffer a post-secondary educational institutions. Normally in almost always fought for the community during an economic downturn and conversely it acts as a turbo boost during an economic upturn. Now, to be honest, I haven’t read any particular report that pertains to culinary institute, but if you look at post-secondary educational impact on municipalities, all the ones that I’ve read and heard about, have been very positive. I don’t see how a culinary institute would be that much more different.
The second point is, I think the timeline is, even if we were to approve this, I think two cycles would take far longer than two cycles to have staff bring this back. You know if we had more time, that’s another story, but I think that’s another reason why I’m not sure I can support this at this time. And yeah, those are my two comments. I’m fine with with institution, locating here, and with the positive business impacts I foresee. And I don’t think I can support this motion, but I do thank Cllr Abel for bringing this forward and bringing this to our attention. Thank you.”
Cllr Thompson at 03:12:21 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=11541: “Thank you Mayor Dawe. I just want to deal with the second clause first with regards to asking staff to complete it within a two cycle or 28-day period. I guess, first off through you too, Mr. Nadorozny. Mr. Nadorozny is 28 days reasonable for an economic impact analysis one that does it, I guess properly, because what I’ve seen from Branford and other places that have done them typically they are anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks and they use a consultant?”
Doug Nadorozny, CAO: “Through you Mr. Mayor. Yes, I agree two-cycle timeline, which is really only two weeks given our agenda schedule is rather aggressive for the kind of work that you’d want to do. I think that would be true even if it were just a prospective analysis not having a specific partner in mind, but more generally going after post-secondary institution. In our case right now, it would be sort of not that relevant to do a prospective one when we have a partner already signed up so we would want to engage that partner and rather than guessing at what kinds of things would go on we want to get it an actual activity profile from them so that we could actually use real numbers based on what they’re going to do as opposed to putting on an economic analysis based on a hypothetical. So I would think in then this situation, it might take even longer because I know they’re actively involved in that program development right now. But I would think that they would want to have a little more refined if it’s going to be measured as an economic impact analysis.”
Cllr Thompson, “Thank you. And secondly, I guess we’ll regards to staff, you know, throughout this process and even before, I mean, Cllr Abel and I were fortunate to be on the post secondary working group, I think that was the title back in the last term and we travelled to Windsor. We had conversations with Seneca when it came to the Fab Lab and ongoing we went after the York University campus that was going to be in the GTA somewhere. And so, you know, over that time staff of always come to us and talked about the economic benefits and the community benefits of attracting a post-secondary institution. And so, specifically with regards to this proposal staff have relayed to us the benefits that they saw throughout the discussions with Niagara College. But you know I want to be clear did staff did do due diligence with regards to this being a benefit to the community before making the recommendation to us to pursue it?”
Doug Nadorozny, CAO at 03:15:06 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=11706: “Our work was predicated on the desire of the community to attract a post-secondary institution here. And so, we assume that the sort of the non spreadsheet benefits of having that institution in this community were something of great interest to Council in the community. So it was on that basis that we started off. It wasn’t started off with an economic model that work was done in a more general level on post-secondary education and its value to communities. From that point on our negotiations with with Niagara College as this Council is aware was based on the actual numerical model that we saw being appropriate level investment for the return that we would get over the full term of the lease. So it’s both more to the dollar costs and not subjecting the Town to excessive amount of subsidy to get that post-secondary institution here in the community. So very quickly it went from theoretical let’s get a post-secondary here and let’s do what we can and then as we started working through the details it was about the lease and appropriate sharing of those responsibilities.”
Cllr Thompson: “I think that not just for timing matters I think it would be more appropriate, if Council wants to pursue the analysis to bring in a third party because I think staff are going to say the same thing that they’ve said to us from the get-go and that’s that they fully support this and they see the benefits and if you didn’t accept it before I don’t think you’re going to accept it now. And so, for myself in my own research, my own conversations, I do see the economic benefits and not just dollars and cents, I see, cultural benefits, social benefits. It’s a much wider range of benefits attracting a post-secondary education, whether it be a culinary, engineering, STEM model, whatever you want to say, the benefits vary, but they’re all beneficial to the community. There is an argument to be made that have an analysis at this point in time as a baseline so that five years from now when the lease is up, and we’re talking about long-term as Cllr Abel talks about in terms of a satellite campus and investments and so forth, you have a baseline upon which to properly analyze the benefits that have occurred over that five-year period against your assumptions. I know Branford did that. I think would Branford did their first one in 2006. They said something that the benefits the community would be 30 or 40 million dollars and five years later when they did it again in 2011 those benefits were 20% greater. They pegged it around 40 to 50 million dollars. So it can be a tool to help us in future decision-making.
I would assume the Region would probably do one as many people know the Region of York just gave 25 million dollars to York University for their mark on campus. I’m sure they did their due diligence. I’m sure that they also believe there’s great financial benefit to the community from having that university in Markham as well. So, I don’t think that moving forward with asking staff to do it in a 28-day will produce the results that some are looking for. I think the proper way to go about it is to conduct the analysis through a consultant.”
Mayor Dawe at 03:18:38 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=11918: “A couple of comments that Cllr Thompson talked about due diligence and from staff’s point of view. That was done. I’m I think quite frankly due diligence is up to this Council and does our Council feel that due diligence occurred? I would say yes. I think we’ve looked at it very carefully over the last, I’m going to say, six seven years. I think we have to be very careful that the numbers we throw around. 50 million dollars is nowhere close to what we’re looking at investing. If we were moving ahead as an example with the York University campus here in the Newmarket/Aurora, or very likely proposed a number of years ago, you would be easily into that to start. We’re nowhere close to that. So I think we have to be very careful of the numbers were putting out there. We don’t want people to be misled in terms of what this is going to cost. I would support, I think again to Cllr Thompson’s point, I would support going outside to a consultant who actually can take all this into account and come back to us with a full-some report. I think it’s very unrealistic to ask staff to come and do this in this particular time frame. I just don’t think that I can occur. So if that was changed. If we were going to go back and request staff to put together terms of reference and to look for someone who could put that together and would be supportive of that. But I can’t support certainly clause two.”
Cllr Abel at 03:20:20 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=12020: “Well, that’s very encouraging. I would have thought we would have had a project mythology on this. Which we didn’t. We had that recommendation from the JOC (Joint Operation Centre). Certainly we would have had a post-secondary investment strategy that we didn’t have that as well. And one thing for sure is each model is different than another. So the effects of a culinary and we talk about what these benefits are about but no one can specifically say what they are.
We should have had this and to the point of the province putting funding it. That outlines why we should have gone all through this and explained and look for funding. So we’re going in without a partner. Mr. CAO said the benefits were assumed. And if you look at some of the economic impact analysis you can see that Calgary did a great one. They had 80,000 students with seven universities and colleges and 10,000 people on staff that were working at all these colleges. So you can see right away what benefits are. People reside there. They also talked about the people that live there and stay there and so those are the logs stream, they call them far-reaching economic benefits. But they help the province. So, if we have culinary students coming in and they can’t afford to rent here, but then they’re leaving, there’s no economic activity. We have 150 students and if they can’t afford to live here they’re not going to set up their businesses or whatever, because again, there’s nowhere to live. So they’ll go back to where they are. So really, there are very few benefits that you can say we will see.
As far as social and community. It’s a good point, the busiest place. It’s not like we’re abandoned at the Town Park. The Town Park is the very centre of our community at social. We have concerts, rinks, baseball, splash pads. We have everything there. What we don’t have is a facility of 7,000 square feet that can house all the other activities that we want. And that’s what we should have done with the steering committee as analyzed where we’re going to put it. We wouldn’t put it at a facility that we really direly need. We could have, as I said before, we could have been at Baldwin’s and leased that and give it a loan for Niagara College and then had a 7,000 square foot Armoury for ourselves.
What we’re doing is we’re adding 1,400 square feet to the Armoury and we’re going to net and we haven’t even seen what we’re going to net. But by drawings, it looks like we’re going to net 3,000 square feet. So, in my mind, we’re not gaining anything socially we’re losing on a great valuable space. So as far as assumed social and economic just at a look, I would assume that there are none. If we had put Niagara in the Baldwin’s which was 5,000 square-foot top and give them a loan interest free we could have then had the advantage of both our community hub and a post-secondary as we go down. So I think what it would be fair to the public it’s knowing what exactly we have done.
And the only way to do it is with a third-party analysis. So if it could move things forward why not take out clause 2 and just replace it with ask staff to come back with an RFP. There’s a company that did it in Calgary, EEMI and they’ve done 1400 of these studies and so they would be very familiar with working quickly for us to get this done. These are very common and there used to convince policymakers and they’re used to convince the public of why you would make such an investment. So I think it would only be fair that since we didn’t have a steering committee and we didn’t have an investment strategy and we didn’t partner with the province which is a mandatory and we don’t know what their program development is we should at least let the public know what we have done. And this is a very easy tool to use. So Mr. Mayor, if it would, I would like these voted separately and if I could removed clause 2 and replace it with refer to staff for an RFP process.”
Cllr Thom at 03:25:36 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=12336: “Thank you Mr. Mayor. Cllr Thompson mentioned it I just like to mention it again. When we made this decision as a Council every single Councillor has done their due diligence on this project. And part of that due diligence is the economic impact to our Town. And we make it our individual decisions based on what we thought was in the best interest of the Town, the community and included in that was the economic impact. As been stated if we want to track this project over the term of the lease in order to look how we can improve on the lease moving forward or look at approve on the program with a partnership moving forward as this progresses, then I think that’s something that’s worth looking into and certainly will take longer than two meeting cycles to complete. But Cllr Abel is just outlined why he voted against the project. He basically just reiterated why he voted against it. And in my opinion, this is not an attempt to get the economic impact, but attempt to further drag out the process so that, you know, he has another opportunity to talk about why he’s against the project. We have moved forward with this. And I certainly believe it is in the economic interest of the Town and will have benefits for our Town. And certainly I’m totally in favour of tracking that progress, but I don’t think that’s the intent of this motion. I think the intent of this motion is to for Cllr Abel to be able to quite frankly continue to grandstand on this issue. So I’ll be voting against it.”
Cllr Abel: “Mr. Mayor it’s very clear. what I have outlined in my recitals. I want to a basis to measure what the benefits are that we’re talking about. No one here is been able to do it. I have outlined means of doing it. I would ask that he retrack the statement that I just want to grandstand. I think it’s inappropriate.”
Mayor Dawe: “Cllr Thom please rephrase.”
Cllr Thom: “I will not rephrase. Cllr Abel just spent five minutes talking about the negative or the fact that those impacts won’t be there in his opinion. So his mind certainly seems made up that he doesn’t believe this is in the economic interest of the Town. So I will not rephrase.”
Mayor Dawe: “I would request that you withdraw the phrase grandstanding.”
Cllr Thom: “I don’t know what other term to use Mayor Dawe. He spent five minutes talking about how he doesn’t believe in his opinion on the economic impacts. So what do you call it? And then he tells me that he isn’t saying that.”
Mayor Dawe: “Thank you. Cllr Abel carry on. I find for you.”
Cllr Abel: “Thank you but it was Cllr Thom I was talking to.”
Cllr Mrakas at 03:28:36 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=12516: “I agree with Cllr Thom. I think we all did our due diligence. We all understand what the economic benefits and the spin-offs could be from having Niagara College at the Armoury. And that’s what we based our decision on and it’s clear as Cllr Thom mentioned, from the comments from Cllr Abel that he doesn’t believe that there is any economic benefit to this. So at the end of the day, why would we look at getting a report that on the end of the day he’s still going to say no to. And it’s actually quite interesting that Cllr Abel over the last couple of months has commented on many issues in regards to saving taxpayers dollars and here we are he’s looking to spend taxpayers dollars and doing a study that at the end of the day he’s going to say no to. So which is it? Are you looking to save taxpayer dollars or you can get to spend tax dollars?“
Mayor Dawe: “Your question of privilege Cllr Abel.”
Cllr Abel: “I think it’s unfair of Cllr Mrakas to assume what I’m going to say. I’m only asking that we have a measurement of the impact analysis. I think it would be unfair to say I’m already going to be against it.
Mayor Dawe: “Cllr Mrakas would you please rephrase?”
Cllr Mrakas: “Sure. During his comments, Cllr Abel stated that he doesn’t believe that there’s any economic benefit. And so therefore I don’t understand how by going out and spending tax dollars to get a study to say that there is an economic benefit, which we all agree, there is. And we’ve heard it from our staff that somehow he’s suddenly going to turn around and say, oh yeah this is great. Because he’s just going to hear the same thing.”
Mayor Dawe: “Councillors I need a motion to extend.”
Mayor Dawe: “What is your question Cllr Abel?”
Cllr Abel at 03:30:40 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=12640: “If it came back and said there were economic benefits I would agree with it.”
Mayor Dawe: “Cllr Humfryes the floor is yours.”
Cllr Humfryes: “I think the intent of this to me should have been asked way at the beginning. I think we have that, we have this information. I mean it’s a post-secondary education institute, so there’s no doubt this is something that I think every municipality in ourselves have been vying for a very long time. What I would suggest, I don’t want to make any amendments really like this, but I think as we go along with the arrangement that is there that we track how well it’s going in an economic development perspective. That reports come once a year on the review of it and we go from there and just from not perspective I could see value, but at this point there’s no value in for me from this report at the moment.”
Mayor Dawe: “Any other speakers please?”
Mayor Dawe: “There is no amendment. No amendment. I’m sorry. Yeah we were asked to just split the clauses. I also suggest you need to put it amendment on the floor.” Speaking to Cllr Abel.
Mayor Dawe to Clerk: “We had to separate the clauses and put amendment on the floor. We’ve obviously already separated clauses Councillor.”
Cllr Abel: “Thank you Mr. Mayor. I appreciate that. I would put an amendment for a number the second clause to be that we refer this to staff to put an RFP for consultant and to report back on the cost.”
Cllr Thom: “Cllr Abel is moving a motion, but he’s already spoken twice.”
Mayor Dawe: “The mover of the motion gets to speak three times to get to summarize. That has been in our procedure.”
Mayor Dawe: “There’s an amendment on the floor. Mr. Clerk, are you comfortable with the amendment.”
Cllr Thom: “He is a seconder.”
Mayor Dawe: “Could you give us amendment Mr. Clerk.”
Clerk: “I believe it’s that clause to be amended to refer the recommendation for an economic impact analysis to be RFP for an economic impact analysis for post-secondary Canadian Food and Wine Institute be created and put out for tender or for a bid.”
Clerk: “This would also amend the clause one that staff be directed to undertake RFP for an economic impact analysis.”
Mayor Dawe: “Can your bring up both clauses up, please?”
Mayor Dawe:”Thank you. Cllr Abel.”
Cllr Abel: “I think it might be just simpler if we just say that be directed to undertake an RFP for an economic impact analysis.”
Mayor Dawe: “So eliminate clause two and modify clause one?”
Mayor Dawe: “Mr. Clerk second time. Seconder for that please. Cllr Thompson seconding the amendment. Any speakers to the amendment?”
Cllr Thompson at 03:35:15 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=12916: “I’d hate to go straight to an RFP without bringing back the terms of reference first. Just so we’re clear on what we’re asking for and that it resolves Cllr Abel’s concerns or issues and helps him move past this and get some closure so that we can welcome Niagara College going forward. So I would ask that instead of going to RFP that he just asked staff to bring forward terms of reference.”
Mr. Nadorozny: “At this point we have no budget and no terms of reference so that would be the next step in anyway is to bring it back to Council to get direction on how to proceed.”
Mayor Dawe: “So then the amendment should be that staff bring back a terms of reference?” Cllr Abel nods his head.
Cllr Thom: “Thank you Mr. Mayor. So my understanding is, to the amendment. So, will terms of reference be measuring the project over the course of the term of the lease? Or is it going to be time constrained to them doing an analysis of what we know today.”
Mr. Nadorozny: “My recommendation would be that we put a couple of those options in the report since I don’t know given that we’re in a contract with Niagara College. How much value that would be and just simply stating at the start but it’s whatever Council directs, we’d put some options in there I guess.”
Cllr Thom: “Great. So there will be options and just I know this will likely be included but what will the likely cost of this be? If you’re not comfortable give me a ballpark, that’s fine, but if you are.”
Mr. Nadorozny: “I’d rather not give cost just because I think this would be different than most of these traditionally are done. Most of these are done prospectively when you’re trying to recruit one and you’re going to build a model that gets a community interested in even getting the thing here, whereas we have it. And so, I want to ask the consultant to work with Niagara College to you real numbers and they’re real programming plan.”
Cllr Thom: “So, essentially the fruit of this motion as amended will be to provide us with terms of reference, the scope of work, potential budget and that will be the next touch point for this decision? Thank you.”
Cllr Thompson: “My two cents is that I think it should be a go-forward, sort of establish a baseline so that we can establish the value five years from now. But the other comment, I just want to make is that I don’t think it should be limited to just an economic impact analysis. I think that if you’re going to bring back options, it should be for a more broader impact analysis that includes sort of social, cultural so forth. Cllr Abel did state earlier than he doesn’t believe that there’s any any benefits you know socially or culturally. So I think we need to look at the whole perspective so that he’s well informed.”
Cllr Abel: “Just for clarification, I didn’t say there were none. I just said we could do more without them.”
Mayor Dawe: “Calling the vote on the amendment them. All those in favour, please using your tablets. Yes, it is the main motion as amended, Clerk just corrected me.”
Amendment | Moved by Councillor Abel | Seconded by Councillor Thompson
That the operative clauses be replaced by the following:
“Now Therefore Be It Hereby Resolved That staff bring back a Terms of Reference for a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the economic impact analysis regarding the post-secondary partnership with Niagara College.” | Defeated | Voting Record NA
Source: Council Minutes May 22, 2018
Mayor Dawe at 03:39:09 https://youtu.be/-RSzcRPi1eU?t=13149: “That motion fails.”
Mayor Dawe: “Go back to the main motion. So everyone’s spoken. Just calling the vote please. We gonna split the item. Using your tablets please vote on clause one.”
Council consented to vote on each operative clause separately:
Moved by Councillor Abel | Seconded by Councillor Kim
“1. Now Therefore Be It Hereby Resolved That staff be directed to undertake an economic impact analysis for the post-secondary Canadian Food and Wine Institute.” | Defeated
Source: Council Minutes May 22, 2018
Voting Record: Mayor Dawe NO; Cllr Abel NO; Cllr Gaertner NO; Cllr Humfryes NO; Cllr Kim NO; Cllr Mrakas NO; Cllr Pirri Absent; Cllr Thom NO; Cllr Thompson NO | Defeated 2 to 6.
Source: Recorded Vote Tracking 2018
Mayor Dawe: “Clause one fails.”
Mayor Dawe: “Voting on clause two with your tablets.”
“2. Be It Further Resolved That the report be completed within two Council meeting cycles, so that Council and the public can be presented with the report on the economic impact analysis.” | Defeated
Source: Council Minutes May 22, 2018
Voting Record: Mayor Dawe YES; Cllr Abel YES; Cllr Gaertner NO; Cllr Humfryes NO; Cllr Kim NO; Cllr Mrakas NO; Cllr Pirri Absent; Cllr Thom NO; Cllr Thompson NO | Defeated 0 to 8.
Source: Recorded Vote Tracking 2018
Mayor Dawe: “Clause two fails. That motion is defeated.”