If you received this week’s so-called ‘community paper’ (what a misnomer!) you’ll notice another fawning article about Rick’s pet project, the Bells Corners Business Improvement Area (BIA). Desperate to make residents forget about his Lloyd Francis Boulevard bungling and his dumb move in inventing Don Robertson before next Tuesday’s public meeting, he called up his favourite reporter in order to stage yet another bogus photo op in front of Alex’s posh office (paid for by local struggling small businesses).
On the left we have Manny, who owns the Cock ‘n Bull – I used to patronize that place until I had a very unpleasant experience there. Then we have Alex Lewis, who used to sling beer for Manny and worked as a mall cop before Rick hired him as one of his office boys and then promoted him to BIA executive director. Beside Alex is Betty from Sew for it! , then we have Rick’s co-conspirator Jim, Mr. Doughnut himself and a couple of others who seem to be putting their own narrow interests first.
A Bells Corners BIA is a good idea, but we need one that promotes the interests of all the businesses in our community, not just the ones who have jumped onto Rick’s taxpayer-funded gravy train. So far the BIA has sucked about $200,000 out of Bells Corners businesses (the biggest chunk to pay the salary of the councillor’s former office boy) and has virtually nothing to show for it. The BIA does not represent the Bells Corners business community but is simply a business-funded extension of the councillor’s office, with an executive elected at a poorly-attended ‘secret’ meeting.
There’s nothing new in the article, unless you didn’t know that when the Department of National Defence takes over the Nortel campus it’ll be good for local businesses and real estate values in Bells Corners, where some homes are already in the million-dollar range. It’s only a matter of time before Rick tries to take credit for DND’s move to the west end, just as he falsely took credit for demolishing the Vox.
Jennifer’s puff piece didn’t fool everyone – here are one reader’s comments:
Whether DND’s influence is as positive as billed, I don’t see what the BIA has to do with it — DND employees are going to spend money in Bells Corners (or not) regardless of whether there’s a BIA or what it does, which so far isn’t much. They promised an ad campaign years ago and never did it. They don’t organize events like the other BIAs do. The Play-Shop-Dine banners were ripped off from another BIA and they never apologized. I realize most of the executive’s hearts are in the right place but I am concerned that they’re totally adrift here. You can’t just claim credit for the Vox coming down or the Rexall going up– both 100% private transactions– and say you’re doing good work. In fact they even said the lot vacated by the Vox was going to be condos; the land isn’t even sold. Bottom line, are the businesses better or worse off with the BIA? Is anything different at all?
Also, has anyone else noticed how many stories have been run about the plans Chiarelli and the BIA have? That condo/hotel story ran in this very publication (this is the still-unsold parcel). Plans for condos. Plans for more hotels. Plans for ad campaigns. Plans for a website. Plans for a skateboard park. All are allegedly imminent and yet they never materialize. Those changes which do happen are because of someone else’s effort. I feel like he plays this publication’s staff for fools sometimes.