Parkade battle begins
The race to gather enough signatures to send the Lorne Street parkade to a referendum is underway, but the group behind the petition won’t get much help from the city.
After giving final approval on Tuesday, Aug. 30 to a bylaw to borrow $8 million to build the parkade — triggering the alternative-approval process — council turned down a request to have the counter-petitions available for pick-up or drop-off in municipal buildings other than city hall.
Friends of Riverside Park, the group leading the counter-petition, asked council to consider placing the petition in civic buildings.
Coun. Denis Walsh said he didn’t want to hinder the process or create a nightmare for city staff and suggested simply having a drop-off box at the Tournament Capital Centre.
He said it would take the onus off staff to explain the petition to residents wanting to pick up a form.
His fellow councillors were not convinced.
Coun. Jim Harker argued the city has “bent over backwards” to accommodate the process, arguing it wouldn’t be fair to staff to place the petition in buildings other than city hall.
“I think we’ve done everything we can do,” he said.
Mayor Peter Milobar called the petition a “serious initiative” and raised questions about the security of signed petitions at places where staff are too busy to deal with them.
He said city hall is the perfect place, suggesting since tax season is over, there is staff available with time to properly deal with the petition.
As for the alternative-approval process, the group will have until Oct. 11 to gather 10 per cent of the electorate’s signatures to force council to drop the project or send it to a referendum.
The city has determined the electorate number to be 65,332, which means the group will need to collect 6,533 signatures.
Friends of Riverside kicked off its campaign last night (Aug. 31) at the final Music in the Park event of the summer.
In May, council decided to proceed with a two-level, 350-stall parkade in the Lorne Street parking lot adjacent to Riverside Park.
The parkade is estimated to cost $7.8 million, with the project expected to go to tender in late December.