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Chris Cooke's picture

Good intentions, bad timing

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 15:09 -- Chris Cooke

Okay, time for a reality check.

The Bayside Centre downtown remains in its perpetual state of emptiness since Seasons Retirement Communities of Oakville paid essentially bus money for the sprawling space some three years ago.

The plans were elaborate and the intentions were good but so far nothing.

Last fall we reported that the financially well heeled Labourer’s International Union Pension Fund would “repurpose” the tired downtown mall by dumping $100 million into the place.

Two nine storey towers, one for seniors and the other residential, 73,000 square feet for Lambton County shared services, Provincial Court Offices, a medical centre, a restaurant and retail space were rolled out in plans that so far remain just that … plans.

The best of intentions, if you will, are aimed at making the mall a residential and community hub.

But turning it into reality is apparently a monumental task even for the Labourer’s International Union Pension Fund which has $500 million in assets, $200 million in projects and operates 18 retirement residences in Alberta and Ontario.

As it turns out the problem centers on the County of Lambton and that 73,000 square feet for shared services which may, or may not change depending what the Province does with its massive debt and $11 billion deficit.

At this writing the Conservative government of Doug Ford is doing back of the napkin number crunching which could see the amalgamation of Health Units across the Province, five of them in the London, Sarnia and Windsor triangle.

What that means for services, and in particular jobs at the government level could very well impact Seasons and its seven year “repurposing” of Bayside.

While the yappy dog party of Socialist leader Andrea Horvath thinks this is outrageous, she has a tendency to forget how we got here.

Successive Liberal governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne drove debt to unprecedented levels, to the point where rating agency bosses with long faces and little patience were demanding change.

So, now we have it.

Change.

And while the Province struggles to get its financial house in order Bayside Centre appears to be a casualty of friendly fire.

For Seasons the timing couldn’t be worse. Low unemployment, soaring construction costs and a primary tenant with a potential money problem have left Bayside Centre in a perpetual state of good intentions.

While the Labourer’s International Pension Fund has money there is a difference between having money and making money. Until that problem is resolved Bayside will likely remain mostly empty.

I could be wrong about this but I’m usually not.

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