Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Unvarnished facts and truth" edition number one "The Hotel"

Back on June 15 the first Mayor's corner came out, this was the one where the Mayor began to reach out to the community and the people that  don't agree with everything he says. He felt the need to direct his comments at the "barber shop quartet" "coffee time guys and gals" "local papers" and for good luck he threw in "local blogs" and the "numerous letters to the editors".

He concluded his Mayor's corner by stating "if we miss anything please call myself, the Councillors, or our Administration for the unvarnished facts and truths"

The hotel issue has been awfully quite especially after the municipality went to the effort of placing the letter from "the Penrose group of companies" stating that Best Western would make a decision by June 17.

I have spent the last couple of days talking to some of my fellow citizens about the hotel and maybe our expectations were to high, what gave people these high expectations. Well I though long and hard and decided maybe I should look for the "unvarnished facts and truth" on this issue. What a better place to find the facts and truths than the Mayor's corner and the CAO reports in the municipal newsletter.

Aug 15, 2012 the Mayor states "During the next fifteen months my goals are specifically: to bring our hotel development to fruition"

Sept 14, 2012 the Mayor states "Administration is actively negotiating the new hotel development"

Oct 17, 2012 CAO's report states " Negotiations on the sale and development of the former Crowsnest Centre site and construction is proceeding. Administration and the developer have reached agreement on a number of conditions with a few remaining"

Oct 17, 2012 the Mayor states "I am pleased to announce that after months (and months) of work we have as promised, resolved the problem surrounding the Crowsnest Learning Centre and "old" hospital facility. The new hotel restaurant truck stop complex -is a go! The last few legal details are being ironed out and early next month we and the developers are looking forward to holding a public session to gather your input as to what you would like to see happen"

Oct 17,2012 Letter from the Mayor to Allison Redford "As such we now have a new hotel, restaurant and truck stop development which will begin in the spring of 2013"

Nov 19, 2012 CAO report states " Administration and the developer for the former Crowsnest Centre site development continue to solve and complete development issues and anticipate that all remaining issues will be resolved within the next 30 days"

Nov 19,2012 the Mayor states "We are in the process of determining an open house date for our hotel development team to gather input from yourselves regarding the development. I suspect it will be in February. Contrary to rumor no "flag" hotel has yet been determined.

Dec 18,2012 CAO report states " Administration and the developer for the former Crowsnest Centre site development have had several discussions over the last few weeks. The majority of sale and development conditions have been satisfied for both parties with the finalization of agreement to be expected by month end. A new Hotel developer is partnering with the main developer and we are expecting the development process to start moving forward very quickly"

Dec 18,2012 The Mayor states "The hotel/restaurant/truck stop legalities have made significant progress and are drawing to a close and we are planning a public session in February. Initially it was predicted that they would not begin demolition until next spring but apparently they are planning to start much earlier. I am told they are close to selecting a "flag" hotel chain"

Jan 23,2013 CAO report states "A formal announcement is anticipated this week concerning the development on the former Crowsnest Centre site"

Jan 23,2013 the Mayor states "In February our hotel developers will be here for a public open house and to provide us with an opportunity to have input and ask any questions we may have. I am pressing for an early start for the deconstruction and new construction to begin"

Feb 19,2013 CAO states "Medican group and Group/Vachon hosted an open house on Tuesday Feb 12,2013 at the Elks Hall. The open house provided an opportunity for the developers to present their plans for development of the 2.5 ha. former hospital site. Architectural and engineering firms involved with the project were also on hand to discuss specifics related to the project and had conceptual drawings on hand for public's review.

Feb 19,2013 CAO report also states "sale and construction agreement was made official on Feb 4" "A soon to be named 60 to 75 room international hotel with amenities including pool and hot tub, breakfast area, and meeting space will be the primary development with other development plans including a franchise restaurant and other complimenting developments" "The purchase price of the land is in the amount of $1.1 million dollars which is made up of cash and the value of the demolition. The agreement further requires the demolition to be completed by late summer, with the foundation work to be completed by late fall. The hotel construction is required to be completed within 2 years of the signing of the agreement which means hotel opening by early 2015". "This area will be developed into park space with funding from Medican"

March 15,2013 CAO report states "The development agreement process has begun for the former Crowsnest Centre site"

March 15,2013 Mayor states "As you saw, heard, and discussed at the presentations and open house the hotel development is on its way"

April 19,2013 we are met with silence regarding this issue.

May15,2013 CAO states "The municipality has provided an extension to Medican to May 31,2013 for completion of final site engineering and site design, obtaining a development permit, securing an agreement for the hotel chain, Council approval for waiver of off-site levies, and negotiation and execution of a development agreement. This extension is needed as the application submission to Best Western Board of Directors was deferred to the week of May 13,2013 for consideration"

May 15,2013 The Mayor states "Last week I kept my promise and announced on the radio, as soon as I knew, that our new hotel will be a Best western. Final approval should be given between the 13th to 18th of this month. If it is not approved by the Best Western Board of Governors we will move to the Holiday Inn group. Regardless things are on time and we should see demolition activity late this summer"

June 17,2013 we are met again with silence regarding this issue.

Finally again we have the letter from the Penrose Group of companies available on the Municipality web site under Press Releases and Announcements titled Crowsnest Centre Development.

Over the next few months leading up to the election I will publish several more of these "unvarnished facts and truths". To avoid any errors or miss truths I will attempt where ever possible to only use the facts available in the municipal newsletter.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day 


Anonymous said...

Letter to Alison, p.2, Oct. 2012 Newsletter.

Anonymous said...

Facts speak for themselves. The only issue here is the poor stewardship of taxpayers' dollars. Needless legal revisions of a contract that was going nowhere from day one will prove very costly - once the lawyer's bills start adding up. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Re the first post above, Mayor Bruce Ph.D. told the Honourable Alison M. Redford, QC, Premier:

"this council initiated 'The Mayor's Task Force on the Economy of Crowsnest Pass' and utilizing the report in a subsequent 'Community Strategic Plan' identified tourism and light industry as major focal points. As such we now have a new hotel, restaurant and truck stop development which will begin in the spring of 2013"

Doesn't this deserve to be listed in your "unvarnished facts and truths"?

Anonymous said...

We are obviously being lead down the garden path.

Anonymous said...

They still remind me of Bridgecreek. Every month or 2 a new promise or lie. Are they that gullible or do they think we are?

Anonymous said...

The facts do speak for themselves. I look forward to the next edition of ramblings from a madman.

Anonymous said...

Come on, take it with a grain of salt. It should all happen before the snow flies.

Crowsnest Pass Home said...

Thanks to my astute reader that pointed out the letter to Alison Redford. I will add that information.

Thanks again


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like all of this would fall under the category of BS. Did they not pass a bylaw banning that?

Anonymous said...

Next thing we will see is our council demolishing the Learning Center with taxpayers’ money to get it done before the election in October. They will tell us a deal is "pending." (Is there any money left in seniors reserves?) There is a total vacuum at the council table. We need an entirely new council before these people bankrupt us completely.

Anonymous said...

I suspect some where around late August early September you will see another interested group step forward. But there will be a catch it will be a group that emphasizes the importance of the great working relationship they have discovered with the present council/administration. They will have a slight hesitation on proceeding based on waiting to see if the Oct election maintains the stability that they have never seen in a community the size of ours previously.

Debby said...

This little timeline of yours was a great way to put this whole deal into perspective! Isn't it time for even the Mayor to throw in the towel, call it a breach of contract and move on?? Let's face it; we will still be looking at the eyesore in 2014. The hotel, that is, not Mayor Decoux!

Anonymous said...

Is the municipality still putting on a jamboree in Bellevue during the Rum Runner Days?

Anonymous said...

This Mayor of ours has shown a step by step lack of knowledge of normal business practices. It is not his fault he is above his head here because we have put him there. Not everyone is good at everything.

Anonymous said...

Then 6:52 you can not claim to be better than everybody that came before you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:52 PM. What a mixed message. He is not good at the things he represented himself to be good at, and now he has become a runaway horse. Then you say it's ok because we let him out of the corral. Wow. What logic.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:52

No one is good at everything. His main downfall, is that he plows ahead with his own agenda, and tells everyone that he knows best. He was elected by the people, and then calls them names, and puts them down when they tell him they don't like what he is doing. What is the excuse for that?

Anonymous said...

You can sum this councils problems up with one word "arrogance". Nobody else has ever done anything but them, nobody else has ever had the balls to take on the tough issues but them.
When you present yourself in that light then everybody either gets their back up, or has great expectations. So do I believe after 33 months of this attitude that they will change not a chance. If they do it will only be temporary to carry them through the election.
Then we will have four more years of their true selfs. I think not.

Anonymous said...

Trying to figure out what the fellow is good at. Political leadership is not one of these talents.

Anonymous said...

1:29 I agree with your comment somewhere in the next six weeks there will be a new more exciting proposal that suddenly appears.

Anonymous said...

Right now it is a good bet they are working with the Edmonton PR consultant to see how they can tie the announcement about the failure of the Medican proposal with something new and more grand. Should be a PR cluster. Fabio will make them shine.

Anonymous said...

Crowsnest Pass Home said...
"Thanks to my astute reader that pointed out the letter to Alison Redford."

Just a minute of Googling to see if you missed anything.

You could add a few earlier items such as:

COUNCIL – Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Development Feasibility Study – Crowsnest Centre Lands
In the absence of Mr. Myron Thompson, Director of Operational Services, Mr. Kevin Robins, Interim
Chief Administrative Officer, spoke to the report regarding the Development Feasibility Study for the
Crowsnest Center Lands.
Councillor S. Gail expressed uncertainty as to whether this study was the best value for the money and was advised by Mr. Robins that the Study would assist Council with the marketing of the property.
M#6240-11: Councillor A. Saje moved to accept a proposal from Rich Eichler Ltd. to
undertake Phase 1 of a Feasibility Study to identify development opportunities
available on the Crowsnest Centre Lands at a cost of $4,000.00.
IN FAVOUR: Mayor B. Decoux
Councillors: J. Lonsbury, E. Saindon, B. Gallant, L. Mitchell, A. Saje
OPPOSED: Councillor S. Gail.

If they had just put it up for sale we at least could be getting property tax from it, and the buyer might be developing it. Of course, it might not be as grand as the visions of Bruce and his consultants.

Also, did they repeal this?:
COUNCIL – Tuesday, July 5, 2011
M#6195-11: Councillor Saindon moved that Council accepts Administration’s recommendation to deny
short and long term parking of heavy trucks at the Crowsnest Centre site and that Administration install appropriate signage.

BTW, it's a bit funny when Bruce signs that letter PhD and tosses in fancy sounding terms like "as such" and "notwithstanding" but misuses them grammatically.

He also has trouble with "me", "myself" or "I", which is why I refer to him as "Himself's Worship".

Anonymous said...

So far, I see the Fire Department fiasco; the Crowsnest Learning Centre; the Administration staffing; the road potholes ( infrastructure) tied into outside staffing shortage; the Rayepayer's Petition; Electrical system; recent Flood Response; Open and Transparent meetings; weeds; Animal Control Center; Budget Deficiency as some of the issues being discussed on the blogs and on the street.

I do not see anything positive being put forward by the supporters of the Mayor, Council and Administration. All that is offered is " live with it" and " there are consequences when a decision is made". If the voters do not respond at the polls during the upcoming election to counter the present situation, then we all deserve the politicians and local government we get.

Regardless of who runs for mayor, out with the present and in with the new should be the aim. Let's not be like a pack of dogs and turn on our own even before the field of candidates is announced.

Anonymous said...

I guess, after what has happened in Quebec, Bruce needs to get writing a letter to have the railway relocated as well?

Anonymous said...

I think he should have signed it...
Mayor Bruce Vernon Decoux Ph.D., S.A.M.M.
Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

(Self Appointed Mover of Mountains)

Anonymous said...

This council has done nothing to get our rising taxes under control. They are not capable to act or think without expensive consultants. We need a clean sweep. The argument that we need experience does not wash. We have not seen any serious debates in public. Whatever experience these councilor gained is not the experience we need. We need people on council who can do basic math and are not snowed with consultants and all the other suits this mayor and council hired..

Anonymous said...

What will the PR consultant suggest next for the old hospital site? Another cluster of nonsense?

Anonymous said...

"We need a clean sweep"

101 days to election, not many people stepping forward with brooms yet.

Anonymous said...

The voters will doing the sweeping. We all got brooms.

Anonymous said...


Where have you been? I've seen and heard of a lot of brooms!

Anonymous said...

Who made the decision to close the CLC & Turn it into another derelict building within our community?

Anonymous said...

CLC is now closed. Do you want to revisit WWI as well? We need business and tax base in order to live here affordably and enjoy our surroundings. This council likes to write policy because it's much easier than attracting business. All the money they spent on consultants is a shame.

Anonymous said...

I am sure glad Buddy didn't write an editorial suggests we bring back Horses and buggies has a form of transportation.

Anonymous said...

I think a horse and buggy operation, giving tourists and seniors a ride around town wouldn't be such a bad idea!

Anonymous said...

anon 11:46 The clc issue is dead. A little history though. The building was costing the taxpayer quite a bit of money annually and it needed repairs to the tune of about 4 million dollars. The right decision was made to close it. Today the only option is to tear down these buildings as they have further deteriorated. We can not afford to pay for this so we must wait until any council can find the proper developer. I do not mind an assisted living complex on that land but it must be owned and operated by private enterprise. Just because Buddy writes something does not make it a good idea.
All this talk leads me to believe the hotel deal is dead. If this is the case, how come our transparent council has not informed its citizens.

Anonymous said...

Bruce does not have a clue. Why would municipality want to put a deposit with Best Western? Is he out of his mind? What if we find someone with proper financial backing and they don't want a Best Western? Hopefully Council will finally show some spine here. How much tax dollars did Bruce burn on this proposal to date? Does he think we print money?

Anonymous said...

The point of the RFP process was to find a developer with the money and know-how to do the project.
Now it seems CNP, or Bruce anyways, is in the hotel development business, buying a Best Western franchise, looking for financing.

"A decision regarding clearing the property will also have to be made very shortly".

Is there some reason this has become urgent?

What does Vachon (hotel finders) get out of this? Is he paid or on a commission contract? Either way, doesn't that need to be authorised somehow?

Off the hotel topic, we were told the mine was in preliminary engineering studies. For example, they said they might use haul trucks (not taxable) or conveyors (taxable) to move the coal out.

But Bruce has pulled from somewhere this figure of $3,800,000 . Perhaps Riversdale has given him a peek into their engineering and financial plans and invited him to blab the numbers to his peons.

Anonymous said...

Crowsnest Centre RFP Timeline

March 6, 2012 Minutes:
"Council's recommendations for the RFP - Hotel Development Opportunity ... Clarification of the award criteria"

May 2012 RFP:
"The proponent is expected to tender a reasonable purchase price offer ..."
"Proponents must submit evidence of sufficient financial capacity to carry the hotel project to completion. The Municipality will not consider submissions that do not provide the financial information requested."
"The evaluation of submissions will be undertaken by an evaluation committee ..."

There was no Evaluation Committee.

Feb. 4, 2013:
A contract was signed with Medican, a company in a bankrupcy process overseen by Chief Restructuring Officer Ty Schneider. Vachon was at the presentation but not involved in the contract. The contract (essentially an option to purchase) expired.

Saindon explained on his March 2013 blog:
"As for the hotel development again we tenderd the hotel development package in the required public manner on various govenrment sites and some papers. We had one tender reply.
Council instructed the CAO to look at the proposal and work out a satisfactory deal and that our solictors be involved in the process to ensure we had the muinicipalities interests covered.
The final package was brought to council and council directed the CAO to enter into an agreement with the developer."

According to Christopher Vachon's Linkedin page he was with his own company Group Vachon (incorporated Feb. 1, 2011) doing "hotel investment, development, management" from November 2010 to March 2013.
In April 2013 he became a Vice President of Penrose Hospitality Inc. (incorporated May 2, 2013, part of The Penrose Group, CEO Ty Schneider)
[Penrose Hospitality] currently has a development contract to build a $13+M Best Western Plus Hotel & Mini conference Centre in Okotoks

April 5, 2013:
Best Western Plus Inn & Suites Coming Soon to Okotoks!
"... new 82 room, full service hotel ... banquet facility, meeting rooms, indoor pool and waterslide."

Penrose is somehow now involved with CNP:
June 3, 2013 letter to Decoux from the Penrose Group:
"We apologise for not being able to appear before Council to give a full update on the Crowsnest Centre development".

But Vachon's old company somehow has an option on the property, even though it apparently did not meet the "award criteria" or tender a purchase price offer:
JULY 12, 2013 CNP press release:
"The Vachon Group, who is still the official applicant for the hotel development, intends to continue working with Crowsnest Pass on the complex."
On July 16, 2013 Chris Vachon representing Group Vachon gave a Hotel status review to CNP G&P, partly in camera.

It looks to me like these companies have been given control of the Crowsnest Centre without a proper RFP process, without any formal Council resolution, without giving any guarantees and without putting down a dime. What if another developer comes along who actually has money? Sorry, we already have "our hotel development team" (Nov. 2012 Mayor's Corner).