Alma signs make plea for Valleyview

By Ian McCallum, Times-Journal Staff
April 28, 2003

“OK Let’s Go.”

Two large signs erected near Alma College urge Mayor Peter Ostojic to make the next move in reconsidering the site of the former private school for girls as the site for a new Valleyview Home for the Aged. The brainchild of Brian Squires, owner of Alma Heritage Estates, the signs are designed to remind the mayor of comments he made two weeks ago.

Appearing before members of council on April 14, Squires agreed to give the city 2.6 acres of land behind the main building at Alma College in addition to absolving council of any financial obligations to his firm. And he pressed Ostojic to negotiate a deal similar to the arrangement between the city and Bob McCaig whereby it obtains a 7.2-acre parcel of land on Wellington Street to house the new twin-pad arena in return for issuing a $1.45 million tax receipt to D&B Developments.

Although council last December approved a new location for Valleyview on city-owned land on Burwell Road, Ostojic that evening gave the impression that the door had been opened, albeit ever so slightly, to allow Alma College back into the running.

“In the last few deputations that Brian presented to this council he was asking us to guarantee a $6.2 million loan, and that has changed dramatically tonight,” Ostojic told the Times-Journal. “And now if he’s a stand-free finance guy, who is going to be able to deal with it (the financing) himself, then that’s a major change. Let’s go.”

Those last two words inspired the bright yellow signs at Alma, and Squires wants to know if the mayor will stand by that comment.

“In that last meeting the mayor said ‘Let’s go’ and if that’s the case let’s sit down. Or is this just more talk?”

Squires submitted a business proposal to members of council last Wednesday, but he told the Times-Journal Sunday afternoon that he has had no response back from the city. He reiterated his willingness to sever the land and sell it to the city in return for a tax receipt. In 1999 the parcel of land was appraised at $1.3 million.
In fact, this evening in council chambers, members are scheduled to award the contract for the provision of architectural services for the design of the new long-term care facility to the firm of Mekinda Snyder, although the specific recommendation does not identify a site for the new facility.

“Commissioning the architect is not the be-all and end-all,” stressed Squires, “Our site is already planned, it’s zoned to do exactly what they (members of council) want to do, there’s no trees to take down (a reference to the more than 300 trees that would have to be cleared at the Burwell Road site) there’s no preparation that has to be done and no environmental assessment. And the city already has all the information on the site. So, let’s go.”