Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford, penned an open letter that was released by the media relations department on Friday, December 10. Mayor Davis wrote the opinion-based letter in response to the ongoing Arrowdale situation.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed are those of Mayor Kevin Davis and do not reflect the opinions of the Brant Beacon.
Some Friends aren’t friends at all
When I ran for Mayor in 2018, I knew I would have to make tough decisions that might not please everyone. It is the very nature of government. You make tough decisions because it’s the right thing to do. You do it so you can build a better community. In some cases, you do it to support those who need help the most. Not everyone sees it that way. Sometimes groups of residents put their own interests ahead of the needs of their neighbours, even at the risk of hurting our community.
That’s where we are with the sale of the former Arrowdale golf course. Two years ago, Council decided:
- to sell 32 acres of the Arrowdale property to finance the construction of new affordable housing units, and
- to create a year-round 17-acre park for an underserviced neighbourhood and rapidly growing city
Council is determined to carry through with these projects for the good of the entire community and have successfully defended City Council’s decision in the Courts. However, some members of the Friends of Arrowdale continue to use tactics that most people would find offensive: spreading misinformation and attacking City Councillors, City staff and anyone associated with these projects. They have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and staff time, have delayed the park project and have undermined our ability to house more of our city’s neediest citizens without increasing taxes.
In today’s era of rapid-fire social media where “fake news” spreads six times faster than the truth, misinformation has become an offensive part of public life. To set the record straight:
- The Arrowdale property was legally acquired by the City of Brantford in the 1920s and 1930s. Unlike the Glenhyrst property, it was not gifted to the City. There are no restrictions on the property that stops the City from selling it.
- Net proceeds of the sale, $14,000,000 plus the estimated $2,000,000 in annual taxes generated, will be dedicated to building new affordable housing units for 230 households in the Shellard Lane area. That will help many of the 1,700 households on the waiting list.
- The Community Park will have 1.7 km of trails, areas for water play, sledding, basketball, tennis pickleball, skating, plus an off-leash dog park and a fully accessible playground – the first of its kind in the neighbourhood. It will truly be a space for everyone, not just a select few.
When the court action by Know Your City Inc. to overturn Council’s decision failed, the Friends became even more aggressive. They facilitated and welcomed an occupation of the property. I find it very troubling that a group of Brantford residents would go to such lengths, especially when their behaviour has the potential to cause harm to the city and its residents.
Let me be clear. I value the relationship Brantford shares with Six Nations of the Grand River (SNGR) and call on the federal and provincial governments to resolve the long-standing land compensation claims filed by SNGR. Last month Council approved the newly created role of Indigenous Affairs Advisor for the City who will help direct the City’s efforts to strengthen relationships with First Nations as well as Brantford’s 10,000 urban Indigenous residents. The position will also lead the development and implementation of the City of Brantford Reconciliation Action Plan.
At some point – I hope sooner rather than later – the situation at 282 Stanley St. will be resolved. It can be if together we make a genuine effort to make progress on the many challenges, and opportunities our community faces.
It is time we move forward, and focus on making our community healthier, stronger and a better place for all. In my heart, I know that’s what the people of Brantford want.
Mayor of Brantford