New Town Office /
The Town of Coaldale is proceeding with a project referred to as the ‘Civic Square’ that includes the building of a new town office along with leasable retail space at a budgeted cost of 8.63 million dollars. The town has released its capital budget indicating this project is moving ahead.
Some questions have to come to mind: do we really need a new town office that is 10,000 sq. ft. in a building that is two or three stories and may possibly have a rooftop patio?
There was zero public engagement regarding this project.
It has never been brought up in the public portion of any council meeting, even when it came to spending our hard earned tax dollars buying up properties for this grandiose project.
What is happening to all the businesses that are slated to be evicted and torn down?
Coaldale Civic Square - What are the Land Acquisition Costs?
LAND TITLES RECORDSLAND PURCHASES FOR CIVIC SQUARE PROJECT
Citizens Response to the Mayors Comments
Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig’s recent replies to public complaints about the Civic Square project are further unsatisfactory excuses about the (towns) virtually non-existent public engagement practices. While we appreciate his recognition that communication could be better, we would like to see it in practice.
The main problem is, until recently many residents can’t recall if a “new town office” has ever been publicized as part of the Civic Square project. Even the name “Civic Square” is misleading to many. Consequently few Coaldale residents knew anything about this multi-million dollar new town office. A project of this magnitude deserves much more publicity than a few line items in a budget that a administration and council fully know, most residents do not read. Informing Coaldale ratepayers after the project has launched, does not constitute satisfactory public engagement.
We agree the Civic Square Project was included in the 2019-2021 Town Capital Plan for $8 plus million, and was also briefly discussed during a Coaldale Chamber of Commerce meeting. The problem is, chamber of commerce meetings are member-only events not open to the public, and the new town office which is a major component was never highlighted.
Alternatively the proposal for a new town office project, could have been easily publicized via an information release such as included with town utility bills, newspaper articles or advertisements as well as through social media. None of this happened which we find inexcusable.
The mayor has also inferred the project was further publicized by the town last year on the Alberta Purchasing Connection website, in a request for proposal for architectural design services. Suggesting this as a general public communication is further misleading since this web-site is not available to the general public, only contractors with a membership and GST number.
Mayor Craig recently asserted the recent COVID-19 pandemic has made public communication about the Civic Square Project more challenging. We also find this excuse without merit since the town has had ample time and opportunity to publicize this project to Coaldale taxpayers in the past eighteen months. The new town office project has been discussed by town council, mostly in closed session, for well over a year. The COVID-19 pandemic is a recent event that didn’t preclude the town from using other standard channels of non person-to-person contact. Consequently, we feel Coaldale citizens are justified with their criticism and anger towards town council.
Coaldale residents want to see greater transparency. Since the most basic public engagement options were never utilized from the beginning of these projects, many residents are feeling like the Town of Coaldale is governing far too much behind closed doors. Many residents feel this needs to stop and the Civic Square be put on hold pending public approval!
See the Mayor's comments in the Lethbridge News Now article here: Coaldale Mayor address concerns on administrative transparency
For the original News story reported by Lethbridge News Now on the concerns raised by Coaldale citizens you can see that here: Citizens raise concerns over proposed new civic square in Coaldale