As reported, NDG council will throw another $ 250K at the 2 decade plus soap opera, AKA the Empress Theatre, via the Societe d’Habitation, who will provide one more useless study, while they pat each other on the backs for their “good work”. At $100 per hour, there’s 2,500 hours available or 4 people working full time for almost 6 months (including coffee breaks) to flog this dead horse with even more worthless paper. The trees that have died to keep this “kitch” building of the 20’s from the wrecking ball is scandalous ! . No private developer would spend a quarter of that $250k on the scope of project envisioned (or an even bigger project) for preliminary studies and I expect the initial study for the entire RoyalMount project didn’t cost that much. Politicians waste money on studies ad infinitum because they’re using the bottomless pockets of taxpayers not their own money like Carbonleo. The mantra used to justify this waste is “cultural activities and affordable housing” which in “plain speak” is more subsidizes for the few at the expense of the many which seems to be the main preoccupation of NDG politicians. If councilors were truly concerned about housing affordability, instead of their power and ability to dispense access to subsidized housing to the few and the influential, the Bates Rd privately funded residential development would not have been summarily disallowed by Mayor Montgomery as recently based on the flimsiest of reasons. Of course with any residential development of the “Empress”, councilors will get to decide who lives in the prime address and who qualifies as the designated “ARTISTS”, not so much for the Bates project and other private developments. That “moniker” is just another euphemism for those with connections to the political elite (the stock in trade of socialist politicians) who dispense favors to their cadre of supporters who are always on-call to be mustered when required at council meetings to support their agendas.

This squandering of taxes and political machinations in nothing new (it’s the Montreal and Quebec model) but is all the more galling given that the local police station which serves the ENTIRE NDG COMMUNITY, not just “Artists”, will be shut down to save money at the same time. No real discussion allowed on the issue, by the queen of “transparency when it suits her”, Madame Plante. Perhaps in the name of efficiency and fiscal responsibility it should be consolidated in another location, but not when money is being thrown down the toilet by way of the Empress Theatre and so many other boondoggles. The borough should sell the building on the open market for redevelopment, to the highest bidder, with no onerous restrictions, development stifling conditions or backroom deals with political insiders who will ensure only the select few benefit. NOTHING is done in a vacuum, despite politicians pretending it is: money spent on studies can’t be spent elsewhere. The borough should take that money and use it to BENEFIT ALL CITIZENS, by perhaps actually clearing the ice and snow in a timely and effective manner, or repair some roads, or maybe even keep a police station open. But as usual, we get another make work project for the bureaucrats at the Societe d’Habitation and their, getting wealthier by the minute, friends in the consulting business. Meanwhile, due to lack of funds, the grime of winter will go uncleaned until late summer, street markings will go unpainted or other basic service ignored but the Empress Theatre will live on.

Mark Lipson


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