Local business owner 'not making any headway' with CityWednesday, September 18, 2013 by: Jamie LyleMonday evening's council meeting had a major presentation from city resident and business owner, Case L'Ami.
The owner of L'Ami's Garden Centre, which is located at the end of Lakeshore Drive, was in front of council for the second time in six months.
L'Ami came to council to ask that the City take a more detailed look into the situation that has stopped the flow of traffic on Lake Shore Drive passed his business, virtually shutting it down.
L'Ami, who has spoken to numerous city employees, contractors and council members throughout the previous months, they were all professional and accommodating yet none of the deadlines have been met and no part of the plan has maintained its time schedule.
“I'm not making any headway, let's put it that way” says L'Ami, adding that his business has lost a considerable amount of money since the bridge work began.
L'Ami chose to go before council to try and get something on record from the city and asked if they would promise a work completion date for a project that has already six months behind schedule.
While L' Ami never outright stated it, a sense of incompetence and inefficiency had him figuratively on the rocks with his business and his livelihood, which seems diminished through no fault of his own, almost to the point of failure.
“I've made an investment over the last six years to make purchases and to put a big building up and have my taxes go from $3,000 to $20,000,” L'Ami says, adding, “that's all got to be paid for.”
The question of accountability also has to be implied when the City writes contracts with companies that have no repercussions if the work is not completed on time.
This concept where a set amount is removed from the final contract price for each day that it is late on its completion does not seem to be the type of thing that the city are engaging with its contractors.
As a result, frustrated residents and business owners see numerous contracts stretch well out of reasonable completion times and worst of all, costs that have to be recovered from taxpayers who agreed that work be done at a certain price.
Sounding sympathetic to L'Ami's plight, Chair of Engineering and Works, Councillor Tanya Vrebosch, spoke extensively about the issue during the meeting, although not really giving a solid set date or guarantees.
Mayor Al McDonald said that the city had attempted to set up an alternative location for L'Ami's however every business owner knows that establishing a location and clientele takes time and money for people to understand where you are and what you do.
“I understand his frustration and we're pushing hard as well,” says McDonald, adding, “we just have to work through and we're doing all we can for Mr. L'Ami.”
With L'Ami's situation being a prime example of frustrations that many residents feel towards the municipality in their lack of conviction in using their tax dollars efficiently to get projects done, it is surprising that no one on council volunteered to investigate and improve the way things around the city get done.
'L'Ami says that he's dismayed that no one on council or any staff members involved in the project would come forward and admit any wrongdoing on the City's behalf in their inability to complete work contracts and infrastructure on time or as promised.
“What it comes down to when you sign a contract and the contract says that it starts on the 16th of April and finishes on the 15th of September, it should finish on the 15thof September because otherwise, if that is not the case, how I supposed to plan my season and buy my inventory,” asks L'Ami.
The long and short of this project is that the bridge is nearly done, although it is six months late, yet the concrete pipe going down the centre of Lakeshore Drive still has to be installed and that work is running behind schedule by two months, with the City planning on keeping the contractors over the Christmas break to hopefully get the work done and road open in time for the 2014 Spring season.