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Niagara Falls
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Mayor wants to sell land to fund St. Davids pool reconstruction

Lord Mayor Betty Disero wants the town to sell off surplus land to pay for a new swimming pool in St. Davids.

Council voted to have staff prepare a report on the possible sale of two pieces of surplus land and for the money to be funnelled toward the St. Davids pool.

Couns. Sandra O’Connor and Alan Bisback voted against the plan during last week's committee of the whole planning meeting.

One of the surplus properties is located beside 280 Anne St. The plot connects Anne and Butler streets.

Director of operations Sheldon Randall said the parcel had been earmarked previously to fund a turnaround at the end of Butler Street and improvements to the bordering trail. He said excess money generated from the sale could still go toward the pool.

The other plot is located beside 978 East and West Line, next to Vineridge Academy.

The motion was spurred on by Disero’s work with Niagara’s top politicians to find money for the pool.

“I was thinking about the work we are doing with Wayne Gates and Tony Baldinelli and them looking for money and I thought, ‘You know, if we’re doing all of this we should be getting ready to put some money of our own aside,’ ” Disero said.

O’Connor said she was not aware of these parcels of land and wanted a comprehensive review of them before she would support their sale.

“I’m not averse to what the lord mayor is trying to do. She’s trying to be forward looking and I think that’s great but this is just new to me and I don’t think I can support it until a little due diligence is done,” O’Connor said.

Disero stressed that the motion was to have staff report on the status of the land and their salability and not to move ahead with the sales.

Coun. Clare Cameron wanted a comprehensive inventory of all the town’s surplus land before she supported the sale of the two selected parcels.

Chief administrator Marnie Cluckie told Cameron a comprehensive list of surplus land has been created and would be shared with council shortly, prompting Cameron to support Disero’s motion.

Bisback said selling off town assets “project by project” is a slippery slope.

He questioned the practice of selling land to support the pool when there have not been any relevant updates on the design since it was presented nearly two years ago.

“I actually haven’t seen a plan on the St. Davids pool other than the original plan. Nothing has changed,” he said.

The $5-million plan has not been updated since the federal government denied funding for the project in 2020.

Disero said the St. Davids pool committee will be tweaking the design to “get the price down.”

“I understand that we have land to sell. I just don’t know why we’re linking the two at this point in time,” Bisback said.


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