Ya Can’t Fix Stupid – Council Penny Wise Pound Foolish


I’m not even going to try to be politically correct with my title. The headline read

The Carleton Street synagogue could see a wrecking ball”.

It would seem that Common Council has voted to designate five vacant properties, including the synagogue ( one of the oldest in Canada) next to Peel Plaza as surplus. Council also directed city staff to call for quotations to demolish the former synagogue.

Mayor Darling said; On one hand, we have this tremendously historic building, which is not lost on anybody, but we also have a building that has extremely limited use“. Saint John purchased the synagogue in 2008 for about $500,000 and now pays about $5,000 a year to heat it.

I suppose if the City owned a Rembrandt worth  a few million we would get rid of it if the insurance cost $5000 a year? So what is one of the things that Saint John is best known for? Heritage and history, so it makes sense to systematically get rid of these historic structures right?  Let’s systematically remove one of the reasons tourist come to Saint John.

Forgive me if I sound just tad cynical and sarcastic but as I said in the title “ya can’t fix stupid”.

Remember? The City senior management recommended that the pavilion at Lily Lake be demolished after years of City neglect made it unsafe? The Saint John Horticultural Society, led by Wallace MacMurray and through an independent analysis revealed that the pavilion was structurally sound. Fundraising completed the job and the rest is history. The restoration and renaming – it’s now the W. Franklin Hatheway Pavilion – has been the impetus to revitalize the Lily Lake area.

Then just last year Council, again based on senior management recommendation,  Council voted to demolish the Reversing Falls Tourist Bureau because it was going to cost  few hundred thousand to carry out repairs? Ignore the fact that the Reversing falls is a number one tourist attraction that helps to bring in $500 million tourist dollars a year to the Saint John area. Thank God a little common and good business sense prevailed and local businessman Max Kotlowski  came to the rescue. But have faith Saint John taxpayers, we are getting new liquor store  on Union Street just a stones throw away, I’m sure it will take the tourist breath away. I can hear them now as they tell folks back home about the new liquor store in Saint John. 

Moving on to “pass the buck” Council sentiment  Councilor John MacKenzie hopes someone would step up to the plate and save the building, well Mr. MacKenzie perhaps folks in Saint John are getting a little tired of stepping up to the plate because this and previous Councils have failed to look after the citizens interests. “As much as I really want to save it, I think this might be the only possible way to save it,” proclaimed our Councilor MacKenzie.

Common Council expects it will cost $90,000 to demolish this historic treasure.

Ok Council I have an “out of the box” idea for you. A few years ago the Fredericton Parks and Recreation department had a surplus building, they turned it into Stepping Stones Senior Centre, I have toured the centre, it’s a facility where seniors can come to play cards, exercise, watch TV or just hang out. Moncton thought it was a great idea and followed the model. A few years ago the Saint John Senior Resource Centre at the City Market was damaged the result of ruptured radiators putting the seniors out on the street so to speak.

Designate the historic synagogue as a Saint John Senior’s Centre , take the $90,000 that it would cost to demolish the building and place it in trust and use the money to heat and maintain the building. You will give Saint John Seniors their very own home as well as preserve a national treasure.

It’s the very least that we can do for  seniors that have paid taxes and supported Saint John for most of their lives…….isn’t?

It’s time that Common Council begins making decisions that identify Saint John as a people friendly for all generations otherwise your penny wise pound foolish decisions will be in vain.

Think about it.