Schulich professor says sale of federal buildings is a good idea

The debate over the sale of nine government buildings has heated up again with the Public Service Alliance of Canada vowing to stop the deals from going through, wrote The Ottawa Sun June 13. The union says the selloff is a bad deal for Canadians.

It’s a business deal and the feds are going to be looking for the best deal for taxpayers, according to James McKellar, director of the Real Property Development Program at York’s Schulich School of Business. McKellar told a Commons committee last month that the sale-leaseback scheme can work.

"It is a good idea. Governments don’t mind opening up new buildings but they don’t like allocating money to fix them up," said McKellar. "You don’t get votes for fixing a hole in the roof." He urged the committee not to get locked into a 25-year lease, as has been proposed, and ensure the owner is willing to cover all maintenance costs. "As a result (of my recommendations) I understand the agreements have substantially been altered to include these safeguards," said McKellar.

Globe readers comment on columnist and CLASP volunteers

Globe and Mail readers responded to the June 12 Margaret Wente column about Osgoode Hall Law School’s Community Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) in letters to the editor June 13. Below are excerpts from two of the letters that mention York.

  • Margaret Wente appears to have committed a drive-by attack on Glenn Stuart, the committed director of CLASP who is trying to improve life in Toronto’s Jane-Finch neighbourhood, wrote Ray Rogers. Far from being an "anti-cop propagandist," I know from experience that he spends a great deal of time meeting with the police to develop a common dialogue on issues such as gun violence. And by characterizing Jane-Finch families as "disorganized", with "a multitude of learning problems" and "where discipline is scarce," and where any attempt to tackle these issues by anyone but the police will "keep them in the underclass forever," Wente would end this discussion before it can begin.
  • Perhaps the CLASP volunteer law students should consider redirecting their efforts at improving police relations with students from immigrant backgrounds by informing them of their rights as Canadians to live, play and go to school in a safe environment, wrote Kerry Callan-Jones. Given the recent murders of young black men in Toronto and the wall of silence from the black community that often meets police investigating these murders, encouraging these students not to cooperate is a disservice to these youths and the communities in which they live.
  • Criticism of the CLASP pamphlet was also featured in an item on CITY-TV News June 12.

Farmers’ market coming to Chatham

Historic downtown Chatham will feature a farmers’ market this summer, wrote the Chatham Daily News June 13. The Saturday morning market will be in operation starting June 30 and will run until Sept. 1 on the Sears patio near the corner of King West and 5th streets. Meghan Holmes, a Thamesville native and master’s student in York’s Environmental Studies Program in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, has volunteered to head up the project.

"There appears to be a great deal of interest on the part of area farmers," she said, adding that the market will feature local producers and a variety of agricultural products including fresh fruits and vegetables, preserves, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, eggs and meat. Holmes said the farmers’ market will provide an economic incentive for both farmers and consumers to participate in direct sales and create socially productive, face-to-face interactions. She said the idea behind the project is to promote local business, support agriculture in the area and foster direct farmer-to-consumer relationships.

On air

  • Gerda Wekerle, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about the growth of ethnic gardens and a photo exhibit about them that she helped develop, on Radio Canada International June 12.