By now residents would have made up their minds that anything that comes out from the MRC and Council should be treated with the utmost caution. Last Monday’s planning conference provided further evidence of this incontrovertible fact. Admittedly Ms Ring is not at the top of the food chain where major financial decisions are made. Nor is she on the Board of the MRC. Even granted all this, it still does not excuse the public and unequivocal utterances that were made last Monday night at the Planning Conference. The unsuspecting audience were told in no uncertain terms that the land had been ‘sold’ and that residents can forget all about the MRC and start accepting the fact that they would now be dealing exclusively with Beck and Probuild. How true is this we ask? Is it really possible that the MRC would wipe its hands of a controlling interest in the biggest development it has undertaken? Was all this nothing more than a ploy to achieve some respite from of the ever growing criticisms levelled at the MRC? And is it really possible that nobody (including Trustees and Council) knew absolutely nothing about the alleged ‘sale’?

There are undoubted advantages for the MRC to remain the title holder of this land. In the first place they will save themselves 10 years of back-dated rates as stated in the April 28th 2011 Council Minutes when the decision to accept the C60 was made – ie if the subject land is no longer rated under the Cultural and Recreational Lands Act, the owner would be liable for “back paying” rates at a higher level for ten years. Secondly, they will still have a very strong ‘bargaining chip’ for whatever happens down the track with the other two precincts. So, it should not come as a surprise that on page 5 of the MRC 2013 Annual Report we find the following:

Untitled‘Development rights’? We are now firmly in the land of legalese double talk and private hatched deals. Development rights do not equal the sale of any land. Nor do they signal the removal of the MRC’s control. $15 million at this stage is certainly a handy bit of pocket money for a cash strapped organisation, but it in no way represents the true and total value of this land. We remind readers that the Alma club which was a fraction of the size of this 5.6 hectare site went for just under $8 million. What does this make 5.6 hectares worth?

The more one dwells on the entire history of this project the more questions arise. One thing is clear though – all participants in this sorry saga have been far from straight forward in their varied pronouncements. Residents deserve straight talking rather than a chorus of forked tongues and a plethora of carefully constructed spin.