Friday, December 3, 2004

Entertained to Death in London Ontario

A London city controller says he will revive a proposal to turn Wonderland Gardens into an entertainment centre after reviewing financial documents from the spurned proponents yesterday. "We may be able to put this thing back together," Controller Bud Polhill said.

[. . . . ]

The plan's proponents cried foul yesterday after learning city council's board of control rejected an idea they thought was still under discussion.

"Our proposal is to refurbish Wonderland Gardens, to bring it back to its original splendor," said Barbara Hunter, speaking for Rana Entertainment.

Rana's was the only one of three proposals for Wonderland Gardens that got initial city approval this summer.

Rana wants to renovate the ballroom and outdoor pavilion for a range of events, from wedding banquets to multicultural festivals, and convert the restaurant to a bridal showroom.

"The beauty of this proposal is it is for every Londoner," said group member Amin Saab.

The group has an investor ready with $2.5 million and initial approval on zoning from the city and the conservation authority, Hunter said.

The group was prepared to pay property taxes for 10 years in return for use of the city-owned facilities for free.

[. . . . .]

Information received that day was incomplete, said a city staff report that went to board of control Wednesday.

The only data missing by the Oct. 29 deadline was documentation from banks in the United Arab Emirates, home of the investor, Hunter said.

She said she heard nothing from the city and had assumed the deadline had been extended till she got the bank documents.

"Then I'm watching the news and I see (board of control) saying it's over. I was completely shocked."

Board of control agreed Wednesday to drop efforts to get private investment for the site and will instead recommend the city consider spending $1.02 million to restore some of the site.
Just sell the damn site, no strings attached - as long as it remains in the hands of the city, it is going to cost all taxpayers in London a bundle, no matter what they decide to do with the site.

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