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City cadet agreement unreasonable, councillor says

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Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said the city is bullying the Downtown BIZ to sign an "unreasonable" funding agreement over downtown police cadets.

On Monday, protection and community services chairman Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) said the Downtown BIZ made a public commitment of $100,000 a year when the city decided police cadets would take over the organization's community-outreach program last year. While the organization paid the sum for 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, Fielding said, the Downtown BIZ has not paid for the second quarter of 2013 or signed a formal funding agreement with the city.

Fielding said the city does not plan to pull the cadets out of the downtown, and he's hopeful the BIZ will fulfill its obligation. If not, he said the city will examine its options, which may include withholding a portion of the city's annual contribution to the Downtown BIZ to cover its $100,000 share of the program costs.

Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande said in an email the current agreement proposed by the city is not in the best interest of the BIZ and its members as the city wants an annual grant of $100,000 in perpetuity with no contract end date or conditions.

He said the board can't in good conscience commit to an agreement that is "forever." Grande said they will continue to negotiate in good faith.

Gerbasi accused the city of bullying the organization to sign an unreasonable agreement and said Fielding's threat of clawing back funding is "heavy-handed."

"They're bullying the BIZ and trying to tarnish their reputation," Gerbasi said this afternoon. "It's so unnecessary."

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