Council votes to restructure KEDCO but a local group wants answers before it’s re-branded

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Kingston-  For the last two years Kingston’s Economic Development Corporation has been under the microscope, questions over its lack of accountability and transparency.  City council is going to restructure the economic development and tourism agency.  But while council wants to move forward, one group is determined to look back at KEDCO’s books.
Goodbye KEDCO.  Hello EDO.  It’s a new era for economic development in the city of Kingston.  Councillors voted to split KEDCO into two separate corporations to improve transparency and accountability.  One will focus on economic development and the other, tourism.  Each will have its own board of directors, including the mayor and a few councillors, as well as city staff.  The fresh start also comes with a rebrand — called the Economic Development Organization — and a performance review of its work in 2017.

Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston
“It’s time to move forward so now that the service level agreements have been put in place, now we can move forward with the formal separation of the two organizations and look forward to achieving our goals for supporting innovation, entrepreneurship and tourism going forward.”

But the citizen’s group Friends of Kingston is determined to take a step back.  For two years, it’s been pushing the tax-funded agency for detailed answers on its spending, salaries and job creation targets.

Kim Donovan, Friends of Kingston
“KEDCO has not established it’s legitimacy in any way. There was a review that didn’t review anything.”

Now the group is being told it can have those answers, for a price.  In a letter obtained by CKWS, KEDCO’s lawyer outlines the price tag to search, prepare and photocopy the information.

A detailed list of financial statements, vendors retained by KEDCO, consultants hired, plus all corporate credit card statements in the past 6 years.  The cost to get it ?  More than 40-thousand dollars.  The letter also says KEDCO will need to hire someone to gather all that information — but it’s prepared to waive the 5-dollar application fee.

Kim Donovan, Friends of Kingston
“We don’t know at this point whether that’s a legitimate estimate of what it should cost and why should we have to pay anything to find out how our tax dollars are being spent.
Oh, but we couldn’t have that information for the last 2 years cause they had no obligation to provide it?”

Friends of Kingston maintains KEDCO, or its successor, can’t improve its performance unless and until it addresses accountability concerns of the past.

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