Writing for Spacing, John Lorinc speculates that the root of TCHC’s problems may have been that they behaved “much more like an ambitious property developer than a responsive property manager:”
Effective development, of course, demands both schmoozing and speed, so it is not a stretch to imagine that the TCHC’s senior managers — energized by an obviously challenging mission — may have become more than a little impressed by the urbane ways of the city’s building industry. After all, the perks and procurement short-cuts unearthed by the auditor-general wouldn’t be out of place in the development industry, where time-to-market is a major competitive issue.
Incent your employees to deliver projects on time and on budget? Check.
Go with a supplier that says it can get the job done faster? Check, check.
I’m not excusing the conduct, but we can’t ignore the wider context, either.
Or to put it another way: a public agency was acting too much like a private corporation. (Ignore anyone who ever uses the phrase “This would never happen in the private sector,” by the way. Everything happens in the private sector. Shitty management practices were practically invented by the private sector.)
Handing TCHC’s development work (on Regent Park and Lawrence Heights, amongst others) to another city agency is a sensible reform worth looking at.
After you read Lorinc’s piece, scroll down and check out Steve Munro’s comment as well. He reminds us that, seriously, the chocolates and pedicures and whatever else aren’t the real story here. Abuses of the city’s procurement process cost us far more, and are way less forgivable.