‘I have tried to make St. Thomas a better place,’ — Cosens

Back in April, this corner documented a segment of an interview with popular television host Dan Reith and mayoral hopeful Mark Cosens on the fate of a $40,000 city loan. You can read the story here

After a discussion with him, City Scope is printing the following statement from Cosens as a clarification on his part.

On February 2, 2010, after much encouragement, thought and consultation with family and friends, I announced my candidacy for Mayor of the City of St. Thomas in the upcoming municipal election.

I declared my candidacy early to have plenty of time to work on my campaign, get better known throughout the community and find out from the citizens of St. Thomas how they see the future of our city unfolding. I am looking forward to working with a broad spectrum of people to make our community a better place to live and work.

I started out by talking to many people, building a campaign and raising some funds. I then released the first plank in my platform, the necessity of hiring a Chief Administrative Office to better position St. Thomas moving forward.

Every candidate in an election campaign has their own unique perspective, set of circumstances and challenges. Mine included the fact that I had previously declared bankruptcy.

I obviously knew that this information would come to light during the campaign. I was open about discussing the bankruptcy and I don’t believe that this experience should be a problem during my campaign.

I am taking this opportunity to hopefully clear the air.

In April of 2008, I received a total of $40,000 in Community Improvement Program loans that were used to renovate and update three apartments at 443-447 Talbot Street and to rebuild the rear façade and clean up the front façade of the same building.
Upon receipt of the loans from the city, I immediately proceeded to utilize the funds for the renovations to the
443-447 Talbot Street property.
The work initially progressed well. All of the funds and at least $40,000 of my own money went into these projects.

As is common practice, the city registered a “notice” on title to the property at the time of forwarding the loans. The loans were to be secured by a lien on 443-447 Talbot Street and to be recovered if and when the property was sold.

It was in the summer of 2008 that the extended Talbot Street closure began to require more of my attention as Chair of the Downtown Development Board.

Business in the downtown core ground to a halt. The seven‐week complete street closure and several month partial closure had a negative affect on several downtown businesses including the Capitol Theatre, which I owned and was my main revenue generator at the time. The theatre business had been steadily growing, up to that point, but suddenly I found the number of patrons attending shows dwindle from an average of 30 per night to none at all. I thought that this was just a temporary setback and that the business would return. Despite my best efforts this was simply not the case. The theatre was closed on December 19, 2008 and in March, 2009, made the very difficult decision to enter into bankruptcy.

I spoke with many of the creditors in my bankruptcy including City Hall several times between January and December of 2009 to discuss the CIP loan. I was not given any information of its status other than it was “being dealt with.”

In the CIP loan agreement, it is very clear the City had the option of requiring the unpaid balance of the loan to become immediately due and payable under certain circumstances that include a bankruptcy. The City did not exercise this option and furthermore willingly became a secondary creditor.

The Royal Bank was my principle creditor. In November of
2008 the Bank asked the city to either “set aside” or to “waive” the lien they had registered on the property and the city agreed. After the Royal Bank took control of my properties, they were put up for sale and a purchaser was found for 443‐447 Talbot Street and it was subsequently sold. The lien, by virtue of the bankruptcy and the agreement to waive by the city, was then discharged. It is my understanding that the city has now entered into litigation with the Royal Bank to attempt to recover the $40,000.

Besides what I have already explained, I am not privy to any other information that has led to the city to take this action against the Royal Bank or why the city had willingly dropped down on the list of priority creditors. On behalf of myself and the rest of the ratepayers of the city, I hope that the $40,000 is recovered.

I have always been passionate about the City of St. Thomas and improving our community. Like many people in St. Thomas, I love old buildings. Through my various community involvements and business ventures I have tried to make St. Thomas a better place. I have spent my blood, sweat and tears on community improvement projects and unfortunately they have not all turned out to be the success stories I and many others would have so loved them to have been.

No one wants to find themselves in a situation where they are forced to declare bankruptcy and abandon projects you have your heart and soul invested in. I am proud of the work that I did on the 443‐447 Talbot Street building, it will be a beautiful home for downtown tenants and business people for many years to come. I am proud that I pursued my dream to restore the Capitol Theatre to its former glory and tried to make that business venture a success.

I have faced some challenges. So have many residents of the City of St. Thomas through the recent economic downturn. It is time to turn things around and return St. Thomas to the place newcomers, businesses and industries want to be, now and in the future. We can do this together through building consensus, cooperative hard work and shared vision.

I hope to take a leading role in helping St. Thomas back to prosperity. The first step toward this goal is by participating in a healthy debate during a successful campaign for mayor.

I am committed to my ultimate goal of making St. Thomas a better place to live, work and raise our families.

Mark Cosens

“The idea is excellent, the execution was poor and the location was really not well thought out.”
Mayor Cliff Barwick during discussion at Monday’s council meeting on the Isabel Street community Garden.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

2 thoughts on “‘I have tried to make St. Thomas a better place,’ — Cosens

    Ian, I hope you continue in the pursuit of the truth regarding the $40,000 grenade that was originally tossed at Mark Cosens.
    Who was the decision-maker at city hall and why are they not being held accountable? Is it the CEO/Mayor, the Management Committee, the Treasurer or someone else?
    – Why was the option of having the unpaid balance of the loan paid immediately not exercised?
    – Why did the city agree to become a secondary creditor?
    – Why did the city waive their lien on the property?
    À la Paul Harvey, we are looking forward to the rest of the story.

    Truth fears no questions. ~ Unknown


  2. All great questions Bill. Another key question would be who at City Hall deliberately violated the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act by launching the grenade? Was it someone who felt they would benefit by an attempt at character assasination?


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