Thursday, 25 October 2012

why should Markham taxpayers have to be unwilling partners?

                               Donna Bush and Karen Rae show their colours at the over-flowing
                                                          Council Chambers last night!  
                                                    photo/ Sjoerd Witteveen/yrmg

Considering the positive economic evolution taking place in the GTA, it is clear that should the new Markham pro sports facility become a reality, it could be built solely with private capital for construction, maintenance, and operation. Just because there may be insufficient private sector willingness or ability for risk-taking of this magnitude with the current partners is no excuse to put wary taxpayers at risk! Judging by the reaction of the crowd at last nights Council Chamber meeting, that would appear to be the logical conclusion but Mayor Scarpitti sees things differently! He says that borrowing $325 million because 'government gets a better rate' than millionaires is the right move. Even derisive catcalls from those who filled the chamber couldn't get through to him. Considering the alleged dubious business practices of the arena promoter, as reported by the Toronto Star, is it any wonder why many Markham taxpayers are questioning their Councillors? Even Donna Bush, vice-president of the Markham Village City Ratepayers Association, asked councillors to do their due diligence on each Arena partner. “Markham taxpayers, who is misleading you,” she begged the angry crowd, deferring to a picture of Mayor Scarpitti on the large screen.

Which begs the question...why should Markham taxpayers have to be dragged into this scheme; a potential 'white elephant', kicking and screaming while the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in Toronto was built with private financing. The ACC’s revenue stream remains strong, hosting up to 200 events annually. The Rogers Arena in Vancouver  and the Bell Centre in Montreal were also privately financed. The fact that these three arenas host financially successful NHL teams as their anchor doesn't hurt either. Hell, even Scotiabank Place in Ottawa was also privately financed.

                                  It was standing room only last night as interested residents turned
                        at council chambers to hear more details about a proposed NHL-size arena.  
                                                      photo/ Sjoerd Witteveen/yrmg

No, the GTA; the largest urban centre in Canada, provides the right economic conditions for privately financed pro sports facilities and if dissenting Markham Councillors won't take taxpayer concerns to heart, they may just find it hard to get voted Dog Catcher, in 2014.


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