Friday, 2 November 2012

Community Involvement Defeats Apathy!

Dear Readers,

For the latest about the continuing Markham Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre (MSECC) saga, after the promoter came under some very heavy scrutiny lately by a Markham Councillor, it would appear that one of the original proponents has reversed course. But too many taxpayers are wondering if this reversal is for real ...or is it just a smoke screen? The following was just published by our Markham Economist & Sun and I have provided it to you below verbatim so that you can draw your own conclusions!

Markham's deputy mayor won't support arena financial plan

 Markham's deputy mayor says he cannot support the financial framework behind a proposed NHL-ready arena. Jack Heath issued a statement today saying the proposed financial framework has become "extremely controversial" and called for discussions on the current financial model to be discontinued. Many taxpayers are opposed to Markham being involved in any financial aspect of Markham Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre, he said. "They see risk and question the need and benefit."

The deputy mayor said he worries a 'special levy' on new home and condo construction, over and above standard development charges, to help pay back Markham's share of a $325-million loan, may be challenged in the courts sometime in the future.  "The proposed financial framework is not appropriate for a fiscally responsible municipality of our size," he added.

In the meantime, however, he said the city should continue working on the site plan for the building, which is planned for a location  near Hwy. 407 and Kennedy Road. "Consideration of the site plan should be completely separate from the financial framework. If ties to the financial framework are removed, then I support continuing discussions.
                                                        A Packed Council Chambers!  
                                                     photo/ Sjoerd Witteveen/yrmg 

"Refinements on parking and transportation are still needed, and with those improvements I will vote for site plan approval. "Keeping in mind that MSECC fits the zoning for the property, an approved site plan for an NHL-ready arena would be a major plus if private investors want to build it on their own."

Mr. Heath remained positive on Markham being a prime location for a National Hockey League team.
"Markham Centre would be the perfect location for the GTA’s second NHL franchise," he said. "Consumer demand in Southern Ontario is obvious and our location is excellent. We started this exploratory process with the NHL in mind. Yet there is still no indication that the vision will become a reality anytime soon.

Furthermore, Markham’s financial participation should not be necessary if an NHL team was guaranteed."
The statement also reads: "I commend our mayor, council and staff for their efforts in the matter of MSECC.  My thanks also to the applicants, Remington and Rudy Bratty, plus GTA Sports and Entertainment. They brought us an important economic development opportunity which needed careful review."
my response...............

.......let me begin by saying that it has been a pleasure to meet some fine folks with our best interest at heart! For example, Donna Bush and Karen Rea of the Markham Village City Ratepayers Association have led a public awareness campaign into the dubious MSECC financial framework from the start, and have succeeded, above and beyond the call of duty I might add in shining their light into a very dark space. 

Certainly if we are to believe the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Markham Economist & Sun and the Toronto Sun, the dubious MSECC  financial framework, as proposed has turned Markham into a front-page scandal day after day, week after week and month after month. No doubt, this was not intended but that is the result when due diligence is not a priority, none the less! Thankfully, a couple of Markham Councillors respected the wishes of Markham taxpayers by not approving the dubious MSECC financial framework as proposed; and now with the Deputy Mayor turning thumbs down, too, could the dubious MSECC financial framework proposal be dying?
To digress, it had been reported in the Toronto Star, October 6, 2012 that this proposed MSECC contract may include a provision where a promoter was to construct and manage the building, without tendering. What 20,000 seat arena has he constructed and what 20,000 seat arena has he managed? If true, this was misguided, at best and unconscionable, at worst. Is it any wonder why Markham taxpayers were enraged? We had no idea how much the promoter would charge to construct and manage our MSECC. What exactly is the promoter's business history?

It is interesting to note that prior to Deputy Mayor Heath reversing his stance, another Councillor was bringing that very sentiment to light!

No, 'without tendering' was just not going to work for our MSECC! A proposed contract of this magnitude requires an explicit code of practice for tendering, that includes the following...
a- conduct all project tendering honestly and fairly to all parties
b- apply the same conditions for tendering for each supplier
c- avoid any tendering method which provides one party with an improper advantage over another
d- comply with all legislative obligations, whether regional, provincial or federal

                       Toronto's SkyDome, shortly after opening

Without adequate safe-guards in place, 'without tendering' could lead to cost over-runs of gargantuan proportions...just like Toronto's SkyDome. It is no secret that the aging 50,000-seat SkyDome has been steadily going down in value. Too big for the NHL and too small for the NFL, the SkyDome went from a pre-construction estimate of $125 million to build to almost $600 million when it opened in 1989
. To add insult to injury, the value went down to $80 million when some American investors bought SkyDome out of bankruptcy court in April 1999 and then in 2004, selling to Ted Rogers for a paltry $25 million. "A very fair price," said Blue Jays CEO Paul Godfrey at the time but the price reflected "the cash flow it can generate. It's value is not on what (it) cost to build it." Not much salve for the wound! 

                              Donna Bush and Karen Rae show their colours in
                                                                 Council Chambers!  
                                                     photo/ Sjoerd Witteveen/yrmg

While our proposed MSECC may look nice in artist renderings, it should be noted that media and taxpayer attention was never diverted away from the dubious financial framework, as proposed and this is a credit to Donna Bush and Karen Rea of the Markham Village City Ratepayers Association who just won't let go until our Council agrees to a simple taxpayer demand.....that our new MSECC be 100% financed by the private sector!  

Yes, voter apathy really is dead in Markham
.........These ladies proved it!!



  1. Thanks for your kind words Brian!

    I am so honoured and proud to be a part of this community. There are so many passionate and community-minded people in Markham. People who do not want our TOWN destroyed by money or power. It's fantastic to join together, with people from all over Markham, and work for the common good of our chosen community.

    While we may not have won the war yet, we are committed to doing whatever it takes to battle issues that are wrong for Markham.

    We have to insist that we be a part of planning what we want this new 'downtown Markham' to look like. My most serious concern is that a casino will be tied to the proposed arena deal.

    I am adamantly against a casino in Markham. A privately-owned arena, a university campus, Pam Am, and MISTA make sense to me -- a place for families to learn, play, and grow.

    Any ideas of a Markham casino must be fought by all of us!

  2. It has been gratifying to see the number & caliber of residents/taxpayers that have given of their time & talents to support our Markham village City Ratepayers efforts to stop the Mayor & Councillors from passing this huge unfair debt on Markham Citizens! Joyce Ramer, Vice President of Markham Village City Ratepayers Association ....visit our web site to sign our petition!