Special Report: Pan Am

Future Fund Board Rejects East Mountain Stadium

The Future Fund Board of Governors voted to recommend that the Future Fund not be used toward building a Pan Am stadium on the East Mountain.

By RTH Staff
Published July 27, 2010

At today's Board meeting, the Future Fund Board of Governors voted to recommend that the Future Fund not be used toward building a Pan Am stadium on the East Mountain.

Attendees at the Future Fund Board meeting
Attendees at the Future Fund Board meeting

Hamilton Light Rail spokesperson Nicholas Kevlahan told the Board, "The Future Fund shouldn't spend $60 million of Hamilton money to make it easier for people from Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Burlington or Brantford to get to Ticat games."

Downtown activist Matt Jelly, whose intrepid investigative reporting has recently uncovered two unguarded sites of potentially toxic waste - one of them on the West Harbour site and the other on Wentworth Street North - made an impassioned plea to scrap the stadium and spend the money cleaning the toxic sites he found.

The Governors voted to reaffirm their previous decision to endorse spending the Future Fund money on the West Harbour because this is consistent with the Fund's goals; but added that the money should not be spent at the East Mountain if Council decides to put the stadium there.

Proposed East Mountain Pan Am Stadium site
Proposed East Mountain Pan Am Stadium site

The Board also voted that the money should be regarded as a loan, not a grant. The Board originally recommended loaning the money, but Council voted to make it a grant instead.

Controversy Over Board Mandate

The Board is an advisory body whose recommendations are not binding on Council. Prior to the meeting, a controversy erupted among Board members and councillors over whether it was appropriate for the Board to discuss the alternative East Mountain site after already endorsing the $60 million expenditure of Future Fund money to help finance the stadium.

Board members argued that the previous decision was made in the context of a public site selection process that strongly favoured the West Harbour, but some councillors, like Brad Clark, argued that it would be "unrealistic" for the Board to decide retroactively that their approval was "site specific".

Clark pointed out that the Board had "no real authority" and argued further that a new meeting to reconsider the expenditure "would be at best inappropriate and in the worst case deemed out of order."

However, several other councillors, including Brian McHattie, Scott Duvall and Terry Whitehead, argued that it would benefit Council to hear the Board's recommendation. Duvall called it "insulting" to suggest the Board has no authority, and McHattie reaffirmed that the Board has "the right to pass resolutions and share their thoughts with Council."

McHattie also argued that spending the Future Fund on the East Mountain site is "less supportable" given the Fund's city-building mandate.

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 20:05:37

It was painful to listen to the board try to develop consensus on the wording of the motion regarding reference to the site, but there was a sense of responsibility to the principles of the fund displayed by most of it's 'guardians'. There were some refreshing statements from some non-councilors around the table as well, showing that intelligence can be found at city hall sometimes. I hope some of their voices will still echo when council sits to decide on this issue.

Comment edited by JMorse on 2010-07-27 19:06:18

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 27, 2010 at 20:07:34

Funny; I just watched the 'The West Wing' episode 'Shutdown'.

Maybe I'm being perverse here...but man, there's enough tasty stuff going on in Hamilton right now to provide fodder for our own tv show...

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2010-07-27 19:08:08

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 20:08:01

I am so relieved to hear of the Fund's crucial good decision today (especially in light of my being unable to present a delegation due to time constraints!). I think this decision demonstrates the proper and careful stewardship of the Future Fund and I hope this will convince Council of the advisability of keeping faith with the Pan Am bid book and building the stadium at West Harbour.

I would like to extend my gratitude to all the Fund Governors (however they may have voted) and everyone who presented on all sides for their careful consideration and good faith.

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By JimmyS (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 20:17:22

After hearing the board members today, I'm convinced that we need a Board of Control again. It was soooo refreshing to hear people talk about what's best for Hamilton as opposed to the petty politics and ward-favouring we get constantly from council.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 21:06:03

Good work, Kieran Dickson and Matt Jelly.

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By Ancopa (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 21:23:23

Bob Young calls himself the 'caretaker' but the Future Fund Board is clearly the real 'caretaker'.

It's good to know the stewards of our cities nest egg have the best interests of Hamilton at heart.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 21:31:29

I was impressed with many of the community members of this board, they show real leadership to protect this fund. It was a great show of support by the people.

Matt gave a great speech. I am glad I went.

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By jimmyS (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 21:42:34

Matt kicked some serious butt today. That was the stuff of winning mayoral speeches. Very well done young man.

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By lorne (registered) - website | Posted July 27, 2010 at 21:51:37

While I entirely agree with the recommendations of the Future Fund Board, I have little faith that Hamilton City Council will be guided by them. To ignore their recommendation, however, would be a serious and demoralizing blow to the spirit of volunteerism that prompts people to try to contribute to the well-being of the city.

Comment edited by lorne on 2010-07-27 20:52:43

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By puneetseth (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 22:01:53

This is an important victory for the people and the City of Hamilton, and represents a great deal of courage on the part of the members of the Future Fund. It would be very unwise for the City Council to ultimately go against an established and public understanding for what is now very well recognized as the correct and most beneficial decision for this region at large.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 27, 2010 at 22:11:06

Clark pointed out that the Board had "no real authority" and argued further that a new meeting to reconsider the expenditure "would be at best inappropriate and in the worst case deemed out of order."

Sounds to me like there's sixty million reasons to listen to the Future Fund Board in this case, especially given the total transformation that the project's getting without their say.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 22:46:31

Bob Young is caretaker, of the Hamilton TigerCats. He has never referred to himself as caretaker of the city of Hamilton.

I think that council will vote for the WH after today's fairly high profile proceedings for the FF BoG group. People don't have to worry about hurting Bob's feelings, he's a very wealthy man, close to a billionaire. He will be the fall guy if he thinks that the WH site is not only a bad deal for the TigerCats but more importantly a bad deal for Hamilton taxpayers and not put a penny towards a WH stadium site. Then should HOSTCO say no stadium for Hamilton, he can rest peacefully knowing he's done what's right for the team he owns and for the taxpayers of the city saving them the FF money to be spent on projects that are more worthwhile than a stadium in a wrong location.

And I agree with him, a stadium at the WH will be a failure in terms of a money generating facility for the city of Hamilton. But yes, it could do what I think the mayor intended from the stadium, and not much more, get the site cleaned up. Although why would you build a stadium with no legacy partner and use the FF for this purpose when you could use that money and not have to spend it on a stadium that will not have a legacy partner? That would make no sense to me at all.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-07-27 21:49:24

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 00:21:56

While I commend the FF board for their stand, I really don't think it's going to make a difference. With the morons we have on council they will ignore all advice as usual and keep trying to swim upstream to the detriment of this city.

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By Ti-Cat Fan for West Harbour (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 00:37:36

Take a look at what these guy's propose. You can't tell me that the Ti-Cats or other major private investors wouldn't be interested in this concept. Just saying it's worth taking a look at. http://www.whitestargroup.org/

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 01:02:01

I was going to quote the same line, Undustrial. 60 million reasons indeed. Why is the board there if we are not going to listen and seriously consider their concerns?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 03:24:06

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By Ancopa (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 04:22:31

If this $60M in over taxation was used to lower tax rates, the current rates would go from...

Except the future fund isn't from the tax levy.

From the future fund web page:

In 2002, the City of Hamilton received $137 million dividend from Hamilton Hydro for the amalgamation of the previous Region of Hamilton-Wentworth’s Hydro utilities.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 06:57:40

I found this post on the Ticats.ca forum (cfl.ca forum) to be potentially worthwhile to consider:

"Watching the CH news tonight about the London Olympic venues - the description of the temporary basketball arena that will be dismantled after the games inspired me.

Maybe it's time for Hamilton to move on the Pan Am games without the Ticats.

Rather than building a 15,000 seat Pan Am stadium at WH that could be expanded by 10,000 seats for the CFL team, use the Pan Am money and a bit of the FF if needed to build a 15,000 seat Pan Am stadium with 5,000-10,000 temporary seats that will be removed after the Pan Ams. Leave behind an intimate, small scale amphitheatre/park that would be much better scaled to a site like WH.

A facility like that would cost much less to build, would greatly reduce concerns about insufficent parking and increased traffic, would leave much more room open for residential and other scale-appropriate development in the area, and would still provide both the impetus and funding to clean up the brownfields that are holding WH development back.

The city, with it's immediate concern about how to secure the Pan Am legacy money out of the way, could then work with the Ticats to help them find sufficient private investment to build their EM CFL stadium/ entertainment district."

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By FutureFundBuster (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 08:29:45

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 08:29:47

A temporary Pan Am site would get my vote as well. Use FF money to clean up the brownfields in the area...

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 08:51:42

In going through the agenda of the meeting, I found this:

Social Development: everyone has a home they can afford, that is well maintained and safe.

This goal is suppose to be reached by 2020.

I agreed with Matts pooint in his speech, that it should not be about building a stadium but rebuilding our community. So many live in poverty and are either homeless or live in conditions that are very unhealthy and unsafe.

If we wish to change this, we need to do some serious thinking as to how to make things better and how best to use those funds, so that everyone benefits, even the poor and marginalized.

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By renegauthier (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 09:18:25

Sorry to burst your bubbles on a temporary site, but the terms for funding a stadium were clear. It must be permanent and it must have future use for the legacy partner, the Tiger-Cats. If they can't come to an agreement, then the stadium doesn't get built. A temporary facility is out of the question.

Bob Young needs to see people who will buy into the West Harbour plan and the Whitestar Group can be the catalysts. Their concept is the best one I've seen. If they can get some private money into this venture and if they can get some help in telling CN to back off, this could be something sustainable.

A stadium with a retractable roof for this city is a dream come true with some greater revenue potential than the East Mountain stadium. But the biggest problem continues to be accessibility. The East Mountain would have the parkway, but short of the train station and a possible LRT station, what would the West Harbour have as a high volume artery that is as close?

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 09:46:56

Burlington Street and Cannon/York are both high volume streets within a stones throw of the entrance to the WH location.

High volume does not necessarily have to mean high speed - even though the Linc/RHCE wouldn't be high speed before/after a game either.

Comment edited by frank on 2010-07-28 08:48:27

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 09:55:56

HF I disagree with your last paragraph. That land was designated as employment lands and it shouldn't be rezoned to allow more greenfield development. If Bob Young wants so badly to build a suburban stadium let him build it in another city. Also, it's shouldn't be the city's responsibility to help a private investor find private investment for his venture...

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 10:12:30

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 10:30:42

...I agree that at this point Bob might be best if he finds a community that does not have the financial and other issues Hamilton has but would welcome a public/private partnership for a stadium and be open to honest and open discussions.

Nice concern trolling. Hamilton has been doing just that. It's the Ticats who haven't negotiated in good faith.

At the risk of feeding a troll, I'd be very interested to hear your list of cities who would like to negotiate with someone who only has $15m on the table, has a regressive notion of city-building, but would like to call all the shots.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-07-28 09:31:02

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 10:30:59

A stadium with a retractable roof for this city is a dream come true

Ya no, and no to Whitestar. Take a look at the first report on this page. Whitesars vision is retractable domes and luxury hotels and condos. Look at what this did to Anaheim. Housing is no longer affordable for the mid to lower class there.

Cleveland and Baltimore had great plans that for the most part have done wonders for revitalizing their cities, but there are still some things they are trying to work out - namely the rest of those cities getting ignored through this downtown rebuilding process.

Dallas as depicted in the above paper, is a good example of how the EM stadium is not a desirable location. Even though Em isn't as far outside the cities permiter as the Cowboy's stadium is, the three other stadiums discussed are more proof of why a stadium should go downtown or close to it.

Sticking with 'Setting Sails' over a period of time instead of this quick-fix Pan Am plan, revitalizing the area around around Ivor Wynne in the meantime (showing some attention to the rest of the city), and working towards a possible 2030 Commonwealth Games stadium plan (100th anniversary of the games we were the first hosts of), could possibly tackle two things at once here and give us more time to put a proper plan in place.

I think the artists revival on James St N is proof that you don't need a lot of money to revitalize. Just a lot of passion and a vision.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 10:37:47

Cleveland and Baltimore had great plans that for the most part have done wonders for revitalizing their cities, but there are still some things they are trying to work out - namely the rest of those cities getting ignored through this downtown rebuilding process.

Wow. That would be a nice problem to have eh?

Comment edited by jason on 2010-07-28 09:38:13

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 14:09:55

If all these people really believe a stadium is going to revitalize Hamilton, I also have a "White Star" investment opportunity for them...

http://www.titanic-whitestarships.com/

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By Paulo (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 15:48:35

The board did not REJECT the east mountain stadium. It was simply a recommendation about where they THINK the money should go. If you really are in the business of media at least attempt to report the facts in an unbiased manner. I see a link to the Our City our Future on this site but none for the goeastmountain.com site. Why is that?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 15:57:31

Here's a good question: Why do the 'Cats expect to take 100% of the revenues from the stadium when they're only putting in a small percentage of the money?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 16:05:35

There is an entire article about the goeastmountain site just a few posts down the page on your right. and it includes a link.

A better question is - why have comments been disabled on the goeastmountain site? are they afraid of what people REALLY think?

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By Kourt (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 16:53:18

Paulo..I was at this meeting. The board vote in majority on three items:

a) the funding from the Future Fund for the Pan Am stadium should be a loan vs a grant
b) the Future Fund Board supports the West Harbour location as the stadium site of choice
c) no funding should come from the Future Fund for any location other than the West location

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 17:14:42

Thank you for that clarification Kourt, that is very helpful.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 21:54:10

"At the risk of feeding a troll, I'd be very interested to hear your list of cities who would like to negotiate with someone who only has $15m on the table, has a regressive notion of city-building, but would like to call all the shots"

You're calling whom a troll highwater? ;)

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 22:08:43

Paulo says

I see a link to the Our City our Future on this site but none for the goeastmountain.com site. Why is that?

Cat-Cookie JPG Image

Goeastmountain.com wouldn't feel as good on my survey shirt.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2010-07-28 21:09:18

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 22:25:08

How does the stadium project meet any of the criteria for the Hamilton Future Fund?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 01:09:32

Ancopa >> Except the future fund isn't from the tax levy.

This is from...

http://www.thespec.com/article/809391

"The city raised the $137 million by asking Hamilton Hydro to borrow against its assets. That loan is being repaid by hydro users through their bills...

The other $37 million was set aside to be spent between 2002 and 2007 on high-priority projects such as restoring the Art Gallery of Hamilton, rebuilding Hughson Street downtown, contributing to the Dieppe Memorial on the Beach Strip and helping Hamilton Food Share."

...

As you can see, this future fund money is over-taxation, it's just hidden in our hydro bills. It's already failing in it's original purpose, which was...

"to preserve and manage a permanent, self-sustaining fund as a lasting legacy for current and future generations of Hamiltonians to enjoy economic prosperity, enhanced social fabric, and enhanced community life."

This is because...

"According to the city's finance staff, the actual balance at the end of 2009 was $63 million and the projected balance is $49 million at the end of 2010.

By 2013 and 2014, approved commitments, such as the 2015 Pan Am Games, will bring the balance down to about $20 million."

...

So much for self sustaining. The City has already wasted $37M on an art gallery that still requires tax subsidies to exist, a war memorial that should have been financed through voluntary donations (most soldiers volunteered to fight), a fixing of Hughson St that has produced nothing in economic benefits and a forced donation to the food bank.

If the City really feels that this Future Fund is doing good work, why not allow people to donate voluntarily? Send the Future Fund money back to the people and let them decide how many assets it should have to build. If the city isn't willing to do this, it tells me that they don't have very little confidence in their ideas.

That's likely why they sneak the money through our water bills, rather than having the class to ask if we want to share in their vision.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 03:28:04

Why couldn't the city set up something like this to support community building...

http://www.sfgfta.org/grants_html/voluntary.htm

The city could have as many as these funds as they wanted and the only limit on investment would be the willingness of citizens to donate. I think many would donate to a city remediation fund, because most people understand that this is a real investment, even just on a moral basis. We don't need to waste money on a new stadium, just so we have an excuse to fund the issues close to people's hearts.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 07:00:57

Setting up a fund like that would be great. And I wouldn't object at all as a season ticket holder for the TigerCats that if the stadium goes to the EM, a surcharge is put on tickets for the Rheem remediation project.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 13:47:22

adam2,

The Fund's goals are as follows:

*enhance the community’s economic prosperity *include potential for economic development *support tax competitiveness with neighbouring municipalities *support downtown redevelopment *support the development of key economic clusters *support job creation *enhance the community’s social fabric *enhance community life

For a stadium at West Harbour several of these are obviously met. The recreational opportunities provided by a stadium (which will be usable by community sports when not used for Ticats or other money-making opportunities) will enhance community life and its social fabric, as well as the brownfield remediation accomplishing those goals.

Clearly, downtown and the waterfront is a key economic cluster that will see benefits from the West Hamilton stadium project, not only during the Pan Am Games (bringing the Pan Ams to Hamilton will have longterm tourism spinoffs as well) but also by bringing the Ticats and other events near to downtown. This also has job creation spinoffs, not merely during construction (obvious) but afterwards as well as the prime waterfront land gains an anchor tenant and further economic stimulus. That area is primed for a revitalization.

This, also, enhances prosperity and the opportunity for economic development. This is especially important as the provincial government will be making parallel investments (such as transit investments) along with the stadium. A permanent GO Transit link at West Harbour, for instance, as promised in the Pan Am bid book, means increasing demand for residential property in the area. Not only does this have significant economic spinoff (not just short-term such as stadium and transit construction but longterm as residential and commercial buildings in the area are redeveloped), it also drives property values in the area (check out how much higher real estate prices are in the Golden Horseshoe when there is GO Train proximity - I commuted to Toronto for ten plus years and lived it!) and that supports tax competitiveness... by raising value, you can lower rates.

I think I hit all eight areas there. What do I win? :)

Comment edited by Tybalt on 2010-07-29 12:48:25

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 15:23:28

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 16:56:30

Thank you for your introductory lecture on nineteenth-century thought, A Smith. Once your introduction-to-political-philosophy course moves another 200 years into the future, you must join us for another chat. Fascinating.

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By screename (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 17:28:38

All hail Tybalt! No free thought for anyone.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 19:20:02

Where's zookeeper when you need him?

DON'T FEED THE TROLL.

Thank you, that is all.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2010 at 21:06:59

Tonight's Weather: cloudy, with a chance of trolls. Bring chainmail and plenty of wet-naps.

As much as the appeal of just sending the money back to people appeals to me, if we are going to need to do things like remediate the Rheem site or fix up the art gallery, then we might as well spend it while we have it. Mailing a cheque to everyone in Hamilton will cost us dearly, as will the bureaucratic costs of taxing it back and finally spending it.

The point which we should all be able to agree on is that this money should be spent on capital, not expenses. We can raid it to help fund our ailing infrastructure or prop up food banks, but that will only exhaust the fund and create institutions dependent on it. What we need to do is invest in projects which will pay back in the long term. Art galleries ARE working downtown. We need more facilities which add value in the long term with little or no maintenance costs. The fact that this all comes from financing our enormous energy infrastructure is quite telling. We can achieve enormous financial savings by cutting energy use (especially since the price of fuel is likely to rise), and since capital costs are usually the big obstacle, this fund is perfect for it.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2010 at 01:09:57

Undustrial >> if we are going to need to do things like remediate the Rheem site or fix up the art gallery, then we might as well spend it while we have it.

There is nothing stopping taxpayers from using their tax money to donate to a fund to clean up the West Harbour.

>> Mailing a cheque to everyone in Hamilton will cost us dearly

That is unnecessary. Just apply the Future Fund to current expenditures as outlined in the 2010 budget, then decrease the current tax levy by $60M.

>> The point which we should all be able to agree on is that this money should be spent on capital, not expenses.

Why should we all agree to this? What if someone wants an IPod more than a new stadium? Or how about a kid that needs new hockey equipment, why should his wishes take the back seat to what the government wants?

>> What we need to do is invest in projects which will pay back in the long term. Art galleries ARE working downtown.

And how do you measure if a government project produces value for the city? As for the second statement, the AGH required $785k in operating subsides to stay operating in 2008.

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