Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina posted a comment on the Skyscraper Page forum at 11:00 AM today, announcing his opposition to the proposed West Harbour site for the Pan American Games stadium:
After reviewing the documents related to a Pan Am Stadium site selection, I have to declare my total opposition to a West Harbour Site, and the creation of a "Stadium Entertainment Precinct". The site preparation costs look to be as much as $43 million prior to construction, and the notion that it can only work by cannibalizing existing bars and restaurants, especially downtown, is beyond ridiculous.
This exercise began simply to replace Ivor Wynne Stadium. The only reasonable approach for the taxpayers of this City is to locate that stadium on City-owned property, near existing major transportation corridors, and preferably not contaminated. Such sites exist. Such an approach would save the millions of dollars estimated for land purchase, demolition, and site clean-up.
Several other commenters responded to criticize Bratina's decision, suggesting that the only alternative is to locate the stadium near the Airport. Council has restricted its site choices to these two options.
Bratina logged back in to further explain his position, referencing a new study that pegs the cost of full site remediation at $43 million. The study is available for download (PDF link) on the city website Committee of the Whole agenda page.
Using similar logic to last November's RTH editorial, the study recommends the West Harbour location as the preferred choice, given the criteria of regional and local transit linkages, economic evelopment strategy, downtown revitalization, west harbour recreation master plan, tourism, provincial and municipal land use policies, and public services.
Familiarize yourself with the documentation, and the agenda that is being presented. There are a great many Ward 2 residents who favour this site, and I have not objected at any time to its being considered.
We now see the realities with respect to cost, and sustainability. The business case makes a whole group of assumptions, including professional soccer. It also calls for $500,000 annual contribution to Capital Reserves. If you're familiar with City business you'll know that the annual deficit for infrastructure maintenance is $145 million dollars, giving our roads and facilities a grading of D minus.
The population of Hamilton as stated in the Consultants report is growing at well below the Provincial rate...2.9 per cent vs 4.6, and in the lower City, in actual decline. The question has to be asked, how can we support a "stadium entertainment precinct" and not harm existing Downtown businesses? Read the report.
The hidden agenda includes the expenditure of over 80 million dollars to enhance the West Harbour area. Most visitors will tell you that except for perhaps a couple of restaurants or other affordable amenities, that area is functioning very well. The only situation that needs capital investment at this time is a deteriorating retaining wall near the Marine Police basin.
I have to simply dismiss the knee-jerk negative responses above, because those individuals have no clue as to what is contained in the Deloitte-Touche and Gowlings documentation. The Deloitte Touche information is available on the City of Hamilton Website under City Government / agendas / Committee of the Whole / February 18th.
The Gowlings document is still confidential, but I don't see anything in that which in my opinion should be held back from the public, especially the site preparation costs, which total as much as $43 million prior to construction. Arguments will be made that this figure can be significantly lowered by avoiding full remediation.
In any case, no funding source is given beyond vague references to Federal, Provincial and private participation. The naming rights to this stadium site are given as $5 million dollars.
Please inform yourself before launching into hokey anonymous tirades.
It should be interesting to see where this goes.
(Thanks to the intrepid RTH reader who brought this to our attention.)
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