Comment 56280

By Sarah (registered) | Posted January 13, 2011 at 21:25:06

I emailed Merulla regarding what I thought was a flip flop but in actuality he was the only one to propose Ivor Wynne and he responded with a novel

Sam Merulla said: Many thanks for taking the time to provide me with your input. From my perspective the foundation of the problem is that the Toronto Pan Am games bid has been fueled by emotion and based on wants rather than needs of our community. The original purpose was to create a legacy for amateur sport first and foremost and now it is simply providing a new stadium for the private for profit Ti Cats without any city. building characteristics. My contention has always been that if the Ti- Cats cannot afford the old stadium how would they afford a new stadium? Well the answer was provided by the Ti Cats with the East Mountain proposal and now Longwood which changed the original purpose to simply creating a legacy for the Ti- Cats and a potential professional soccer team in partnership with a private developer(s). This relationship with the developer(s) is what in essence allows the Ti- Cats to become sustainable but only leveraging public dollars and with a capital deficit of approx 120 million which benefits the Ti- Cats and developer(s) but not the local taxpayer.

Therefore the issue of sustainability is only realistically addressed at Ivor Wynne and the business challenge of the Ti-Cats is to fill the nearly 30 thousand seats available to them at a publicly subsidized Ivor Wynne. The issue of a new stadium is not the answer to the Ti- Cats sustainability. The issue of sustainability is addressed in providing a product on the field that creates a demand for tickets and the necessary revenue to become and remain sustainable. Therefore a renovated Ivor Wynne and a sold out stadium for all Ti- Cat home games is the answer and the most prudent initiative for all to pursue which is not what some people want but I believe that is what they need.

I believe we need to focus on priorities that matter e.g. Manufacturing Jobs, 2 billion dollar infrastructure deficit , 146 million dollar provincial downloading crisis and 20 percent poverty rate. My position has always been the same and that is the fact the Pan Am games and stadium is the mother of all unfocused priorities. I've attached the proceeding comments for your perusal surrounding this fiasco I had written during the summer months:

Bottom line is a vote for West Harbour is a vote for Ivor Wynne due to the criterion that money will only be allocated to a site with a long term tenant. Keep in mind West Harbour has a capital deficit of approximate 50 million dollars and millions more in operating thereby creating an environment of an ultimatum from the Province and the Feds due to the preceding criterion.

A vote for the urban sprawl option on the East Mountain is a vote for a stadium that is underfunded by approximately 120 million dollars deeming it unaffordable to the taxpayer but with a tenant.

Therefore the only viable option left is the renovation of Ivor Wynne which can accommodate soccer and a sustainable tenant that has played at Ivor Wynne since 1930. Anything but Ivor Wynn is a pie in the ski option and a travesty to the hard working people of the City of Hamilton. This unmitigated disaster could have been prevented had my request for due diligence been pursued back in February of 2009. Although I didn't support such a unmitigated ill prepared initiative at least we would have known then what we've confirmed now that this unfocused priority will victimize the taxpayers of this city.

Furthermore the proceeding was my statement issued in June.

Merulla: No Stadium Support Just trying to make the best of the Pan Am Fiasco

I have clearly and consistently stated I am not supporting  a stadium.

 To date I have only supported a study to compare the two sites and not to endorse either location.

Moreover, as you should know, I did not support the expenditure for the stadium nor do I plan on supporting the forthcoming recommendation from the Future Fund Committee. Having said this it was incumbent of me to attempt to make the best of a very bad decision to build stadium. Furthermore the East Mountain site was the best case scenario for the taxpayer due to the fact the Ti-Cats absorb the present subsidy and operating costs. They were also putting 15 million dollars toward capital. The private sector was expected to provide the additional 35 million dollars as promised.

West Harbour development and LRT are still moving ahead and were actually planned prior to the Pan Am fiasco through the Setting Sail Plan. I've always argued that we need to govern based on needs and not wants and I was ridiculed for my position on the stadium when I didn't support the financing in February, 2009. Instead I was focused on what Hamilton needs sewers, roads and bridges. I did need to attempt to protect the taxpayers and the East Mountain site would have mitigated the financial hit on residents. Moreover, the private sector is apparently not contributing the additional 35 million dollars necessary at the East Mountain site and to date we have no private sector money for West Harbour as well as no tenant . I would hope council would support my position to upgrade Ivor Wynne as per the 2007 plan of twenty million dollars over twenty years for generations to come which in essence is a third option which I have always supported.

Lastly its important to understand that the provincial and federal monies are conditional based on sustainability of a long term tenant. Therefore, the monies are being channeled through the Ti-Cats rather than the City which compounds the absurdity of this unfocused priority.

As you should know, I have always been very concerned about wasteful spending at city hall and creating an environment conducive to increasing assessment growth. I believe there are workable solutions available that will enhance governing based on our needs rather than wants. I would like to see our City of Hamilton attract and retain business in a sustainable manner.

We need to continue to find a balance between greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity through employment lands.

The most significant motivation in my seeking office has always been my desire to help anyone who needs it. I have been in public service for twenty years from working with people with disabilities to substance abusers and troubled youth to serving the great people of Hamilton East, Ward 4, and as a whole, the City of Hamilton and there is no better feeling then advocating change and seeing it legislated.

My focus has been and will continue to be eliminating the two billion dollar deficit in hard infrastructure (i.e. Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant, roads, sewers and bridges). Continue to pursue successful redevelopment of East end neighbourhoods through infill/brownfield developments (i.e. Lowe's at Barton and Woodward, Princess Auto on Barton, Seniors Centre at Main and Cope, Greyfield developments on Ottawa St and Kenilworth, Barton, King and Main Streets).

Furthermore I am focused in continuing to create a climate of investment such as Ward 4's The Centre on Barton, Crown Point Medical Arts building on Kenilworth, redevelopment of the old Derby Tavern to Rexall Pharmacy and the future Native Cultural Centre on Kenilworth. Lastly, I am very proud of the future park development at Rennie/Brampton Streets (Rennie St. End Use) and the creation of a new pedestrian/cycling bridge which will allow Ward 4 residents to safely connect to the city's waterfront.

City Council must focus on emerging problems (i.e. the need to increase industrial and commercial investments; thereby, increasing tax revenues without impacting residential taxes or front line services). We must be far more aggressive in uploading the tens of millions of dollars that the Province of Ontario downloaded to the City of Hamilton in terms of mandated programs and services without the necessary funding which deems it NOT revenue neutral and has cost the municipal tax payer in Hamilton $1 billion over the past decade or $146 million dollars, which impacts our operating budget.

The successful conclusion to the downloading crisis will allow council to function in a manner conducive to focusing in our needs and actually put the city in a position to assess a tax decrease of nearly 25 percent. We must determine who does what and who pays for what in our relationship with Ontario. We must do this in consultation AMO and FCM thereby renegotiating our agreements with Ontario to ensure a progressive form of taxation at the municipal level rather than the regressive nature that exists presently.

Moreover Hamilton has lost too many manufacturing jobs as a direct result of globalization. We are attracting employment such as Canada Bread, Tim Hortons and more but much more must be done to aggressively and proactively promote Hamilton as a leader in providing opportunity which is the answer to the poverty issues and infrastructure redevelopment. My strong support for PRO business initiatives such as the Red Hill Valley Parkway and airport employment lands will be instrumental in the growth and repair of this great city of ours in the future. We need to continue to find ways to balance greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity.

The important distinction is the fact we are now fully renovating Ivor Wynne without losing assessment growth with city building characteristics, an anchor tenant and doing so without a 35 to 120 million dollar deficit.

Also the total city commitment to the new satdium plan is approximately 20 million more in capital than the 2007 renovation plan however this plan has no general levy impact as a result of using the Future Fund. I am working on eliminating the 1.3 million dollar annual subsidy provided to the Cats thereby mitigating the tax impact significantly and maintaining the Pan Am Games and obtaining a new stadium with a sustainable tenant.

Hope this helps.

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