Comment 57974

By JMorse (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 14:03:01

My latest letter to council seems more of a tortured cry of pain than support for one option or another:

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm writing today to express my disappointment in the direction our city is taking with regards to our Pan Am Games participation.

The latest deal to salvage our Pan Am opportunity is effectively turning our backs on virtually all of the positives the games and their associated investment were to bring. It seems any possible interpretation of the Pan Am theme has been made to keep the Tiger Cats on board. I find this so terribly irresponsible in that the only guarantees we have are what we will sacrifice to let this deal go forward. The velodrome, amateur sport legacy, contaminated land remediation, city building in the core, $10 million in land costs, all guaranteed to be gone or reduced to a fraction of their potential. Only the positives are not guaranteed. All of the returns on our investment are speculative, both economically and socially. We're have no private investment, not even from the main beneficiary of this "plan", the Tiger-Cats. Because all of the expected costs are only estimated, the best we could do was limit our contribution to $45 million from our Future Fund. Unfortunately this will not effectively limit our contribution. All future costs, whether construction overruns, maintenance and upgrades, and liability if the team collapses, will be borne by the city. At the least, the very issues will destroy whatever remains of our agenda at the time, as demonstrated over the past year or so.

We have recently found ourselves in what seemed like a good bargaining position when the Tiger-Cats came back around to a previously rejected site. As yet, we are still unable to control the process. Part of this I'm afraid is because of interference from other levels of government which is most unfair. It's now obvious that we were never in control. That the game we've been playing is merely to provide the appearance of democratic process, while the real decisions are being made up and changed by those with the most control or influence.

I'd like to close with a passionate plea for the right choice to be made, but I'm not sure what that is. I'm having a hard time because it doesn't seem to make much difference at this stage. Though I've pushed for it in the past, it may be best if there was no stadium at West Harbour either. Most unfortunate is that all non-stadium progress in the area has been stalled by the stadium madness.

Here we are, about to submit an unfunded, unqualified stadium plan to ensure our place at the games. No matter what happens, whether the province fills the funding gap, the criterion are waived, or we lose out entirely, our city council will emerge the worse for wear. Hamilton does not deserve this outcome. We know all of council has worked hard to stay ahead of this raging torrent of opportunity. Rather than harness it for the good of our city, it has laid waste to our solidarity, self-image, and forward momentum. This whole process has been poisoned from the start. We now need to mitigate and recover from the damage as best we can.

Please, for the future of Hamilton, we mustn't expose ourselves to future liabilities. We are already about to drain our coffers for this plan. If there isn't enough time to make sure we are in a guaranteed safe position we must step back and let the chips fall where they may. Let's use our resources, though meager, to help ourselves in a way we can control.

Comment edited by JMorse on 2011-01-25 14:03:35

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