The Proposal for the new LVEC makes no mention of any location outside of the old City limits. An analysis of opinions provided in the Task Force appendices suggests that as few as 11% wanted the new LVEC built in the downtown core. See "Six Myths About the LVEC". Does this mean that the other 89% of the population are just being ignored? Why were sites outside the downtown core eliminated without giving due consideration to the most important group of stakeholders: the users?
In comparison with other possible locations, the selected location requires additional expense in both time and distance for almost all the residents of the former Townships, as well as those living in the north and west areas of the Old City. The selected location on the Inner Harbour would require the completion of the Wellington St. extension, which could also add pressure to build a third crossing, something that some residents of Pittsburgh District do not want. It is also something that the chairperson of the Task Force, Leonore Foster, has been requesting for years. And many residents of Pittsburgh are also upset at the prospect of inevitable delays at the causeway, the probability of an increased tax burden, and fear that their million dollars in the bank could be diverted to help finance the new LVEC.
There are several locations in the former Kingston Townships which were worthy of consideration. All would provide easier access, ample room for parking, close proximity to hotels, restaurants and shopping, and they would be less costly to build. There would be no filling in of a dry dock or portions of the riverfront. Soil cleanup would be less expensive or not required at all. New roads would not need to be extended or built. The extension of Centennial Drive has already begun, and modifications to expand Counter Street to four lanes are already on the books. Yet all these advantages to a suburban location were deemed not worthy of consideration.
The proposed location is going to mean added expense for all residents of Kingston, not only because of the additional costs of building on the site itself, but in terms of travel and parking. The downtown site is furthest away for most Kingstonians, meaning additional gasoline consumption and pollution. There will not likely be too many patrons bicycling to events. Nor do I think free public transit for events will be provided to all areas of the city. The planned shuttle buses would add additional travelling time for the patron and extra cost for the City. Traffic is already congested near the proposed site, as it is almost adjacent to the only eastern entrance to the city (a two lane causeway with lift bridge) , and the Wolfe Island Ferry dock. Even if one slowly winds one's way to near the site, there are many, many parking issues. See our article on parking. Other sites do not have these drawbacks. Any site chosen should have at least the traffic advantages and parking amenities of the current Memorial Centre site, which is relatively easy to access from all parts of the city. Onsite parking is free for Frontenac seasons' ticket holders, and others can park on the site for a mere loonie. One can only imagine the event rate structure for downtown profit oriented lots.
Any economic spin-off from a new arena will be there for the City no matter where it is built. What's wrong with having these benefits spread out to existing or new business in other areas of the city? Would the Task Force's decision have been different if a group of West End merchants had offered three or four million dollars to kick-start a location along Taylor-Kidd Boulevard?
Anyone who thinks the proposed Inner Harbour LVEC is not going to mean an additional tax burden has his or her head in the sand. See again "Six Myths about the LVEC", and also "Experience of LVEC's in Other Cities".
This brings up another important issue for those living in the former townships: since amalgamation, we residents have seen skyrocketing taxes, decreased services, and increasing costs of those services remaining. All the while residents have seen their tax dollars going downtown with little or no payback (e.g. the Tall Ships fiasco). In a recent article in Kingston This Week, Lance Thurston stated that Kingston needed additional revenues to support the three major projects on the books. These were: upgrades to the Grand Theatre, the building of a skating rink on Market Square , and the building of the LVEC. Is it just a co-incidence that all these projects are located in the downtown core? Most people agree that money needs to be spent on the downtown infrastructure. The Grand Theatre could use an upgrade and it already exists downtown. The fact remains that all the major projects are in the downtown core. These are being paid for by all city taxpayers residing throughout the city, but will profit only downtown special interest groups. There seems to be no logical explanation for the choice of a downtown core LVEC location other than to continue diverting tax money to only a small percentage of citizens who make a profit from the downtown.
The recent snub by the city in refusing to initially assist those residents of the West End affected by flooding has only served to reinforce the view that the city is biased towards the downtown. Would assistance have come more readily, and would it have covered more than tipping fees, had the flooding occurred downtown?
Last updated 16.10.2004