Kingston Concerned About the LVEC
Currently known as the "KROCK Centre"
Formerly the "Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre" or KRSEC
Formerly the "Large Venue Entertainment Centre" or LVEC
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Whig Standard August 3 2004

Lift fog surrounding LVEC

Defending the impossible is an impossible task, and defending the Large Venue Entertainment Centre proposal is equally impossible. Yet the fog surrounding this issue continues to roll ashore - witness Ken Wong's letter "More Economics 101: LVEC benefits outweigh costs" (July 13).

The main problem with the LVEC proposal is that the experts did a quick and dirty study that started out with one objective - to replace the Memorial Centre. But on the way through the project morphed into an LVEC. A downtown business organization locked on and the rest is history.

In fairness, the study team didn't attempt to determine any meaningful measurement of the viability of the proposal. However, it is now appropriate to conduct two significant studies. Study No. 1 would be a market survey. Is there a strong potential customer base in eastern Ontario?

Economically, we might as well be playing Russian roulette if we put any tax dollars into this proposal before we know that the customers are out there. That means being able to state that there is a high probability of drawing customers by the thousands from Belleville, Trenton, Brighton, Gananoque, Brockville, Cornwall, Prescott, Kingston and Ottawa on a regular basis, which would assure at least a 75-per-cent-plus occupancy rate of the facility 340 days of the year, or some other numbers yet to be determined.

This study should be conducted by an independent third party. If the answer is yes, the customers appear to be out there, then fund study No. 2 and take a more detailed look at a variety of funding alternatives.

If a reasonable funding arrangement can be developed, one that doesn't require tax dollars, then move the process forward to the next step. If it is deemed that significant taxpayer involvement is necessary, then the taxpayers must be consulted.

Unfortunately, I am hearing comments to the effect that the LVEC should be viewed as a public good. The best-case use of the proposed LVEC property should be the third study conducted, providing the first two studies give us go signals.

This one-step-at-a-time approach is slow but we must not create a white elephant for the city and its taxpayers. At this point, all we have is a mayor in a hurry and an esoteric proposal to place a costly, questionable building on some of Kingston's finest and most valuable land. We don't know if we could attract enough customers to make the LVEC viable or even if the location is appropriate.

The original study report should have spelled these steps out in detail for the benefit of city council. If Whig-Standard readers watched the July 13 council discussion and vote on the LVEC, they know that nobody around the table has a handle on the business case process.

Let's hope that much of the fog will lift for everyone in the near future.

Howard Stone