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We've been given permission to post this article by Jamie Swift that will be published in the October 2005 issue of the Independent Voice. It's a good synopsis of what's been going on.
Read the whole thing.
The City LVEC pageswere updated sometime Thursday, only nine days after the fact, to say something about the radical new direction for the LVEC project.
As far as we can tell, what they posted is a diagram of the North Block, the text of the motionthat saved the project from death, and they may have changed a few references to "Anglin Bay" and "waterfront" to "downtown".
Frankly, we're underwhelmed.
Virtually all the material that is specific to Anglin Bay is still front-and-centre on the website, including the especially odious Backgrounder documentwhich is waterfront-specific, still the most prominently positioned link on the City LVEC main page, and which contains the following poppycock:
Imagine it - Fall 2010: Kingston's showcase Entertainment Centre on Anglin Bay is now in its fourth year of operation. Soon it will be show time again and the crowds are building by the minute. Some arrive by foot, groups held together by animated conversation as they move along city streets; others eagerly step down from City buses. Still others guide cars smoothly into parking spaces or file up from boat slips.
And that's just the opening paragraph. The second paragraph contains this information:
Despite the years since the Entertainment Centre's opening, citizens and visitors alike still marvel that a facility housing, among other things, an NHL sized arena seating 5,000 is so physically attractive, and so effectively woven into the fabric of Kingston's downtown waterfront. The Entertainment Centre's very presence has stimulated commercial and residential development north of Princess Street, triggered improved transit routes and traffic flows, and added another link to continuous waterfront pathways and parks, including Doug Fluhrer Park next door.
And it goes on and on. Remember, those quotes are from the document most prominent linked "above the fold" of the City's website on September 30th 2005.
As of June 30th 2005almost a half-million dollars had already been sunk into the Anglin Bay LVEC project. These are direct expenses only, and don't include allocations, like staff time, and not including the City's LVEC website which, despite the obvious investment, is today truly a disgrace at informing Kingstonians with accuracy and sincerity.
Here's the latest on the LVEC by Bill Hutchins writing for The Heritagenewspaper.
In a surprising 11th hour decision, council will consider a new downtown site for the $37. 3 million sports and entertainment stadium.Kingston's mainstream media appears incapable of sincerity when reporting the expected cost of the Anglin Bay LVEC. The $37 million figure does not include land, business expropriation, relocation, and compensation costs, site cleanup costs, legal challenges, and so on. Moreover the media always reports this incomplete city-supplied estimate at face value, ignoring what history teaches us about the eventual costs of building stadia.
Anglin Bay started out as the preferred and unanimous choice of council when the search process began 18 months ago. But lingering concerns about parking, financing sources, land purchase and clean up costs, rezoning and its location next to a seniors home eroded most political support and polarized the community.It's foremostly all about the waterfront. Plain and simple: you don't put big inward-looking boxes on waterfront without justification. Then, of course, it's borderline silly to sell a hightly speculative play as an "investment". Then there are the questionable claims that benefits, which would accrue to a very narrow segment of Kingston's downtown businesses, would help Kingston as a whole. But yeah, farther down the list, there's parking, financing, cleanup, neighborhood compatibility, and so on.
Coun. Rick Downes, whose district includes Anglin Bay, says council's change of location was based on political vote getting instead of community input, and it shows the process was flawed from the outset. He says residents and politicians should never have been presented with a take it or leave it scenario on Anglin Bay. "How much choice was involved in one site?"Amen.
Here's a very interesting juxtaposition. These are GIS maps of the LVEC on the North Block and on Anglin Bay that were part of the "LVEC reference materials" for the Mayor's Task Force.
The footprint shown here is the same size as the 9,100-seat London's John Labatt Centre: 112,000 square ft. The building footprint is shown in bright pink; the site outline in green. Remember: Kingston's planning a 5,000-seat arena, which is correspondingly smaller than the building footprints shown here.
The originals of these photos are very big. KCAL got this stuff over a year ago after the city had to release the contents of the LVEC reference materials after a "freedom of information" request made by Stewart Fyfe. The originals of these are still in the City Clerk's office in the box of LVEC reference materials. There were no other such maps done for any other sites.
What's also interesting is, in this orientation, the 9,100-seat JLC fits comfortably on the North Block and Food Basics, GoodLife Fitness and the downtown LCBO outlet are all retained.
Kevin Jordan, the owner and founder of the OHL Arena Guide website, has just released his top-20 list of OHL arenas.
A final disclaimer: Once again, I wish to stress that these are all my own opinions. I have visited all 20 OHL arenas and this is what I believe about the buildings based upon my own experiences.
The winner will surely surprise you. The 5750-seat Kitchener Memorial Auditorium was built in 1950, and most recently renovated in 2002.
These are not my "favourite" buildings; if you want to get a sense of which ones are closest to my heart, you need only check one category - atmosphere. In spite of their flaws, I actually prefer Kingston's or Sault Ste. Marie's rotten tumbledown old barns to soulless new facilities such as Brampton. However, I would like to think that this ranking system was both opinionated and fair, and gave credit where credit is due.See the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium's report card page, as well as its regular OHL Arena Guide page.
It's been nearly a full week since the LVEC project was dramatically redirected and there is STILL no news, or acknowledgement, on the LVEC pages of the City website.
How whacked is that?The least they could do is say something.
We've just updated our diagram titled Who's Who in the Proposed Waterfront LVEC Project: Relationships Galore!. This is one of KCAL's mostviewed pages, and the one that tends to draw the most comment from our readers.
Here's what's new in the latest version:
UPDATE: Don Gedge informs us that the workplan will be completely revised, and they've stopped work on the traffic and parking peer review as well as all work related to the Anglin Bay site.
It's simply amazing how the BIA keeps appearing under so many different guises.
Our petition bearing over 3,700 names opposing the Anglin Bay LVEC project landed on Council on Tuesday night, forcing project backers to face what everyone knew all along: that our waterfront, nevermind a productive harbour, is no place for an OHL hockey arena.
The project is now in serious difficulty. All of this could have been avoided had there been genuine dialog and public input, as opposed to the overt manufacturing of the pretense of public support and the systematic disregard of obvious public sentiment.
Update: All told, now that the stragglers are all in, the number of signatures collected by KCAL members and volunteers is in excess of 4,000.
CKWS-TV has posted this transcript of Lucy Nersesian's story about happenings on Tuesday night.
"IF THE STUDY COMES UP WITH SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS THAT WE CANNOT OVERCOME IN A REASONABLE WAY, MY POSITION WOULD BE WE SHOULD GO BACK TO ANGLIN BAY, BUT I DON'T (HAVE) THE SUPPORT AND I WANT TO GET THE JOB DONE SO I'M HOPING THAT WE CAN PROCEED ON THE NORTH BLOCK BECAUSE OTHERWISE WE'RE IN DANGER OF LOSING THE PROJECT ENTIRELY. "
We're curious: considering all that's been uncovered about the Anglin Bay site that was systematically dismissed and ignored by Mayor Rosen and Councillor Ed Smith, what on earth could possibly constitute a "significant problem" with the North Block?
We've just heard that the next Planning Committee meeting is on October 20th. Given what happened last night, it stands to reason that the rezoning of Anglin Bay won't be discussed but, then again, who knows?
Ian Elliot filed this story on the September 20th Council meeting.
The bottom line is Anglin Bay is still on the table for the proposed LVEC. There was no motion to specificly exclude Anglin Bay, nor was there any clause calling for independence of the North Block review, which guarantees that the evaluation of the North Block site will be done by LVEC partisans, none of whom expressed any enthusiasm for the North Block's evaluation, nor any misgivings about the Anglin Bay site, despite the 3,700-name anti-waterfront-location petition that KCAL submitted last night.
The North Block:
"Anglin Bay" changed to "a downtown site" in the business plan, and a "comprehensive study of the North Block" is to be made before November 15th. Therefore a contingency site for location is hastily being prepared. An amendment to include the Memorial Centre site for consideration was defeated. Also notable: Ron Bidulka, who was never on the agenda, took up an hourof time, but in the end the whole 4-month marketing study charade changed nothing.
Bottomline: despite over 3,700 petition signatures submitted by KCAL, the Anglin Bay site is still on the table. Barely.
We've just posted this excellent letter from Robert Mackenzie, who outlines seven points why Council should not commit to the Inner Harbour for the LVEC.
Read the whole thing.
In the past we've posted other excellent essays from Mr Mackenzie:
One gets the feeling that had Mayor Rosen and Councillor Ed Smith paid more attention to what Robert Mackenzie has said, the project wouldn't be in the sticky situation it finds itself in today. They certainly cannot claim they were not told. Clearly their pretense of "listening" and "gathering information"has worn very, very thin.
The 800 or so names listed by the Friends of the Entertainment Centre website contains a significant number that are below the age of majority.
How many can you spot?
Later today, KCAL will submit a 3,700-name petition to Council. Real signatures of real adults, collected in person, and each one of those signatures involved an interaction that carried some degree of anger, sometimes a lot of anger, towards the proposed waterfront location for the arena, and the process that has dictated virtually everything, since day one, for the sole benefit of the Downtown BIA.
It's going to be a long and busy meeting, and much of it involves BIA-related items that arguably should have been handled months ago.
The gory details ofthe BIA contribution are here (You're taken directly there, but this stuff is actually buried 25-pages into that document).
Here's a link to the text of the Municipal Actwhich, among other things, specifically forbids BIA's from borrowing money ( 205 (3) ) and that constrains the BIA to influence only municipally owned land ( 204 (1) ), both of which are breeched by this motion.
Here's a link to the memorandum of understandingbetween The City and the BIA, which is interesting in how loosely the deal is structured.
Note that the memorandum of understanding doesn't specify the Anglin Bay site, just that the LVEC be located somewhere in the boundaries of the BIA(the BIA is smaller than most people realize). The BIA is essentially getting this gift from the taxpayers of Kingston for chickenfeed, or the debt service costs only on about 7% of the expected costs of the building ( $3M into $45M is 7%). Moreover, in so doing, the BIA handcuffs itself, and seriously limits its manoeuvering margin, for the next 30-years.
That's simply outrageous. Hands up, please, whomever believes that the taxpayers of Kingston won't soon be bailing-out the BIA from this 30-year commitment?Where's the surety, the collateral?
1. THAT Council resolve into the Committee of the Whole to consider the following item: (a) Approval of the LVEC Plan as Recommended for Construction of a New Sports and Entertainment Centre at a Downtown SiteHere's what the page looks like in the agenda.
It looks like Ian Elliot will replace Derek Baldwin on The Whig's LVEC beat.
Memo to Ian: everybody knows the proposed LVEC will cost a lot more than $37M.
Yesterday, Rosen said the project still had a long way to go and even if he gets a positive vote tomorrow night, the city isn't fully committed to building the arena.So $50M isn't going to surprise Harvey Rosen.
"I've heard people say that this is going to wind up costing the city $50 [million] or $60 million when the tenders come in," he said. "Well, if it comes in at $60 million, I'm not going to vote for it. "
Kingston This Week ran its first LVEC Q&A on Friday.
Geoff Smith, occasional Whig columnist and Queen's professor of history and physical education, has given us this excellent column that was accepted and then rejected by the Whig.
It nicely sums many of the key points of the whole LVEC situation.
Be sure to read Appendix B.
We've updated our tally of the LVEC letters published by the Whig. We count 328 letters published since April 20, 2004. These are from 246 individual authors, of which we count only 66, or about 27%, who express support for the proposed LVEC.
It is notable that a significant proportion of those supporting the LVEC in the Whig's pages are Downtown Kingston BIA members (if not members of the BIA's board of directors), or immediate family of BIA members, or members of the Mayor's LVEC task force, or people actually employed by organizations like the Chamber of Commerce whose job is to carry the flag for downtown business interests. The BIA is, of course, in like flynn, for chickenfeed (see also here), to the point of overtly controlling and stacking public meetings to create the pretense of popular support.
There is, in fact, absolutely no evidence of popular support for the proposed LVEC, which will cream a waterfront park, a working harbour, a blossoming boatbuilding business, and a neighborhood, all to build an arena within no proximate businesses, with inadequate parking, all at a hefty premium over any other conceivable site anywhere inland, which is to say, not immediately and inappropriately on Kingston's waterfront.
A KCAL reader forwards these articles from the Guelph Mercury from July 2001 and July 2005 about the hard lessons of the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre, a project once hailed by none other than Ron Bidulka.
In 1998 Bidulka called the Nustadia deal "the new benchmark for such projects in Ontario" that allowed the city to participate with limited risk.
CKWS-TV reports on the inaugural meeting of the Association Of Kingston Electoral Districts that took place on Wednesday night at City Hall.
We've just posted this letter from Andy Soper which was published by The Kingston Whig Standard on Saturday September 10th 2005.
The Whig-Standard, far from being unkind to an LVEC as Mr. Holmberg claims, has in fact been very easy on a scheme which greatly deserves to be taken to task.It's an excellent letter, read the whole thing.
These photos, taken mid-September 2005, show the deluxe extra-wide sidewalks being installed along the East side of Wellington street. This is before the LVEC has been approved by Council, and before an acceptable LVEC traffic and parking plan has been released and approved.
In case you are wondering, the entrance to the MacDonald-Cartier Building shown in one of these photos is about 230m from the front door of the proposed LVEC. From this point you are still over 400m away from any restaurant, bar, cafe, or other business that will benefit from the so-called "economic development" that is supposed to come from the LVEC. Economic benefits that accrue nowhere else.
Updated: CKWS-TV reports that the City denies that the extra-wide sidewalks are for the LVEC. Heh.
Here's an interesting letter by Raymond Colledge that was published by The Whig today. Therein:
Anglin Bay was selected by the inital LVEC task force who were operating under a very tight schedule. Under these circumstances it is reasonable to assume that only a cursory examination could be made of this site and all the other sites that were under consideration. Trying to locate the LVEC on Anglin Bay has resulted in a host of unexpected problems which have made the project far more expensive than at first anticipated. Since these costs could now be in the vicinity of at least $50 million, it is time to re-examine this project and try to find a way of reducing the future burden that Kingston tax payers will have to bear. In other words it is time to recognise that we need to stop wasting money on what has become a fruitless exercise and start making a serious effort to look at other sites that have fewer complications and lower costs.
Read the whole letter.
Occasionally it's good to look past what's happening today in Kingston and examine the issue ofsubsidized sports and entertainment venues in a broader context.
Here's Vicki Schmolka's letter to The Editor,published by The Whig on Saturday, on the environmental aspects of the Anglin Bay LVEC location. The site of the proposed LVEC is polluted (see also here), according to the 8-page Executive Summary of the Environmental Report, which is the only thing the City has put online.
Here's CKWS' report on last night's presentation by Ron Bidulka to Council.
CKWS-TV is still referring to the proposed LVEC as $37million project. That's demonstrably incorrect since everybody knows this figure doesn't include land costs, and the cost of relocating Metalcraft Marine, among other things. Moreover history teaches us clearly that estimates of the costs of building sports and entertainment stadiums should never be taken at face value.
It turns out that Ron Bidulka, who made last night's oral presentation of the LVEC's Market Study, has actually been involved with the project from the very beginning. He's acknowledged in the Mayor's Task Force Report on an LVEC "for much advice and assistance".
Howard Stone has announced an open invitation to all concerned, aggravated and alienated Taxpayers in the City of Kingston to a meeting on September 14th at City Hall.
We've just posted this letter from Mary Louise Adams about some condescending LVEC-related comments made by Mayor Rosen last week.
Read the whole thing.
Supporters of the Anglin Bay site claim it will bring economic benefits to the downtown. Yet, across North America, independent economists have shown that sports arenas and stadiums are not engines of economic development. Given the holes in the business plan, the LVEC is far more likely to become a tax burden on businesses and residents alike.
A year and a half into this process the Mayor has yet to comment on the inevitable economic effects a project of this size will have on other City initiatives. We have yet to see the detailed research that should have been used to justify the site selection decision. There has been a stunning lack of attention paid to the concerns of those who live near Anglin Bay. No surprise then that the feeling on the street is that the whole LVEC process has been undemocratic and the antithesis of collaborative community decision making.
For months we have been condescended to by the Mayor and by a small elite of business people none of whom has yet responded seriously to the many concerns raised about this site. It's not Mayor Rosen who needs to hear compelling, logical arguments, it's the citizens of Kingston.
Derek Baldwin reportsin today's Whig on Ron Bidulka's oral report to Council last night.
What's not reported is that Council voted, mostly according to the usual lines, to reject a procedural ammendment proposed by Councillor Downes that would have allowed councillors to ask an additional round of questions of Mr Bidulka.
On August 25th, the Whig Standard published this excellent article by Diana Davis Duerkop, who knows a thing or two about bidding for events like the Memorial Cup, The Brier, the Scott Tournament of Hearts, and Skate Canada.
It's an honest assessment of Kingstons chances, and promoters of the proposed LVEC would do well to reconsider any rhetoric that says "build it and they will come" because, as Ms Duerkop points out, there is a lot more to it than that, and Kingston fares poorly in many other important respects. Moreover the LVEC, as conceived, has numerous deficiencies that may eliminate Kingston from the running early in bid evaluation processes.
Read the whole thing.
On a related note, back in May, Dennis Brown sent us this letter that outlines some details around Memorial Cup bidding, and also notes that Kingston is far from the only OHL town with a new rink to tout.
CKWS-TV reports that the results of the so-called "marketing study" will be delivered on September 20th, and not September 6th as originally expected.
Everyone should be aware that the marketing study is very limited in scope. The study is not about validating the viability of the location. Nor is it about validating the notion that customers will accept, over the long term, the LVEC's long walking distances, which are comparable to those found in airport parking applications, except that with airports parking you're likely to be walking under cover if not indoors.
Note also the background materials to the study include the fudged KEDCO report, as well as, of all things, a report related to the Buskers Rendezvous, another heavily BIA-influenced document.
This marketing study, which was hastily injected as part of a last-minute bargain to save the LVEC from defeat in council, continues the pattern of pussyfooting around the issue of the proposed LVEC's location. And so it goes.