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The strain on the healthcare system across Canada is severe as we face an obesity epidemic. The situation will continue to worsen unless all levels of government take action now, in order to offer all Canadians access to sport, physical activity and recreation opportunities, contributing to good health and quality of life.
Speaking to Ministers on the importance of easily accessible and affordable community access to sport, physical activity and recreation facilities from a public health perspective, Dr. Andrew Pipe, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, stated that "It is essential that we address the shortcomings of our present sport, physical activity and recreation infrastructure if we are to have any hope of addressing the tsunami of health issues which will wash over our society unless we become more active."
Certainly Kingston can claim its share of the so-called "physical activity and recreation infrastructure deficit".
And now for the kicker: At the bottom of the press release is an attached "backgrounder", wherein under "Ontario Infrastructure Programs", where progress towards gapping the physical activity and recreation infrastructure deficit is listed, we read:
Ontario contributed $4 million for the construction of the Kingston Large Venue Entertainment Centre.
Compare that to some of the other projects tallied by Ontario and the other provinces.
Kinston will be funneling at least $7 Million away from public health and community well-being to fund the downtown LVEC.
There's more: an additional $2M is supposed to come from donations, any shortfall from that, like Springer Market Square donation shortfall, will be draw from municipal coffers.
There's more: The Downtown BIA's sweet deal means $3M of taxpayer money gets put into the LVEC, only indirectly, and the BIA gets credit.
There's more: ALL the project's financial risk is born by Kingstonians, city-wide. The financing doesn't scale; it barely holds together.
How's your "Physical Activity and Recreation Infrastructure Deficit"?
So LVEC / KRSEC planners have conjured that 300,000 patrons per year will pay to park and walk up to 600m to attend events at Place Kingston Garnier Fructis Place de Kingston.
In September 2006, when we draw a 650m circle from arena center ice, how many outlets of the major fast food franchises can we find? (In 2006, the really big franchise operations in Ontario are Burger King, Dairy Queen, Domino's Pizza, Harvey's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Pizza Pizza, 241 Pizza, Starbuck's, Subway, Swiss Chalet, Taco Bell, Tim Horton's, and Wendy's).
Within our circle, today we find just three of the majors' outlets: A Starbucks and a Subway on Princess St., and one Tim Horton's on Ontario St. There's a notable cluster of outlets just outside the circle on Princess st.
For perspective when we look back on this for comparison, in fall 2006 Downtown Kingston is not "broken", and the arena is being built because it's supposed to shower Kingston (well, some people in Kingston), in fantasmagorical benefits.
Let's keep track of the number of large corporate fast food outlets in this area. They are, after all, ideally suited in product delivery and labour practices to serve the sort of intermittent and spiky traffic that arenas generate. Today, before construction, the LVEC's parking catchment area fast food index is 3.
Know that debt financing for the LVEC is a 30-year deal.
On this day, September 22 2006, before ground is broken on the project, you can find no less than 152 Tragically Hip videos on YouTube.com. How long before you can see almost any concert on the planet, present or past, in your living room, for very cheap if not free? You can do that today with any major league sport.
Not convinced? How about 2711 Rolling Stones videos, for free, right now, just a click away?
How does that mesh with the future of a debt-laden hockey rink downtown? Well, it doesn't. The clear and imminent risk that technology is completely changing the entertainment game is totally unaccounted for. Harvey Rosen and his downtown coterie forced the people of Kingston into a 40-year bet on arena-bowl entertainment, which peaked as a concept in the 1980's.
Click to play. Turn up the sound.
Read the article here.
The Planning Committee didn't approve the site plan; it voted to give a staff manager oversight of this staff-initiated and staff-implemented project.
With that, the fleecing of Kingston taxpayers for the benefit of downtown land and business owners can continue unfettered. All that remains is to document how it all turns out, and to ensure that those who deserve to be held accountable are not forgotten.
Patterson says he's less worried about rises in construction costs, mainly because of a contingency fund set up to cover such increases, than excessive noise generated by rock concerts.More on the contingency issue below. For now, know that in July 2004 Floyd Patterson voted against the inclusion of a noise study in the arena planning process.
Now about the contingency, Councillor Patterson was contacted by Steven Black of KCAL to confirm what the Whig reports today. After all, it's a pretty idiotic thing to say, given the obviously inadequate $1.5Million contingency on a rushed $40+ million project planned and executed by civil servants with a lousy track record.
Remember, the final KRSEC / LVEC financing plan was (conveniently) approved just before the scathing KPMG report was made public. In that report, KPMG chastised the City for its utter lack of risk and contingency planning in its large projects.
Patterson's response to KCAL: he's very comfortable with the contingency, it is what it is, and then he hung up. What a jerk. An immediate subsequent offer to further clarify this -- after all KCAL will be online for many many years to come -- was rebuffed. Clearly Floyd Patterson is no fan of KCAL, but he can't say we didn't try to hear his side of the matter.
But Floyd Patterson is no fool. You see, there is, in fact, ample and unlimited contingency for the project. All the bills, however correct or outrageous, will be paid. The contingency fund is the taxpayer of Kingston, whom Mr Patterson apparently ranks below the pleasing and outright public subsidy of downtown business.
As the story of the ramming through of the LVEC / KRSEC / Place Kingston Garnier Fructis Place passes into history, we will remember Sydenham Ward's Floyd Patterson, who sits on the Board of Directors of the Downtown BIA, as a man who never publicly raised a single tough question, and never showed any doubt about the $40-50+Million project: not about its original waterfront location, not about its later shoehorning into an inappropriate bottleneck location, never a word about its financing, never a qualm about its process. Nothing. Pure, 100% support with no reservations from day one.
Floyd Patterson is among the top-5 people to blame for the LVEC / KRSEC mess that is soon to be dug-into the ground before some of its clear avoidable mistakes are even acknowledged, nevermind adressed. Moreover:
It's really very simple, and it boils down to this:
"In summary, IBI has unprofessionally wriggled its way around addressing any problems with this project. IBI is proposing a parking scenario that is clearly in uncharted waters. And the city and the taxpayers are left to resolve their own problems." -- Bruce Todd
Get this:: The recommendation is to give George Wallace, the Director of Planning and Development, who sits two levels below Glen Laubenstein in the City of Kingston organizational chart, final project approval authority, pending resolution of the remaining "technical issues".
Here's Report PC-06-084 attached to the recommendation. Accessibility by the handicapped and the elderly, as well as issues related to handicapped parking, safe pick-up and drop-off, and the many questions and omissions of the transportation study are not addressed in the attachment.
The Planning Committee is being told by staff that staff can deal with all this without oversight. A "lame duck" City Council can't deal with this before the election, so let's delegate the whole thing to staff.
But several expensive items are already identified: the cost of extensive traffic control including the policing of intersections, extensive parking wayfinding systems, all the improvements to intersections recommended by the shallow and supine Transportation Study?, etc. Are we not due a revised project budget before the election? Should the Planning Committee not oversee the final versions of plans before serious accessibility problems are more permanently dug into the ground? What other proposed developments in this city ever get planning free-passes like that?
The planning committee should require the revision of plans, and more pointedly the revision to the budget, before any free passes to commence the fleecing or Kingston taxpayers is granted. The very real problems with the North Block location are just now crystallizing. This is no time for the Planning Committee to abdicate its responsibility.
We know, without doubt, that this project has had no steering, and here the developer is also the regulator, but following the recommendation of staff to give staff final say on a staff project of this magnitude is simply ludicrous.
Much, much more about this in the hours and days to come. Stay tuned.
For now, know that all the following words appear exactly zero times in the final report: weather, rain, snow, water, sleet, wind, darkness, ice (ice outdoors), slip, temperature, visibility, or storm. There is nothing to explain why, in a so-called "dispersed parking" plan, these things are ignored, as if this was Phoenix, AZ or San Diego, CA.
From project risk and risk mitigation perspectives, the words risk, probability, probably, downside, contingency, and error never appear in any context whatsoever.
The words encroach, narrow, constrict, merge, or width appear zero (0) times, and the word wide appears three times in unrelated contexts, despite the two of four streets surrounding the building that are being significantly narrowed to shoehorn the building in this small space. There is no mention of those changes, nevermind the effect of those changes, on their data.
Insight about sidewalks is limited to recognizing they exist (thanks) and that one is required on the south side of Barrack Street between Ontario Street and King Street (thanks again) but no insight into sidewalk widths, and the adequacy of those existing in the study area, is ever mentioned.
Also, because it's an obvious question, it's notable that they don't estimate a safe or desireable sidewalk width around the building, which is fair enough considering that the whole notion of a crowd, as in thousands of people spilling from the building immediately onto obviously narrow sidewalks, never enters the report. The notion of a single group of idle pedestrians, say a cluster of smokers in a doorway, or a group of people waiting for a bus or pick-up, could effectively impede the whole works, spilling pedestrians off the sidewalks onto streets. There are no carts, and there is no selling or of any kind happening anywhere, and no activities that would require more than say three people abreast, or idle people alone or in groups, congregating on those narrow sidewalks. There is no mention of, or accounting for, the trees and the planters, and the impact of those verdant things we clearly see on site plans.
From a public safety perspective, the word safety appears once, on page 52 of 55, talking generally about pedestrian safety for just one intersection. The words accident, emergency, ambulance, fire, never appear, but the word police appears once, in the casual mention of the police station (currently) nearby. The word hospital appears once, in the context of describing "Bus Route 3" which serves King Street including St Mary's of the Lake Hospital. The continuous and uninterrupted emergency access to KGH and Hotel Dieu Hospitals from Kingston East, and clear possibility that the LVEC could cause some serious bottlenecks, is not worthy of a single mention.
The word security appears zero times.
From a traffic control perspective, the verb "close" never appears, and nor does barricade or detour ever appear. In the whole report, the word cost appears only four times, always in the context of the cost to transit bus riders. No annual cost of managing manning event-related traffic control around the LVEC is estimated or provided.
No surprise, the words accessible, accessibiliy, handicapped, elder and even old never appear either. The word child appears twice, in the mentions that the KRSEC may host "children's concerts". The word wheel, looking for wheel chair, never appears in a context outside the building envelope. The report mentions that the LVEC has wheel chair doors, ramps, and seating inside. Thank you, but it's supposed to be a traffic report, and this building's accessibility may well be illegal by present standards.
The term improvement appears 27 times, all of them will cost money, and as far as we can tell, most of them are directly attributable to the KRSEC project, and many of those improvements don't apear in KRSEC budgets. The term delay tallies 11 times, including one experience delay, one considerable delay, and one substantial delay. The terms gridlock and paralysis appear zero times, not even as a remote possibility, despite there being few (if any) obvious or sensible automobile, bus, taxi, truck, bicycle and pedestrian traffic flow patterns in the entire study area.
The term walking wallet appears once. It is not known how much the City of Kingston paid IBI for this report.
Nonetheless, read the whole thing; it's interesting. It's a breezy 55 pages including tables and diagrams, including this one, which is our first real look at the proposed reconfiguration of the Lasalle Causeway.
It's not like Lanie Hurdle wasn't already over-tasked. It certainly appears like Glen Laubenstein and Cynthia Beach have been paying lip-service to the damning KPMG report about the City of Kingston's project management practices.
Trillium District Council candidate Vicki Schmolka reports that, after some campaigning, the LVEC appears to be a "top of mind issue" in the upcoming municipal election.
Today the Whig offers us this editorial about parking, walking distance, and noise issues at the LVEC / KSEC / KRSEC, or whatever it's called.
Read the whole thing.
About noise: the Whig doesn't tell us that Council explicitly voted, on July 13 2004, to forego noise studies in the LVEC planning process.
About walking, consider this Whig editorial comment, perhaps meant somewhat in jest, is significant in what it doesn't say:
... But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that people are going to have to walk farther to see a sold-out concert or hockey game at the new arena than they would to go to a movie at the Cineplex on Gardiners Road.No kidding. Your worst possible parking deal at the Cineplex is about 450m away, near the front door of the Home Depot.
How's your Cineplex urge, knowing you likely must park by the Home Depot, or perhaps even significantly further, and walk in the snow, sleet, or rain?
How would the Cataraqui Town Centre look, knowing you likely must park nearer to Taylor Kidd Boulevard than the mall, then walk from there, uphill?
These are the sorts of "blessings" we are talking about here. But there's more:
Downtown, on the other hand,
The Cineplex and the LVEC/KSEC/KRSEC are completely different parking stories.
Here, for the sake of interest, are 400m (blue) and 600m (red) radians drawn from each corner of the North Block where our future "Place Garnier Fructis Place" is supposed to be. (Hey, it could happen!, Garnier Fructis (by L'Oreal) is an A-list NASCAR sponsor.)
Click the map for a larger version.
Update: A sharp-eyed reader notes that, if the LVEC is indeed named "Place Garnier Fructis Place", considering the new colour of the Radisson Harbourfront Hotel, there could be design and colour scheme synergies there.
Our $43M taxpayer-funded LVEC, shown here in modified concept with Garnier Fructis-green trim.
There are a number of online summaries of last Thursday's Planning Committee meeting, which dealt with the LVEC / KSEC / KRSEC or whatever it's now called. See these notes compiled by a KCAL member, Vicki Schmolka's summary, as well as local media reports from CKWS-TV and The Whig Standard.
Note that Saskatoon isn't selling the naming rights for a dysfunctional building with no popular support, plunked onto a transportation bottleneck, with no parking, no drop-off access, rammed through by a gullible City Council for the sole benefit of those least in need. Kingston is selling the naming rights to a political mess, soon to be widely known as a dysfunctional money-losing civic embarrassment.
There's more on Saskatoon's Blairmore Centre here. Our planned Multiplex is a pathetic underachievement in comparison. Note too that Saskatoon has its sports tourism act together. Get a load of its online sport facility planners. When it comes to sports and leisure, Kingston is a third-tier boondocks in comparison to Saskatoon. It's embarassing.
From this bare-bones concourse-level space, consisting of Kingston Frontenacs offices, washrooms, change rooms, concession counters, and storage is supposed to bring us $20 million annually in benefits.
Click for larger versions.
Whatever happened to writing a report, formally submitting it to a committee, and THEN, if required, appearing before Council on ITS terms?
Not that these folks don't already get plenty of face time with Council already.
Here's "Motion No. 2":
The people who run Kingston's hotels apparently don't know how much they've already overplayed their hand with Kingston's taxpayers.
Not included in any of the drawings are the details for the luxury suites. Why?
It's interesting to tally all the space given to the Frontenacs for the team, offices, and their pro-shop. So dysfunctional is this building there's room for little else.
As for the "conference facilities" often referred-to by a duped gullible retiring concillor? Forget about it.
Samples below. Once in Flickr, click the "All Sizes" button to see much larger versions of these drawings.