Google
Kingston Concerned About 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
Home   News   Comments
The KCAL News Feed -- December 2006
Click here to view the latest news items

Use this URL for your news reader: http://lvec.ca/KCalNewsAndArticles.XML (xml)

December 30, 2006

Rosen's real legacy: conflict of interest guidelines

Harvey Rosen's real legacy to the City of Kingston won't be the LVEC, but rather forthcoming new conflict of interest guidelines that should ensure that his family-centric shenanegans, of which the LVEC fiasco is just one of several glaring examples, won't be repeated.

There's hope too that the new guidelines might prevent Downtown Kingston from manipulating the civic agenda and, more to the point, compel people to disclose their veiled interests at public meetings. Never again should Kingston be subject to the pretense of public consultation with staged public meetings.

The April 25 2005 LVEC "Have Your Say" public meeting, for example:

Really, it's hard to imagine that this sort of slimeball local politics will still be legal a short time hence.

Published: 12/30/06 12:23:07 PM
Permanent link to this item
LVEC red-flag: The LVEC / KRSEC brand in peril
The Large Venue Entertainment Centre (LVEC) or the Kingston Sports and Entertainment Centre (KSEC) or the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre (KRSEC), or whatever it's improvisationally or opportunistically called these days, signals a problem with the project that, so far, nobody has talked much about.

Consider all the taxpayer-funded resources being thrown at the LVEC:

Count everyone and everything that's being paid with real budgets. Add to all that the considerable sum, perhaps a generation's-worth, of public goodwill and political influence frittered-away by the Downtown Kingston BIA and their KEDCO operatives.

With all those resources there was apparently no plan to ensure and preserve the value of the arena's brand. You'd think the building's good name, its personality, and its promise probably should have counted for something. So far it doesn't look that way. This much we know: Kingston's LVEC needs a complete brand makeover, assuming anything remains salvageable at this point.

Take one aspect of the LVEC's brand: it's name. The original name "LVEC" was replaced with variations and expansions of "KRSEC" at some fuzzy point in the past. No official notice of the name change was ever made. Today the terms "LVEC" and "KRSEC" and their expansions are used interchangeably. The project is, if anything, identity ambiguous.

If that's not changed, now and in the future, people searching for "LVEC" on the City website will never get the whole picture. (How convenient). From here it gets worse: the naming rights are supposed to be sold to a corporation, and we're all supposed to again swap the buiding's identity, and that's supposed to be worth, we're told, $125,000 per year essentially forever. The further obfuscation the LVEC's Google-vitae is, presumably, priceless.

It's not clear how the sale of the LVEC's naming rights is going. How bad could it be? Guelph, for example, has been unable, since its opening in year 2000 and including the 2002 Memorial Cup, to sell the naming rights to what is still known today as the Guelph Sports & Entertainment Centre.

So far it certainly looks like whoever buys the LVEC's naming rights will be attaching themselves to tainted goods.

The LVEC namer will be risking its brand on an unpopular building, funded mostly by disgruntled taxpayers, rammed through by apparent deceit and flat-out misrepresentations, including the triumphant reading of promises of Federal cash by Mayor Rosen moments before the fateful Council vote that turned out to be bogus (which, by the way, has never been publicly acknowledged), leading to still more malappropriated KEDCO resources. Then there are many other shenanegans here and here and here and here to list just a few.

There's more: the building is shoehorned in a sub-optimal location, it's still not legally "accessible", and it's supposed to be faithfully attended by "walking wallets" for whom consideration of convenience or preference simply never entered the "planning" discourse. The building will be occupied by a chronically underachieving OHL team, the very same people who stand to benefit most from the venture who have, moreover, a 30-year carte blanche 24/7/365 run of the whole building including rent-free street-level retail space, and a guaranteed monopoly on high-level hockey in Kingston, all for a wink and a smile up-front.

Certainly the Springer family has no exposure to financial risks of the building's construction and operation. That part is borne entirely by the already under-served and notably not-wealthy taxpayers of Kingston. The Frontenacs and their ownership are the weakest link in this whole dodgy project which, considering all its other stinky aspects, is really saying something.

Even the Frontenacs fan base appears pissed at the whole situation. The building may be going forward, but we've probably not seen the worst of it yet.

But it's not just about naming rights:

Published: 12/30/06 03:39:39 AM
Permanent link to this item

December 24, 2006

City releases its second "monthly update" (updated)

The City of Kingston has released it's second LVEC "monthly update".

Update: Apparently David Cliff cannot read. Timelines? Pedestrian walks? Long term planning alternatives? Where?

Published: 12/24/06 01:17:06 PM
Permanent link to this item

December 21, 2006

Olympic Stadium 30-year debt finally retired
Several news outlets report this week that Montreal's Olympic Stadium is finally paid off after 30 years of debt. The December 19th edition of The Fan 590 Primetime Sports Podcast has a segment on the Big Owe, wherein Bob McCown and The Globe's Stephen Brunt are amazed that the debt was still active, thirty years after the 1976 Olympic games.

Kingston's 30-year LVEC debt is secured by a wink and a smile from the BIA, Kingston Accommodation Partners, and nameless sources of "Donations". The full balance of that, plus the operations income they predict, plus the walking wallet spinoffs, is supposed to come from the very people that are being fiscally abused by the project, and who know it.

The suckers, so it's believed, will just show up, night after night, and are to accept paying for parking, then walking far in all weather, enter with surcharged tickets, be captive to on-site concessions, to then be lorded over by those same project proponents from above in private luxury suites, all watcing crappy hockey or the sort of entertainment that tends to play in smallish hockey bowls.

On a municipal per-capita cost basis, even if you only count the LVEC building and ignore all the downtown improvements required, the cost of Harvey Rosen's LVEC spread over 140,000 people is absolutely comparable (if not greater) to the $1 billion cost of the Olympic Stadium spread over the 3.4 million population of Montreal.

One difference: the feds supported Montreal with, among other things, Olympic coin and Olympic lottery programs, and the Province of Quebec supported Montreal with a special 30-year tax on cigarettes.

Do the math.

On a per-capita basis, Kingston's LVEC is far more expensive than Toronto's $570 Million Skydome, and Skydome, built in 1989 (17 years ago), is today mortgage free.

It turns out neither Olympic Stadium nor Skydome are anything like engines of economic growth for their communities.

Like LVEC is touted, both Olympic Stadium and Skydome were "state of the art facilities", an attribute it was believed would assure long term benefits.

Published: 12/21/06 12:22:53 PM
Permanent link to this item

December 20, 2006

The Whig: The big rink shrinks a bit

Today's Whig editorial bemoans that the "big rink" has shrunk.

If this information worried anyone, it should have been a concern months ago, when the original task force recommendation -- for a facility of between 6,000 and 6,500 seats -- shrank after the proposed site changed from Anglin Bay to Place D'Armes. Suddenly, the planned seating capacity dropped by about 17 per cent, with few complaints.

Memo to The Whig: Wake up! The LVEC has not shrunk. The Anglin Bay proposal had the same number of seats as the current turkey on the North Block: 5,000 seats.

The local media has already forgotten that the old Anglin Bay site had similar constraints! We're now at the point where The Whig, whose reporters seem to come and go, apparently desn't have any project background on staff anymore.

Another memo to The Whig: We suspect your former publisher, Fred Laflamme, an active LVEC booster, may have snuffed many embarassing stories about Harvey Rosen's LVEC. Moreover Fred Laflamme ignored the all the LVEC-related letters in his newspaper. Those were running 2:1 against, and more like 4:1 against if we subtract Downtown Kingston BIA and KEDCO-related letter authors. Those chickens are today coming home to roost for the whole community.

On one hand, we're glad The Whig may be starting to "get" the LVEC. But given that they've completely ignored the red-flags raised on Monday night, and that it fumbles basic facts such as the capacity of the arena, it makes us wonder.

We should red-flag the local media for seeming to be incapable of covering even the most basic nuances of this scandalous project.

Published: 12/20/06 04:40:25 PM
Permanent link to this item
LVEC red-flag: Grossly inadequate contingency
At the major projects briefing on December 18 2006, we learned from Ms Cynthia Beach, when asked how they came up with the $1.5 Million contingency, she replied: "That was determined by the budget envelope".

Translation: The contingency in the current plan was determined by the amount of money they roughly reckoned was available, and not as a result of assessing risks.

Recommendation: Budgets for the LVEC should be immediately revised to reflect a reasonable contingency based on the results of thorough and ongoing project risk assessment.

Recommendation: Sources of funding for the LVEC project's contingency be sought immediately. If funds for the contingency are not found within 30 days, that Council resolve to assess a new special levy on the Downtown Kingston BIA to collect the full amount of all eventual required contingencies over within five years of project completion.

Rationale: the BIA has a lot to answer for. This is only the start.

Suggestion: That the City of Kingston immediately engage a project advisor to independently oversee all aspects of risk management in the LVEC project. Staff is kidding you if they say they've got a handle on this. Staff may not know enough to know what they don't know.

Rationale: we are precisely at the point in the project where we should know what risks exist, and among those, which ones to mitigate, which ones to assume, and by now we should have a plan for managing and re-assessing risk throughout the project. City Staff gave no sense that they have properly managed risk and, moreover, their assessment of risk is, in a word, a joke.

Recommendation: The LVEC project was designed at the outset with inadequate contingency. Growth and Sustainability Commissioner Cynthia Beach and Finance and Corporate Performance Commissioner Mr Gerard Hunt should be issued a letter of reprimand.

We've talked about the LVEC's puny contingency before.

Published: 12/20/06 10:05:43 AM
Permanent link to this item

December 19, 2006

LVEC red-flag: Old documents, and no updated drawings
At the major projects briefing on December 18 2006, we learned from new project director Lanie Hurdle that the "design" is at "90%", and the "100% design" is expected to be ready in January 2007.

There is no evidence of that. What we were shown, in fact, is nothing. Ms Hurdle showed us photos of lounges, restaurants and suites from facilities in London and Oshawa.

Is it not odd that, at that level of design, there must be hundreds of available concept and working drawings, the stuff of engineering and geek pride, yet none of it was presented.

in fact, nothing design-related has been released since early September when KCAL put plans and drawings online.

Certainly no LVEC milestones for the design phase were presented or explained. Not a single Gantt chart, critical path, or sequence of milestones was presented.

Instead staff presented old documents to council. This insults them all. Several councillors were on the last council, and several that KCAL knows kept up-to-date with the machinations of the old council. And none just fell off a turnip wagon.

Red flag for the demonstrable lack of accountability, transparency, and respect for the new Council.

Published: 12/19/06 03:16:43 PM
Permanent link to this item
LVEC red-flag: Bogus artificial deadlines
What's unsaid in recent LVEC discussions is the agreement between the City of Kingston and the Kingston Frontenacs is not silent about a delay in the LVEC's opening.

Translation: As far as obligations to the Frontenacs are concerned, the project can slide. That's covered. In short, the current agreement for the Frontenacs to play at the Memorial Centre is extended. End of story.

Question: why hasn't this option to moderate the pace of the project been presented to the new Council? Under current circumstances, explain why the blind following of artificial imagined "timelines" because of arbitrary and arguably bogus "deadlines" is a good idea. Why wasn't a single project timeline or Gantt chart presented to Council on Monday night?

Recommendation: that staff proceed with extreme caution, and advise council, prior to considering any bookings for the LVEC.

On current trends, it would be par for the course if staff were to let the operator book the LVEC for December 2007 ASAP, thus further tieing the hands of City Council.

It's amazing, really, that Harvey Rosen let slip this facet of his "done deal".

Published: 12/19/06 01:33:27 PM
Permanent link to this item
LVEC red-flag: Deceitful project accounting
At the major projects briefing on December 18 2006, we learned that NONE of the upgrades required to the LVEC's surroundings for the legal, safe, and efficient operation of the arena are included in LVEC project budgets, nor are they expected to be tallied to LVEC project costs.

The rationale, it seems, is that these downtown infrastructure improvements are required regardless, so therefore none of them are chargeable to the LVEC. In one swoop of logic, millions of dollars is arbitrarily wiped from the LVEC's books. How convenient.

The Downtown Action Plan, says Cynthia Beach, is a 25-year blueprint document. To the extent that specific improvements are documented in the DAP, then they should be charged in part to the LVEC to the extent that these items are expedited to coincide with the opening or, say, completed within a year beyond the LVEC's opening. Improvements that are NOT specifically itemized in the DAP should be fully charged to the LVEC.

Amazing, isn't it, that the cost of an LVEC near the 401 was "imagined" to be too high because of, among other things, the cost of servicing the land. By the current logic, that would cost nothing because that land will someday be serviced anyway.

It's absurd that, by convenient decree, costs for LVEC-related Downtown upgrades are not to be tallied and, more to the point, were never included in project budgets, or disclosed to the past Council.

This state of affairs appears deceitful, unethical, and disappointing. Certainly the Mayor needs to answer for this.

Recommendation: In the interest of accurately tallying project costs, and to prevent any further convenient omissions of clearly attributable costs by biased project proponents, council should instruct staff to keep a tally of all capital projects and maintenance items with a value of over $2,000 scheduled or completed within a 400 meter radius of the LVEC, between now until 12 months (or 18 months) after the official opening. In this tally, staff shall allocate a reasonable proportion of cost to the LVEC, explain the rationale for the allocation, and have these allocations reviewed and approved by an independent audit committee.

Recommendation: Project budgets be revised immediately, and continuously, to reflect the latest estimates for these pending Downtown improvement and maintenance allocations. That this estimate should not be static, and should be brought regularly to Council for review. Sources of funding for the thus-far omitted allocations shall immediately be sought, and the financial impact of these estimated allocations are to be disclosed to Council as soon as possible.

Note that none of this is extra money. It is simply proper accounting for money that will, in any event, be spent on the LVEC.

Without this, Council will foreseeably face a stream of minor projects and improvements for the downtown that are required by the LVEC, only none of these will be appropriately allocated to the project. There's more: the LVEC imperative means these infrastructure improvements "jump the queue", ahead of other perhaps more worthy improvements in the rest of the city,

In the interest of protecting taxpayers, and properly accounting for the project, council MUST get control of this aspect of the project's accounting.

Published: 12/19/06 11:07:09 AM
Permanent link to this item
LVEC red-flag: KEDCO
At the major projects briefing on December 18 2006, attendees were told that KEDCO, more specifically interim president Mr Jeff Garrah, is responsible for securing federal grant money for the LVEC. In May 2006, it was the last-minute improvisation of the promise of $4M Federal conrtibution, presented by Mayor Rosen at face value, deceitfully helped sway the final approval of the LVEC project. Of course, today we know the federal money is not forthcoming.

Question: Why is KEDCO responsible for lobbying the federal government for LVEC funding? If it's because Mr Garrah once worked for MP Peter Milliken, then not only is KEDCO being misused here, Mr Garrah is not delivering. This is unacceptable.

Throughout the history of the LVEC project, we've seen KEDCO used as an instrument for, among other things, fabrication of illusions of LVEC public support, and to "sell" the this LVEC turkey to the past Council. This misappropriation of KEDCO to suit immediate political agendas must cease.

Red-flag.

Recommendation: That Mayor Rosen make good on his election platform of "delivering funding from upper levels of government" and bring this home. KEDCO has many other fish to fry and, as we all know, KEDCO has issues of its own to deal with right now.

Published: 12/19/06 11:00:55 AM
Permanent link to this item
LVEC red-flag: Project management committees
This item is new, still under review, and further updates are pending.
If you are reading this in a news reader, we suggest instead the most recent HTML version.
At the major projects briefing on December 18 2006, attendees were told about a variety of project management committees that are typically composed of Lanie Hurdle, Denis Leger, Gerard Hunt, and Cynthia Beach.

As far as we know, none of these people have any experience building anything like 5,000 seat tight-squeeze arenas. Moreover all these people report to, and are under the influence of city CEO Glen Laubenstein, whose signature is, so far, all over most city documents in this fiasco.

To suggest that this is an adequate structure to safeguard what looks to be over $50Million in a crash-rushed city project is absurd. The management committee should have, at minimum, some independent experienced representation. We remind everyone that in this LVEC project, like all the others discussed that night, the developer is also the regulator

What we have here is a collection of questionably qualified developers, and the group is completely out of control from an independent oversight perspective. The real project stakeholders, the taxpayers of Kingston, have no advocate.

Red flag.

Recommendation: The "LVEC Steering Committee" joke has gone on long enough. An experienced independent project advisor whose sole role is to advocate for the taxpayers of Kingston should be an ex-officio member of all project management committees.

Published: 12/19/06 10:48:13 AM
Permanent link to this item
LVEC red-flag: Project documentation is a mess
At the hastily convened major projects briefing on December 18 2006, attendees were given hard copies of status reports and backgrounders. What a mess!

For example, city staff provided hard-copies of the long-dead Anglin Bay LVEC business plan, including diagrams of the arena on the now discredited Anglin Bay waterfront site. All the pages therein still say "Business Plan - Draft" in the header.

It appears that the LVEC business plan has not been officially released, nevermind formally iterated, to reflect what was finally approved by the past Council. To get a proper picture of the business plan, you need the original plan from April 6, 2006, and then apply amendments located elsewhere. Apparently, no authorative and current business plan document exists.

It's like word processors, spreadsheets, and document version control systems never existed.

Red flag.

Recommendation: To assist in the future investigation that, don't kid yourself, is probably coming, please consolidate the various out-of-date business plans into one coherent and authoritative document that can be used for, among other things, ongoing project appraisal, and for individual post-project performance reviews. Keep this document under version control, and maintain a current up-to-date version, and publish subsequent updated versions of the business plan to reflect a reasonable up-to-date picture as project plans and external factors (like interest rates, materials prices, schedules) evolve.

Related recommendation: Label all documents, past and present, so they can be found in the future, using both the "LVEC" and the expanded versions of "KRSEC" to avoid the confusion created by your improvised and ambiguous project branding.

Published: 12/19/06 10:35:38 AM
Permanent link to this item

December 18, 2006

Get your Memorial Cup tickets!
The Kingston Frontenacs are in last place in their division, and no better than 15th in the 20-team OHL. They have lost nine of their past 10 games. Over this past weekend they averaged barely 2100 announced attendance for games against rivals Ottawa (1886) and Belleville (2337). Yet none of this stops the pretentious 2008 Memorial Cup Committee, of which Mayor Rosen is a prominent member, to publicly chase this lost cause. Here is a scan of a quarter-page ad that's running on page 6 of today's Whig Standard.

No doubt this bid will be the pretext for countless wine-and-dine events among Kingston's organizers -- the same people who are punting Kingston into the current LVEC -- and with traveling OHL officials. These people will gladly take the perks, being careful never to say what is plainly evident to everyone: "Your team is crappy, your building is way too small, your ownership doesn't know hockey, and there are several cities with greater merit that have been bidding for years ahead of you in line. But thanks anyway for the steaks, the drinks, and the hotel room."

More on the dim prospects for the 2008 Kingston Memorial Cup here, here, and here.

So corrupt are the morals of LVEC proponents that the potential for losing the 2008 Memorial Cup is being tallied as a cost of re-examining the LVEC project.

Rare is the small city that's awarded the Memorial Cup in its first bid attempt. In many ways, this is Kingston throwing its hat into the ring, getting a sniff for the 2011 or the 2014 tournaments. The best way to for a bid to be entertained is to show up with a great team in 2010 or 2013.

We went to the Ticketmaster.CA website and eventually found this:

It turns out that Kingston 2008 Memorial Cup ticket deposits for this non-event are a mere $25 each.

Selling two-bit ticket deposits when you've got a tiny market with a tiny facility is the worst play imaginable. What do you do after a larger city's competing bid shows double the number of ticket deposits at quadruple the face value? Nice bid, Kingston.

Moreover,

Ticket packages will range from $400.00 to $500.00.Limited number of tickets will be available to the general public. Please note that there is also a ticket purchase limit of 4 per household for the general public.

FYI, the Springer family gets 300 surcharge-free tickets for every single OHL and CHL game or event at the LVEC.

Enjoy the LVEC you are paying for, people. When the mayor shows zero traction on poverty, remember that, in the meantime, he's probably had dozens of lovely meals downtown talking hockey, and traveled on several out-of-town hockey schmoozing junkets.

Published: 12/18/06 12:40:03 PM
Permanent link to this item

December 17, 2006

For the record: a Downtown Kingston mouthpiece sounds off
Shadoe Davis, K-ROCK's morning man and unabashed Downtown Kingston booster, gives us this priceless item, printed on the inside front cover of Saturday December 16th 2006 edition of The Ticket, the Saturday Whig Standard insert.

Mr Davis is the same guy who hosted the laughably slanted morning segment in August 2005 featuring Rob Baker and Councillor Steve Garrisson, which was actually a premeditated pile-on-Garrisson ambush, and a sycophantic celebration of the launch of the Friends of the Entertainment Centre website complete with image manipulations designed to downplay the impact of the OHL arena on the Anglin Bay waterfront site.

The "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" website (http://FriendsOfTheEC.org), set up by ex-KEDCO operatives, no longer exists and is today hijacked by cyber-squatters promoting various Internet-based scams and online porn. Mr Baker later fronted other notably misleading advertising pieces funded by members of the same group of Downtown Kingston movers. Councillor Garrison was re-elected, which is more than we can say for most Councillors who supported the LVEC. Two of the three pro-LVEC Councillors who were re-elected squeaked-in, and can thank their lucky stars and vote-splitting for their continued presence on Kingston's City Council. Particularly odious in all this was the obvious manufacturing of the pretense of broad public support for the project, support which clearly never existed at anywhere near levels claimed by proponents. Mr Davis shares blame for part of that too.

In this town, downtown money talks, owns the radio stations that employ people like Mr Davis, buys full-page ads in all the local papers, and buys ink by the barrel. It also gets systemic regular face-time and priority access to influence Council. That last perk, hopefully, is about to change in a big way.

Published: 12/17/06 03:00:24 PM
Permanent link to this item

December 16, 2006

Special Big Projects briefing meeting is MONDAY (updated yet again)

The various online City calendars are in complete disarray with conflicting information, but the latest word is of a special council meeting on MONDAY (not Tuesday) Dec. 18 at 7:30 PM at City Hall to discuss ongoing projects, namely The Grand Theatre, the Multiplex, and the LVEC.

We're not sure whether questions from the public will be entertained. That would be surprising. Therefore, brief your councillors now.

No word on whether the meeting will be televised. We're sensing sufficient city staff discomfort to almost guarantee that it won't be. Certainly nobody is expected, all of a sudden and by magic, to start disclosing real LVEC-project information to City residents on TV. Moreover The Whig Standard has proven quite adept at down-playing if not masking all the real issues behind the LVEC fiasco.

Read the agenda and the 90 page report, most of it being regurgitation of documents we've seen already, like an embedded copy of the sweetheart agreement with the Frontenacs, the selection of Arcurus SMG as facility operator, and so on.

As usual, the city is providing several documents merged into one.PDF file with no table of contents. In this case, the 90-page merged document is over 5Mb in size, and the LVEC section, which spans most of the document, is collated last, like LVEC-related documents always seem to be.

There is a surprising focus on why the project can't be relocated or stopped. The expected price of doing that, no surprise, has skyrocketed since the first estimates. It seems that project managers didn't pick a high-enough number to sufficiently scare-off project opposition. It also appears that the very essence of Rosen's "done deal" continues in the form of insufficient contingency to change any aspect of the Laubenstein/Beach follies.

Included in the document, starting on page 29, is a very selective and wishful summary of the IBI Transportation Study (KCAL's comments on IBI's report quality here and here) which was never publicly released by City Hall. It's pretty clear that the costs associated with the many recommendations so the North Block area can safely and operationally accommodate the LVEC are not being tallied in project cost estimates yet.

It's interesting that Concillor Vicki Schmolka had to ask about when the new council could expect a briefing, after midnight at the very conclusion of the first Council meeting, as opposed to city staff actively seeking to promptly inform the new Council. The result is this rather obvious mad scramble to try and brief Council. One thing appears clear: Council currently has absolutely no control over what's going on, and we're guessing this suits Glen Laubenstein, Cynthia Beach, City Staff, and some movers in the Downtown BIA just fine.

Given the confusion about when and where this particular meeting is to take place, the City of Kingston should consider setting-up and staffing, say, a communications department whose role would be to coordinate, execute, and monitor the communications of the City of Kingston.

Published: 12/16/06 11:53:14 AM
Permanent link to this item

December 15, 2006

YouTube update: 384 Tragically Hip videos, and counting

There are currently 384 Tragically Hip videos available instantaneously on You Tube.

That's a 150% increase, in less than three months, since the 152 Hip videos we tallied on September 22, 2006.

How digital is your LVEC?

Click to play.

Published: 12/15/06 01:12:31 AM
Permanent link to this item

December 14, 2006

Whig: Economic guru preaches patience
Thursday's Whig Standard front page features Ken Wong's LVEC-related comments at the annual economic forecast luncheon held, you guessed it, in a downtown hotel.

Economic and political leaders of Kingston must "stay the course" if the city is going to compete with other regional economies in the long term, warns economics professor Ken Wong.

"It's going to take a fair bit of courage and patience," the award-winning Queen's marketing leader said yesterday during the university's economic forecast luncheon at the Four Points Sheraton. "If we take our foot off the accelerator, then we are going to pay the price for not having that patience and for not having that courage."

Wong said economic and political leaders need to stay focused on major upcoming public projects such as the new entertainment centre, which he said would attract increasing volumes of out-of-town investment to the city in the next year.

(Italics ours).

A possible translation: another large and needy downtown hotel, perhaps? Built, say, on land that's currently commonwealth, across the street from the amazing money-spinning engine known as the LVEC? Do tell.

Published: 12/14/06 10:50:57 PM
Permanent link to this item

December 13, 2006

LVEC's point man was quietly fired by city hall in October (updated)
Bill Hutchins, reporting in the December 12 2006 edition of The Kingston Heritage newspaper, reports that Don Gedge was fired on October 2nd, over two months ago, and prior to the municipal election.

In mid-September, CKWS-TV reported that Don Gedge was sidelined by "medical issues", which was true. He was released immediately following his return.

Funny, isn't it, that nobody thought it appropriate to inform Kingstonians.

How many arenas has Lanie Hurdle built? She's building two right now. This is called research-oriented development.

The LVEC con-job continues....

Update Dec 14: The 2-month public disclosure gap apparently isn't worthy of comment by The Whig

Published: 12/13/06 10:12:43 AM
Permanent link to this item
Mayor Rosen misrepresents Beth Pater's "downtownness"
At last night's Council meeting, responding to concerns that the BIA is still trying to call the shots at city hall, Mayor Rosen made comments about the 4-people recommended to study KEDCO by Kingston relative newcomer Glen Laubenstein, these being Robert Boucher (Chamber of commerce), Beth Pater (ex-city councillor), Brad Ross (a "private investor") and David Saunders (Queen's School of Business).

About Beth Pater, Mayor Rosen said she's not a "Downtown" person.

In fact, Beth Pater was a long-serving board member of the Downtown Kingston BIA. She's still listed on the BIA's Board of Directors web page.

To claim that Beth Pater isn't a downtown Kingston pushover is, at minimum, a stretch.

Published: 12/13/06 10:10:16 AM
Permanent link to this item

December 11, 2006

A glance at OHL attendance in Oshawa's new General Mortors Centre
So far this season, the Oshawa Generals have played 15 home games, 11 of them at their brand new 5,500-seat General Motors Centre.

The attendance at their new arena is dismal: just one sellout in 11 games, and 73% capacity announced (as opposed to actual) attendance since the new arena opened on November 3rd, just over one month ago. Over the most recent five games, average announced attendance is just 3,762 (68% capacity).

Consider that Oshawa's population is more than double of Kingston's and, moreover, the population within an hour's drive of Oshawa is several million people and includes metropolitain Toronto. Oshawa's per-capita personal income is about 6% higher than Kingston's (2005), their arena is more accessible, parking is more readily available, and so far this year the Oshawa Generals' winning percentage (0.483) is higher than Kingston's (0.469), and game day ticket prices are lower in Oshawa than they are expected to be in Kingston.

The General Motors Centre Events Calendar is also somewhat embarrassing. Read the whole thing.

Here are the Oshawa Generals' attendance figures so far this year:

DateVisitorArenaAttendance
Oct 6, 2006Barrie ColtsOshawa Civic Centre2961
Oct 8, 2006Sault Ste. Marie GreyhoundsOshawa Civic Centre2565
Oct 20, 2006Erie OttersOshawa Civic Centre3029
Oct 22, 2006Ottawa 67'sOshawa Civic Centre2873
Oct 29, 2006Kingston FrontenacsOshawa Civic Centre4012
Nov 3, 2006Owen Sound AttackGeneral Motors Centre5500
Nov 5, 2006Belleville BullsGeneral Motors Centre3683
Nov 12, 2006Peterborough PetesGeneral Motors Centre5003
Nov 17, 2006Barrie ColtsGeneral Motors Centre4052
Nov 19, 2006Sudbury WolvesGeneral Motors Centre3593
Nov 26, 2006Sarnia StingGeneral Motors Centre3824
Dec 2, 2006Ottawa 67'sGeneral Motors Centre3468
Dec 3, 2006Kingston FrontenacsGeneral Motors Centre3180
Dec 8, 2006Peterborough PetesGeneral Motors Centre4859
Dec 10, 2006Mississauga IceDogsGeneral Motors Centre3481
Published: 12/11/06 08:15:19 PM
Permanent link to this item
KEDCO chairman resigns

Today the Whig reports that Bernie Robinson, KEDCO chairman and point-man in Kingston's LVEC con-job, is quitting.

Nevermind the LVEC, maybe the days of KEDCO being a taxpayer funded mover for things like Candy Cane Lane and other subsidized Downtown Kingston promotions are finally coming to an end.

Published: 12/11/06 01:22:15 PM
Permanent link to this item

December 7, 2006

Inaugural Address Of Kingston Mayor Harvey Rosen

The City has posted the inaugural address Of Kingston Mayor Harvey Rosen. Therein, about the LVEC, he says:

As you are all well aware, I am extremely proud that with majority support, the previous Council voted to build a new sports and entertainment centre in our historic downtown.

That project is now well under way and I have every confidence it will help revitalize our downtown and produce much needed new opportunities and economic benefits for our whole community.

That decision marked a sea change for Kingston.

After more than 20 years of discussion over how to replace the Memorial Centre and the urgency to keep our downtown alive, we finally have the project underway.

It will be paid for by user fees, reserve funds, grants and donations and will not require money from the annual tax bill.

When it opens a few days more than one year from now it will be something this City can be very proud of.

We should not be surprised that the project is controversial.

That's certainly the experience of other municipalities; nor is it new.

Historians tell us that the construction of this very building in which we sit tonight caused great division in the community when it was first proposed.

Does everyone agree with the design and location of the new centre?

Is everyone convinced by assurances of adequate parking and financing?

Of course not.

No amount of consultation and information would produce complete consensus on a project of this size and importance.

Frankly, we could have done a better job of communicating with the public.

I believe that during the past three years of debate and consultation, the City fell short in ensuring the public understood the project's benefits and how it will be financed.

Information was not adequately publicized and we didn't respond effectively to concerns and misinformation that flowed through the community.

I believe we've learned a lesson in that regard.

The job now at hand -- the responsibility of this new Council -- is to ensure the project is consistently well managed and that the public is kept fully informed.

For those of you who have questions -- especially those of you new to Council -- I am proposing that we arrange as soon as possible an opportunity to meet with staff and consultants to go over every aspect of the project, especially a line-by-line examination of the business plan.

Our staff is most anxious to arrange such a session and I would urge Council members to avail yourselves of this opportunity.

I believe it would be unwise to allow concerns or misinformation to fester and become divisive as we move forward with this and the many other issues facing our City.

Right.

Well, Mr Mayor, feel free to enumerate these so-called "economic benefits for our whole community". We'll prominently list them on the KCAL home page, and help publicise what you say we should expect to happen.

Misinformation that flowed through the community? Time will certainly be the judge of that. Here's a pretty good catalog of that information (KCAL's timeline).

Meanwhile, not even the identity of Ellis Don's point-man is a matter of public record.

Published: 12/07/06 08:17:48 PM
Permanent link to this item

December 1, 2006

Whig: Stopping arena would cost $13M

Today The Whig reports that stopping arena would cost $13M. The LVEC is also the subject of today's editorial wherein The Whig goes so far as to suggest The Mayor sould ratchet the sell-job, and further sugar-coat the LVEC's benefits to Kingston's non-residential tax base.

As usual, The Whig presents estimates of LVEC costs and supposed benefits at face value. At The Whig, LVEC costs and benefits are a lock, but stopping this project is fraught with risk.

There's more: The Whig still has never questioned the value of the BIA's "$3M" contribution to the project. That this money isn't "stolen", for the next 30 years, from the things the BIA should (by law) be paying for never enters the discourse. Yet we stand to "lose" that if the project is re-evaluated.

Apparently, the fact that City-Staff produced this report about a City-Staff-driven undertaking, and thus is clearly subject to project-backer bias, also escapes The Whig.

Underlying all this, of course, is the fabricated notion that the LVEC benefits all, as opposed to a greasy subsidy of Downtown Kingston, awarded by Downtown Kingston, for its sole benefit. This is beyond the Whig's 2+ years of coverage as well.

Then again, look who buys a lot of ads in The Whig.

Published: 12/01/06 11:42:33 AM
Permanent link to this item

 

Click here to view the latest news items

Last Updated: March 3, 2009