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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
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The KCAL News Feed -- All items since Sept 2004
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July 11, 2008

Updated: reports from the courthouse

New: Today the Whig Standard runs this story about yesterday's proceedings.

Which beats the pants off the transcript of CKWS-TV's report from outside the courtroom.

Published: 07/11/08 09:23:09 AM
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July 10, 2008

Conflict allegation to be heard by judge

Today is the first time EVER that the Whig has reported on the apparent web of influence involving Harvey Rosen, Martin Skolnick, and John Wright, the owner of both KROCK and Kingston Marina, the original proposed site of the LVEC.

What's also embarassing is, despite being a major player in all this, neither Mr Skolnick's name nor the name of the real-estate firm where he works appear on the list of donors to the LVEC. That list hasn't been updated since May 7th, and at that time the fundraising campaign was over $700,000 short of its meagre nominal target.

Published: 07/10/08 01:00:36 PM
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April 17, 2008

863 Princess street
Rosen Building in Kingston, Ontario

Here are pictures of The Rosen Building at 863 Princess Street.

Below are its roadside sign and the directory inside.

Related: Rick Downes steps-up on Mayor Rosen's apparent conflict of interest about Anglin Bay.

Anglin Bay was supposed to be the LVEC's location between March 2004 and November 2005. That property is directly connected to the owner of the K-ROCK radio station.

Rosen Building Sign in Kingston, OntarioRosen Building Sign in Kingston, Ontario
Published: 04/17/08 02:13:43 PM
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April 10, 2008

Rick Downes steps-up on Mayor Rosen's apparent conflict of interest

Today The Whig finally reports on Rick Downes' 3-week old legal action: "Legal challenge calls for mayor's job" is the Whig's headline which is somewhat misleading.

Related: The Mayor, KROCK, John Wright, and Anglin Bay - a pecuniary interest? from February 11th 2008.

Published: 04/10/08 12:35:58 PM
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April 9, 2008

The decline of the Kingston Whig-Standard

Jamie Swift has written an insightful piece titled The decline of the Kingston Whig-Standard, with the subheading "New Editor also serves on the Kingston Chamber of Commerce".

The Whig's publisher is Ron Laurin. And reporters have even been told by the publisher how to compose their stories. A case in point: On November 28, 2007 Laurin sent a memo to then-editor Christina Spencer instructing his underlings how to describe Kingston's controversial downtown arena, a pet project of the city's business elite.

"We need to discontinue our practice of referring to our City's new Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre as an arena," wrote Laurin.

This is an ad man's perspective. It's all about branding. Understandable, if you see a local paper simply as a promotional vehicle for pet projects of the booster boys. But troublesome if you're a journalist who values the integrity of your craft.

Read the whole thing, originally published by The Straight Goods.

Published: 04/09/08 09:28:54 PM
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April 8, 2008

Michael Davies' edifice complex
Edifice complex

Spot the cluster. Now add the Downtown Action Plan that systematically pumps millions into the Downtown, year after year, with no effective end in sight.

Looking ahead, Pin 7 "Police station" conveniently vacates public land next to the LVEC. How do you expect that to go?

Also in the near-term: Marinas, specifically Confed. Who, we wonder, is potentially first-in-line for that? More focus downtown.

And downtown Kingston? nearly zero money down, and not stepping-up to its responsibilities because, with Harvey Rosen for Mayor, they don't have to.

Remember this whenever you hear Ed Smith or Harvey Rosen (also here) play the "parochial" card, and when you hear some people praise the Mayor.

Michael Davies, very evidently, has an edifice complex.

I will go on record that Rosen's performance as mayor is unparalleled for the last 50 years.

Now read this sharp retort from former Kingston mayor Isabel Turner.

Judge for yourself.


While we are on the subject, here's a backgrounder on Michael Davies relating to Harvey Rosen and the LVEC:

Related: We've lamented Kingston's edifice complex before.

Published: 04/08/08 04:22:22 AM
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April 7, 2008

"K-ROCK Centre woes continue" -- Promoter

Here's an interesting article by a concert promoter describing the exasperation involved in trying to book the K-Rock Centre (LVEC). It's apparently not just the LVEC, but other Kingston venues too.

He was trying to book Faber Drive, a 2008 Juno-award nominated band from Mission BC, one of Much Music's most-aired Canadian bands during the past couple of years. The band has recently performed in Cornwall and Brockville.

The fact that they are not answering requests should be very disturbing for the taxpayers of Kingston, considering every paid event at the K-Rock Centre is an important part of the arena's financing plan. Continuous rental of the facility for shows and sporting events means councilors won't have to dip into city reserves to pay the mortgage on the $46.5-million centre, or possibly even raise taxes. The City of Kingston better make some changes, and quickly, if this facility is going to be self-sustaining.

Updated: Check out the related comments online while you still can.

Published: 04/07/08 12:03:36 PM
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March 25, 2008

It's official: Engelbert's not coming

Today the Whig reports that Engelbert Humperdinck has cancelled.

Published: 03/25/08 06:00:08 PM
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March 15, 2008

Expect our docile Council to just smile and nod
Why, fundraising is at 90%

Above: what City Staff is reporting this week.

KAP agreement is over 40 years

Above: The deal with KAP is over 40-years, with ZERO up-front.

Typical KAP agreement rider

Above: KAP and its LVEC deals: apparently "in" so long as they don't arbitrarily decide to disband.

There's another LVEC Report from Staff in this week's Council package.

This isn't the first time we read in a report from City Staff that private-sector LVEC fundraising is apparently close to the 90% mark. That's because the contributions from the Downtown Kingston BIA and the Kingston Accommodation Partners are presented (and lauded) by City Staff at full face-value even though these contributors have, in fact, paid next-to-nothing so far for the LVEC even though the building is fully built.

For example, here's a link to the May 20 2006 agreement between The City of Kingston and Kingston Accommodation Partners for $3M in LVEC funding. The agreement covers a period of 40-years (!) with KAP paying absolutely nothing up-front. In fact, it amounts to Kingston Taxpayers shouldering an unsecured 40-year loan on behalf of KAP.

KAP Payments so far: $38,620 in principal, and $360,932 in interest.

Understand that $38,620 is just 1.29% of $3 Million. KAP still owes over $2.96 million, and that's completely unsecured.

Also, understand this about KAP:

Yet City Staff presents this at full face-value when, evaluated objectively in financial securities' terms, it's probably below "junk" status except that, with a junk bond, you get a premium interest rate, which isn't what taxpayers are getting here.

It's certainly obnoxious that Kingston's hotelliers are constantly given credit for $3M for the LVEC when, in fact, they've paid just 1.29% of that so far even though the building is already built.

We emphasise: KAP contributed no money up-front, and the agreement KAP negotiated for itself using its systemic political-insider status puts NONE of the LVEC's financial risk on KAP. Kingston taxpayers don't even get a premium for shouldering all the risk on KAP's $3M promise.

It's basically a similar story with the Downtown Kingston BIA:

So in reality LVEC fundraising is nowhere near "the $8M goal outlined in the financing portion of the (LVEC) business plan". Sub-junk grade securities are being presented at full-face value to Council by City Staff grown accustomed to developing and reporting without oversight or consequence to docile Councils.

Despite the clear mandate granted at the November 2006 municipal election, this council has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to remedy the LVEC's financial risk profile, and has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to sanction Staff for these blatant face-value misrepresentations of the LVEC to the citizens of Kingston. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Above: KAP's payment schedule. Total so far: just $38,620 in principal, and $360,932 in interest on its debt, which is carried without any risk premium by municipal taxpayers.

Published: 03/15/08 12:28:45 PM
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March 10, 2008

Remembering Deri Fairman

Deri (Frederick) Fairman, Professor Emeritus at Queen's University, co-founder of Citizens for Responsible Development in Kingston, and a pioneer in using of the internet for protest movements in Kingston, passed away on February 26th. He was 72-years old.

Our tribute.

Published: 03/10/08 12:46:01 PM
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March 8, 2008

Where is Engelbert playing?
Engelbert

Apparently Engelbert Humperdinck's people aren't quite sure which arena in Kingston he's supposed to be playing, what it's called, or where it's located.

It's a good thing Kingston has professionals like Arcturus SMG managing, booking, and promoting the LVEC / K-Rock Centre.

Published: 03/08/08 12:11:14 PM
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March 7, 2008

Still many names missing from the LVEC's fundraising donor list

There are still many notable names AWOL from the LVEC's fundraising donor list, and several of those listed, including hockey team owners, parking lot owners, hotel owners, and some restaurant and bar operators are apparently in for peanuts relative to the taxpayer subsidy of their businesses that the LVEC represents.

The fundraising campaign is still over $800,000 short of its wholly unspectacular nominal target.

Published: 03/07/08 02:03:09 AM
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March 6, 2008

Two LVEC / K-Rock Centre concerts cancelled

Here are stories from CKWS-TV News and The Whig about two of the K-Rock Centre's upcoming concerts being cancelled for lack of interest. Englebert may soon be cancelled as well.

What does this mean, in practical terms?

Total number of K-Rock Centre concerts in its first two full-months of operation whose artists grew-up outside a 40 km radius of Kingston: 0.

So much for all the great acts passing-us-by on the 401.

Apparently those who bought tickets online are on-the-hook for the service charges. That will go-over well.

Back in December 2006, KCAL issued a news item titled LVEC red-flag: The LVEC / KRSEC brand in peril about how Mayor Harvey Rosen had completely screwed-up the building's image long before it opened.

The Mayor recently had the temerity to publicly blame the LVEC's marketing woes on the Kingston Frontenacs, which tells us plenty about what kind of person the Mayor is.

The non-refundable service charges for cancelled events just makes marketing the K-Rock Centre harder because it frustrates many of the building's few remaining believers. How dumb is that?

Published: 03/06/08 11:13:03 AM
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March 5, 2008

Photos of the LVEC / K-Rock Centre logistics-zoo on Flickr
trucks around the LVEC

We've just updated the KCAL page on Flickr with photos of the trucks from Disney's High School Musical festooning the streets all around the LVEC.

We've also preserved screen-shots of various LVEC-related websites on Flickr so we can compare, in the future, what City Staff were saying in the light of what the LVEC is actually turning out to be. KCAL's home page is included in this set of screen captures.

KCAL's page on Flickr is a good place to look if, for whatever reason, you need LVEC-related photos and diagrams.

Published: 03/05/08 01:48:04 PM
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March 4, 2008

CKWS-TV News: blatant dishonesty in local media

On March 3rd 2008, CKWS-TV news broadcast this news item (transcript) that claims:

... HOCKEY FANS APPEAR TO BE FILLING THE SEATS.

THE O-H-L TEAM SOLD JUST OVER 4-THOUSAND TICKETS FOR BOTH HOME GAMES, ON FRIDAY AND SUNDAY, AT THE DOWNTOWN KINGSTON SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE.

IT'S AN ENCOURAGING SIGN -- SINCE THE TEAM LIKELY WON'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR, AND THE CITY IS COUNTING ON HOCKEY GAME REVENUES TO HELP PAY DOWN THE ARENA'S DEBT.

JEFF STILLWELL

"WE ARE OVER 17 THOUSAND FANS IN 4 HOME GAMES.

But everyone tuning-in on COGECO-TV 13 could clearly see the sea of empty seats for both those home games.

It's one thing to parrot a number of tickets distributed or sold, a number supplied by the Kingston Frontenacs. It's quite another to mislead the public into believing there was anywhere close to that number actually in attendance, or that money is flowing-in from ticket sales. It's tickets sold and bums-in-seats that generate the revenues that are critical to the LVEC business plan.

Here's what a long-time season-ticket holder had to say about Friday night's game:

When the attendance was announced everyone laughed and started to look around.

I know that the 8 guys sitting in front of me didn't pay for their tickets, they made it clear "no we didn't pay for these."

My niece and her husband and the 4 that were with them also got free tickets they were at Fanatics (old Shoeless Joes) eating supper and were offered them, PLUS tickets for Sunday.

Now they are advertising buy a ticket for Sunday and get the rescheduled Oshawa game for half price.

Makes you feel good for those that actually paid to get in.

CKWS-TV should be ashamed. They are not alone; CFLY-FM has been parotting the same thing on-air.

Related: Julie Brown: powder puff.

Published: 03/04/08 12:55:45 PM
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It's official: the LVEC / K-Rock Centre logistics are a zoo (Updated)

No surprise here. The westsport blog reports on the awful state of affairs outside the LVEC yesterday.

Yesterday, there were 7 trailers parked on the streets around the LVEC, either unhitched or waiting (idling) with their tractors. Unhitched trailers were/are in the on-street spots on Place d' Armes at the corner of Wellington, on both sides of King Street between Queen and Barrack, on Barrack Street in front of the Food Basics, across the main Barrack Street doors of the LVEC, on the north side of the facility (where the team buses have been idling for extended periods of time).

To access the building's unloading area, these 18 wheelers drive into the stub of King Street north of Place d'Armes; they idle there till a worker comes from the lvec to "direct" them as they back into the building. As they back into the building, traffic coming off the Causeway piles up past Fort Frontenac toward the bridge.

That's only one snippet. Read the whole thing.

Updated:: CKWS-TV News covered the story.

Published: 03/04/08 10:17:38 AM
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March 3, 2008

Impact World Tour: 4-nights in April

Here's a show that won't "pass-us-by" on the 401. The Impact World Tour is booked into the LVEC for 4-nights in early April for 4 free shows.

Here's a link to the Impact World Tour media release.

All of the IWT teams are made up of volunteer Christian performers from across the world, sharing a positive message of hope and destiny with their audiences.

Teams will also be going into schools and detention centres to challenge young people with their anti-drug and alcohol messages and encouraging them to live their lives to their full potential.

Hands-up if you think Kingston will be getting the $2 per ticket which it is due under the LVEC's business plan.

Published: 03/03/08 08:23:47 PM
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Summary of the the LVEC / K-Rock Centre's first week in mainstream print media

The Frontenacs marketing problems have been evident for years and the Mayor was fully aware of them.

The LVEC's so-called "process" systematically ignored this risk.

How obvious was this? Prior to the closing game at the Memorial Centre, the Frontenacs had sold-out just one game in seven years.

Here are links to stories from the past week.

Published: 03/03/08 05:50:34 PM
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February 26, 2008

Observations from a long-time season ticket holder

A long-time season-ticket holder chimes-in:

I have been to 2 hockey games so far and yes the arena is nice a new but there sure are some issues.

The notion of the public choosing the seat type (a link back to January 2007) was pure BS. They went with the cheapest narrowest seating they could find. They are not that comfortable and a couple of large lads I know say the seat sags forward thus making them slip forward. It is very cramped sitting next to anyone plus there is absolutely no leg room, even for the vertically challenged.

The club seats are chained-off. That means the club seat people do not have egress or access to and from the tunnels. The people sitting below have to use the tunnels and cannot go up to the top of the stairs. I sure hope there isn't a fire, when I worked in my manufacturing days this type off blockage would be condemned by the ministry of labour. I guess paying citizens are expendable

Also you cannot get from one side of the arena to the other so forget about socializing with your friends on the other side of the building.

Rapport with the team: We used to be able to talk to the Frontenac players before and after the game as they were accessible, now they are hidden away, I haven't the foggiest idea on how to make contact with them.

Policing: Who is paying for this? I have seen more police inside that building in 2 days then I have seen in the last 15 years in the old M-Centre, plus there are a whole bunch of them outside before and after the game.

Yes there are some good things about the arena but right now the place is sterile, there is no"our" feel to it. The atmosphere is not there. There was absolutely no fan energy in that place Sunday it was DEAD in there. But hey we have a nice shiny new building where we can coif beers back for only $6 for a 20 oz draft.

Seat selection: I loved my seat so much that I was running around opening night to find out how to change it. It was a horror show for me. I am in the process of doing it now. I'm not the only one there are many people not satisfied with their seating, so much so there was a line up at the old Frontenacs office on Monday morning. This is what you get when you pick blind like all the season ticket holders did.

Published: 02/26/08 11:24:45 PM
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February 25, 2008

Bruce Todd's report from Friday night's LVEC-opening Frontenacs game

This letter is from Bruce Todd about the LVEC's opening-night hockey game on February 22 2008.

From: Bruce Todd

To: KCAL@yahoogroups.com

CC: PNichols@cityofkingston.ca, "Morris, Malcolm", "Laubenstein, Glen", "Hurdle, Lanie", Deanna Green, Chris Sleeth, Councillor M Gerretsen, Councillor B Glover, Councillor D Hector, Councillor R Hutchison, Councillor J MacLeod-Kane, Councillor R Matheson, Councillor L Osanic, Councillor S Meers, Councillor E Smith, Mayor H Rosen, Councillor L Foster, Councillor S Garrison, Councillor V Schmolka, "Beach, Cynthia"

Subject: February 22 LVEC observations

Date: 25 February 2008, 02:04:30


I went downtown around 5:30 p.m. last Friday night and observed the downtown before and after the OHL game that drew a crowd of 5,700. There were opening ceremonies at 6:00 p.m. and people were lined up along Barrack Street from the entrance westerly to the Food Basics parking lot. Signs were erected at public parking lots indicating the LVEC parking rates came into force at 5:30 p.m. I asked the Anglin Lot parking attendant how they were handling those cars/people who were still parked in the lot from prior to 5:30 p.m. They said that they didn't know. I assume there is some lost revenue here.

On-street parking was fully utilized at 6:00 p.m., although there were a few cars that pulled away, leaving the parking spot to be quickly taken again. I am sure there had to be an economically detrimental effect on other downtown businesses whose customers could not find on-street parking.

I noticed a lot of "illegal" on-street parking in signed no-parking zones. I understand from others that tow trucks were kept busy. I witnessed a tow from the Tim Horton's parking lot on Ontario Street around 6:30 p.m.

Many people took advantage of the on-street parking through the residential area north of Barrack Street and west of Rideau Street. In fact, cars were parked on both sides of Bay Street west of Rideau Street, and therefore there was not enough room for opposing vehicles to pass each other. Vehicles had to back up out of Bay Street onto Rideau Street in order to continue their journey, and I held my breath as many cars backed out into the very busy intersection of Rideau and Bay. Fortunately, the snow banks had been cleared from many of these streets.

Traffic was tied up on Barrack Street at the entrance to the Liquor Store as the store's parking lot could not handle the inbound flow of traffic, so people sat on the street with their turn signals blinking, and through traffic was blocked in both directions. I am assuming that this situation occurred because there was no on-street parking available, and Liquor Store patrons were not going to pull into a public parking lot and pay a hefty parking fee.

I assumed that most people who were going to the game would be parked by 7:00 p.m. because of the opening ceremonies at 6:00 p.m. So, at 6:55 p.m., I checked out the parking at the Hanson Garage. There were approximately 175 vehicles in the garage, about 100 more than normal according to the attendant. One gentleman said he had been parked in the garage since 2:00 p.m., and was told that if he waited until just after 10:30 p.m. to leave, it would only cost him $3.00 for all that time, as the attendant would have left at 10:30 p.m. More parking revenue losses.

I then checked the Chown Garage at 7:00 p.m. and found that there were only about 80 vehicles parked in the garage, which is normal at that time. Therefore, virtually no one chose to park at the Chown Garage and walk to the LVEC, as I have said all along.

I parked at the corner of Place D'Armes and Wellington Street at 9:45 p.m. to witness the movement of people leaving the LVEC and proceeding northerly and westerly. People who were headed for the Anglin Parking Lot crossed Place D'Armes in the general vicinity of King Street and the Food Basics parking lot entrance, just as I indicated they would do in my report to the city and to IBI consultants. Any people who came up to the Wellington Street traffic signal were headed for Rideau Street and points northerly and westerly, and many of these people sauntered across the length of Place D'Armes, interfering with westbound traffic that had come from the Causeway.

I observed one motor vehicle accident at the corner of Bagot and Brock Street. Judging from the front-end damage, it looked like at least one of the vehicles was a writeoff.

The City and the event-goers were fortunate that there was enough time to clear snowbanks from streets, and that it was a relatively mild evening.

I was very surprised at the attendance of 2,283 people at the Sunday OHL game, virtually no increase from previous years. I had thought perhaps 3,000 to 3,500 people would be in attendance. Let the speculation begin!

Bruce.

Published: 02/25/08 03:11:10 PM
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February 24, 2008

Sunday Frontenacs attendance: 2283 (updated)

According to the OHL game summary, Sunday afternoon's Frontenacs LVEC attendance, their second match in the LVEC, was just 2,283. That's only 130 more than the average of the previous games played at the Memorial Centre this year.

It probably didn't help that Doug Graham, Whig Standard sports reporter, wrote on Friday that the second match was a sellout (scroll to the very botton).

Update: Some interesting comments on Fronts talk

Friday night had a lot of people that are not hockey fans that were there for the hype and to say they were there. That is a one time crowd.

Also, on the changing dynamic for the Frontenacs' owners:

I am to one point ecstatic that the Fronts have the new arena. NOW THEY CANNOT BLAME facilities for the lack of fans or the players that say they don't want to come here.

Published: 02/24/08 10:14:42 PM
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February 22, 2008

Who's lording over you now?

In March 2007, nearly a year ago, the LVEC's luxury suites were sold-off. Here's another look at who'll be lording over the regular folks.

It's a who's-who of Rosen-family businesses, tenants of Rosen Family properties, overt Harvey Rosen election backers, companies that do a lot of business with City Hall (including several members of the Kingston Home Builders Association and the Kingston Construction Association), and the usual mainstream media outfits.

Frontenac Public School As you gaze-up at the luxury suites, try not to think of the rest of Kingston like, for example, Frontenac Public School on Cowdy Street, with some 275 kids JK to Grade 8, just 0.8 miles from the LVEC, that doesn't have a school library and needs funding and more support in all its aspects.

Each one of those luxury suites cost between $15,000 and $23,000 per year, and their occupants will be hob-nobbing, at tax-deductible expense, in a taxpayer-subsidized OHL arena built on pretenses of "economic development".

All these folks will be hob-nobbing together in suites largely paid-for with tax-deductible expenses, with special parking, a private entrance, private concessions, and priority access to non-box event tickets whose leftovers will then be sold to the general public. More here on the LVEC's perks for the those in this class.

Note that John Wright, owner of K-Rock, apparently controls three suites.

1000 Islands Cruises (Same owners as K-Rock)
1203157 Ontario Limited
J.E. Agnew Food Services Ltd. (Tim Hortons)
Braebury Homes Corporation
Canadian Tire - Cataraqui
CHUM Radio Kingston (FLY-FM)
CIBC Wood Gundy
Cruickshank Construction Limited and Rosen Heating Cooling
Empire Life Insurance Company
Gananoque Chevrolet Cadillac
JKL Micro
Kingston Financial Centre Inc.
Kingston MRI
Kimco Steel Sales Limited (owned in the Rosen family) and Kingston Truck Centre
The Kingston Frontenacs (owned by the Springer family)
The Kingston Whig-Standard
Kingston Young Entrepreneurs
KPMG LLP
K-Rock (Complimentary suite for naming rights holder)
Len Corcoran Excavating Ltd.
Melo Hotels
RBC WAGG
CaraCo Development Corporation and Taggart Investments
The Radio Group (K-Rock & KIX FM)
Thomson Jemmett Vogelzang o/b The Insurance Centre Inc.
Waste Management

Published: 02/22/08 11:17:28 AM
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February 21, 2008

Kingston and District Labour Council media release
Thumb

Here's the Kingston and District Labour Council Media Release from yesterday.

(KINGSTON) The Kingston & District will hold a media conference on the steps of the new arena prior to its official opening to discuss problems with the arena operator and to support picketing workers. The media conference will include a number of speakers on hand to support local workers, members of International Alliance of Theatre and Stage Employees (IATSE), Local 471 who will not get a chance to bid or work locally on events in the building.

WHAT: Press Conference and speakers.
WHEN: Friday February 22 at 11:00 A.M.
WHERE: Outside the main entrance to the entertainment centre.

Read the whole thing.
Published: 02/21/08 10:01:00 PM
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Bogus artificial deadlines: obvious tactical mistakes made 14-months ago

While the LVEC project is today in pre-opening confusion and doubt, 14-months ago, back in December 2006, KCAL wrote this:

So we have a City staff who clearly can't manage projects -- KPMG told us that twice (1-2) -- and a Council that's clearly not into overseeing incompetent Staff.

These projects have multi-million-dollar stakes.

Mark Gerretsen, thank you very much.

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.

The thinking at the time was: don't book the LVEC prematurely because it limits your options, and that can be expensive.

bulldog.  We didn't get one

How much would a bulldog have cost since April 2007?

Maybe $150,000?

We could have been reading project progress reports from the bulldog, not the pap we've been reading from Lanie Hurdle ever since.

Today a lot of money is being squandered, corners are being cut, work is being rushed, all because our City Hall civil servants know little about managing quality projects.

Who could have prevented this?

Our current gutless Council balked at the opportunity for independent project oversight. Council had the chance to appoint a Council advocate to the project cabinet but Mark Gerretsen, BIA board member, withdrew his long-delayed motion in April 2007.

So we have a City staff who clearly can't manage projects -- KPMG told us that twice (1-2) -- and a Council that's clearly not into overseeing incompetent Staff. These projects have multi-million-dollar stakes. Mark Gerretsen, thank you very much.

How much would a bulldog have cost since April 2007? $150,000 maybe? We could have been reading project progress reports from the bulldog, not the pap we've been reading from Lanie Hurdle since then.

Published: 02/21/08 02:58:53 PM
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February 20, 2008

Bruce Todd slams City Hall for deceptive advertising

I have repeatedly surveyed the parking situation in the downtown on a Friday evening around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., as Consultants should have done for their reports to the City, and, consistently, the on-street parking has been fully utilized except for 30 to 50 spots, and parking lots have been half full or more at that time.

I have reported this on many occasions to the city and to LVEC management, but all reports have been consistently ignored.

Bruce Todd has penned a scathing letter to Council and Senior Staff, copies to The Whig, about apparently deceptive communications from The City of Kingston Growth and Sustainability Group and published in The Whig.

Read the whole thing. City of Communications Dept, chain of command during the LVEC's inception and implementation

Therein:

The special section produced by the Kingston Whig Standard last Friday, February 15, 2008, entitled "It's Show Time" included on page 10 an article on "Ample Parking Available for Event Goers". It paints a picture of parking availability as if no cars are ever on-street or in parking lots on a Friday evening. It gives a detailed number of parking spaces as if these are all waiting to be used by LVEC event-goers. What a deception! What an utter falsehood for those who might not be familiar with Kingston's downtown on a Friday evening in particular.

The article states that "more than 550 on-street parking spaces are located within 600m of the Centre and will be free for use during evening and Sunday events".

To state that all these parking spaces are "free for use" is an extremely deceptive statement.

I have repeatedly surveyed the parking situation in the downtown on a Friday evening around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., as Consultants should have done for their reports to the City, and, consistently, the on-street parking has been fully utilized except for 30 to 50 spots, and parking lots have been half full or more at that time. I have reported this on many occasions to the city and to LVEC management, but all reports have been consistently ignored.

Published: 02/20/08 10:48:27 AM
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February 19, 2008

In St. John's: Big acts, big losses

The biggest loser was Hootie & The Blowfish. The band's show on Sept. 11, 2006, cost Mile One $125,196.

From Sunday's Telegram in St. John's: the more acts they book at the Mile One Centre, the more money they tend to lose.

Looking at some of the LVEC's upcoming events, it's hard to imagine this isn't already happening here.

Published: 02/19/08 11:01:26 AM
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A year ago in KCAL: February 2007

Looking back to last February, in 2007. This is old news.

Last year on February 1st 2007 CKWS-TV reported that Kingston's major construction projects were not much benefiting local labour.

On February 12th 2007, the BIA cemented its 30-year, $3-million, back-end loaded, 4.57% credit from taxpayers for the LVEC. Today there is evidently no solid plan, no formal channel of public accountability, to ensure this will ever be repaid.

On February 14th 2007 City Staff dropped 14 major LVEC documents on Council just hours prior to key Council votes on the project. Therein was a " Risk Management Plan" that pegged the risk of "insufficient project funding from fundraising and grants" at a "4" on a scale to "1" to "9". Remember, all of Harvey Rosen's other projects (Market Square and The Grand Theatre) were, and remain, in concurrent public fundraising crisis and everybody, like now, knew it then too.

On February 16th, KCAL published the details behind the LVEC's funding, where the money was really coming from, including an Excel spreadsheet you can still download.

On February 20th, The Whig Standard published several LVEC-related stories riddled with grievous errors about the sums involved in the LVEC project.

This was also the time when it was clear that the second covered-up KPMG Report festered on Council.

Then on February 26th Councillor Vicki Schmolka was mugged on K-Rock's airwaves and K-Rock's Shadoe Davis was being obnoxious in The Whig. You can listen to MP3-format recordings here (Schmolka, Wong, and Davis), and here ("G" and rock-star Rob Baker).

Meanwhile project proponents like Ken Wong and Jeff Garrah get to repeatedly field softballs from CKWS-TV's Julie Brown on KEDCO-funded TV-COGECO programmes.

On February 27th 2007, KCAL's list of apparent LVEC cost omissions.

By the end of February 2007, everybody on Council knew that ALL of the LVEC's financial risks were going to be assumed by taxpayers. Everybody on Council knew the LVEC was a rigged-deal from a taxpayer's perspective.

So what changed? Nothing.

In the end this gutless Council even balked at the opportunity for independent project oversight. Council had the chance, and certainly had the votes, to appoint a Council advocate to the project cabinet but Mark Gerretsen, BIA board member, withdrew the long-delayed motion in April 2007.

Thus Mayor Harvey Rosen and his acolytes were free to continue the unfettered bullying of the LVEC project clear through to the end.

Published: 02/19/08 12:34:42 AM
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February 16, 2008

Union busting becomes so Tragically Hip (UPDATED)
Lots and lots of LVEC Jobs!

When you hire an out-of-town company to run the LVEC, what do you get? How about an out-of-province non-union labour provider for staging services.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 471 (Ottawa/Kingston) is pissed about this, and rightly so.


Update: As it turns out, the facility operator, Arcturus SMG, is bringing-in non-union labour from out-of-town for both staging and for event security for the LVEC's opening concert by The Tragically Hip.

Back in May 2006, rock-star Rob Baker was front-and-centre in a $50,000 ad campaign that featured logos from KEDCO, The Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Accomodation Partners, and local construction associations.

The ad, which ran in all the local papers and on a now-defunct website named WatchKingstonGrow.com, promised "New Employment Opportunities: 750 Construction and 450 post-construction jobs".

At the time, the ad was designed to influence Council for critical LVEC-related votes in May 2006. The website went dark after just one year on April 11 2007. Evidently the LVECs drum-beaters didn't have the $10 and the stones required to keep "Watch Kingston Grow" in the public eye.

So let's recap what's actually happened so far, shall we?

The LVEC was railroaded through on false premises such as this with the help of several supine out-of-town consultants and using out-of-town project management support. It was designed by out-of-town architects, then built by an out-of-town general contractor, using significant amounts of out-of-town construction labour. The arena is being operated by an out-of-town management company that's bringing-in out-of-town non-union labour provider for event-related services. Of course, the vast majority of the acts coming to into the LVEC will be from out-of-town, and most of the box-office will be leaving with them on the bus.

Where's the mayor? He's out-of-town, on holidays, between February 12th to the 20th, while the LVEC fundraising campaign he chairs is $1M short. Harvey Rosen: Vision, Courage, Results.

Published: 02/16/08 07:55:58 PM
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Celebrate THIS! #4: For nearly a year now, Google ranks the City of Kingston #1 for the keywords "dispersed parking"
Whig Advertising

Friday The Whig Standard distributed a special advertising section to "Celebrate the Opening" of the LVEC. Therein, on page 10 of the supplemental section, is this claim:

London's John Labatt Centre has it, so does Toronto's Air Canada Centre, so does New York's Madison Square Gardens. Like these successful downtown venues, the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre takes advantage of a dispersed parking model.

Whoever wrote this in The Whig Standard is ignorant.

For the record, so there is no Whig-Standard-induced confusion here:

Google search results for 'dispersed parking'

But nevermind hyperbole courtesy of our Whig. Let's examine "dispersed parking", shall we?

If you execute a Google search for the term "dispersed parking" you'll get results similar to those pictured at left.

Look who ranks in the top-two spots.

Scroll the list, and look for something else, anything, comparable and related to parking for the LVEC. You won't find it.

This isn't new; it's been this way for nearly a year (a link to our item from April 11 2007).

But it goes back further still: back in mid-September 2006, 17-months ago, Council and our local mainstream media were informed that THE CONCEPT "DISPERSED" PARKING IS NOT EVEN RECOGNIZED IN MAINSTREAM TRAFFIC ENGINEERING.

In other words, "dispersed parking" is homespun crap. Those who have perpetrated this blatant fabrication, and who have built this arena with such contempt for the arena's customers and the taxpayers of Kingston won't be forgotten.

Another false statement by The Whig on Page 10 of the supplement is the number of parking spots available for people on-street and at various lots. They say:

Also, more than 550 on-street parking spaces are located within 600m of the Centre and will be free for use during evening and Sunday events.

KCAL's Friday night counts around 6:30-7:00 p.m., on the public record beginning May 25 2005, have consistently show only about 30-40 empty parking spots on-street. The Kingston Whig Standard has slept through this whole boondoggle.

Google search results for 'dispersed parking'

But here's where things get really weird for Harvey Rosen, the Springers, City CAO Laubenstein and senior City Staff.

If you search google for the exact phrase "dispersed parking model" (with quotes) just one document is returned. A well-formed query which returns a single Google result, which is extremely rare.

It's a story from the Berkley Daily Planet, written in 2006, and it's about a grocery store with serious parking issues.

Now how bizarre is that?

Parking in London, ON

Parking lots surrounding the John Labatt Centre in London.

See also

Published: 02/16/08 12:20:04 AM
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February 11, 2008

The Mayor, KROCK, John Wright, and Anglin Bay - a pecuniary interest?

Consider this:

One question arising is: If Mayor Rosen, via his holdings, has had a long-standing and ongoing business relationship with John Wright, under the same roof, then how come Mayor Rosen didn't disclose this apparent pecuniary interest when deliberating the Anglin-Bay LVEC which was supposed to be built on land owned by John Wright?

863 Princess Street, Kingston, ON

Published: 02/11/08 12:30:08 AM
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February 4, 2008

Kingston's naming rights agreement

Here's a link to the proposed LVEC naming rights agreement which the city has put online.

The name of the company hasn't been revealed. Reading the agreement, it's evidently a media company.

The deal has an interesting twist: the Sponsor explicitly becomes the preferred supplier for spending on promoting events.

So it appears that the Sponsor:

The event promotion pie could be worth $600,000 per year. At that level of media purchasing, you might expect a 25% discount ($150,000) in any case. If so, staff might be drastically over-selling this deal to Council.

How ironic would it be for K-ROCK to be on the outside looking-in at the LVEC's promotional expenditures for the next 10-years?

Then again, if the Sponsor is a local consortium, which presumably would include KROCK, that would re-connect some interesting dots.

Either way it looks to be a coup for the Sponsor, and it shows the poor negotiating position of the City.

See, the deal is not just for the naming rights. It's also for 10-years of event advertising and promotion business. That business is guaranteed, in the short-term, because heavily promoting the LVEC is imperative.

The business also flows 2-ways, as the Sponsor can curry the favour of its advertisers inside the building.

There's more: if aggregate attendance is below a yet-to-be-specified threshhold the Sponsor can just walk away. No Hershey Centre scenarios for these folks! If ticket sales are "poor" the shortfalls will be borne by Kingston's taxpayers as the agreement provides specific bail-out clauses for the Sponsor.

More to the point, if there's over-allocation to event advertising and promotion, leading to more funneled through the Sponsor and corresponding lower than expected operational profits, the regrettable shortfalls will be picked-up by taxpayers.

Notice the continuing theme: Once again, Council is being asked to quickly approve a complex long-term LVEC-related deal with information provided at the very last possible moment. That's how staff at senior levels in this city continue to operate.

Published: 02/04/08 07:49:49 PM
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February 3, 2008

Naming rights in Sault Ste. Marie going sour

There's an interesting article in Sunday's Soo News about how their LVEC's naming rights deal has gone sour. The brewery (Steelback) sponsoring the arena is in bankruptcy protection and their last cheque for $67,500 was NSF.

See this article in the December 17th Globe and Mail Report on Business for more details on the $120 million owed to more than 400 creditors.

A citizen's petition is in circulation demanding that the arena's name be changed to include "Sault Memorial Gardens".

Expect Kingston-City Staff to present the Soo's naming-rights deal to Kingston City Council without any mention of the Soo's current predicament! Troubles in Sault Ste. Marie have been well known since November 2007, but protecting the interests of Kingston Taxpayers, and honesty in accounting never counted for much here.

Published: 02/03/08 02:48:06 PM
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January 31, 2008

Celebrate THIS! #3: Joe deMora and the "silent majority"
Whig Advertising

The Whig Standard has been running this advertisement for a special advertising section to "Celebrate the Opening" of the LVEC to be published on February 15th.

Until then, KCAL will be featuring many items you probably won't be reading in whatever The Kingston Whig-Standard prints about its pet-project.


#3. Joe deMora's "silent majority"

Flashback:

Joe DeMora

See also

Published: 01/31/08 06:00:34 PM
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January 29, 2008

Combined LVEC calendars of Mississauga, Oshawa, Guelph, and Sault Ste-Marie for Q1 2008

You are looking at the combined published calendars for January, February, and March 2008 for LVECs in Mississauga, Oshawa, Guelph, and Sault Ste-Marie.

Four comparable buildings to Kingston's LVEC, over a full three months. We've circled the non-OHL hockey events to get a sense of what else these buildings draw.

You are looking at just 17 non-hockey events in a possible 364 event-days. This includes:

See also:

Over the past 9-months, we count just 52 non-OHL events in 4 comparable buildings.

In the three quarters we've been tracking this, other than OHL home-team events, we've seen just 52 non-OHL events into 1,100 potential event days.

These OHL arenas don't appear to be anything like economic players for their local communities.

Published: 01/29/08 11:53:56 PM
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The Whig: Rosen must step-up, and Market Square fundraising runs dry

Recently in the Whig: on January 25th an LVEC-related editorial titled Mayor must step it up, and today (January 29th), an article on Market Square's fundraising failure titled The well has run dry, group finds.

If we've learned anything, it's "fundraising" should never be taken at face-value.

There's more: apparently Mayor Rosen is due to fly South for a holiday shortly, just as the LVEC fundraising campaign is supposed to be winding-up.

Another question: Do "Buy Local" invocations from Kingston merchants apply to holidays, or just to other people's spending?

Published: 01/29/08 04:03:07 PM
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January 27, 2008

The Whig: Ken Wong and Jeff Garrah on prosperity

On January 22 2008 The Whig ran a story titled Economic forecast bleak: report.

The author, Alan Arcand of the Conference Board of Canada, forecasts a 2.1% growth rate for 2008, as compared to 2.5% in 2007. ( Note: The 2007 numbers are not finalized, and are likely subject to adjustments for months thereafter.)

The article gets interesting in its closing paragraphs.

First, there's this about Ken Wong.

Translation: prosperity from a dysfunctional, mostly empty, money-losing OHL arena, and prosperity from ice-pads.

Ken Wong, a professor at the Queen's School of Business, said he wasn't surprised by the results of the forecast. Indeed, some of the same predictions were made during an economic forecast luncheon held late last year by the business school.

Thanks to the previous council, which managed to get several large construction projects started, Kingston has the potential to experience much higher growth, Wong said.

"We at least have a foundation we can build on in terms of creating some economic prosperity for the city," he said. "It's not like we don't have anything we can promote."

For example, when it opens, the west-end multiplex will bring people here for hockey games. Likewise, the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre will bring some big acts to town. "If you get great acts, you get people. If you get people, you get prosperity," Wong said.

Translation: prosperity from a dysfunctional, mostly empty, money-losing OHL arena, and prosperity from ice-pads.

Then, there's this about Jeff Garrah.

Jeff Garrah, CEO of the city's economic development organization KEDCO, said his agency plans to work closely with local agencies, such as the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area, the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, and Kingston Accommodation Partners to help make Kingston an even more desirable place to live.

Translation: "Downtown" Kingston will continue monopolizing the City's prosperity agenda for the foreseeable future.
Published: 01/27/08 12:37:43 AM
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January 25, 2008

Still more LVEC-related money-grabbing

We're hearing reports now that the advanced-sales ticket selling process for the Avril Lavigne concert at the LVEC will only let people buy one ticket at a time, even for general admission tickets.

This means that to buy (say) four tickets you need to make four transactions, with four separate sets of fees, including four sets of odious ticket shipping charges.

Published: 01/25/08 10:49:01 AM
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January 23, 2008

Celebrate THIS! #2: The CastleGlenn traffic and parking study
Whig Advertising

The Whig Standard has been running this advertisement for a special advertising section to "Celebrate the Opening" of the LVEC to be published on February 15th.

Until then, KCAL will be featuring many items you probably won't be reading in whatever The Kingston Whig-Standard prints about its pet-project.


#2. The CastleGlenn traffic and parking study

Flashback:

None of Kingston's old-media news outlets have EVER reported on the serious problems with the CastleGlenn "Phase I: Traffic and Parking Viability Assessment Study".
A comparison of distances supplied by CastleGlenn Consultants and measurements Bruce Todd made using a surveyors' wheel:
From LVEC
(Anglin Bay)
to lot
Measurements in Meters
CastleGlenn
Consultants
www.kcal.ca
Bruce Todd
Anglin 60 185
Barrack 250 431
Frontenac North 280 536
Drury 390 540
Frontenac South 280 606
King & Queen 480 682
Angrove 460 737
Springer 510 745
Ordnance 530 804
Holiday Inn 550 833
Byron 520 889
a Truemeter

Mr Todd has, we remind you, over 40 years experience in the field of traffic engineering and planning.

Published: 01/23/08 10:19:25 PM
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January 22, 2008

Julie Brown: powder-puff
Julie Brown of CKWS-TV News, lobbing softballs

Those tuning-in early to tonight's Council meeting on COGECO-TV Channel 13 were treated to Julie Brown, of CKWS-TV News, shamelessly serving-up leading powder-puff questions to LVEC project manager Lanie Hurdle and Arcturus SMG's Neil Shorthouse about our wonderful, wonderful new Sports and Entertainment Centre.

The program was "KEDCO on the Street" and lists KEDCO CEO Jeff Garrah as one of its producers.

The program was "KEDCO on the Street" and lists KEDCO CEO Jeff Garrah as one of its producers.

Make no doubt: it's a blatant infomercial. Our local TV news-anchor is all-in, parroting the LVEC party-line to Kingstonians.

Published: 01/22/08 07:21:05 PM
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January 21, 2008

Celebrate THIS! #1: LVEC PM Don Gedge's firing kept secret for over 2-months, until after the 2006 municipal election
Whig Advertising

The Whig Standard has been running this advertisement for a "special advertising section" to "Celebrate the Opening" of the LVEC to be published on February 15th.

Until then, KCAL will be featuring many items you probably won't be reading in whatever The Kingston Whig-Standard prints about its pet-project.


Don Gedge, fired as LVEC project manager in October 2006

#1. The firing of Project Manager Don Gedge was kept secret for over 2-months, until after the November 2006 municipal election

The LVEC's first project manager, and first-engineer on the LVEC railroad, was a man named Don Gedge.

Don Gedge was fired in October 2nd 2006, but this information was kept from the public, and from Council, until AFTER the November 2006 election where the LVEC boondoggle was, by far, the most contentious campaign issue. Mayor Harvey Rosen was narrowly re-elected.

How's that for slimeball local politics?

There's more: The Kingston Supine-Standard, finally reporting the firing of Don Gedge in a story published on December 14 2006, two days after reporter Bill Hutchins broke the story in The Heritage, completely downplayed the 2-month delay in disclosure.

How's that for slimeball local politics?

The Whig's publisher at the time, Fred Laflamme, was a "founding member" of a group calling itself "Friends of the Entertainment Centre", about which we'll have lots more to say. This group thought putting the LVEC on Kingston's waterfront, clobbering a marina, part of a park, and displacing a fireboat-builder that employs 60 skilled-workers, was a fine idea.

Published: 01/21/08 05:01:10 PM
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January 19, 2008

LVEC-related items on Council's agenda

There are a number of LVEC-related items on Council's agenda for Tuesday, January 22.

Published: 01/19/08 02:35:07 PM
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January 14, 2008

Monday in The Whig: Ed Smith pats himself on the back

In Monday's Whig Standard, in the editorial page Opinion Column, Williamsville Councillor Ed Smith pats himself on the back.

Therein,

I regret that there were some members of our community whose attacks on some council members became personal during the heated debates on some of these major projects. Such an experience does not encourage good people to enter or remain in public life. But to councillors' credit, they remained steadfast in their support for projects they believed to be in the best interests of Kingston and the people who live here, now and in the future.

Debates? What debates? Ed Smith, the LVEC's somnolent "Streering Committee" chairman, organized and chaired an apparently stacked "public consultation" meeting then, less than 10-hours later, Ed Smith forwarded apparently pre-determined recommendations to council, complete with attaboys from proponents and no mention, not a word, of the significant and widely evident opposition to the LVEC project, a mistake that cost at least $504,100, plus time wasted.

Evidently the not-so-subtle distinction between "encouraging good people to enter or remain in public life" and "coralling process-fudging lunatics and their half-baked plans" escapes Mr Smith.

Consider:

The LVEC's ridiculously over-hyped so-called "benefits" will soon to be apparent to all and, for Mr Smith, there will be no escaping responsibility for it. Until then, high-fiving himself in The Whig is really all Mr Smith can do.

Published: 01/14/08 05:01:09 PM
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January 11, 2008

Avril Lavigne coming to the LVEC on April 8

According to Pollstar, Avril Lavigne will play in the LVEC on Tuesday April 8th 2008.

This is the first and only concert booked so far that delivers on the LVEC promise that Kingston's youth won't have to travel out of town to see popular acts.

Published: 01/11/08 04:44:10 PM
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January 5, 2008

LVEC-related item on the January 8, 2008 Council Agenda -- IBI, again

On Council's Agenda for Tuesday is a report from Staff that recommends the IBI Group to create recommendations for further development of the North Block.

It is hoped that the timing for the award of this work will position the City to be able to decide on the next steps in the redevelopment of the police building at 11 Queen Street in addition to meeting a number of other objectives related to the sustainable redevelopment of properties in the area.

It appears that waiting to see the extent of the disaster the LVEC turns out to be before frittering away any more money on the North Block was never an option.

It's pretty clear that unflattering independent assessments of prior LVEC-related reports by the IBI Group have fallen on deaf ears at City Hall.

If all this goes ahead, this could lead to a very interesting juxtaposition: when the LVEC's logistical dysfunctionalities are a reality, the firm that apparently white-washed its logistics will be presenting reports, and collecting handsome fees, for next-steps related to the LVEC's immediate surroundings.

Published: 01/05/08 10:57:00 PM
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December 20, 2007

Mile One in the red: Scripting Harvey Rosen and Ed Smith in 2009

On December 4th, The St. John's Telegram published an article titled Mile One in the red -- May never break even, mayor says about the precarious financial situation of the 6,250-seat Mile One Centre, and what some politicians are saying about the Centre now.

Mile One Centre is in the red for $640,000 and may always have some level of subsidy from the City of St. John's.

Mile One Centre is in the red for $640,000 and may always have some level of subsidy from the City of St. John's.

When questioned on whether the stadium and convention centre will ever break even with it's $1.5-million subsidy from the city, Mayor Andy Wells snapped back that the facility may always be in some debt.

"We're not going to break even on our Mundy Pond facility, we're not going to break even on Wedgewood Park, we're not going to break even on Mile One.

According to the LVEC business plan, our building is supposed to easily cover its costs and service its debts.

Coun. Ron Ellsworth tabled Mile One Centre's financial statements and 2008 budget Monday night, pointing out operating losses of $639,596 for 2007 and a projected $527,560 loss for 2008.

That means city residents are paying about $2.25 million in subsidies to keep the centre operational. Wells said that number is reasonable when compared with the benefits the city receives from the facility.

"As far as I'm concerned it's been a good deal. It's been controversial... but I'm perfectly satisfied that things are falling into line," he said.

We expect to hear the same sorts of things from Harvey Rosen and Ed Smith about the LVEC.

Here's a link to the Mile One Centre Events Calendar. Just like the four other Ontario arenas we're watching, there's really nothing going on at the Mile One Centre, with just one non-hockey event (Blue Rodeo) scheduled in the first three months of 2008.

So far this year, the QMJHL St. John's Fog Devils have attracted an average of 3,365 fans to their 18 home-games, which is about 52% of the building's capacity.

Given all this, how is it possible that some politicians in St. John's can claim to be satisfied? Who's kidding whom?

The construction cost of the Mile One Centre was $35 Million in 2001. The present value of St-John's $2.25 million in annual subsidies over 30-years, given the latest prime rate of 7.25 %, is $27 Million.

Related:

Published: 12/20/07 10:23:24 AM
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December 17, 2007

LVEC-related agenda items for Tuesday's council meeting

There are two LVEC-related items on Tuesday's Council agenda.

Published: 12/17/07 11:56:28 AM
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December 15, 2007

Stars On Ice: coming after all

In a full-page colour ad in today's Whig is an announcement for 5 LVEC events:

There's no mention of the other dates everyone already knows about:

About all this, some observations:

Published: 12/15/07 10:02:20 AM
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December 13, 2007

The Tragically Hip: what's wrong with this picture?

On December 11 2007 The Whig published this story titled Fans get dibs on Hip; Concert tickets sold on website first.

Tickets for the Hip concert, the first entertainment event planned for the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre, will go on sale tomorrow, with true Hip fans getting first dibs.

Registered users of the band's website, www.thehip.com, will get first pick of tickets to the show. These fans can log onto the Hip website starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow to find a link to purchase advance tickets. They will be available until midnight Thursday.

So the taxpayers of Kingston are forced to hold-the-bag for the LVEC boondoggle, but for the LVEC's opening concert event, registered fans of the band, regardless of where they may be, get first-dibs on tickets? It's pretty clear who's calling the shots here.

Nevermind that rock-star Rob Baker is in for peanuts despite being the face of LVEC, the rest of the band is, so far, not yet on the list of arena donors.

There's more: the LVEC fundraising campaign is still $1.3M short of target yet the Tragically Hip is using the opening concert as a fundraiser for some pet-charities, not the arena.

Not that Camp trillium and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper aren't worthy causes. It's just that, in the scheme of things, the taxpayers of Kingston never counted for anything. The LVEC's opening concert is just another sign of that.

It's also a clear sign that, despite all that is invested by taxpayers, when it comes to the LVEC the City of Kingston is powerless.

Published: 12/13/07 12:05:39 PM
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The oldtimers are coming! The oldtimers are coming!

The Oldtimer's Hockey Challenge, who in the past played each year in Kingston's Memorial Centre, will play in the LVEC on Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 7:00 PM.

Published: 12/13/07 11:11:59 AM
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George Jones: not coming here

Here's the George Jones tour schedule. He's playing in lots of smaller towns. Kingston's not on the list. "Passing us by on the 401" between Toronto (April 8) and Ottawa (April 9).

Just like Avril Lavigne who still "passes us by on the 401" between Ottawa (April 3rd) and Toronto (April 9).

George Jones:

MAR 25 TCU PLACE SASKATOON, SASK 7:30
MAR 27 CRYSTAL CENTRE GRANDE PRAIRIE, ALB 7:30
MAR 28 THICKWOOD ARENA FT. MCMURRARY, ALB 7:30
MAR 29 NORTHERN JUBILEE EDMONTON, ALB 7:30
MAR 31 SOUTHERN JUBILEE CALGARY, ALB 7:30
APR 01 CONEXUS ARTS CENTRE REGINA, SASK 7:30
APR 03 BURTON CUMMINGS THEATER WINNIPEG, MAN 7:30
APR 04 BURTON CUMMINGS THEATER WINNIPEG, MAN 7:30
APR 05 COMMUNITY AUDITORIUM THUNDER BAY, ONT 7:30
APR 07 CENTRE IN THE SQUARE KITCHENER, ONT 7:30
APR 08 ROY MASSEY HALL TORONTO, ONT 7:30
APR 09 CIVIC CENTRE OTTAWA, ONT 7:30
APR 12 METRO CENTRE HALIFAX, NS 7:30
APR 13 CENTRE 200 SYDNEY, NS 7:30
APR 16 COLISEUM COMPLEX MONCTON, NB 7:30
APR 17 AITKEN CENTRE FREDERICTON, NB 7:30
APR 19 PEPSI CENTRE CORNER BROOK, NF 7:30
APR 20 COMMUNITY CENTRE GANDER, NF 7:30
APR 21 MILE ONE CENTRE ST. JOHN'S, NF 7:30
APR 23 CIVIC CENTRE CHARLOTTETOWN, PE

Published: 12/13/07 11:01:07 AM
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Stars On Ice: not coming here

The Stars On Ice 2008 Tickets and Schedule page shows us that Kingston's LVEC is evidently too small.

The smallest venue on the Stars on Ice schedule is the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria which seats 7,400.

The Stars on Ice tour features Kurt Browning, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Sasha Cohen, Jeff Buttle, and Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.

They'll be "passing us by on the 401" sometime between shows in Ottawa (April 19) and Toronto (April 25). Even with a five-day scheduling cushion, the LVEC evidently isn't attractive.

Stars on Ice tickets in the smaller venues like Victoria are typically $50 (ends), $70 (sides), and $100 (at ice level). In Toronto the ice-level tickets are $130.

Published: 12/13/07 10:34:23 AM
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December 11, 2007

The LVEC website

Here's the link to the LVEC website: http://www.kingstonrsec.ca.

That's an odd web address considering that the much shorter and intuitive http://krsec.ca is registered to Paul MacLatchy in the name of the Corporation of the City of Kingston. Is this a sign of acrimony between Arcturus and the City?

Launching the website before the naming-rights deal is a clear signal that revenue from LVEC naming-rights may not materialize.

Some "features":

Published: 12/11/07 11:42:53 AM
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December 10, 2007

The Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre Transportation Operations Plan is online

Finally, the Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre Transportation Operations Plan is online.

Published: 12/10/07 09:20:01 AM
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December 8, 2007

LVEC Transportation Operation Plan. Sort of.
LVEC Parking zones

The KRSEC Transportation Operation Plan is on the agenda for the Environment, Infrastructure and Transportation Policies committee agenda for Thursday.

The agenda document refers to "Exhibit A - KRSEC transportation Operations Plan Draft Final Report, December 2007" which is distributed seperately and not yet available on the City of Kingston website.

We assume that Staff will be improvising this document until the last possible moment. Here we are, just two months before opening, and traffic and parking is still being improvised with "Draft Final Reports". This is possibly the first time we've seen a major plan masquerading as an exhibit.

Get this: Parking is to be split into three zones. Parking in zone-1 will cost $8.00 in city-run lots, $5.00 for lot parking in zone-2, and $3.00 in zone-3. On-street parking is still free everywhere, regardless of zone.

What we'll likely see is jammed streets, stalled traffic, mostly empty city lots, and nearly zero ancillary busineess downtown during event nights, with taxpayers picking up all the pieces.

Denis Leger and Glen Laubenstein signed-off on the plan which, on Saturday December 8th, still wasn't publicly available.

The meeting is Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 5 p.m. in Conference Room AB Rideaucrest Home.

Published: 12/08/07 05:06:40 PM
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December 5, 2007

Whig letter: Outrageous damage to our heritage

Edward Grenda, president of the Kingston Historical Society, wrote this letter that the The Whig published on December 4th 2007. The LVEC is being constructed adjacent, some might say atop, a 17th Century settlement site.

Evidently the remaining bastion is not being respected by project and site managers and contractors.

Simply put, this type of treatment of a national historic site is outrageous and speaks of rank negligence on the part of those responsible for the supervisory functions on this project. The damage to this site was a patent violation of various provincial and federal regulations governing designated historic sites.

Read the whole letter.

Published: 12/05/07 07:52:43 PM
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December 3, 2007

Anne Murray at the LVEC on April 22nd 2008

There's a draw at OurCanada.ca where you can enter to win one of 85 VIP concert passes to Anne Murray concerts. One of the dates you can select is Kingston, on April 22nd 2008.

This will be an LVEC concert, not the Grand Theatre, as she plays London's John Labatt Centre two nights later. Ticket prices in London are $82.75, $62.75, and $48.75.

Here are the Anne Murray tour dates: Moncton - April 15; Charlottetown - April 17; Halifax - April 18; Montreal - April 20; Ottawa - April 21; Kingston - April 22; London - April 24; Toronto - April 25; Sault. St. Marie - April 26; Thunder Bay - April 28; Winnipeg - April 29; Regina - April 30; Edmonton - May 2; Calgary - May 3; Kelowna - May 6; Victoria - May 8; Vancouver - May 9.

Anne Murray is 62 years-old.

Update: : It's official.

Published: 12/03/07 07:10:09 PM
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December 2, 2007

The Mayor's re-election campaign communications co-chair speaks out

In response to Barbara Wamboldt's November 27th Whig opinion piece titled Naming the sports centre: let's call it The Millstone, the Whig published this letter by Sally Barnes on Saturday December 1st.

Therein:

In a nutshell, Wamboldt says events at the new centre will be unaffordable, it will benefit only downtown residents and Kingstonians won't be willing to brave the winter weather to attend events there.

Oh, c'mon, Barbara. We are Canadians. It will take more than bitter winds off the St. Lawrence river to scare off our adults and kids anxious for the opportunity at last to attend exciting concerts, sporting events and ice shows now available only to those who can afford family trips to Toronto and Ottawa.

Folks in London and other medium-sized cities competently plan, finance, manage and benefit from their downtown sports and entertainment centres. Why not us? Let's show some faith in our civic leaders and ourselves.

In addition to this blatant wishful thinking and revisionist history (see also here), it's notable that Sally Barnes was communications co-chair of the 2006 Harvey Rosen re-election campaign.

The pretense of non-partisan insight in Ms Barnes' letter is notable.

Many may not agree with her views, but at least Ms Barnes has contributed towards what she believes, which is more than can be said for most of this long list of so-called "Friends of the Entertainment Centre".

A pointed observation might be: Ms Wambolt was merely saying what is increasingly obvious to everyone. Ms Barnes is well-advised to remember that we'll soon know exactly how the LVEC performs, financially or otherwise.

When that time comes, we'll surely recall who was glibly shooting-the-messenger here.

Published: 12/02/07 03:43:21 PM
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November 29, 2007

Sault's Steelback Centre -- Steelback Breweries in bankruptcy protection

There's concern in Sault-Ste Marie about the ongoing naming rights to the Sault's $25M Steelback Centre as Steelback faces a 'liquidity crisis'.

That $135,000 per anum 10-year naming rights deal started just 13 months ago.

Published: 11/29/07 11:33:05 AM
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November 27, 2007

In The Whig Monday: Welcome to Kingston's new LVEC, The Millstone

There's an interesting opinion column by Barbara Wambolt in today's Whig Standard.

Welcome to Kingston's new large-venue entertainment centre, The Millstone.

Sounds good, eh? It's time we called a spade a spade and accepted what we've all known and feared all along: that the downtown sports and entertainment centre is becoming a burdensome responsibility. Will its costs eventually be heaped on the backs of lowly taxpayers who probably won't be able to afford to attend events there, even if they were willing to freeze their arses off in winter while they walked the the facility from God knows where they finally found a place to park?

Published: 11/27/07 02:01:33 PM
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November 24, 2007

Frontenacs season tickets: how bad could it be?

There is a telling small photo in a recent Kingston Frontenacs press release. Here it is the photo, blown-up somewhat in size.

The press release vaunts the Kingston Frontenacs LVEC seat selection for current season-ticket holders.

Each one of those dark spots is a seat taken by an existing season ticket holder. We know from the numbers on this diagram that each LVEC seating section contains between 270 and 370 seats.

Therefore we're looking at a thousand or fewer season-tickets carried forward to the LVEC from the existing Kingston Frontenacs season-ticket holders.

Consider that the cost of this seat-selection was zero -- these seats are for the last seven regular-season games and, given current trends, probably zero playoff games, for which current season-ticket holders have already paid. The selection of seats gives rights to these specific seats for 2008-2009 and beyond, but the incremental cost of these rights was zero at the time of seat-selection.

The KCAL grapevine at the Memorial Centre is very clear on this: a significant number of current season-ticket holders say they will not be renewing for 2008-2009 and beyond.

All told, this is quite a ridiculous underachievement by the Kingston Frontenacs. What's worse: taxpayers of Kingston are holding the bag on a 30-year deal with this chronically underachieving outfit.

Published: 11/24/07 10:49:37 AM
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November 23, 2007

Blue Rodeo, February 27th 2008, at the Kingston "Entertainment Centre"

The Blue Rodeo website indicates that the band will be playing at Kingston's "Entertainment Centre" on Wednesday February 27th.

Golly! The two-car tsunami of Kingstonians who would travel out-of-town to see Blue Rodeo now won't have to.

The schedule shows Blue Rodeo playing in in Cornwall on Friday, February 8th, and in Kitchener's 50+ year-old Memorial-Cup-2008-hosting auditorium on Thursday, February 9th. They are also playing in Belleville (date TBA).

Tickets on this hockey-bowl tour are typically in the $40-$50 range, and most of those receipts will be leaving town on the tour bus.

Judging from the venues where Blue Rodeo is playing, the Memorial Centre is where they would happily be playing if the LVEC wasn't there. This won't stop Kingston's self-congratulating LVEC-philes from back-slapping each other in toasting the great achievement that is attracting Blue Rodeo to Kingston to play in the arena's opening week.

Another act with a Kingston date so-far is the Harlem Globetrotters on Tuesday April 1, 2008 at 7pm. Presumably the Globetrotters travel with their own floor because the LVEC hasn't got a basketball floor and, even if it did, there would be no place to store it. Tickets for the Globetrotters in Ottawa on April 2nd are $17 to $96, and in London (April 5th) are $25 to $91. The Globetrotters routinely played at the Memorial Centre in the past, so this isn't an act the LVEC is attracting to town and, again, nearly the full gate leaves town on the bus with the team.

Don't hold your breath

Teen pop star Avril Lavinge, originally from Napanee, plays in Buffalo NY on March 29th, The Bell Centre in Montreal on April 2nd, Scotia Bank Place in Ottawa Apr 3rd, the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on April 7th, and the John Labatt Centre in London on on April 9th. Kingston's just not in this league, but if there is an LVEC stop, it'll be between April 4th and 6th.

The Foo Fighters, who play in Montreal on March 17th, Ottawa on March 19th, London on March 20th, and Toronto on March 25th, certainly won't be stopping here.

Monster Jam Trucks, in London on March 8th, won't be coming here. Some local wankers promised that Monster Trucks would come, but the awful logistics at the LVEC means that just isn't going to happen. If it ever does, it will be the only time.

Published: 11/23/07 07:43:16 PM
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November 22, 2007

Whig: No new taxes for arena: city

On Tuesday The Whig ran this article about how the fundraising shortfall would mean "no new taxes", but the public purse -- in the form of reserves -- remains fungible to cover the LVEC's underachievements.

The article also mentions the possible raiding of a new Federal program for projects of "significant economic or regional impact", as if there wasn't already a long list of far better-suited and deserving needs in and around Kingston.

Evidently City Staff isn't much concerned with those. Amalgamated Kingston be damned, it's apparently still all about subsidizing downtown land owners and others who, in the scheme of things, are the least deserving of taxpayer subsidies.

So far the LVEC has scammed $4 Million from the province under the guise of "health promotion", $3M in development charges previously earmarked for increasing Kingston's woefully inadequate recreational square footage and now, apparently, seeking still more under the pretense of "economic development".

Hands-up if you think this had better stop, and soon.

Published: 11/22/07 12:26:34 PM
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November 19, 2007

The Whig: Arena campaign off stride: report

The Whig Standard apparently needs a report from City Hall before publishing anything related to the scandalously underachieving LVEC fundraising campaign.

Ditto for CKWS-TV News.

Published: 11/19/07 10:57:55 PM
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November 15, 2007

Following Segsworth

Here's what's transpired in the past week:

Here's what's really interesting about all this: None of our local media have chosen to tie Mr Segsworth to the LVEC boondoggle in any way, even obliquely. On the other hand, all media tied Mr Segsworth to the Market Square disgrace, which saw its perpetual renaming to "Springer Market Square", bought by the Springer family for less than one-sixth the cost of one single renovation.

Apparently Mark Segsworth is getting a free-pass out of town, despite being the overseer of both the City's Transportation and Engineering departments during the entire LVEC fiasco.

Published: 11/15/07 11:30:13 PM
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November 7, 2007

Rough sledding at The Partners in Mission Food Bank

In The Whig today: The Partners in Mission Food Bank is in tough.

One reason: competition for donations, which includes competition from LVEC fundraising.

Hands up, those who didn't see this coming.

Published: 11/07/07 06:35:45 PM
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November 3, 2007

No Report from Rosen about LVEC fundraising on Tuesday's Council's agenda

The agenda for the Tuesday November 6th Council Meeting is now online and there's nothing LVEC-related on it.

Recall that, at the last Council meeting, Councillor Schmolka asked the Mayor for an update on LVEC fundrasing. The Mayor replied that he, in his capacity as fundraising campaign chair, would have a report for Council this week.

Right.

Meanwhile, everybody knows that $2M LVEC fundraising drive is, so far, an embarrassing disaster for the Mayor.

Published: 11/03/07 02:06:25 PM
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November 2, 2007

Bruce Todd has major issues with the process and findings for proposed intersection at Place D'Armes and Ontario Street

Bruce Todd has written seven letters to City Councillors and senior City staff about the traffic issues around the LVEC. This arises from the October 30, 2007 public meeting which, by all accounts, was a total embarassment. The meeting featured presentation by firm of Totten Sims Hubicki (TSH) about the Place D'Armes / Ontario Street intersection.

In letter #1 titled Peer Review, he wonders how a motion of Council calling for a completely independent peer review about traffic in the area of the LVEC turned into a report from a non-independent consultant (Totten Sims Hubicki) about just one intersection.

In letter #2 titled Availability of information prior to a Public Meeting, he points out the complete lack of information made available prior to the October 30th 2007 public meeting, and the lack of information available at the public meeting itself.

In letter #3 titled Telling the Public Why the Intersection has to be Reconstructed and Signalized, he bemoans that the public was never told WHY the intersection needs to be completely re-designed and rebuilt, what the costs were, what ancilliary impacts would be, and almost no information about options.

In letter #4 titled A conflict of Philosophies, Mr Todd points out the incoherence between policy and what the city proposes to do here.

Letter #5 titled Baffled by Words raises questions about how evaluation criteria were established, and why one percent of the intersections users are apparently driving the decisions about its design.

In letter #6 titled Road Reconstruction/Rehabilitation, he asks why traffic "moves" that weren't hitherto required are now proposed, and why expenditures on roadbuilding is occuring years before development has been agreed upon. He also points out that the citizens have been sold a bill-of-goods with a concept called "dispersed parking", which is a term undefined and unaccepted in the traffic engineering world. If you search for "dispersed parking" in Google, we see that the City of Kingston continues to own the top spot, having invented this notion, practically out of the blue, in the justification of the LVEC's location.

In letter #7 titled Impacts of Various Traffic Scenarios, it's clear that the consultants are making traffic recommendations while ignoring effects on both upstream and downstream traffic flows.

In closing, Bruce Todd states:

I am asking councillors to get us back on track and demand a peer review of the IBI Transportation Study in every aspect.

About that, see Bruce Todd's final evaluation and summary of the IBI Transportation Study, which have been known for over a year, in which Mr Todd concludes:

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.

It appears that The City of Kingston has now procurred for itself three embarassing traffic reports. What's worse is we're not being shown anything from the third one, by the firm of Totten Sims Hubicki.

Published: 11/02/07 08:45:16 PM
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October 31, 2007

The Best Question of the Evening

The fallout from last night's so-called "public meeting" on the Ontario Street/Place D'Armes intersection, adjacent to the LVEC, begins with this from the WestSport blog: The Best Question of the Evening.

"After hearing comments and concerns from people at this meeting, and after the report of TSH, is anything going to change? Are you going to do what you planned to do anyway?"

Read the whole thing.

Also, here's The Whig's article: Consultants grilled on arena traffic plan.

Published: 10/31/07 04:38:55 PM
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October 28, 2007

Ontario St. / Place d'Armes Intersection: meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Memorial Hall
Public meeting notice for the intersection adjacent to the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre (LVEC)

In a move apparently designed to minimize publicity, and minimize public input, the City has scheduled a public meeting on very short notice at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Memorial Hall, City Hall.

This meeting has been delayed before, presumably because the LVEC has created some tricky and embarassing traffic problems downtown generally, and around this intersection in particular.

This is interesting: this "Public Notice" was not placed on City of Kingston Press Releases page, where public meeting announcements are routinely found.

Also this "Public Notice" does not appear in the City of Kingston's RSS feed , where such notices are routinely transmitted to subscribers.

The kicker: there are no drawings, and no documents posted online, about the proposed design of this crucial intersection. There is no way for the public to gauge what's proposed other than to attend the meeting in person, and sit through it.

Does this seem like a genuine overture to the public about this vital piece of Kingston's infrastructure? What does this smell like to you?

Published: 10/28/07 11:20:10 AM
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October 24, 2007

Canadian Employment Law Today: Kingston CEO facing some tough charges in Bill Bishop case.

In the October 22 2007 issue of Canadian Employment Law Today: City executive gets fired after his salary report yields unpopular results. Apparently former City of Kingston HR director Bill Bishop claims that City CEO [sic] Glen Laubenstein didn't react well to a report that didn't fit his world view.

This is old news. Curious that article refers to "CEO".

Published: 10/24/07 12:28:29 PM
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An excellent post on the Limestoned blog: Got Coach?

From the Limestoned blog: Got Coach?

The organization fired Cassidy while on a northern road trip where they were beaten Sunday night by the league leading Sault 'Hounds before heading to Sudbury tonight to play the bottom feeding Wolves. Not that the Fronts are much higher on the food chain, but the interm coach stands a better chance to win his first game behind the bench against the last place team rather than the first place team.

Read the whole thing.

As it turns out, Kingston lost 4-0 in Sudbury.

Update : Here's related a post blog named "Out Of Left Field": FRONTS: MAVETY, SPRINGER THROW A NECKTIE PARTY FOR CASSIDY.

The Frontenacs have some nice players, but they are 12 games in and haven't won a game in regulation time. They are dead last in all of Canadian major junior hockey in goals scored and in goals allowed.

Read the whole thing; there's more, it's hilarious.

Published: 10/24/07 11:12:06 AM
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October 21, 2007

EllisDon in contravention of the noise by-Law in Kingston

From the Westsport blog: Contravention of the Noise by-Law in Kingston.

Noisy construction on the LVEC at early hours on Sunday mornings has been happening for quite some time. EllisDon don't have a bylaw exemption from Council for this, and City staff have done squat following numerous complaints about it.

Add this to the growing list of things for which Glen Laubenstein, Cynthia Beach, Lanie Hurdle, and many others deserve to be held accountable.

Published: 10/21/07 04:08:02 PM
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October 18, 2007

The Whig still not getting it

A brief LVEC-related item in today's Kingston Whig Standard illustrates what we've been up against since April 2004 when the LVEC saga began.

Fundraising for the sports and entertainment centre is just over a third of the way to its $2-million goal.

The $46.5-million project requires the money as part of its business plan.

According to the city's website, as of Oct. 15 the fundraising total stood at $630,072.43.

Evidently Whig Editors don't work on LVEC-related items. $630,072.43 is not "just over a third" of $2-million.

When it comes to the LVEC, The Whig has always been about overstating the positives, minimizing or omitting the negatives, to the point of apparent misrepresentation.

Published: 10/18/07 08:51:44 PM
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October 13, 2007

September LVEC project status report on Tuesday's Council agenda
Another illegible LVEC project schedule

There are several illegible or indistinguishable elements in the latest published schedule.

On Tuesday evening Council will receive the September 2007 LVEC Project Status Report from City Staff.

As usual, the report is in black and white, and buried with other documents in a PDF file with no table of contents. Note that this package is improperly collated: The report starts on page 39, but the report's introductory pages begin on page 89, with two unrelated documents in between.

A table of contents for these.PDF reports would not only be very useful for readers, it would also prevent collation sloppiness like this, which is a chronic problem: see here, here, and here.

The report includes 16 pages of detailed project schedule dated September 27th, 2007. At least Staff's submissions of six-week old project schedules seems to have improved somewhat; this one is only three weeks out of date.

Why does staff persist in submitting reports with formatting wholly unsuitable for black and white presentation? Maybe they really don't want people reading too closely? See also here.

In several places the report states:

Some activities are on schedule. Some construction activities behind schedule could have an impact on the critical path.

The unreadability of several critical elements of the published schedule sheds no light whatsoever on that.

Apparently on September 30th 2007, the project had received $619,672 in donations and pledges. Yet today, on October 14th 2007, two weeks later, the City's Latest Campaign Donors List shows only $618,937.50 in donations and pledges. Has the fundraising campaign gone $735 backwards over the past two weeks?

Let the record show that, four months before the LVEC's scheduled February 22 2008 opening, this City Staff report, like others before it, convey the distinct impression that everything is hunky dory with LVEC project finances. There is no expression of concern about the $2M fundraising campaign which looks to be falling absurdly short at this juncture.

Published: 10/13/07 12:38:50 PM
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October 12, 2007

Combined LVEC calendars of Mississauga, Oshawa, Guelph, and Sault Ste-Marie for Q4 2007
You are looking at the combined published calendars for October, November, and December 2007 for LVECs in Mississauga, Oshawa, Guelph, and Sault Ste-Marie.

Four comparable buildings to Kingston's LVEC, over a full three months. We've circled the non-OHL hockey events to get a sense of what else these buildings draw.

You are looking at just 23 planned non-hockey events into a possible 368 event-days. This includes:

Not exactly the stuff of 2,500 to 5,000-ticket juicy box office receipts like we've been told to expect here in Kingston.

The LVEC Business Plan assumes 97 events per year, 41 of which (including a wildly improbable 4 home-playoff games per year) are assumed to be Kingston Frontenac events.

Of the 56 remaining expected events, 11 are assumed to come from other hockey-related events and tournaments, and the 45 remaining events are assumed to be "Concerts", "Family Shows", and "Other Events" drawing, on average, between 2,500 and 5,000 people each.

In other words: roughly 12-15 big-revenue-generating non-hockey events per non-summer quarter.

Not bloody likely. That is roughly equivalent to the current performance of Mississauga's Hershey Centre and Oshawa's General Motors Centre COMBINED in a year that Mississauga hosts BMO Skate Canada (5 days) and Oshawa's schedule is padded with a Craft Fair (3 days) and other events that, clearly, we would host in The Grand Theatre.

See also: Combined LVEC calendars of Mississauga, Oshawa, Guelph, and Sault Ste-Marie for Q3 2007.

Published: 10/12/07 06:05:58 AM
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October 11, 2007

Recent LVEC-related posts on the WestSport blog

There are two recent LVEC-related posts over on the WestSport blog:

Related to this: nobody can say they weren't warned.

Published: 10/11/07 11:05:58 AM
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October 10, 2007

For the record: Ken Wong is "already there"

Last week the Whig Standard ran this ad for the LVEC fundraising campaign, part of a series in which Kingstonians who have donated briefly state why, and encourage others to do likewise.

According to Ken Wong,

It (the LVEC) enhances our ability to do so many things -- culturally, economically and socially. It can be a huge driver of our future.

Right.

Ken Wong has been a notable drum-beater for the LVEC. Here is a retrospective of Ken Wong's published views on the matter, with links to others' comments related to those views. Judge for yourself.

Ken Wong prior to the LVEC (prior to 2004)

Background: Prior to 2004 there was, among other things, a proposal by a firm named Kingston 2000 Developments Ltd to build a $200M arena and hotel on Block D.

Ken Wong in the LVEC-on-Anglin-Bay era (March 2004 - September 20 2005)

Background: The original LVEC plan showed it as occupying the Kingston Marina site on Kingston's Inner Harbour. This would have meant the relocation, at considerable expense, of MetalCraft Marine and its 70 employees, a locally-owned and internationally-respected builder of Fire, Rescue, Patrol and Work boats. Ken Wong was a member of the Task Force responsible for this idea.

Ken Wong in the LVEC-on-the-North-Block era (September 20 2005 - Present)

Background: When swing-councillor support for the LVEC's Anglin Bay location collapsed on September 20th 2005, LVEC promoters immediately concocted a back-room deal to move the project to the North Block, as if the waterfront location was the project's only notable dodgy aspect.

Two things are also evident:

  1. So far the marketing of the LVEC project has been an abject failure. Marketing is supposed to be Ken Wong's area of expertise.
  2. The lack of strong support from the Kingston business community towards the $2M LVEC fundraising campaign is extremely dissapointing.

What if Mr Wong's wishful predictions don't come to pass? What if annual taxpayer subsidies in the six- or seven-figure dollar range are required to keep the LVEC afloat, like has happened in London and Guelph and elsewhere? Consider also that the LVEC does not solve the Memorial Centre problem, which along with its annual taxpayer-financed six-figure dollar costs, remains with us.

So far most of the great things that were promised by arena promoters, like local benefits from construction jobs and "silent majority" support (also here and elsewhere), have not come to pass.

Published: 10/10/07 04:13:24 PM
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October 6, 2007

City: Public Meeting On Traffic Signals Has Been Postponed

Released Friday, Oct 5th:

A public meeting about the signalization of the Ontario St./Place d'Armes intersection originally set for this Tuesday, Oct. 9 (to start at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Hall at City Hall) has been postponed until further notice.

...

"Given the sensitivity of this area, we are being exceptionally conservative and cautious moving forward," says Malcolm Morris, Director of Transportation.

Possible translation: The LVEC's traffic and accessibility story is REALLY a mess.

Nobody can say they weren't warned.

When do you think was the time to be "conservative and cautious moving forward"?

Published: 10/06/07 01:31:15 PM
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October 4, 2007

For the record: Julia Kempffer is "already there"

Early last week the Whig Standard ran this ad for the LVEC fundraising campaign.

Writing teacher Julia Kempffer is looking forward to a world-class venue for large international classical and instrumental performances.

If we look at the full list of events hosted by the 10,000-seat John Labatt Centre in London since 2003, and the thin event histories of other OHL venues much closer in size to Kingston's LVEC, this donor is likely to be very disappointed.

Evidently hockey bowls aren't places where "large international classical and instrumental performances" are typically hosted.

There's more:

And she is delighted that it will also be accessible to patrons with special mobility needs.

Many people, it seems, are unaware of the the LVEC's accessibility disgrace.

What do you think of the rectitude of LVEC project management and The Whig who print and perpetuate these apparent misconceptions?

Published: 10/04/07 09:40:17 AM
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Ed Smith: you be the judge

According to an article in Today's Whig, Councillor Ed Smith apparently said this at last Tuesday's Council meeting:

Councillor Ed Smith said he didn't see anything that should prevent Homestead from receiving the exemption. He added that the company has made several donations to local projects and is a supporter of the city. Approving the exemption would send a message to the company and to other developers, Smith said.

"One of the things we have a reputation for in this city is not being very business-friendly," he said.

Ed Smith must believe we're all stupid.

Published: 10/04/07 09:01:57 AM
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October 3, 2007

Empire Life steps up for $50,000 towards the LVEC

Insurance Company Donates $50,000 To The Fundraising Campaign.

Great! Now we just need just 27 more like Empire Life and LVEC fundraising will reach its meagre $2M target.

Some would say that compared to $150,000 per year that naming rights are expected to fetch, Empire Life, a candidate for that level of LVEC support, disappoints greatly here.

Empire Life is one of the luxury suite holders.

Published: 10/03/07 03:43:23 PM
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Three LVEC-related articles in Tuesday's Whig

Three LVEC-related articles appeared in yesterday's Whig.

  1. A tangled federal funding trail -- Letters capture mayor's attempts to obtain money for arena from Ottawa, by Jordan Press, outlines Mayor Rosen's ongoing failure to sell the LVEC to the Federal Government for funds. Note how the LVEC is apparently being touted as a "recreation" asset, which requires the suspension of disbelief considering Kingston's real recreation infrastructure deficit, nevermind our general infrastructure backlog.

    Question: If most Kingstonians believe the LVEC is a boondoggle, why wouldn't the Federal Government be aware also?

    See what other communities are doing infrastructure-wise with their Federal funds from the same program. It would be a shame if Kingston didn't get more funding for real infrastructure because the Mayor and staff were apparently busy trying to save face on the LVEC's finances at the expense of other worthy projects that might benefit all Kingstonians.

  2. It's all business at seminar about the October 10th Chamber of Commerce LVEC business seminar.

  3. Tempers flare at debate about how the LVEC came up among local provincial candidates in a public debate.

    Liberal candidate John Gerretsen and New Democrat candidate Rick Downes clashed several times over a series of accusations Downes has levelled at Gerretsen throughout the campaign.

    Downes, as he's done several times during the last few weeks, blamed Gerretsen for allowing Kingston city councillors to spend money earmarked for roads and bridges, like the third crossing, on the downtown arena.

    An angry Gerretsen interrupted Downes, who had the floor, saying, "Not true, not true, not true. Get your facts straight." He was reprimanded by the moderator.

    Downes retorted, "I can understand why the sitting member is so sensitive about the issue."

    Indeed.

Published: 10/03/07 09:28:46 AM
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October 1, 2007

The Kingston Frontenacs: not the genuine article

Remember this, from June 17th? Frontenacs "Season Tickets Sales UP 41% from this time last year" !

Here's how that's actually playing-out so far:

Kingston Frontenacs
attendance after
3 home games
SeasonAttendance
2007-20086,017
2006-20077,143
2005-20066,292

These numbers are tickets distributed or sold. KCAL members attending these Frontenacs games report that the actual turnstile count appears to be much, much lower than the 6,017 being reported for the first three games of 2007-2008.

So, how much do you trust the people who own and run the Kingston Frontenacs?

At the urging of our stellar municipal staff, the City of Kingston signed a 30-year LVEC deal with this chronically underachieving outfit.

Related:

Sources:

Published: 10/01/07 12:00:40 AM
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September 27, 2007

How pathetic are LVEC project communications?

The following notice has been circulating by email only. There is not yet any notice of this on the City of Kingston website

From: Leonore Foster
To: LFoster@cityofkingston.ca
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:01 AM
Subject: Public Meeting Ontario Street/Place D'Armes intersection

Dear Resident:

Public Meeting on the Ontario Street/Place D'Armes intersection

7.00pm, Tuesday, October 9

Memorial Hall at City Hall

The firm of Totten Sims Hubicki (TSH) were hired to conduct a peer review of the new design of the intersection at Ontario Street and Place D'Armes.. Representatives of TSH will be present at the public meeting to provide a description of their work and findings. A question and answer session will follow their presentation. The Ontario Street/Place D'Armes intersection is slated for full reconstruction in the spring of 2008. In the meantime, a temporary right-turn lane will be constructed to enable eastbound traffic on Place D'Armes to turn southbound to Ontario Street.

Please attend this meeting to hear what the consultants have to say, to ask your questions and to express your point of view.

(As a reminder, Place D'Armes is slated to re-open on September 28 and the underground utility work that is currently underway is expected to be completed by mid-October.)

Please let your neighbours know as I may not have their email address.

Cheers-----Leonore

It's quaint that those on Leonore Foster's email list are the only ones in-the-know about that.

Another example: Where do you suppose you'd find out about upcoming LVEC-related traffic chaos? From the City of Kingston? You would be wrong.

To get the skinny on the traffic hell to come, you'll need to go to the Downtown Kingston BIA website's Entertainment Centre page:

Update on Street Construction - As of September 10, 2007

Here is a list of work being done on the streets surrounding the KRSEC:

  • Underground intersection signalization works at Barrack and Ontario - Sept. 10-17 (no significant traffic interruption)
  • Watermain construction on King St. from Queen to Barrack - Sept. 10 - 21 (no road closure, but reduced lane widths with flaging)
  • Underground intersection signalization works at King and Barrack - Sept. 17-24 (no significant traffic interruption)
  • Underground electrical works Place D'Armes from Ontario to King - Sept. 17-28 (Place D'Armes closed in this area)
  • Underground signalization and lighting works on Barrack from King to Ontario - Sept. 24 - Oct. 1 (reduced traffic volume)
  • Utilities Kingston Cable pulling operations on Barrack and King various locations - Oct. 1 - Nov. 30 (minor traffic disruptions)
  • Watermain and gasmain construction on Ontario from Place D'Armes to Queen - Oct. 1. - Nov. 15 (closure to all south bound traffic, detour up Place D'Armes to Wellington to Queen to Ontario, North bound unaffected)
  • Road works at the corner of Place D'Armes and Ontario Oct 1-5 or Nov. 5-10
  • Sidewalk on west side of King from Barrack to Place D'Armes and Sidewalk & Lay-by lane on Barrack from King to Ontario - Oct. 15 - Nov. 12 (closure of Barrack and continued closure of King)

Spring 2008 - resurfacing of the roads will be completed on:

  • Barrack from Ontario to Wellington
  • Place D'Armes from Ontario to Wellington
  • King St from Queen to Place D'Armes (possible base asphalt this fall)

What do you think of Lanie Hurdle's LVEC Updates now?

Also: how much of the above work do you think is being charged to the LVEC? Answer: nobody knows, because with this project the developer is the regulator and proper, transparent accounting apparently hasn't been happening. Not yet.

Published: 09/27/07 10:25:00 PM
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September 20, 2007

Don Curtis: Mr Happy

Here's Don Curtis' latest admonition in Kingston This Week.

According to Mr Curtis, all we need to make boondoggles vanish is pretend they aren't there. All we need to reap fabulous benefits from the LVEC is be optimistic, and trust that providence will be kind. Presumably the downtown land owners will share the wealth with the taxpayers of amalgamated Kingston, who are financing the whole arena deal, and shouldering all the risks alone.

Once again, Mr Curtis does not disclose to the reader his ongoing relationship with The City, which is through KEDCO. KEDCO, you will recall, was apparently used as a tool to sell the LVEC to the prior Council. Selling an arena to Councillors and taxpayers, as opposed to selling Kingston to outside business investors.

More on Don Curtis here, here, here, and here.

Published: 09/20/07 08:30:28 PM
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September 19, 2007

LVEC likely too small for the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame

Front page, above the fold, in The Whig today: New quarters cosy for hall of fame; In six years, attraction could run out of room.

What, the LVEC soon won't have enough space for the 'Hall exhibit? What a surprise!

According to the article, the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame will, regardless, still require space in the Memorial Centre for storage once the LVEC opens.

There is a place where the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame can expand, and that's online. The 'Hall doesn't have a website that we could find and, so far, nobody has even bothered to create a Wikipedia article about it.

Which begs the question: just what, exactly, is the 'Hall doing for Kingston's sports heritage, and for whom?

Published: 09/19/07 11:27:55 AM
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September 18, 2007

From the 'Chamber: Doing business with the LVEC

From the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, this event on Wednesday, October 10, 2007, between 8:30 and 2:00 at the Confederation Place Hotel, you can learn from the "experts" how you can leverage the Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre and its events for maximum exposure of your business.

Here's the event flyer in PDF format. The program, which carries a $75 registration fee, looks like this:

8:30-9:00 Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00-9:05 Welcome and Introductions
9:05-9:45 The Essence of a Successful Sponsorship - Ken Wong, Queen's School of Business.
9:45-10:25 The London Experience - Guest Speaker from London to talk about the success of the John Labatt Centre.
10:25-10:40 Break.
10:40-11:00 Using the Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre and the Kingston Frontenacs as Sales Tools - Neil Shorthouse, Arcturus SMG; Jeff Stilwell, Kingston Frontenacs.
11:00-11:45 Partnering with the Local Media to Leverage your Promotion - Panel discussion with local media.
11:45-12:30 Expert Panel Discussion on the Value of Locally-Based Sponsorships.
12:30-1:00 Buffet Lunch.
1:00-2:00 Special Value-added Session extra $50 - Consultation time with presenters.

Event proceeds will go towards the LVEC fundraising campaign.

The feature speaker is Ken Wong, who will endeavour to sell the LVEC to local businessmen who don't appear to be behind the LVEC in a meaningful way. It would appear that most of the "Founding Members" of the long-defunct "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" are shunning the LVEC as shown by their failure to come up with significant contributions for the fundraising campaign.

It is probable that the hefty multi-million dollar annual taxpayer subsidy required to keep the "successful" John Labatt Centre afloat (see also here) will not be mentioned by the guest speaker from London.

The Kingston Frontenacs will tell attendees what they know about marketing. They'll have help from Arcturus SMG, who appear to be having trouble booking events for the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. Let's hope they'll do much better in Kingston.

Published: 09/18/07 11:31:23 AM
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September 16, 2007

LVEC item on Tuesday's Council agenda -- seating

There is a very interesting LVEC-related item in Report No. 95 of the CAO, which is on Tuesday's Council agenda.

Keep in mind that there isn't a single diagram adorning the item. The diagram below is by KCAL.

Also keep in mind that this is presented as a "done deal"; no alternatives are presented. Nonetheless, council is being asked to approve this.

It starts with an apparently intractable problem:

In reviewing the seating layout, EllisDon identified some structural challenges which would impact the retractable seats. The seats in question, should they be installed, would not fully retract under the current risers. These retractable seats were included in the scope of the facility to accommodate stage set up for concerts. In order to be valuable from an operational point of view, the seats need to be fully retractable. There are currently 118 retractable seats which will only retract on about two rows of seats.

Translation: "Probably due to an embarassing design screw-up, or lack of time to properly re-design this, or lack of space backstage in the LVEC, or some combination of these reasons, sections we thought would be rectractable, won't be!".

This project has been so opaque, with diagrams and drawings so sparse, that we must turn to the Kingston Frontenacs website for a year-old (ancient) seating diagram to make some sense of what City Staff is talking about.

In that diagram, we find some seating sections with markings that may indicate seat retractability. Those sections are outlined in red below.

Planned retractable seating in the Kingston, Ontario LVEC

This might explain why, this late in the game, Council and the public hasn't been officially shown any seating diagrams.

We suspect that this issue has been known for quite some time, but it's been easily hushed-up because this Council is a pushover and the LVEC project has little effective Council oversight.

There's more.

Based on discussions with Arcturus/SMG, it was suggested that in order to make a better immediate use of the facility and its capacity, all retractable seats should be removed and that the space could be used as a premium zone. This zone could increase advertising revenues and provide for some prime viewing positions which could include high top tables and chairs.

Team Canada hockey fans have seen this in TV broadcasts from Europe: large areas close behind the boards where they park Skoda automobiles. One reason is they have lots of empty seats anyway, so they can place a car promotion in an otherwise premium section without losing much ticket revenue. The Kingston Frontenacs, who've sold-out just one game in the past six years, are understandably fine with the idea.

Back to this done-deal: remember the roughing-in of the 1,000 extra seats that Council approved on July 10th? Arcturus and staff is telling us that the retractable seating system that will dissapear should be used as a "credit", and the value of that be used to fill some or all of the empty risers that the 1,000-seat rough-in creates.

The net effect is more seats in the LVEC for opening day, and the apparent burial of an embarassing engineering problem, all without undue delay of the building's progress towards its bogus deadline.

No other options are proposed.

The report doesn't even tell us if the LVEC will ultimately ever be able to hold a full 6,000 seats, as was originally promised. Without the retractable seating system, the answer appears to be "not without adversely affecting the flexibility and functionality of the venue".

Why is ultimate seating capacity not mentioned in the report? This angle should be vigorously explored by Council; somebody probably deserves a haircut for this omission.

Another question might be: what did senior staff know when the 1,000-seat rough-in was proposed to Council?

Published: 09/16/07 12:33:23 AM
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September 12, 2007

Another "LVEC update" from the City

The Issue #9, September 6, 2007 Update on the LVEC has been posted on the City website. It's a 3-page PDF with no diagrams.

There's no mention of the $527,000 high-definition scoreboard, a story which ran in The Whig on Saturday, September 1st, 2007.

There's no mention that construction activities now include Sundays and holidays.

There's no mention of imminent traffic tie-ups due to construction.

A full quarter of the report deals with odd minutia of interior acoustics.

There's no mention at all of anything related to surrounding work, such as this City of Kingston Tender which is due today (September 12th) for "Construction and Reconstruction of Concrete Sidewalks and Lay-by Lane at King and Barrack Streets", for over 1000m2 of exterior surface work. Not a single damn drawing of that.

The city has applied for $8 million in Federal funding for the LVEC under an existing program named the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. See what other communities are doing infrastructure-wise with their piece of CSIF. That's not to be confused with COMRIF, the Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund, for which the LVEC project was nowhere near appropriate.

Fundraising seems currently stalled at between 25 and 30% of target.

About LVEC fundraising, in practical giving terms the $1.44M shortfall represents 28 more Bill Daltons, or 56 more Walter Fenlons, or at least 288 more rock star Rob Bakers. Oh by the way: going head-to-head with the United Way campaign which just launched.

Published: 09/12/07 01:51:36 AM
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August 24, 2007

Hershey Centre hosts Skate Canada events

Arcturus SMG, the firm that will manage Kingston's LVEC, also manages Mississauga's Hershey Centre.

Last week this news: Hershey Centre hosts Skate Canada events, which will take place on December 5-9 2007. Some 500 of Canada's best skaters are expected to try and qualify for the 2008 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships (January 16-20, 2008 in Vancouver) and the 2008 BMO Skate Canada Junior Nationals (January 30-February 2, 2008 in Ottawa).

It's good that Mississauga's facility is able to attract and stage this sort of middle-tier sporting event.

The Hershey Centre:

It sounds like a very useful and functional facility, one with lots of future upsides, doesn't it?

How does Kingston's "vision", and the Mayor's sycophants who pine about it, look now? The dysfunctional LVEC has one pad, so no warmup rink, so no chance whatsoever of landing an event like this.

More on the indoor arenas of Mississauga, a city of 700,000.

Published: 08/24/07 12:58:25 AM
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August 22, 2007

Beware of chatter about "Vision" and "Visionaries"

One of the great things with the recent Google Maps imagery upgrade of the Kingston region is you can easily zoom-in fairly close to many features like, for example, the Memorial Centre and the LVEC site at exactly the same scale. Like this:

We've placed shapes enclosing the two buildings. For the LVEC, we've used one of the available drawings to roughly position and scale it correctly on its undersized lot.

Here's what we get when we superimpose the resulting shapes.

One conclusion is immediately evident: Anyone who thinks the LVEC is a much larger and more functional facility than the Memorial Centre is in for a rude awakening.

The LVEC isn't, in fact, much bigger than the Memorial Centre. The LVEC occupies a minimally larger surface, but inside it must house a bigger bowl, plus luxury suites, more washroom space, more concession space and storage, a sit-down restaurant, and more space for the exclusive use of the Kingston Frontenacs. Moreover its curved outside wall severely limits the functionality of a large portion of the building. All aspects of the LVEC's accessibility and logistics are atrocious in comparison to the Memorial Centre.

We've been reading quite a lot recently about the "vision" thing. Yesterday in The Whig, for example, David Morris had a piece published titled Principles without vision. Read the whole thing; it's funny.

When the LVEC saga finally plays out, it may become evident that it's the wrong building, in the wrong place, a significant drain on the city as opposed to a magical motor of economic development, financed and paid-for by all the wrong people.

History will no doubt properly judge the so-called "visionairies", and those who today tout them. Meanwhile what we're reading is nothing but wishful thinking and a denial of all the evidence that indicates that the LVEC may become an embarassing money-losing white elephant.

Published: 08/22/07 11:25:57 AM
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August 21, 2007

Tony Houghton, again: "Kingston is an exciting place, thanks to the previous council"

"Kingston is an exciting place, thanks to the previous council", says Tony Houghton, again.

Apparently, if Tony Houghton is to be believed, the LVEC is "bound to be a success".

Our collection of Tony Houghton's pro-LVEC pronouncements continues to expand. Here it is:

Tony Houghton has said quite a lot about the LVEC in the pages of The Whig.

However we don't see Mr Houghton's name, and many others', in the list of donors to the LVEC, nearly four months into the fundraising campaign.

When, or if, Tony Houghton finally contributes it won't be enough.

Published: 08/21/07 07:18:39 PM
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Whig Editorial twice calls the LVEC an "arena and convention centre"

This is funny: In an editorial about uncertainty surrounding the Modern Fuel art gallery, The Whig today twice calls the LVEC a "convention centre".

The question facing Modern Fuel and city hall is whether the gallery will still "fit" the neighbourhood once the $46.1-million arena and convention centre is completed.

One wonders what they really do at The Whig.

The LVEC is a hockey bowl, with snack bar counters, washrooms, dressing rooms, a restaurant typical of buildings like this, offices for the Kingston Frontenacs, a ticket office, ice-arena operations space, and not much else. Here's a dated diagram of the LVEC's 100 level and one of the LVEC's 200-level.

Convention centre? Where?

Published: 08/21/07 12:59:47 PM
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August 16, 2007

LVEC to open Feb. 22, 2008

Here's today's City press release stating the Sports And Entertainment Centre To Open Feb. 22, 2008. The report in today's Whig says more: the arena won't be finished, just able to host events.

Even better news: On that night, the Kingston Frontenacs should achieve their second sellout crowd in seven full seasons.

Published: 08/16/07 10:28:48 AM
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August 14, 2007

Nothing LVEC-related on tonight's Council agenda

There is apparently nothing LVEC-related on tonight's Council agenda.

Considering the laughable lack of communications about the project recently, and also the backlog of bad news that Staff is obviously remiss to admit, things are likely a lot worse than most people imagine right now.

Published: 08/14/07 03:22:30 PM
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July 31, 2007

Deceptive hype: tickets to the August 1 2007 official LVEC openinng

We expect the list of LVEC deceptions will be a long one, and very expensive for Kingston Taxpayers.

Obviously complicit in some of the deception is the City of Kingston's own Communications Department which, in late 2004, created and distributed these fake event tickets for a concert to be held tomorrow.

This was back when arena promoters, many of whom remain today on the City of Kingston payroll (!), were invoking the wholly imagined support of the "silent majority" for constructing the LVEC on Anglin Bay. Today it's hard to imagine a greater disrespect for the taxpayers of Kingston than the way the LVEC project came down.

As then King's Town District Councillor Rick Downes wrote in The Whig Standard on December 21st, 2004:

The usual process of studying a proposal and making a decision after considering reports, studies and expert analysis has been replaced with gunning for the goal at all costs. Never have I seen a better example of realpolitick with the end justifying the means. In my view, the role of the city's Communications department is to present the public with factual information not to win them over with a marketing ploy by printing tickets to a mythical concert. Will the same effort be put into the making the public aware of the parking and traffic studies? The LVEC on the proposed site of Anglin Bay raises serious issues for citizens that live in King's Town, Williamsville and property taxpayers in the rest of the city. The citizens of Kingston have the right to have these issues seriously and objectively studied. If the LVEC is a foregone conclusion, then why are we spending $400,000. 00 of property taxpayers money for reports and studies? I regret that my colleague Councillor Smith, Chair of the LVEC Steering Committee, has given away even the appearance of objectivity by supporting this very biased marketing manoeuvre. The role of councillor is to represent the public interest and represent constituents not to represent private interest and sell a bill of goods to a customer.

KCAL's comment on the fake tickets to the LVEC opening can be found here.

Note the reference to the Kingston Construction Association as sponsors of this ersatz event. Ironic that, in the end, almost none of the LVEC's construction jobs benefit labour from Kingston.

The tickets even allude to "Main Parking" which, even back then, was known to be outright fabrication.

Published: 07/31/07 12:12:56 PM
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July 27, 2007

For the record: The Whig dutifully prints the City's LVEC story line

Nevermind the visibly obvious disparities between published plans and the actual project on the ground, today The Whig dutifully reports the city line on the LVEC.

Published: 07/27/07 07:31:56 AM
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July 24, 2007

How late is the LVEC?

You are looking at a photo of the LVEC site taken on July 23, 2007. Circled is one quadrant of precast seating bowl. We don't know if that section's fully done or not, but we can see only one quadrant.


Photo: Diana Duerkop

How late is this project, really?

The last publicly disclosed project schedule was printed on April 6th and only released at the May 15th Council meeting.

This schedule, which shows early start and early end dates, tells us that:

City staff claims in its reports to Council that the LVEC project is one month behind schedule.

Nobody knows if installing the precast seating bowl is on the critical path for the arena's completion. It certainly looks like the project is further behind schedule than City Staff is letting on.

Published: 07/24/07 10:22:07 PM
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Correction: At Council on Tuesday: LVEC Quarterly Report

This news item is for the record, for the benefit of those who may be involved in project forensics and post mortems.

At Council on Tuesday is a 4-page Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre Quarterly Project Management Committee Report Period Ending June 30,2007. This is possibly the least informative quarterly report ever issued in a $50M taxpayer-funded project. No revised schedules, no revised milestones, nothing.

Why? Because this council is a complete pushover.

Correction: Sorry, but Council documents always seem to be a mess. A sharp-eyed reader points out that there is also a 14-page appendix found lower down in the un-indexed, unorganized pile, starting here. Some of the interesting things include:

Published: 07/24/07 07:54:46 PM
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July 22, 2007

Tony Houghton is back in The Whig

As countless serious articles and letters submitted by people raising real concerns and observations about the LVEC go unpublished, The Whig Standard on Saturday contained another article by Tony Houghton, the fourth in the past five months.

Mr Houghton's latest is essentially the same as all his others: trashing the current Council, lauding the previous Council, and telling us that the LVEC will deliver. This time Mr Houghton tells us that the LVEC "will almost certainly expand the commercial tax base".

Right. Time will tell, won't it?

In his article Mr Houghton demonstrates startling ignorance of recent Kingston History. The prior Council went through a consultant-driven "prioritization" process (just as this Council is) which is how the "Group of 7" list was created. The difference is the prior Council clearly blew it, as witnessed by the past municipal election, the results of which Mr Houghton is apparently still having difficulty accepting.

We wonder if this is the same Tony Houghton listed at a downtown address, less than a kilometer from most of Mayor Rosen's boondoggles. If so, Mr Houghton should try imagining how the rest of amalgamated Kingston might view things.

Living within walking distance of most of prior Council's largesse must be nice. Also close to other things like the city's only indoor pool, its transit hub, all city services, the waterfront, libraries, museums, and a refrigerated outdoor skating rink surely counts for something.

Perhaps Mr Houghton should disclose these significant personal benefits in future diatribes against this Council, which evidently has a wider focus than our coddled and grossly over-subsidized Downtown.

No wonder that, for this Council, prioritizing is more involved than it was for the prior Council. It's not just about the BIA anymore.

More in KCAL about Mr Houghton:

Spot a pattern here? It's the same letter, paraphrased, resubmitted, and dutifully printed by The Whig.

Published: 07/22/07 09:54:26 AM
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July 21, 2007

For the record: Don Curtis -- Let's solve the frustration that Kingstonians feel

On July 18th 2007, Kingston This Week published this column by KEDCO operative Don Curtis who, no surprise, does not disclose his station within the Downtown Kingston echo chamber.

Secondly, everyone comments on the presence of three institutes of higher learning, (Queen's University, the Royal Military College, St. Lawrence College), the military base, three hospitals (Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu, St. Mary's) a major Cancer Centre, and a variety of city organizations (KEDCO, the Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Accommodation Partners, Downtown Business Improvement Association,) and an enormous resident brain power.

Huh? Read that paragraph again. Read it in context.

It's called collegial self-congratulation and, frankly, Kingstonians have had quite enough of it. Sooner or later this incessant flower tossing will cease.

More on Don Curtis here, here, and here.

Published: 07/21/07 01:22:16 AM
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July 19, 2007

Limestoned on Mr Doug "Kingston is open for business" Ritchie of the Downtown Kingston BIA

Read Attention Wal*Mart Shoppers! over at the Limestoned blog.

Published: 07/19/07 10:00:35 AM
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July 17, 2007

Long, long overdue: Draft conflict of interest policy

On the Administrative Policies Committee agenda, held July 17, 2007: Draft Conflict of Interest Policy.

33 Pages. Read the whole thing.

"Family Member" shall mean

(a) in relation to a Member of Council, means a father, mother, spouse, co-habiting partner, sister, brother, child, step-child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law; and.

(b) in relation to Senior Staff and a Committee Member means a father, mother, spouse, cohabiting partner, child;

Long overdue.

Published: 07/17/07 07:57:16 PM
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July 11, 2007

How shaky is LVEC project management?
Feds await arena pitch; Funding requires written proposal, if yesterday's Whig Standard is to be believed. How bad is that?
Published: 07/11/07 02:06:54 PM
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Andrea Gunn of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce

In yesterday's Whig "Opinion" column, titled Why I'm donating to the arena, Andrea Gunn writes:

Some community members have made it a goal to hound the sports and entertainment centre project and try to hinder its progress. The centre has been used as a whipping boy for these naysayers, often under the safety of anonymity, so they can air their distrust of government or business, their fear of change or their envy for others.

Despite their efforts, the centre will move ahead. Raising money for a large project can seem an overwhelming task. But those who are passionate about making their community a better place continue to step forward and offer their time, their money, their expertise and their enthusiasm.

Here is a reason why Andrea Gunn feels she should "donate to the arena":

She is currently listed as Policy / Communications Coordinator of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Moreover Ms Gunn has been on the front-lines with the Chamber for quite some time.

Hers is a staff-paid position.

It's odd that Ms Gunn only describes herself in The Whig as "works in policy and communications", as opposed to revealing her paid position with the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, a key player in selling the LVEC to the prior Council and the community.

There's more. It appears that Chamber of Commerce staff enjoy privileged access to the Mayor and Council. Yet Ms Gunn spoke at the April 2005 "Have Your Say" LVEC public meeting, televised by COGECO, and she DID NOT disclose her Chamber affiliation.

Watch the video, and hear what she says about the business plan, the Castleglenn parking study, the site (Anglin Bay), the "process", all the jobs that will supposedly be created by the arena, and all the "benefits for the whole community" that we can expect.

Also someone at the Chamber of Commerce (its Communications Coordinator perhaps?) distributed this Chamber of Commerce email with subject "LVEC Update from the Chamber of Commerce". In that email,

  1. Kingston's 2008 Memorial Cup bid, and its substantial windfalls, are touted at full-face value, and
  2. It asserts that "taxpayers will not be footing the bill for the additional costs if the project goes ahead", thus perpetuating the myth that taxpayers are not on the hook for the LVEC.
Published: 07/11/07 10:16:36 AM
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July 10, 2007

Shadoe Davis leaves K Rock

LVEC uber-booster Shadoe Davis Leaves K Rock, and leaves town before he's raised much if any of the LVEC money he said he would.

Here's what KCAL has written about Shadoe Davis:

Apparently he won't be around to answer for his share, for which he deserves plenty.

Published: 07/10/07 09:55:07 AM
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July 8, 2007

Combined LVEC calendars of Mississauga , Oshawa , Guelph , and Sault Ste-Marie for Q3 2007
You're looking at the combined published calendars for July, August, and September 2007 for LVECs in Mississauga, Oshawa, Guelph, and Sault Ste-Marie.

Four comparable buildings, four months.

Your looking at just 14 planned events in total, booked into 368 total possible event-days.

(That count includes 2 job-fair dates and one "walk of Fame" ceremony as "events").

That's reality: An average of 3.8% planned public booking for fabulous "events" in LVECs in four Ontario cities over three months, a full quarter.

The same company that runs Mississauga's Hershey Centre will run Kingston's LVEC. They have 7.6% planned public bookings for Q3 2007, this quarter, in Mississauga.

Thank God this LVEC turkey wasn't built right on Kingston's waterfront, as originally conceived.

Published: 07/08/07 03:58:46 AM
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July 7, 2007

LVEC-related items on Tuesday's Council agenda

In addition to several meetings worth of deferred items, the LVEC's 1000-extra seats are up for discussion next Tuesday night.

The recommendation is to spend an extra $384,100 to for rough-ins (like washroom facilities for an extra thousand people), and delay the actual installation of the seats. Note that this item is, no surprise, buried starting on page 101 of a 115-page Council document.

Elsewhere on the Council Agenda, we have these items:

Published: 07/07/07 08:23:44 PM
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July 4, 2007

LVEC fundraising donor list sheds details

The LVEC's Latest Campaign Donors List appears to have been recently updated, though it no longer shows the amounts donated.

The total raised so far, after three whole months of campaigning: a whopping $386,006.41, well shy of the $2M target, from just 63 different donations listed.

Published: 07/04/07 09:54:36 AM
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July 3, 2007

Whig: Free concert raises $7,700 for arena
Today The Whig reports that the Kim Mitchell/April Wine concert raised ("netted", whatever that means) just $7,676 for the LVEC, which works out to about a buck per person in attendance. This is far less than even the most cynical of KCAL members expected.

Mayor Rosen still needs to raise the equivalent of about 210 more such events, and that's just for the "fundraising" shortfall.

If this Council had any teeth (it doesn't) it would require LVEC project managers to create and fund a contingency for "fundraising", which is obviously floundering, in the amount of about a million dollars. We all know how this scam will play out: taxpayers will fund all these shortfalls, and the BIA and the Springer family will be subsidized yet again, which is scandalous.

Published: 07/03/07 03:45:35 PM
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July 2, 2007

COGECO rebroadcasts the April 25 2005 LVEC "Have Your Say" public meeting
On the evening of July 2nd 2007, COGECO-13 rebroadcast the April 25 2005 LVEC "Have Your Say" public meeting.

You'll recall that:

It appears therefore that COGECO Kingston has preserved this low-water mark in local politics and, more importantly, preserved Councillor Ed Smith's pivotal role in the boondoggle that is still, to this day, known as the LVEC.

Published: 07/02/07 10:09:13 PM
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June 29, 2007

Limestoned: Who's dupin' who?

The Limestoned blog has an excellent take on tonights "Free LVEC fundraising concert"

Here in the Limestone City, Corus Entertainment is hosting a free concert that is supposed to be a fundraising vehicle for the North Block Coliseum, with the proceeds of T-shirt sales going to the fundraising. Here's where it get's interesting - the T-shirts are emblazoned with the logo of FM 98 - a new FM station launched by Corus the other day. And newsprint advertisement in yesterday's Whig Standard announcing the concert never mentioned the fundraising end of it. So FM98 T-shirts will be for sale tonight in Springer Market Square for $7 and FM98 gets walking billboards for their cause - advertising their new radio station.

Who's dupin' who? At least the Mohawks are calling a spade a spade.

Indeed.

Published: 06/29/07 04:17:52 PM
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June 28, 2007

LVEC Donor list is online

BEFORE YOU FOLLOW THE LINK: after two months of campaigning, guess how many "Fan"-level donations (0 to $99) the LVEC has received. 50? 100? 500? 1000? Make a mental guess before you check.

A page titled Latest Campaign Donors List is online at the City website.

Published: 06/28/07 02:09:13 PM
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June 27, 2007

City Staff is blaming strikes for cost overruns

More evidence of rookie project management: City staff are apparently pointing fingers for cost hikes to come. In fact, the LVEC project was obviously very late long before the strikes that made things just a little worse.

Published: 06/27/07 10:29:44 AM
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Expert, city spar over rink; They pressured me: consultant

Heh. It happens all the time.

City CAO Glen Laubenstein must believe we are all stupid.

Chief administrative officer Glen Laubenstein said consultants are asked to qualify or clarify statements to make things clear, but never to change findings.

"You hire consultants to give you the brutal, hard facts," Laubenstein said.

Right. Whatever you say, Mr Laubenstein. Whatever you say.
Published: 06/27/07 10:20:04 AM
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June 25, 2007

CKWS-TV News: LVEC opening officially pushed back one month

CKWS-TV today reports that the LVEC's opening date is officially pushed back to mid-February 2008.

Strikes are blamed, but KCAL's take is the project was more than a month late before the strikes.

It looks like the hapless Kingston Frontenacs officially lose about half their 2007-08 regular-season LVEC dates. We aren't sure the Frontenacs will play any regular-season games in the LVEC in 2007-08.

Published: 06/25/07 09:33:33 PM
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June 23, 2007

The Guelph Sports & Entertainment Centre is now The Sleeman Centre

The 5,100-seat Guelph Sports & Entertainment Centre, which opened in 2000, will be known as the Sleeman Centre through 2020. The deal, valued at $1.2-million over 13 years, runs from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2020.

That works out to $92,000 per year. The centre will sell only Sleeman draught beer, as well as local Sleeman brands sold in bottles or cans.

Published: 06/23/07 10:16:07 PM
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The Whig: Road work by causeway stalls

The city decides to delay LVEC-related construction near the LVEC until later this year.

Published: 06/23/07 01:09:48 PM
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June 20, 2007

Another steel erection accident at the LVEC

The Ministry of Labour is probing another accident on the LVEC site.

Published: 06/20/07 08:09:48 AM
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June 18, 2007

A glance at the 2008 Kingston Frontenacs home schedule in the LVEC

The 2007-08 OHL schedule is out and the Frontenacs home schedule is back-end loaded, which is sensible.

Here are the games the Kingston Frontenacs are nominally supposed to play in the LVEC, which total 16 games from Jan 18 2008.

The project is late; start crossing out games. Four weeks late, which is what managers have admitted, means delete about 9 games. The project actually looks closer than 8 or more weeks late, and that's getting worse, not better. In that case, how many games remain on the list?

Total contingency for this loss of revenue for the LVEC: zero. Who's on the hook? Taxpayers, for one-hundred percent of it.

Fri. Jan. 18 Ottawa at Kingston, 7:30
Sun. Jan. 20 Belleville at Kingston, 4:00
Fri. Jan. 25 Niagara at Kingston, 7:30
Sun. Jan. 27 Windsor at Kingston, 2:00
Fri. Feb. 1 Oshawa at Kingston, 7:30
Fri. Feb. 8 Barrie at Kingston, 7:30
Sun. Feb. 10 Plymouth at Kingston, 2:00
Wed. Feb. 13 Oshawa at Kingston, 7:00
Fri. Feb. 15 London at Kingston, 7:30
Fri. Feb. 22 Belleville at Kingston, 7:30
Sun. Feb. 24 Peterborough at Kingston, 2:00
Fri. Feb. 29 Barrie at Kingston, 7:30
Sun. Mar. 2 Mississauga at Kingston, 2:00
Fri. Mar. 7 Oshawa at Kingston, 7:30
Wed. Mar. 12 Ottawa at Kingston, 7:00
Fri. Mar. 14 Sudbury at Kingston, 7:30

Published: 06/18/07 09:34:41 AM
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June 17, 2007

Pathetic (Updated)

This from the Frontenacs website home page.

.

We know the lowest reported number of tickets sold in 2006-2007 season was 1788 on Oct 15, 2006 against Saginaw.

If we generously assume that ALL those were season tickets, then the increase in season tickets is certainly under 750. It's probably closer to 500 or less.

How pathetic is that? The Memorial Centre, whose average excess capacity was 1050 in 2006-2007 has ample space to host this turkey of a hockey team, one that's managed just one sellout in the past six years.

The Frontenacs sweetheart deal with the City doesn't scale downwards. The Frontenacs pay ZERO base rent, you see, and if nobody shows up they don't pay a penny. Nothing for the office space, nothing for the free run of the place, and nothing for the street-level retail shop they've been given by City of Kingston "negotiators".

The deal doesn't scale upwards either: whether the LVEC comes in at $50 Million or $60 Million, the Frontenacs don't pay a dime more or a dime less for controlling the place.

Plain and simple: The Citizens of Kingston are subsidizing, of all people, the Springer family. Moreover the Citizens of Kingston are assuming ALL the downside risks.

How revolting is that?

What's even more revolting is this council is still taking counsel from the same Staff who created this mess, and there's no chance of independent oversight.

Update: We've received feedback from season ticket holders that indicate that 2006-2007 season ticket numbers are under 1000, and that the early-bird renewal numbers are probably around 600. So a "41% increase" would indicate about 250 extra season tickets.

This is all speculation, of course.

Published: 06/17/07 08:00:43 PM
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Project Status Report in Tuesday's Council Documents

More clear indication that the LVEC opening is going to be very, very late (starting on page 33 -- buried as usual). Count how many items are "behind schedule".

We've know this for a long time already. Meanwhile the item on the May 12th Council Agenda, the grossly late project schedule report (Dated April 6th, not May 6th), still hasn't made it to Council.

One clear and undeniable sign of rookie project management: Planning to catch up later. Another is denial.

Published: 06/17/07 07:28:01 PM
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For the Record: Chris Whyman, City employee, is "Already There"

From the City of Kingston website home page.

Chris Whyman is already at the LVEC

Published: 06/17/07 11:44:38 AM
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For the Record: Walter Fenlon is "Already There"

From the City of Kingston website home page.

Walter Fenlon is already at the LVEC

Published: 06/17/07 11:44:14 AM
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June 14, 2007

The Heritage: Naming rights to LVEC won't be final until the fall, say staff

Apparently,

National companies appear to be lining up to put their name to Kingston's new sports and entertainment centre.

From the June 12 2007 edition of The Heritage: Naming rights to LVEC won't be final until the fall, say staff

Published: 06/14/07 01:29:38 AM
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June 11, 2007

Kim Mitchell and April Wine to perform free LVEC concert (Updated)

Kim Mitchell And April Wine To Perform Free LVEC Concert, Friday, June 29, 6:30 - 10:00 p.m at Market Square. Commemorative T-shirts of the event will be sold at the concert with all proceeds going toward the arena project.

It's concurrent with Fanfayre craft show, which runs Thursday through Saturday.

Update:CKWS reports that Corus Kingston, CKWS-TV's company, is footing the full bill for the Concert and t-shirts.

MIKE

"WE REALLY SUPPORT WHAT THE CITY IS DOING. WE ARE REALLY PROUD OF THIS SPRINGER MARKET SQUARE AND WE ARE REALLY PROUD TO SEE THE LVEC GOING UP AS FAST AS IT IS. AND WE WANT TO SHOW OUR SUPPORT FOR THOSE THINGS AND THIS IS OUR WAY OF DOING IT.

... which, in hindsight, explains a lot.

Corus Entertainment and Joe Fm, both listed at 170 Queen St, are the only businesses in the 'Radio/TV Stations' section of the Downtown Kingston BIA.

Published: 06/11/07 04:34:54 PM
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June 9, 2007

KCAL retro roundup: June 6th, 8th, and 9th 2006, and June 9th 2005.
LVEC statement of taxpayer immunity

One year ago here at KCAL.ca:

June 6, 2006: The first LVEC KPMG report is released just one week AFTER a critical May 30th 2006 Council vote on the LVEC. You'll recall a subsequent and worse LVEC KPMG report which was kept on ice for weeks, until shortly AFTER the November 2006 municipal election.

June 8, 2006: City of Kingston's statement of taxpayer immunity, an item that is no longer available on the City of Kingston website, knowingly removed (or buried) by Paul MacLatchy, P.Eng (Director, Strategy, Environment & Communications) despite protests from KCAL.

June 9, 2006: Entertainment facilities ineligible for development charges, where it appears that using development charges for financing things like the LVEC may be illegal.

Also in that piece, this snippet tells us a lot about the quality of project management at the City of Kingston. From the LVEC Design-Build documents (the Business Plan part deux) :

KCAL raised a stink about this inadequate contingency. It was later admitted that LVEC project contingency was determined by the available budget envelope, and not as the result of any sort of risk review.

Two years ago:

On June 9, 2005, the LVEC project was still on Anglin Bay, and there was a clear misrepresentation of MetalCraft Marine in a planning committee report to Council, which described it this way:

The central portion of the site is comprised of 347 and 349 Wellington Street. These properties are currently being used for industrial marine purposes, specifically boat repairs and maintenance.

... not that, at that time, MCM employed 50 skilled workers, and they continue to design, build, and export multi-million dollar fireboats and patrol boats, all of it from 347 and 349 Wellington Street.

Metalcraft Marine: "specifically boat repairs and maintenance". Can you imagine? Chart of rising costs, LVEC project, Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre

A public meeting on the LVEC was held June 9, 2005 in Artillery Park Gymnasium.

On June 10 2005, the next day, we saw Harvey Rosen talking about the possible expropriation of Metalcraft Marine on CKWS-TV news.

So things were clearly out of control in June 2005.

The budgeted cost for the LVEC was then still the $28.5 million estimate from the Task Force report. It wasn't until Sept 20 2005, three months later, that we learned the LVEC was supposed to cost $37.3 million.

Today the LVEC project has been sitting officially at $46 million for a while. We're overdue for a sharp upwards revision of that.

Published: 06/09/07 09:02:59 PM
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LVEC fundraising concert coming

Today The Whig reports that Mayor Rosen will announce a LVEC fundraising concert on Monday.

Back in September 2004, The Tragically Hip, Mathew Good, The Hugh Dillion Redemption Choir, The Trews, The Sadies, James McKenty & The Spades, Chris Koster and host Dan Aykroyd plus about 600 volunteers raised $355,555 for The Community Foundation of Greater Kingston, the Joe Chithalen Musical Instrument Lending Library and Camp Trillium, all worthy causes, at the Across the Causeway concert.

If the latest reports are accurate, the mayor still must raise about $1.63 million to achieve his long-known requirement for LVEC fundraising.

In other words, he needs the equivalent of about five Across the Causeway concerts.

Published: 06/09/07 08:26:05 AM
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June 7, 2007

For the record: apparently The Whig will print any pro-Rosen, pro-LVEC fluff that's submitted

As countless serious articles and letters submitted by people raising real concerns and observations about the LVEC go unpublished, The Whig today features this fluff by Tony Houghton in its Forum section. Read the whole thing.

The headline, which we assume is coined by a Whig editor, implies the province-wide labour strike is due to some members of this Council.

A Kingston haunting; Work on the downtown arena has stopped - and it's all because of the boo-birds

More on the LVEC from Mr Houghton:

Spot a pattern here?


Incidentally, there's another bogus headline in today's Whig, on page 6, in a story about the recent $25,000 donation by Walter Fenlon to the LVEC. The headline implies that fundraising campaigns (plural) for City Projects have exceeded their goals. This is an obvious misrepresentation of the facts.

The Grand Theatre campaign jacked its fundraising goal after the project went several million dollars over budget. That goal has not been reached. The headline, in an article that refers to all the City's major projects, says the plural opposite. That's just dishonest.

See more past LVEC-related gross financial misrepresentations by The Whig from February 20th, 2007.

Published: 06/07/07 09:21:37 AM
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June 6, 2007

LVEC fundraising: comatose

Today the City of Kingston trumpets a $25,000 donation from Walter Fenlon towards the LVEC.

So what's the total so far toward the $2 million required?

Fenlon's contribution brings the total raised during the current campaign for the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre to $368,000.

That's all??

Consider that $200k from Brit Smith, $50k from Bill Dalton, $50k from Harvey Rosen, and now $25k from Walter Fenlon, this means that the LVEC's fundraising efforts have so-far collected only $43k from the rest of the city combined, which includes all the Downtown Kingston movers who helped railroad this project.

There's more: Walter Fenlon is a leader of the Grand Theatre renovation project which currently has a fundraising shortfall of its own. Then there's the considerable Market Square fundraising shortfall and its bleak prosects resulting from its disgraceful dealings.

Back to the LVEC: All we need is the equivalent of just 65 more Walter Fenlons, or for 32 more Bill Daltons (who gave $50,000) to fulfill a requirement that's been known since September 2005. That's just for the LVEC.

Throw in the other projects' shortfalls, and the conclusion appears inescapable: Kingston's business community is evidently tapped-out, and apparently unable to rise to its own so-called "vision", unless that vision is "stiff the taxpayers" which, in that case, it is overachieving spectacularly.

There's more: just wait until acknowledgement of LVEC rising costs appear, and LVEC revenues don't fully materialize, and the phantasmagoric benefits of the LVEC don't, in fact, roll-in.

Is Downtown Kingston prepared for the city-wide fallout that's coming from all that?

Published: 06/06/07 11:21:38 AM
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June 5, 2007

Another labour strike, and an increasingly likely outcome

Another labour dispute has shut down LVEC construction.

It's becoming clear now, given these delays and the widening disconnect between published schedules and what's actually visible on the construction site, that the Kingston Frontenacs may not play any 2007-2008 regular season games in the LVEC.

The OHL regular season typically ends in mid-March, and the LVEC construction looks to be fully 8-weeks behind the plan that timelines to the mid-January opening target. As for April, the Kingston Frontenacs haven't played a home hockey game in April since 1998.

There's more: we're hearing from all quarters, and all the evidence overwhelmingly appears to support this: City of Kingston staff, from the CAO on down, apparently don't have what it takes to be executing this project.

Published: 06/05/07 10:04:07 AM
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June 2, 2007

Interesting LVEC motion at Tuesday's Council meeting

There is an interesting and long-overdue LVEC motion on page 22 of Tuesday's Council agenda.

Finally some recognition of the flawed way the LVEC has been "planned", and the shortcuts taken so far, especially with respect to traffic, which KCAL has been saying, with supporting documentation, for a long time now.

LVEC motion on Kingston City Council Agenbda for June 5 2007

Our prediction: Council with Mayor Rosen chairing, inept meeting manager he's proving to be, won't get to this item this Tuesday.

Published: 06/02/07 05:22:52 PM
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LVEC Fundraising scrolls off the City of Kingston home page

It took less than one month for the City's feeble LVEC fundraising campaign to completely dissapear from the City Of Kingston's internet home page.

First the LVEC was rammed through with public consultation theatre and Downtown Kingston shenanigans, and now we're pretty sure we can say the same thing about the $2M fundraising effort. From its inception, this was horse manure used to sell this dodgy misguided project to former Council membere who, on balance, either got tossed from office or lacked the stomach to run again.

This council: a complete pushover. Taxpayers will cover the shortfall because Downtown Kingston doesn't have to. The whole project was done with a backroom wink and a smile. "Put down $2M for fundraising, that should do it".

Here's the list of the people and companies who contributed $125 or more to Harvey Rosen's mayoral campaign. We're interested to see who among them has, and who hasn't, stepped-up in support the money-Mayor's LVEC boondoggle.

Also, where's the big fundraising thermometer graphic showing us all how well it's going, the progress towards the Big Goal? Don't hold your breath.

Published: 06/02/07 02:10:39 PM
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Arena construction woes continue

A worker was injured on the LVEC site on Friday, shutting down construction, and apparently more construction strikes are to be expected.

Published: 06/02/07 02:03:31 PM
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May 23, 2007

TheStar.com - Wages behind crane strike

According to TheStar.com: Wages behind crane strike.

Large-scale building projects across Ontario slowed Wednesday as about 2,000 crane and other heavy-equipment operators went on strike to push for more money and stave off work-day changes their employers want to make.

Within hours of the walkout, construction at sites as diverse as a hospital in North Bay, an expansion at the Toyota plant in Woodstock and a power project in the port lands of Toronto were affected, with predictions of more to come.

Yes LVEC construction, unofficially months behind schedule (also here), is affected.

Published: 05/23/07 04:25:33 PM
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CKWS-TV: Construction Woes

Just in time for the LVEC fundraising push which, for some reason (stupidity?), only got started this month and, by all accounts, is already stalled: Construction Woes.

Published: 05/23/07 12:45:39 AM
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May 19, 2007

Whig: Arena won't drive up police costs

Mayor Harvey Rosen and our Chief of Police: two people who clearly aren't up-to-speed on the LVEC dossier. Read the whole thing.

Both are apparently unaware that:

But what the Chief may be saying is: "don't expect to use the Police budget to hide KRSEC operating expenses".

That's good, but how is this supposed to work in practice? Is the Chief of Police really able to further maroon the Mayor, who has already grossly overplayed his hand in the LVEC boondoggle?

Let's keep an eye on this to ensure that the full operational costs of the LVEC accrue to the LVEC. Let's ensure that those who manufactured the pretense of rich benefits, and those who manufactured the pretense of public support for the project, are properly held to account.

Published: 05/19/07 08:05:14 PM
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May 14, 2007

Market Square fundrasing: likely $1.2 Million short
Read the latest Market Square revitalization report which goes to Council tonight.

The unrealized donation budget of over $1.2M is an aggressive one that carries considerable risk of not being attained as the project nears completion.

CKWS-TV covers this in Chris Harvey's story titled Market Funding. Also, here's today's report in The Whig, which has a number of other fundraising-related stories (hospitals and schools).
Published: 05/14/07 09:46:21 PM
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LVEC / KRSEC Council items for Tuesday

Read the May 2007 LVEC / KRSEC project status report which goes to Council on Tuesday, including the charts that start on page 68.

Take note that the project schedule charts are dated April 6th, more than a month out of date already.

Considering these reports are available at a touch of a button from the project management software, the schedule presented at the May 15th Council meeting should be dated May 6th, not April 6th.

When this project is examined in retrospect, if there is any suspicion that Staff has misled Council, one need only look back at this period and realize that what Council is being told is grossly stale.

All this apparently passes for project status reporting in the Harvey Rosen and Glen Laubenstein era.

The City of Kingston pays quite a lot for software, information technology, and project consultants. Month-old stale project schedules are outrageous.

Despite its strong and unambiguous electoral mandate, why is this Council such a pushover?

Published: 05/14/07 12:26:59 AM
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May 11, 2007

CKWS-TV on LVEC naming rights

CKWS-TV reports that, so far, no bites on the LVEC's naming rights.

See also: The LVEC / KRSEC brand in peril.

Published: 05/11/07 09:42:08 PM
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How late is the LVEC project?

Judge for yourself.

Based on this 2-month old project document, the LVEC project appears to be 8 to 12 weeks late. They are nowhere near to be working on "Interior Finishes" for example. The structural steel aspects look to be far more behind schedule than staff has been letting on.

In the snippets below, what's yellow should be already (or very soon to be) finished. In purple is what should be (or very soon to be) started. Red arrows point to some visibly and obviously lagging tasks.

Published: 05/11/07 11:10:37 AM
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May 10, 2007

The Heritage: LVEC fundraiser underway, but councillors deflect donations

Don't miss this funny Heritage article by Bill Hutchins about how some Councillors feel about donating to the LVEC fundraising campaign.

Harvey Rosen certainly appears to be oblivious to the difficulty he faces in raising United-Way-scale dollars for his LVEC boondoggle.

Published: 05/10/07 11:33:07 AM
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Roundup of news and reaction to Kitchener's selection to host the 2008 Memorial Cup

Here's a roundup of recent news stories about Kitchener's selection to host the 2008 Memorial Cup.

Published: 05/10/07 10:05:37 AM
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May 9, 2007

2008 Memorial Cup awarded to Kitchener

From the Toronto Star: The 2008 Memorial Cup awarded to Kitchener.

Kitchener, you will recall, has the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, which was built in 1950, and renovated in 2001-2002 for less than $10 Million. We're betting that this fact will escape Whig-Standard coverage tomorrow.

All this is very embarassing for Mayor Harvey Rosen. But it's not over: the LVEC situation is about to get much worse for him.

Published: 05/09/07 04:07:10 PM
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May 7, 2007

Here's an eight month old detailed LVEC seating chart
It's immensely telling that this is the first available detailed schematic of the seating layout in the LVEC.

This is the building we're all supposed to be "building together".

Here are interesting facts about this diagram:

Remember, you saw it here first.

Are the taxpayers of Kingston really stakeholders in this whole project? Do you think this might affect fundraising a little? A lot?

Click here for the 8-month old detailed LVEC seating chart in PDF form.

Published: 05/07/07 11:38:07 AM
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May 5, 2007

STOP THE CLOCK!!

It's taken TWO MONTHS since the release of a DVA Navion's fundraising report on $2M LVEC fundraising for the City to put up a 450-word web page on the matter.

We're not talking about an online donation mechanism. That would be too sensible, and far too convenient. What we have instead is a 1-page PDF that folks will presumably download, print, complete, and mail or fax to City Hall, where some paid City employee will spend several minutes manually processing each and every single one.

There's more: it's taken THIRTEEN MONTHS since DVA Navion was first retained, in April 2006, for the LVEC fundraising web page to appear.

The $2M fundraising goal has been a known requirement since September 20 2005, some TWENTY MONTHS ago.

For those who may be wondering, it takes about an hour to set up test, and deploy a simple web page with donation buttons leading to reputable online payment services such as Google Checkout or PayPal or others, which accept all major credit cards, seamlessly process transactions in Canadian dollars, and with service charges comparable to standard credit card transactions.

Something like this should have been online on September 21st, 2005.

Published: 05/05/07 10:09:18 AM
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May 4, 2007

Boondoggle, Sundays at The Merchant
Not making this up: This poster hangs in the atrium of The Merchant Taphouse, at 6 Princess street.

"Boondoggle, Appearing Live, Every Sunday Night at The Merchant Taphouse". The silhouette in the poster is the LVEC as it looks today.

The Merchant's website appears to be offline at the moment, so no link.

The definition of Boondoggle: a North American term referring to the performance of useless or trivial tasks whilst appearing to be doing something important.

See also Boondoggle (project) and White elephant.

Published: 05/04/07 11:36:15 PM
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May 1, 2007

YouTube update: 1300+ Tragically Hip videos, and counting
There are currently over 1300 Tragically Hip videos available on YouTube.

Or how about 28,900 Rolling Stones videos, for free, instantaneously, just a click or two away?

How digital is your LVEC gamble, your so-called motor of economic development?

Previously:

Published: 05/01/07 03:03:51 PM
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The Whig: You've got questions, we've got answers

Back on April 21st The Whig published this spread that tries to answer questions posed by readers.

Any doubt that The Whig is acting as little more than a boardroom bulletin publisher for the project are dispelled by beauts like this:

Do any streets have to have work done on them - e.g., widened - to accommodate the extra traffic?

No streets will be widened around the centre. The city has actually been widening sidewalks in the area to make it more pedestrian friendly. Surrounding streets, buildings and intersections, including Place D'Armes and Ontario Street that will become signalized for two-way traffic ($155,000), will be worked on, at a total cost of $3,686,205 (all numbers from the 2007 budget). About $1.2 million was spent in the 2006 budget. According to a city staff report, $222,355 needs to be spent to have the centre open on time, while $3,463,850 is being spent as part of the downtown action plan for the North Block.

In fact, streets are being narrowed to accommodate the shoehorning of the building on a block that's just too small. And the Downtown Action Plan barely mentions the North Block, and that $3.4M sum was never approved by Council in the context of the Downtown Action Plan. It's money spent on the LVEC imperative that conveniently doesn't count towards LVEC costs.

Then there's this:

Will there be recreational skating?

There won't be recreational skating time at the arena. Anyone will be able to rent the ice surface when it is available and there could be community events that will open the ice up to the public for skating.

Remember: the LVEC project has received $4M from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, money that clearly doesn't, in fact, go towards health promotion for Kingstonians.

And this:

I hear different prices. How has the price tag changed since the arena was first approved at the original site?

The only budget council approved was for the North Block at an original price tag of $41.77 million. A $4.345-million cost overrun brought the total approved budget to more than $46.1 million.

Earlier costs for the Anglin Bay site that was once under consideration were never approved by council.

The estimated cost for a facility at Anglin Bay was $28.5 million in March 2004, then $37.45 million in September 2005.

That's incorrect. Earlier costs for the North Block LVEC were, in fact, approved by Council. Read the September 20 2005 Council minutes where a motion with specific wording related to $37.3M costs which, at the time, included $8M coverage from upper levels of Government.

Is The Whig's duplicitous in distorting the LVEC's historical record? Why these powder-puff answers to softball questions?

Published: 05/01/07 10:48:54 AM
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April 26, 2007

Ottawa approves $1.4M bailout for Bell Sensplex

Ottawa approves $1.4M bailout for Bell Sensplex

It works out to about $500k per year.

It was built with financing from a group of private companies, but the city guaranteed the debt through the Municipal Capital Facilities Agreement. The city also waived the facility's property taxes and development charges, buys 2,400 hours of ice time annually from the facility to resell to the public and contributes $250,000 each year to the facility's operating reserve.

It's another one of those 30-year agreements. Read the whole thing.

Published: 04/26/07 03:11:51 PM
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April 25, 2007

Comparing apples and oranges

Identical circles placed over London, Oshawa, and Kingston at night. As stark as this looks, it's worse: everything South East of Kingston is over the border.

Published: 04/25/07 02:55:56 AM
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April 19, 2007

Roundup: Memorial Cup bid presentations

Here's a roundup of some of the news stories today about the 2008 Memorial Cup bid presentations, which happened yesterday.

The Site Selection Committee will award the 2008 CHL Memorial Cup the week of May 7.

Published: 04/19/07 01:14:32 PM
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Whig: Mark Gerretsen's LVEC audit motion withdrawn

This week Councillor Mark Gerretsen withdrew the motion that would have ensured some accountability for the LVEC project.

Hands-up if you think this Council has, in the end, turned out to be a complete pushover.

Published: 04/19/07 12:23:15 PM
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Letter in The Whig: New councillors were elected to do what they're doing

Yesterday's letter in The Whig from M.E. Vincent, in response to recent Whig "Opinion" pieces, is right on.

The new councillors have also been blamed for Kingston's unsuccessful Memorial Cup bid (how ridiculous is that?), for the difficulty in attracting donations for the Market Square project and for picking on city hall staff. They have been called "naive," "parochial" and, obliquely, anti-Semitic. There has been despicable namecalling going on by people who should know better. All in print, of course. The new councillors have had the class not to answer in kind.

Why was there so much venom because the new councillors insisted on seeing the September, 2006 report on the downtown sports and entertainment centre project - a report that, shamefully, had been held back? Why have they been criticized for showing disgust over the renaming of Market Square and the arrogance that is still being exhibited over this matter? Why are they being criticized for wanting more accountability from city staff regarding money paid out and the arena?

It's sad that anybody would criticize these people for trying to protect our interests rather than special interests. Every time they attempt to get information from city hall, though, I read about the dire consequences predicted by chief administrative officer Glen Laubenstein. It makes me wonder what he's afraid of.

That's just a sample. Read the whole thing.

Published: 04/19/07 11:42:44 AM
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April 17, 2007

At Council tonight: Project Status Report: Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre

Here's the Project Status Report: Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre which is part of the Council package for tonight's televised meeting.

Yesterday's Whig reports that the LVEC project is behind schedule because of structural steel work.

In fact, here are some of the things listed as "behind schedule" in the report:

Oddly, "Fundraising" is listed as "on schedule", though everyone knows that should have started months ago.

And FINALLY the public is shown a detailed project schedule with milestones. Too bad the person who scanned it was sloppy: It's barely legible! Click the image to see for yourself, starting on page 39. Note that these diagrams are already about a month out of date.

Published: 04/17/07 01:23:04 PM
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April 16, 2007

City to hold mystery LVEC public meeting tonight at 6:00 PM

The City of Kingston continues it's unbroken streak of LVEC opacity and pretense of public consultation with a mystery "public" meeting to be held at an undisclosed location tonight about the reconstruction of Place d'Armes and Ontario Streets.

Here's what the City calendar web page says today about it. No link, no meeting location is disclosed.

Moreover there is nothing about this meeting in the City's LVEC project pages.

After inquiring, we've been told two things:

  1. The meeting is in the Wilson Room of the Kingston Public Library, 130 Johnson street, and
  2. project director Lanie Hurdle won't attend.
Published: 04/16/07 01:19:13 PM
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April 13, 2007

Predictable angst from predictable quarters?

In today's Whig, the author of the "Opinion" piece titled Council is burning its bridges before it even builds them is the same person who wrote We're all politicians, unfortunately for the mayor on March 6th, and the same person figures among those 27% pro-LVEC in our Whig Letter Tally who, evidently, still pretend to represent a majority view.

Somewhat related to this, The Whig's new Community Editorial Board, announced last week, appears disproportionately drawn from the Downtown Kingston echo-chamber.

As amalgamated Kingston gradually shifts away from being controlled by Downtown Kingston interests, how much angst will be seen and heard from these quarters?

Which pre-amalgamation partner had this angst about "getting things done" development? Kingston Township? Pittsburgh Township? Or Kingston, specifically Downton Kingston?

Why, then, is this angst being projected over all of amalgamated Kingston? Whose complex is this, anyway?

Clearly this has been Harvey Rosen's schtick since before the November election. Is it getting old? How does it serve as a framework for solving the myriad real and chronic problems in our city?

Published: 04/13/07 04:32:53 PM
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April 12, 2007

Project Newsletter #5 is released

The City has posted the measly 2-page Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre Update, Issue #5. This one is dated on Good Friday.

That's it. No drawings. The public still has never been shown drawings of the luxury suite level, details of its private entrance, or drawings that conclusively show all those great meeting spaces that this disfunctional building just doesn't have.

Published: 04/12/07 02:29:03 AM
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April 11, 2007

Try a Google search on "dispersed parking"
Try this: search for "dispersed parking" in Google. It looks like the City of Kingston website is today, according to Google, among the world authorative resources on "dispersed parking".

Bruce Todd told everyone this in September 2006 about the traffic and parking report prepared by LVEC project consultants, IBI:

THE CONCEPT OF "DISPERSED" PARKING IS NOT EVEN RECOGNIZED IN MAINSTREAM TRAFFIC ENGINEERING.

Meanwhile, The Kingston Whig Standard slept through the whole thing.

That's not the only thing Bruce Todd said. There's more.

September 18, 2006

The main points that I have trouble with are the following -

(1) IBI sticks to their assumption that people will be willing to walk 600 metres (straight line - 700 to 800 metres actual) to events, despite data which has studied the movements of people and advises a maximum 500 metres for tolerable walking distances. They don't give their sources because they don't have any.

(2) IBI uses information from the CastleGlenn Report (also here) despite the fact that that report has never received final approval, and that is not ethically correct in my opinion.

(3) IBI does not take into consideration the narrow sidewalks surrounding this site, and the consequences (safety aspects) of these sidewalks regarding pedestrian flows, and this is a major oversight for a Traffic Impact Study.

(4) IBI stresses the positive effects of people leaving the area after an event from several parking areas rather than one big one (supposedly with few exits), but says very little about the difficulties of finding parking in the first place when it is spread out in small areas. The concept of "dispersed" parking is not even recognized in mainstream traffic engineering. The big problem with such a scheme is creating hundreds of trips to parking lots only to find they are full, with the resultant driver frustration and unsafety this can cause.

(5) IBI has not shown a similar case of so-called "dispersed" parking for anyone to judge whether it can work or not.

(6) IBI insists it has studied the parking supply on a Friday night in Kingston around 6-7 p.m., despite the fact that the CastleGlenn Report did not study it, and IBI does not mention the word Friday in its report. All street parking and most of the surface parking lots are already full on a Friday night between 6-7 p.m. There are 23 OHL games on a Friday night. Where will people park?

(7) IBI says they have been told that "the City will establish a parking supply equilibrium" in the downtown core so that any parking lost by development will be replaced. But recent articles in the Whig Standard suggest there is no ability to create more surface parking in the downtown because the city has no land to develop parking. What are we to believe?

(8) IBI falls into the same trap of using London as an example of their so-called dispersed parking scheme. But London has 10,000 parking spots. There are 33 parking lots within 500 metres (the published and accepted maximum) of their arena, with very large lots and a parking garage nextdoor to the arena. The parking lots are laid out one right after the other in many cases, creating a giant parking lot right around the block on which the arena sits. IBI is comparing apples to apple blossoms.

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.

(9) IBI skirts the issue of daytime event impact by saying capacity events don't occur during the day. Well, we don't need any where near a capacity event to cause parking problems in the daytime downtown. We are all aware of the recent parking study which suggested ways of trying to ease the parking shortfalls in the downtown core. So, it takes only a couple of hundred people trying to find daytime parking to attend an event for the problem of parking to be exacerbated again and again.

(10) IBI had an excellent opportunity to tell the City what traffic would be like with a completed Wellington Street Extension, and/or with a 6000-seat arena (should the city decide to expand in 10 years or so), and/or use the 2026 scenario which the Transportation Master Plan used, to give the City an indication of what could confront them down the road. But IBI did none of these things to help us understand.

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.

Published: 04/11/07 10:06:40 AM
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April 10, 2007

Whig: Business owners unite

Today The Whig reports on page 2 about a forthcoming KEDCO old-boys get-together to form a group to lobby City Hall.

Something, say, like this group? Except with traction. Right!

The Whig will presumably be there to partake in the luncheons, and dutifully report what is said.

No word whether stepping-up to LVEC fundraising responsibilities will be on the agenda.

Published: 04/10/07 01:33:30 PM
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April 9, 2007

Kingston Frontenacs' summary and detailed attendance have been updated
Kingston Frontenacs Home Games
2006-2007
DateVisitorAttendance
Mar 29, 2007Oshawa Generals 2425
Mar 25, 2007Oshawa Generals 3112
Mar 16, 2007Sudbury Wolves 2410
Mar 9, 2007Barrie Colts 2356
Mar 4, 2007London Knights 2328
Mar 2, 2007Toronto St. Michael's Majors 1954
Feb 25, 2007Mississauga IceDogs 2168
Feb 23, 2007Peterborough Petes 2281
Feb 16, 2007Oshawa Generals 2453
Feb 13, 2007Ottawa 67's 2147
Feb 11, 2007Barrie Colts 2333
Feb 9, 2007Sarnia Sting 1904
Feb 2, 2007Owen Sound Attack 2398
Jan 26, 2007Peterborough Petes 2396
Jan 19, 2007Brampton Battalion 2198
Jan 12, 2007Belleville Bulls 2871
Jan 5, 2007Oshawa Generals 2145
Jan 1, 2007Erie Otters 2007
Dec 29, 2006Peterborough Petes 2203
Dec 17, 2006Ottawa 67's 1886
Dec 15, 2006Belleville Bulls 2337
Dec 8, 2006Toronto St. Michael's Majors 2129
Dec 1, 2006Windsor Spitfires 2026
Nov 28, 2006Ottawa 67's 2013
Nov 24, 2006Oshawa Generals 2325
Nov 12, 2006Kitchener Rangers 2584
Nov 10, 2006Mississauga IceDogs 2180
Nov 5, 2006Plymouth Whalers 1803
Nov 3, 2006Belleville Bulls 2853
Oct 27, 2006Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds2210
Oct 15, 2006Saginaw Spirit 1788
Oct 13, 2006Guelph Storm 2317
Oct 6, 2006Brampton Battalion 2251
Sep 29, 2006Belleville Bulls 2788
Sep 24, 2006Oshawa Generals 1928
Sep 22, 2006Ottawa 67's 2427
We've updated the tally of the Frontenacs attendance figures to include the 2006-2007 season and playoffs in both summary and detail.

In short, for this year:

Remember, these tallies are paid tickets sold. The actual attendance is usually several hundred less than the announced number.

The kicker in all this: the City of Kingston signed a 30-year LVEC deal with this chronically underachieving outfit.

And who would have done this? Click to read the whole deal.

Published: 04/09/07 04:21:36 PM
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April 6, 2007

WatchKingstonGrow.com: See it while you still can
You have under a week to enjoy the website created by Kingston Accommodation Partners, KEDCO, and other Rosen pals in order to help convince the past council about breathtaking benefits we can all expect from the LVEC.

On April 11th, unless the registration is renewed (it costs about $20), the "Watch Kingston Grow" internet property will dissapear, but not before a gauntlet of scam-artist takers.

Consider, for example, what happened to a related organization named "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" who let their internet domain lapse. Today the Friends' website, whose address is (was) FriendsOfTheEC.org, shills porn and internet scams.

Read more about how porn sites hijack expired internet domain names.

More about "Watch Kingston Grow":
* We've just updated our LVEC relationships diagram
* Kingston Accommodation Partners is behind the new pro-LVEC website
* Responding to the deceptive $50,000 pro-LVEC ad campaign:
It is being touted by a campaign so misleading it would never be approved to sell used cars or soap. -- Claude Scilley, Sports Editor, Whig Standard, May 27, 2006.

Click each image to see what's really behind each advert.

Published: 04/06/07 08:02:23 PM
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April 2, 2007

Another self-serving LVEC report from CEO Glen Laubenstein

Glen Laubenstein reports to Council that it would cost an additional $150,000 and the assignment of additional personnel and consultants to support an audit of the LVEC project as moved by Councillor Gerretsen and seconded by Councillor Hutchison.

Moreover, so ridiculously tight are the project's finances that this additional 0.33% of the budget (one-third of one percent) would require a separate funding motion, further impeding the audit.

In order to support the audit, we will require additional staff or consulting services. Until the scope of this assignment is known, it is difficult to calculate a cost for such support; however it could be expected to be an additional $100,000 to $150,000 in direct project costs with funding from the Municipal Capital Reserve Fund.

Nowhere in the report is any mention of cost and operational savings from executing the audit now, as opposed to later, when it would be an exercise in forensics with no possibility for correction of project mismanagement.

Were the LVEC project properly managed, the planning and the documentation to support and execute this audit would already largely be in place. We suspect that much is hidden, that the paper trail is an absolute mess (on par, say, with project communications) and that all this is more the reason to go ahead with an aggressive audit of the LVEC project before it's too late, well before it becomes an exercise in forensics.

Elsewhere in LVEC-related documents, staff evidently has no intention of making public the agreement between The City and the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, which sees $4M worth of "health promoition" funds being funneled to the LVEC.

The legal agreement is approximately 50 pages in length including schedules. Full copies of the agreement will be provided to any member of Council by request through Lanie Hurdle, Director, Project Development.

Finally, some trivia

How many of Kingston's seven (7) Public Access Defibrillators are to be located in the LVEC? How many are to be found in Cook Brothers, Harold Harvey, and Wally Elmer arenas combined?

Answer: brace yourself: Two Public Access Defibrillators are supposed to go into the LVEC, and a total of zero for Cook Brothers, Harold Harvey, and Wally Elmer arenas.

Published: 04/02/07 08:57:57 AM
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March 27, 2007

A glance at 2006-2007 attendance in Oshawa's new GM Centre

DateVisitorArenaAtt
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
General Motors Centre opens
DateVisitorArenaAtt
Nov 3, 2006Owen Sound Attack General Motors Centre5500
Nov 5, 2006Belleville Bulls General Motors Centre3683
Nov 12, 2006Peterborough Petes General Motors Centre5003
Nov 17, 2006Barrie Colts General Motors Centre4052
Nov 19, 2006Sudbury Wolves General Motors Centre3593
Nov 26, 2006Sarnia Sting General Motors Centre3824
Nov 27, 2006CAN RUS CHALLENGEGeneral Motors Centre 5655
Dec 2, 2006Ottawa 67's General Motors Centre3468
Dec 3, 2006Kingston FrontenacsGeneral Motors Centre3180
Dec 8, 2006Peterborough Petes General Motors Centre4859
Dec 10, 2006Mississauga IceDogsGeneral Motors Centre3481
Dec 15, 2006Plymouth Whalers General Motors Centre3692
Dec 17, 2006Saginaw Spirit General Motors Centre4341
Dec 29, 2006Brampton Battalion General Motors Centre4776
Jan 1, 2007Sudbury Wolves General Motors Centre5340
Jan 7, 2007Belleville Bulls General Motors Centre4065
Jan 11, 2007London Knights General Motors Centre3641
Jan 14, 2007Peterborough Petes General Motors Centre5610
Jan 19, 2007Windsor Spitfires General Motors Centre5652
Jan 21, 2007Toronto St. Michael's Majors General Motors Centre4409
Jan 28, 2007Peterborough Petes General Motors Centre5789
Feb 2, 2007Brampton Battalion General Motors Centre5046
Feb 4, 2007Kingston Frontenacs General Motors Centre4803
Feb 11, 2007Belleville Bulls General Motors Centre5473
Feb 15, 2007Guelph Storm General Motors Centre4274
Feb 18, 2007Kitchener Rangers General Motors Centre6133 (?)
Mar 4, 2007Ottawa 67's General Motors Centre5747 (?)
Mar 9, 2007Belleville Bulls General Motors Centre5651
Mar 11, 2007Kingston Frontenacs General Motors Centre5405
Mar 14, 2007Toronto St. Michael's Majors General Motors Centre5337
Playoffs
Mar 23, 2007Kingston Frontenacs General Motors Centre4699
Mar 27, 2007Kingston Frontenacs General Motors Centre4676
The Oshawa Generals have been playing in the new 5,500-seat General Motors Centre since November 3 2006.

The reported attendance for the Oshawa Generals plus the OHL vs Russia Challenge game on Nov 27th won 4-3 by the OHL before a reported attendance of 5655, is listed in the table.

Back on December 11 2006, we noted that Oshawa's new building just wasn't drawing in its first 10 matches.

They seem to have turned attendence around, though some of their numbers look dodgy. For example, the report of 6133 in attendence on Feb 18th, and 5747 on March 4th, appear suspect.

Oshawa is playing Kingston in this year's playoffs, and the attendance in Oshawa is reported as 4699 (March 23rd) and 4676 (March 27th). That would be 85% capacity on 5,500 seats.

Anyone watching Frontenacs playoff games on COGECO can plainly see all the empty seats in Oshawa. Apparently Oshawa does what Kingston does: report tickets sold, not the turnstile count, which is typically hundreds less.

These "no-shows" don't factor much in LVEC business plans.

Unless 500 ghosts wander downtown paying for parking and otherwise spending on typical LVEC event nights, taxpayers are on the hook for that, year in, year out.

One thing's not changed since we last looked: Non-hockey events programming in the General Motors Center continues to appear nothing like what's required to finance Kingston's LVEC.

Kingston's taxpayers shoulder ALL of that LVEC risk too, for the next 30 years.

Published: 03/27/07 12:26:46 PM
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March 26, 2007

Here's who's gets the luxury suites in the LVEC

In Saturday's Whig, this list of those who've won rights to luxury suites in Kingston's taxpayer-funded LVEC.

As you might expect, those who will lord-over the unwashed are a who's-who of Rosen-family businesses, overt Harvey Rosen backers, companies who do a lot of business with City Hall (including several members of the Kingston Home Builders Association and the Kingston Construction Association), and the usual old-media outfits who've been soft-selling the LVEC, to the point of flat-out misrepresenting it to taxpayers in print and on the air.

All these folks will potentially be hob-nobbing together about 100-events per year (or so we're told), largely paid-for with corporate tax breaks on these "business" expenses, with special parking, a private entrance, private concessions, and priority access to non-box event tickets whose leftovers will then be sold to the general public. More here on the LVEC's perks for the those in this class.

In alphabetical order:

1000 Islands Cruises (Same owners as KROCK)
1203157 Ontario Limited
J.E. Agnew Food Services Ltd. (Tim Hortons)
Braebury Homes Corporation
Canadian Tire - Cataraqui
CHUM Radio Kingston (FLY-FM)
CIBC Wood Gundy
Cruickshank Construction Limited and Rosen Heating Cooling
Empire Life Insurance Company
Gananoque Chevrolet Cadillac
JKL Micro
Kingston Financial Centre Inc.
Kingston MRI
Kimco Steel Sales Limited (owned in the Rosen family) and Kingston Truck Centre
The Kingston Frontenacs (owned by the Springer family)
The Kingston Whig-Standard
Kingston Young Entrepreneurs
KPMG LLP
Len Corcoran Excavating Ltd.
Melo Hotels
RBC WAGG
CaraCo Development Corporation and Taggart Investments
The Radio Group (K-Rock & KIX FM)
Thomson Jemmett Vogelzang o/b The Insurance Centre Inc.
Waste Management

Published: 03/26/07 01:31:16 PM
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March 22, 2007

George Hood shows his colours

George Hood, the man behind the disgraceful sellout of Kingston Market square, whose name was sold to the Springer family in perpetuity for less than one-sixth the cost of one single renovation, is pointing fingers and, apparently, quitting.

Who really killed municipal fundraising in Kingston?

Judge for yourself.

Published: 03/22/07 08:32:50 AM
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March 21, 2007

Bruce Todd sticks it to Leonore Foster

Bruce Todd penned this letter to the Editor of The Whig Standard, and widely copied to others. The Whig chose not to publish it, so here it is.

Where were you, Councillor Foster, when...

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

Councillor Foster's sudden concern for traffic on the Lasalle Causeway is a thinly-veiled farce. The Lasalle Causeway never factored into anything pushed by Councillor Foster in the past, including the LVEC.

Published: 03/21/07 07:18:31 PM
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Whig: Arena's luxury boxes mean luxury parking

A story today in The Whig about the LVEC's perks.

Published: 03/21/07 06:22:02 PM
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March 20, 2007

Two great Whig letters today

In today's Whig were two interesting letters.

Stepping out of the shadow of councils past by Rob Matheson, City councillor for Loyalist-Cataraqui district.

The second letter, from Catherine Ross, says Councillor cant have it both ways about Leonore Foster's curious priorities, and sudden unexpected concern for the Lasalle Causeway, whose traffic congestion never factored when it came to the LVEC.

Published: 03/20/07 07:46:53 PM
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March 18, 2007

LVEC-related Council documents posted

A number of LVEC-related council documents have been posted on the City website in view of the March 20, 2007 Council meeting.

In summary there is much to read and digest here.

Here's more:

Something needs to be acknowledged:

It's hard to overstate the incompetence and sloppiness of the City of Kingston Communications department. The communication between Staff and the public, and between Staff and Council, is in a terrible state. This isn't news; it's been this way for years.

Here's an example: In this week's Council bundle we see, among other things:

  • Pages collated upside down. There is, quite frankly, absolutely no excuse for this.
  • Text in.PDF files that is not "selectable" because the text is scanned and stored in the.PDF as graphics which means that no search will ever find that text. In this day and age, this is unacceptable because it effectively and functionally hides the information. See for example 24-pages of Rates and Fees and large proportions of the 2007 Operating Budget Summary that are effectively forever lost to citizens because electronic searches will never find them.
  • In some cases, perfectly good text has been scanned-into a.PDF file, and an optical character recognition (OCR) step is used to reckon the text from the graphic. Problem is, apparently nobody proof-reads the OCR output. For example, see below how "Confederation Basin" gets mangled to "COnfedBraUon_msln" and, just below that, how "Confed Basin" gets mangled to "Confed &sin". The result? Good luck researching the history of Kingston's crumbling waterfront infrastructure in the Harvey Rosen era.

  • Several unrelated documents collected into the same report, the same.PDF file, with no leading table of contents. How many citizens download Council reports, open them, only to find the first page isn't related to what they thought they were downloading? Considering how much it costs to produce these reports, why isn't a table of contents page provided, with hyperlinks, so users can see
    • what's in the document, and
    • immediately jump to the item they seek.
    • Better yet, why can't each report be in its own file?
  • In those.PDF files, trivial items are collated prior to the multi-million-dollar items. It's odd, isn't it, that LVEC items are commonly shuffled towards the back of Council reports?
Will it take a motion from Council to compel City Staff to provide information that is properly packaged, properly collated, searchable, and fully indexable?
Published: 03/18/07 11:09:51 AM
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March 16, 2007

City Staff's LVEC Newsletter #4 is online

Staff's fourth LVEC Newsletter is online. Dated March 7th 2007, released March 14th, there's nothing in it.

Really, despite being a known issue for years now, project communucations continues to be lame.

Taxpayers haven't seen any revised drawings in months. Detailed drawings of the luxury suite level, from where taxpayers will be lorded-over by the LVEC's proponents, have never been seen.

There is still NOTHING concrete on the City Website about fundrasing, despite months notice of this requrement, and the obvious passing of any surge in interest that may have existed.

Could it be worse? Well, the next round of budget overruns is about due soon. Expect the cost of the proposed expansion to 6,000 seats to be significantly padded so they can cover other areas they'd rather not have to talk about.

That's just a hunch, you understand. We've all seen this movie before.

Published: 03/16/07 11:19:15 AM
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March 14, 2007

Rumour: downtown Food Basics moving to Division and Dalton

This is just a rumour, so beware. Word on the street is the new grocery store that is going to the new "big box" location at Dalton and Division Streets is Food Basics, the one that is presently located downtown adjacent to the LVEC construction site.

If this is true, then most signs indicate that if you thought you'd already seen a citizen's revolt over the LVEC and its proponents...

In other words, no telling how messy this could become.

Published: 03/14/07 06:41:47 PM
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March 10, 2007

Shadoe Davis schmolkas himself
This is from the March 10th 2007 edition of The Ticket, the Kingston Whig Standard Saturday arts and entertainment insert.

Shadoe Davis is K-ROCK's morning man. He is also the only public spokesman for the Downtown Kingston BIA on the LVEC matter. If not him, then who else?

Read the whole thing.

How much public goodwill do you think the Downtown Kingston BIA has frittered away since April 2004 when this LVEC saga first began?

If you were the Downtown Kingston BIA, how dumb would you be to engage in a messy public LVEC blame-game long before the worse to come?

Hands up if you think this piece by Shadoe Davis makes fundraising for the LVEC any easier.

KCAL's regular readers might appreciate this: Consider that Mr Davis is in the media business.

Google "Shadoe Davis", including the quotes to exactly match the phrase.

Google
Published: 03/10/07 08:27:31 AM
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March 9, 2007

For the record: past KEDCO boss Bill Beattie

Not lost in the shuffle of recent events is this February 26th Whig letter from Bill Beattie, KEDCO ex-President and CEO.

Therein, an oft-repeated beaut, followed by an extension of logic:

The economic benefits this project will bring have been conservatively estimated at $15 to $20 million per year. That is about a three-year payback of its cost to the community.

We'll soon see, won't we? But until then, what's behind this?

Bill Beattie was KEDCO boss in April 2005 when The KEDCO Report on the LVEC was released and thereafter widely cited to buttress the case for the LVEC.

Read what Stewart Fyfe wrote about the KEDCO report, and here is KCAL's item about the release of the KEDCO report, pointing some of its many omissions.

But there was never any real conversation about this keystone. The possibility that it may have been massively flawed never entered. KEDCO and the BIA bought a report telling them what they wanted to hear, and that's that, case closed.

In 2005, that is apparently all one needed to hijack the municipal agenda, raid the public purse, and make the taxpayer the guarantor of a 30-year debt for the sole benefit of those among us least in need.

Bill Beattie suddenly quit KEDCO in December 2005 after a year at his post. Less than a year after that, KEDCO was whipped during the municipal election campaign for, among other things, its performance, its evident and over-the-top Downtown Kingston BIA influence, its opacity, its blatant political partisanship, and KEDCO's obvious role in actively selling the LVEC to past City Council.

The KEDCO report, as far as we know, has never been updated.

Widespread concerns about its assumptions and omissions have never, ever, been acknowledged, nevermind addressed.

This doesn't stop LVEC proponents from quoting freely and often from the KEDCO report, complete with straight-faced pretense about its quality and its objective merits.

Published: 03/09/07 01:05:30 PM
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March 8, 2007

LVEC Naming Rights: city closing date is March 31st

The City of Kingston has published this Request for Expressions of Interest for LVEC naming rights. This is also in The Whig. Note the closing date: March 31st.

Published: 03/08/07 10:15:11 AM
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March 7, 2007

The blame game

Gordon has thoughts on the Memorial Cup blame game.

We know that Kingston's bid failed, and certainly would have failed, for a lot of reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with our current Council.

We can stop pretending otherwise, anytime now.

Remember this? This was bogus, and everybody knew it.

It's certainly bogus today. Could it be that public reckoning for bogus and inflated LVEC expectations is just now beginning?

Published: 03/07/07 08:20:40 PM
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March 6, 2007

2008 Memorial Cup shortlist announced (Updated)

Five of six teams in the running made the shortlist. The one city not making the shortlist: Kingston.

It is the opinion of the Memorial Cup site selection committee that five out of the six teams that applied to host the 2008 MasterCard Memorial Cup, have satisfactorily met all of the necessary criteria in order to be provided with an opportunity to make a formal bid presentation. The teams that will be presenting to the Memorial Cup site selection committee are the Kitchener Rangers, London Knights, Oshawa Generals, Saginaw Spirit and Sarnia Sting.

Mayor Harvey Rosen's worst-case nightmare scenario: Kitchener, and their 5750-seat Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, built in 1950, and renovated in 2001 for less than $10 Million.

Update: Not making this up: CKWS-TV tries to pin it on Councillor Schmolka. Heh.

Published: 03/06/07 02:24:37 PM
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Oh, sush!

In The Whig today: Councillor Leonore Foster, LVEC champion, gets her comeuppance. Get used to it, Leonore.

Get a load of this:

"Keeping the money in the capital budget to start moving on this project is absolutely essential and will not impact on the tax rate," Foster said.

Right.

She also reportedly said:

"I have never been on a city council that is so parochial and so narrowly focused in its approach to this city as a whole."

See Leonore Foster's voting record on the past Council and decide for yourself.

Published: 03/06/07 10:45:46 AM
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ANOTHER non-report for Council: $2M in LVEC Fundraising

Hey Taxpayer, want to download another LVEC non-report to Council by Cynthia Beach, Commissioner of Sustainability and Growth? Here it is: Fundraising Report for the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre. It's three pages (two of them being cover pages) buried at the back of a 15-page document that, typically of Kingston, has no table of contents.

An Exhibit, Exhibit A - Final Report: Fundraising Strategic Plan for the Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre, is not online for the public. Project communications is apparently something that still needs improving.

Therein there's allusion to the hiring still more high-falutin' Toronto-based consultants. Apparently DVA Navion was retained on April 30,2006.

Funny, a search of the City of Kingston website for "DVA Navion" returns nothing prior to February 14, 2007, the very date of the snow-cancelled LVEC mea culpa briefing from Ms Beach and staff. Are you Surprised?

Back to Ms Beach's "report":

A fundraising advisory team was established to work with DVA Navion and included: Michael Davies, Alicia Gordon, Virginia Gordon and Marie Shales. The first meeting of the advisory team was held on May 23,2006.

Which, interestingly, is just four days prior to the release of 107 pages worth of reports amid drum-beating to sell our supine prior Council a $42M project to be approved just 3-days later. The pile of reports included, among other things, the Facility Operator agreement, selection of Ellis Don as builder, laughable (to KCAL) contingency, the agreement with the Frontenacs, $3M based on a wink and a smile from KAP, $3M from the BIA (which likely will be mostly escaped), the Feds promise which fell through, the civic misallocation of $4M from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, and of course this $2M fudge called "Donations".

We know today (as we all suspected then) the degree to which all of this was being clumsily improvised, packaged, hyped, railroaded, and subsequently mis-managed and covered-up.

"Donations", recent Kingston municipal history teaches us, is code for: "another reckless taxpayer-covered bet", or "raise what you easily can, sell-out ethically if it makes things easier, and don't sweat the rest. Here are your framed certificates of appreciation anyways".

As for LVEC fundraising, apparently that hasn't advanced much in the nine months since. And really, why would it? In modern day Kingston evidently nobody is accountable for what they promise about this LVEC.

But it's really much worse than the nine months just lost. Recall that $2M from "Donations" was the ante back in September 2005 18 months ago, when this was a $37M project, and that amount has not been raised, literally or figuratively, since.

Today we know that $2M in "Donations" is chickenfeed compared to what should equitably be forthcoming by LVEC project movers and those so-called "partners" who stand to reap all the benefits. As such the $2M target, even if reached, would be a spectacular underachievement, but that won't stop the collegial blue-blooded self-congratulations that are sure to follow a "successful" minimum-required-effort campaign.

Published: 03/06/07 01:36:28 AM
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2008 Memorial Cup Site Selection Committee will announce its "short list" today

March 6, 2007 - Memorial Cup Site Selection Committee will announce a "short list" of teams to be considered to host the 2008 Memorial Cup.

Note: we've also seen that date elsewhere reported as March 7th.

Stay tuned.

Published: 03/06/07 01:08:49 AM
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March 5, 2007

Sydenham District Councillor Bill Glover on LVEC

Here's a roundup of the interesting LVEC-related opinions and updates from Councillor Bill Glover over on BillGlover.org.

Published: 03/05/07 11:42:45 PM
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KROCK's Shadoe Davis lies to us. Again.
Shadoe Davis, K-ROCK's morning man and unabashed Downtown Kingston mouthpiece and LVEC booster, this week gives us another priceless fabrication of his imagination.

Read it.

The rule of thumb these days for a band the stature of say, Pearl Jam, Rod Stewart, The killers, Dixie Chicks et al. is they need a center that holds at least 6,0000 to be profitable and the amenities need to be fairly close to state of the art.

Oh really?

Let's quickly check the facts about recent activities of bands of "the stature of say, Pearl Jam, Rod Stewart, The killers, Dixie Chicks et al."

Here are Pearl Jam's 2006 dates (which we've preserved here) which clearly shows the sorts of venues they play. In Canada we're looking at venues like the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, more than triple the capacity of this LVEC.

Rod Stewart's Canadian and US Concert dates 2004-2005 Tour. Nine stops in seven Canadian Cities. The smallest Canadian venue is the John Labatt Centre in London, capacity 8,200 to 9,000 for an end stage concert, or 10,200 for a centre stage concert

The Killers 2007 tour dates (which we've preserved here). Nothing like 6,000-seat hockey bowls on this tour though they will play some of the more notable smaller concert halls, such as the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, a 2,362-seat auditorium, once known as the one-time home of the Grand Ole Opry. So much for "state of the art". Canadian dates are all in large venues such as Montreal's Bell Centre and Toronto's Air Canada Centre.

The Dixie Chicks 2006 tour schedule (which we've preserved here), the smallest Canadian venue is, again, the John Labatt Centre in London.

Kingston is Canada's 26th largest urban area. In all the examples cited by Mr Davis, they very rarely go beyond the top-5, certainly never beyond the top 10 or top 15. A 6,000-seat arena is just never going consistently to draw acts like those Mr Davis claims to be so excited about.

Were that not enough, the LVEC's operator, Arcturus SMG, has managed to book (brace yourself) these exciting events at the Dow Events Center in Saginaw and all these exciting events at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. Wow. Both venues are comparable to Kingston's LVEC, only bigger, with much larger catchment populations, and much better parking and accessibility stories.

Published: 03/05/07 11:35:43 AM
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March 4, 2007

Read what David Cliff writes about KCAL and its members

Read what David Cliff has to say today about KCAL and its members. How insulting.

Consider, though, that Mr Cliff is (was) A.K.A. "Exhibitionist" on Kingston Electors before being unceremoniously tossed from there sometime last year. He's been back for a while, however, now posting as "Dogma" on Kingston Electors. He is also the self-proclaimed "LVEC Educated" blogger.

It's also notable that Mr Cliff runs a display stand business named Exhibit House. He is therefore among the very few who stand to gain handsomely from this taxpayer subsidized LVEC turkey.

Of course none of that is ever disclosed by Dogma, Exhibitionist, LVEC Educated, or whatever Mr Cliff calls himself now or next.

Moreover the business address of Exhibit House, at 427 Princess Street, is just outside the boundaries of the Downtown Kingston BIA, so he's not on the hook for any of the BIA levy that's supposed to help fund the LVEC.

We look forward to seeing Mr David Cliff's name figuring prominently among the five-figure dollar donors for the LVEC. Putting his money where his mouth is, as it were, and demonstrating that he's more than an anonymous profiteer of taxpayer largesse.

Published: 03/04/07 03:16:49 PM
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Independent Voice: A revolting development

Don't miss the March 2007 Independent Voice article by Jamie Swift titled A revolting development - Big Rink boosters steam-roll over all objections to get it built.

Published: 03/04/07 01:53:52 PM
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February 27, 2007

Identification of some apparent LVEC cost omissions

After reviewing documents, Here is a list of apparent omissions from LVEC cost estimates.

In summary:

Read the whole thing.

Published: 02/27/07 01:57:24 PM
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February 26, 2007

Calling shenanigans on KROCK's Shadoe Davis
Shadoe Davis, K-ROCK's morning man and unabashed Downtown Kingston and LVEC booster, gives us another priceless item, printed on the inside front cover of the Saturday February 24 2006 edition of The Ticket, the Saturday Whig Standard insert.

Read it.

Now compare that with this 1 minute and 52 second clip taken from around the 23-minute mark of the recording of Councillor Vicki Schmolka, Queen's Professor Ken Wong, and KROC's Shadoe Davis (30 Min 25 sec).

Shadoe Davis never let Councillor Vicki Schmolka answer the question, neither did he press his frankly pretentious claim to personally raise millions of dollars (the equivalent of several full United Way campaigns), and it was professor Ken Wong who changed the subject.

But don't take it from KCAL. Read it and hear it for yourself.

What's telling is: Mr Davis apparently sees LVEC fundraising by the Downtown business, which includes KROCK, as an optional activity. Actually, the project has nearly always had a $2M fundraising REQUIREMENT, and that's before we discuss the money that needs raising to meet part of the ever increasing shortfalls.

It's pretty clear today that Downtown Kingston isn't going to do anything unless it's forced to. The question is, will council supinely concede the only taxpayer-protecting hammer it's ever going to get?

Published: 02/26/07 10:33:41 AM
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For the record: KROCK 105FM's pro-LVEC push

Here are links to the materials KROCK 105 FM had online for their "LVEC rally".

We've preserved copies.

We encourage all KCAL readers to download and listen to these MP3 audio files. Share them with friends.

And you do want to listen to these now, especially the recording of Councillor Vicki Schmolka, Queen's Professor Ken Wong, and KROC's Shadoe Davis.

The recording with Rob Baker is good too.

Listen to what is said, the numbers thrown about, the rationales espoused, what the arena will supposedly deliver to our community, where it really stands amid priorities, and who would be paying for it.

Listen carefully. Listen twice.

Also, here is a link to the KROCK online petition on iPetitions.com. At last glance there are 1,953 signatures, not all of them unique, and not all of them in support. But that's not bad as LVEC petitions go, real signatures or not.

To put the KROCK petition into perspective, the Marine Museum collected some 1,100 names in just 4 days in January '07 with essentially zero media coverage. Today the Marine Museun petition effort stands at over 1,300 signatures, which tells you, and hopefully tells Council, where simple quiet dignified waterfront things like the Marine Museum stand relative to the LVEC in our collective civic heart.

We can all agree on this: Currently far more people have long been mobilized to try and inject some sanity to the LVEC project than there are people mobilized and raising real money in support of it. Which is curious because not even the $2M "Donations" ante, which is a long-known REQUIREMENT, is being raised yet, nevermind millions more to cover the escallating shortfall.

The kicker: Shadoe seems to think raising millions of dollars is optional. Is Downtown Kingston caught pantless? Ad space again bought in lieu of stepping up to overdue and growing responsibilities?

Downtown Kingston! We're "mailing it in" because, so far, we still can.

Published: 02/26/07 12:16:36 AM
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February 25, 2007

For the record: Carl Holmberg and Dave Morris

The Whig published several LVEC-related letters on Saturday, of which we've clipped two, both from project boosters.

Carl Holmberg apparently doesn't like the way this multi-million dollar boondoggle is now being publicly discussed by Council.

The second letter is from Dave Morris, who apparently witnessed a wow-invoking display of raw competence by city staff last Tuesday evening.

Do you think we could make this stuff up? Decide for yourself.

Published: 02/25/07 05:18:55 PM
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February 21, 2007

LVEC's first acts booked?
We heard at last night's Council meeting that the first acts are being booked for LVEC.

KCAL has talked of premature bookings before. Here are some of the problem that come with premature bookings:

Would it be that premature bookings make a more expensive building start losing money sooner?

Published: 02/21/07 02:26:29 PM
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Welcome new visitors!

The KCAL website is understandably seeing sharply increased volumes due to recent LVEC-related activities, and also because of last night's City Council meeting in which KCAL had a 10-minute delegation presentation.

If you are a new visitor, then welcome!

Once you are done, see also K7Waterfront.org which is dedicated to celebrating and watchdogging Kingston's waterfront. "K7" was created after the misguided attempt by Mayor Harvey Rosen to clobber a vibrant 70-employee boatbuilder and marina to put his taxpayer-subsidized family-occupied OHL arena on our waterfront. That almost succeeded, partly because Kingston's water-lovers were, at the time, mostly disorganized and unable to respond cohesively. Hopefully that's changing.

Published: 02/21/07 11:59:06 AM
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Today's Whig: no correction for yesterday's multi-million dollar errors of fact on LVEC costs

It's notable that there is no correction in Today's whig for yesterdays article by Brock Harrison and Steve Ladurantaye that wildly understated current LVEC costs and misrepresented the state of OHL franchise movements as part of its overtly partisan pro-project coverage.

Published: 02/21/07 11:35:53 AM
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The latest KPMG Report festers on Council (Updated)
The latest KPMG report on the LVEC project, just recently released by Staff without its cover page, was apparently delivered well before the last election. No dates appear on any of the inside pages of the document as posted. Update: It looks like this KPMG report was delivered on September 23 2006. So this damning indightment of LVEC project managent sat, covered up, for four and a half months until it was publicly released last week.

Would Harvey Rosen be Mayor today had Staff, presumably pro-Harvey partisan staff, not buried this document until recently?

We know this for sure: Most of Council, with the notable exception of Ed Smith as usual, is rightfully upset about this. Stay tuned.

Published: 02/21/07 11:19:05 AM
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February 20, 2007

For the record: The Chamber of Commerce weighs in

Here's a Kingston Chamber of Commerce email that's been circulating today.

Is the venerable Kingston Chamber of Commerce insinuating that municipal reserves aren't taxpayer or commonwealth assets? See also other Chamber LVEC shenanegans.

--- LVEC Update from the Chamber of Commerce ---

Kingston City Council meets tonight; councilors will discuss a motion By Vicki Schmolka and Bill Glover to cancel the LVEC already under construction. The public meeting starts at 7:15 pm at Kingston City Hall.

The project is expected to run about $4.3 million over the original budget. However, taxpayers will not be footing the bill for the additional costs if the project goes ahead. $4.3 million can be raised through municipal reserves, through operational revenue once the centre is running, and this money can also be debentured over the life of the project.

Cancelling the centre will cost, conservatively, $13.4 million, plus the $17 million that has already been spent on the project, plus anticipated law suits against the City of Kingston for reneging on the project. Costs for a scrapped project could be from $25 to $60 million. Any penalties levied on the city for cancellation would be payable by the taxpayer immediately. These costs could not be debentured over the life of the LVEC, since there would be no LVEC. A 1% increase in Kingstonians' taxes would only yield $1.5 million.

If you own a $200,000 home, your taxes would rise 16.6% to cover a $25 million debt; to cover a $60 million debt, your property taxes would rise 40%.

Without a new sports and entertainment centre, Kingston will also lose its OHL team, the Frontenacs, the chance to host the Memorial Cup, and numerous other opportunities that benefit the community and its quality of life.

As of 11:00 am this morning, there were over 1095 signatures at the K-Rock petition to city council to save the Entertainment Centre. You can sign the petition, and read the comments made by other people by following this link. www.krock1057.ca/station_info/morning_show.jsp

Email addresses for city councilors are also available on the K-Rock site. Let your councilors know how you feel about cancelling the LVEC.

Published: 02/20/07 04:52:48 PM
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The Whig hits rock bottom

There are several LVEC-related stories (here, here, and here) in The Whig today, and most of them appear riddled with grievous errors that really serve to cloud and skew the issue. For example:

Memo to The Whig: Do your homework, okay? You're an embarassment to yourselves, and to this city.

Published: 02/20/07 11:56:09 AM
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Councillor Glover shares his thoughts on tonight's Council meeting on BillGlover.org

Councillor Bill Glover shares his thoughts about tonight's meeting on his website.

Published: 02/20/07 10:30:22 AM
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February 19, 2007

Time for the Kingston Ice Dogs?

Doug Springer apparently believes the taxpayers of Kingston owe him.

Eugene Melnyk's Mississauga Ice Dogs are shopping for a new home, and they've been a far better team than Mr Springers' in four out of the past five years, logging 34 playoff games, compared to Kingston's 11 playoff games in the same 5-year period.

In all respects, we can do way better than what Mr Springer currently brings.

Published: 02/19/07 11:21:02 PM
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February 17, 2007

LVEC situation summary

Here's the latest scuttlebutt:

There, now you're up to speed.

Published: 02/17/07 02:16:24 PM
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February 16, 2007

LVEC Numbers At A Glance (Updated)

Judge for yourself.

Some other aspects of LVEC financing that, though they appear to not vary much with project cost, are nonetheless telling:

Updated: Download the data

Published: 02/16/07 12:32:28 AM
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February 15, 2007

Apparent errors in City cash flow projections (Updated)

It looks like there may be questionable tallies in the documents titled KRSEC Cash Flow Continuity - With Federal Grant Funding $4.0M (Schedule A) and KRSEC Cash Flow Continuity - Without Federal Grant Funding -$4.0M (Schedule B).

In these documents, present-value amounts in excess of $200,000 per year are supposedly forthcoming from the BIA levy over 32 years, and KAP each year over 33 years.

Yet, in the deal the BIA cut for itself for the LVEC, we're reading present-value amounts closer to $80,000 per year for the first 10 years, then $140,000 (in 2017 dollars) for the years 10 to 30. The same generally applies to the KAP numbers -- the flows are nominally different -- but nowhere near $200,000 per year for 30 years.

It should be interesting to hear how these numbers end up reading like they do, with the clearly wonky 32 and 33 year terms, in the latest (and so far only) cash flow projections we've seen in the nearly three years since day one.

Update: A sharp-eyed reader reports that the LVEC debenture is, in fact, 25.5M over 33 years at a rate of 5.391%. See a document from August 22 2006 here and the most recent budget update here.

Still, this doesn't change that the LVEC deals with the BIA and KAP are over 30 years and the BIA's yearly payments are back-end loaded, with larger sums in the later years.

Also, it's telling that one must dig through PDFs to assemble a clear picture of this project. The arbitrary change from "LVEC" to "KRSEC" (and variants) in the City's documentation doesn't help.

Can somebody please explain this? comments@kcal.ca.

Published: 02/15/07 02:32:33 PM
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February 14, 2007

LVEC project documents posted by the city
A raft of 14 LVEC documents have just been released, at the very last minute, by the City.

There's a lot to digest, and there will be a lot more to say, but in sumary here's what's striking in reading so far:

In a word: the city is in way over its head.

The Project Schedules (Exhibit F) is actually not a Project Schedule, but rather it's Arcturus SMG's work plan. It's a great document, and Arcturus sends all sorts of signals of flexibility -- no fixed dates anywhere -- but it's not a Project Schedule. It's Arcturus' Project Schedule. One quibble: it's clearly labeled "FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY - SUBJECT TO CHANGE BASED ON ACTUAL CONDITIONS" and none of the materials sports a date nor a revision number. In other words, we're looking at a first-pass general template here.

The Risk Management Plan (Exhibit C) is atrocious. For one thing, it's a scanned image, so none of the text therein is selectable, nor searchable. When this project is officially investigated, this document won't be found by search methods. What's more, get this:

Really, heads should roll for the way LVEC risks have been overtly soft-pedalled and biased since day one.

(This screen capture has been modified for display clarity. Click for the original)

This says that, on a scale of 1-3, the risk of shortfall in fundraising and grants are as follows:
Likelihood (A): 2
Impact (B): 2
Risk Score: (C): A * B = 4
Control (D): 2
Residual Risk: C / D = 2

That's just dumb. Ridiculous. Who are they trying to kid? Moreover the control strategy they cite has mostly nothing to do with fundraising (donations) and grants.

All city projects in recent history suggest differently about "donations"
Likelihood (A): 3
Impact (B): 3
Risk Score: (C): A * B = 9
Control (D): 1
Residual Risk: C / D = 9

Really, heads should roll for the way LVEC risks have been overtly soft-pedalled and biased since day one.

Stay tuned. Last updated at 4:20 PM Feb 14th.

Published: 02/14/07 10:11:43 AM
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February 12, 2007

Finding scratch for LVEC

This diagram is from last September's IBI Transportation Study. That's *before* the current accessibility concerns, namely reserved bus and drop-off areas adjacent to the building, among others.
All the following sources should please get in line before city reserves, ultimately taxpayers, are to carry any additional burden for LVEC.
Published: 02/12/07 09:42:15 PM
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Whig: Arena costs could climb by millions

More on the first of many LVEC cost overrun reports today in The Whig.

Take note: Today (February 12 2007) marks the first time our local daily, The Whig Standard, mentions the LVEC's inadequate contingency

Published: 02/12/07 01:16:29 PM
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February 10, 2007

CKWS-TV: LVEC Overruns

CKWS-TV reports, wait for it, the first of surely many LVEC cost overruns.

Published: 02/10/07 11:16:00 AM
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February 8, 2007

The Whig: Show us the money
Thursday's editorial in The Whig: a memo to Lawrence Cannon: Show us the (LVEC) money.

KCAL asked the same thing on November 1, 2005.

Closely related: the Provincial Ministry of Health Promotion still doesn't publicly acknowledge its $4M LVEC association.

See for yourself:

Google

A coincidence?

Maybe the Federal Government did due diligence (took a whiff, as it were) and, just like most Kingstonians, don't buy it. And why would they?

As for the "Ministry of Health Promotion" distancing? That could be damage control, for exactly the same reasons. Face it: the Downtown Kingston LVEC just doesn't pass the stink test.

Published: 02/08/07 11:53:20 PM
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February 6, 2007

OHL: Six Memorial Cup Bids Announced

The field is six: Kingston, Kitchener, London, Oshawa, Saginaw MI, and Sarnia.

Since the Memorial Cup is foremostly about bringing game, and (usually) the host city can expect a bye into the tournament, here's how they currently rank:

The the Memorial Cup is also about money. Here's how the six rank in terms of venue capacity:

Other factors:

One thing appears sure: Regardless of the winning bid city, the Kingston Frontenacs won't be playing in the tournament.

The selection committee is composed of:

Published: 02/06/07 11:31:07 PM
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Whig: Arena funding '50/50': Segal

Today The Whig is running this LVEC article on the front page.

Read the whole thing.

The denial by Mayor Rosen and Cynthia Beach of deceitful project accounting and inadequate contingency is palpable.

Published: 02/06/07 11:24:22 AM
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February 5, 2007

Kingston Frontenacs: Bravo! Bravo! (Clap-Clap-Clap) Part deux

David Branch, OHL Commissioner and the man who will eventually be announcing the Memorial Cup winning bid (the deadline for which, coincidentally, is today) has this to say about our spectacularly underachieving Kingston Frontenacs:

City of Kingston Staff, at the beheist of the Downtown Kingston power network, and without any public consultation whatsoever, has taxpayers engaged and on-the-hook in a 30-year sweetheart LVEC deal with this outfit.

Published: 02/05/07 05:57:36 PM
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Two LVEC-related items on Tuesday's Council agenda

There are two LVEC-related items on Tuesday's Council agenda.

Published: 02/05/07 11:48:32 AM
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February 3, 2007

The accessibility disgrace
The third "update" from Lanie Hurdle, Director, Project Development, gives us a glimpse of what Kingston's LVEC project has become. Ms Hurdle's document comes on the heels of project architect's report on accessibility which is also an interesting and telling read.

In summary, in these two documents the residents of Kingston are being told to buy-in to the following things:

To think that the City of Kingston not only accepted, but actively "pushed" an arena design that did not accommodate persons with disabilities, in 2006, is an absolute disgrace. Especially considering that this arena project (this "done deal" pushed by narrow Downtown interests) should be viewed as a 30-50 year proposition.

Concerns about accessibility for the Anglin Bay site date back to May 2005, and the North Block site is evidently worse in almost all respects.

The North Block Transportation Study claims 5% of patrons will be "dropped off" even though the data collected by a prior consultant at a Kingston OHL event suggests an 11% drop off rate. Regardless of the proportion of drop-offs, Bruce Todd wrote this in May 2005:

...We are told that 11% of the mode share of attendees would be dropped of and picked up after an event. This percentage was determined by the consultant from information gathered at the Memorial Centre site during an OHL game night.

Eleven percent of 5000 means that 526 people will arrive in 292 cars to be dropped off. After an event 292 cars will be trying to access the site against 5000 pedestrians and vehicles trying to leave the site. Where will these 292 cars stack up to await their passengers? THIS IS A MAJOR TRAFFIC CONCERN AND PLANNING COMMITTEE SHOULD HAVE A CLEAR ANSWER BEFORE ACCEPTING THIS REPORT (Ed: the Anglin Bay site traffic report, it should be noted, as flawed as it was, was deemed usable for the North Block site by those responsible for the LVEC).

292 cars represents a single line of cars about twenty blocks long. It would be almost equivalent to the entire contents of the Anglin Lot (182) and the OHIP Lot (about 160, allowing for reserved spaces, if they let us use it) sitting out on the street somewhere.

I cannot think of a reasonable place to stack up these 292 vehicles along any of the adjacent streets.

Published: 02/03/07 11:26:17 AM
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February 1, 2007

Kingston Frontenacs: Bravo! Bravo! (Clap-Clap-Clap)
The Kingston Frontenacs show their class while being thumped 5-1 by the Belleville Bulls.

Just in time for the 2008 Memorial Cup bid deadline, which is Monday, February 5th.

Published: 02/01/07 09:23:08 PM
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CKWS-TV: Labour Leaves

Yesterday CKWS-TV reported that Kingston's major projects are not benefiting local labour.

WITH ALL THE NEW PROJECTS UNDERWAY IN KINGSTON -- FROM THE POLICE STATION TO THE LVEC -- YOU'D THINK THERE'D BE PLENTY OF JOBS UP FOR GRABS IN THE LOCAL CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY.

NOT SO -- ACCORDING TO LABOUR GROUPS.

Read the whole thing.

Yeah. When we build it, construction workers will come. From out of town.

Published: 02/01/07 07:30:59 PM
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January 31, 2007

LVEC's Architects' report on accessibility
Brian Forsyth, Architect's report on LVEC accessibility is out. As expected, it isn't pretty.

Stay tuned: the costs of Downtown Kingston upgrades, deceitfully omitted from LVEC project budgets so far, are coming to light.

Published: 01/31/07 08:46:55 PM
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January 27, 2007

Flashing the LVEC web cam

The first of many, surely.

Published: 01/27/07 12:47:44 PM
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January 25, 2007

Behind the seats
Back on March 13 2006 it looked like the LVEC's seats were a "done deal", specified in great detail in the LVEC Design/Build RFP, at a time when major details about the project, including such things like scope for example, were known unknowns. We found this to be deplorable.

Fast forward to today, The Whig dutifully conveys the pretense that the public might have some say in the matter of the 4800 seats in the LVEC. According to the City of Kingston website, some seat samples are on a two-week tour of the city so the common folk can see them. How sweet.

The city would be well advised to pick the cheapest functional seating option possible.

Published: 01/25/07 04:43:34 PM
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January 23, 2007

Online petitions part deux: Marine Museum versus "Friends of the Entertainment Centre"

It took less than a week for the Marine Museum to far surpass the number of backers the "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" (link is not work-safe) collected online over a full year. Recall, moreover, that the Friends' were aided by the support of local celebrities and very sympathetic, overtly sycophantic coverage in some cases, from all the local mainstream media outlets.

By early Tuesday evening, the Marine Museum had cllected almost 900 non-"anonymous" names in support. By contrast, the Friends of the Entertainment Centre collected little more than 750 voting-age names over a full year.

(Note that the Friends of the Entertainment Centre apparently couldn't muster the will and the $20 it would have taken to keep their website online; their ownership of the domain lapsed, and today it's run by cyber squatters, purveyors of porn, amazing medicines, and other sortid content.)

Earlier this week we reported that the Marine Museum collected more names in 3-days than the "Youth of Kingston Support The LVEC" collected over more than two years.

It's unfortunately looking like the LVEC has all the makings of becoming the biggest and most expensive con-job in Kingston's considerable history.

Published: 01/23/07 07:02:50 PM
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Whig: Arena-related budget costs questioned

Today The Whig reports predictable pushback from Mayor Rosen and Staff about more honest cost appraisal, and the tax impacts, of the LVEC.

Apparently Mayor Rosen and Staff don't yet "get" that the gig is up.

Once Mayor Rosen awakes, the question is: what will Downtown Kingston pay, and what will it forego, for its fair share of the project's burden? In the end, whether measured in dollars, or of its honour and goodwill that has already begun ebbing, downtown Kingston will pay for its share of the LVEC.

It's hard to imagine a worse outcome for Downtown Kingston than the continued erosion of its goodwill. Taxpayers, remember, have been repeatedly told that they are not on the hook. Something must give. Stalling, as Mayor Rosen is doing, simply means that the general resentment of Downtown Kingston will continue to grow, and worse, without diminishing the financial inequity that's becoming increasingly obvious.

Recall that before all this, Downtown Kingston was supposedly vibrant and successful, and not in need of "fixing", certainly not like this. The Mayor ignores these unintended consequences at the peril of Downtown Kingston and, by extension, the city as a whole.

Published: 01/23/07 01:51:42 PM
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January 21, 2007

LVEC naming rights sale process outlined in great detail

The naming rights process for BOTH the LVEC and the Multiplex, and city naming rights policy in general, are the subject of this 56-page report by Wakeham & Associates of Toronto (also New York and Los Angeles) that will be presented to Council on Tuesday.

It's interesting reading.

First, know that the creaky LVEC business plan anticipated $150,000 per year in revenue from naming rights, and that naming rights are one of the few revenue-sources whose fruit is not split with the Frontenacs ( Click here to read the agreement with the Frontenacs, already consummated).

Some observations:

One thing is clear: the City of Kingston hereby admits that it is incapable of naming this turkey, to the point now that we must ship all this marketing money out of town, just like they've already agreed to do with the facility builders, the facility operators and, of course, like we'll do with almost all the performers. Kingston failed to sell the building to the public, and they've admitted utter failure to sell it to corporations.

Taxpayers are such pushovers.

Published: 01/21/07 08:49:11 PM
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Glover/Matheson Council motion seeks answers on LVEC financial risk

This upcoming motion by Councillor Glover, seconded by councillor Matheson, finally begins to address the LVEC's inadequate contingency and the bogus City of Kingston statement of taxpayer immunity.

Here's the text in Council Agenda; click it to open the original PDF file at page 15.

Staff should probably explain why anything they reply is nowhere to be found in staff's insipid assessment of why the project should not be de-railed, or should that be, "de-railroaded"?

Published: 01/21/07 07:22:48 PM
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January 20, 2007

Online petitions: Marine Museum versus Youth Support The LVEC

It's most interesting that in just three days, the Marine Museum online petition already has 50% more signatures than the The Youth of Kingston Support LVEC online petition acquired over a period of two years from a supposedly ultra-"wired" target audience.

Moreover the Marine Museum's tally isn't padded by the large proportion of bogus entries we can see in the Youth of Kingston support the LVEC petition.

Recall that in August and September 2005, KCAL collected a total of over 4,000 actual signatures opposing the LVEC on Anglin Bay.

You'd think City Staff would have gotten the hint: you tamper with our waterfront at your peril.

Published: 01/20/07 06:00:47 PM
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January 15, 2007

No LVEC funding from COMRIF, intake #3

Apparently the Downtown Kingston BIA's LVEC missed out on the last of the three intakes for COMRIF funding.

Looking at the list of projects that were funded, $46M to 72 communities, nothing like luxury-box containing sport palaces is anywhere to be found. It's mostly all about bridge repair and replacement, and road reconstruction.

We expressed doubts about COMRIF back on October 14, 2005, but its vast improbability never stopped LVEC proponents from bandishing this among all their other fabrications.

Published: 01/15/07 04:10:04 PM
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January 8, 2007

The gig is up for the LVEC / KRSEC cost fudgers

At the Tuesday, January 9, 2007 Council meeting, a motion will be considered to address some clear omissions in the scope of the LVEC / KRSEC project.

.

No word yet on when the project will have a realistic contingency. With this motion, the measly contingency is blown several times over, and arena construction is not yet beyond grade level. That money needs to be raised. Where is that going to come from? Taxpayers, or the project's wealthy, land-rich proponents and beneficiaries? Where's the money?

Remember this City staff statement from June 2006?

Published: 01/08/07 12:02:20 PM
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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November 15, 2006

2006 Municipal Election Results

Here are the interim Municipal Election Results as published by the City:

Mayor

Rick DOWNES - 15,548
Kevin GEORGE - 5,870
Harvey ROSEN (Incumbent) - 16,278

Countryside District

Joyce MACLEOD-KANE - 1547
George SUTHERLAND(Incumbent) - 1473

Loyalist-Cataraqui District

Sean FOLEY - 1403
Jibin JOSEPH - 916
Rob MATHESON - 1556

Collins-Bayridge District

Bittu GEORGE - 1309
Lisa OSANIC - 1818

Lakeside District

Ted BROOKS - 1180
Dorothy HECTOR - 2254
Mike SINGH - 924

Portsmouth District

Kindra BREAU - 303
Mark GERRETSEN - 2311
Moe ROYER - 788

Trillium District

John CHOWN - 1167
Anna ROBERTSON - 277
Vicki SCHMOLKA - 2164

Cataraqui District

Tom DALL - 414
Patrick FOLEY - 228
Sara MEERS (Incumbent) - 1771

Kingscourt-Strathcona District

Steve GARRISON (Incumbent) - 1727
Rob GILMOUR - 1051

Williamsville District

Glenn BARNES - 335
Brian EVOY - 635
Andrew GOODRIDGE - 80
Ed SMITH (Incumbent) - 834
Todd SPECK - 185

Sydenham District

Nathaniel ERSKINE-SMITH - 297
Bill GLOVER - 1180
Alex HUNTLEY - 163
Floyd PATTERSON - 912

King's Town District

Rob HUTCHISON - 1531
Sean MOLLOY - 61
Mark POTTER - 646

Pittsburgh District

Leonore FOSTER - 2005
Richard MOLLER - 752
Brian D. REITZEL - 910

Published: 11/15/06 10:12:08 PM
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Election: End of the road for the posse of Georges

Limestoned summarizes it nicely: No more Georges on Council.

Note that friend of KCAL George Beavis was elected as a school board trustee.

Published: 11/15/06 10:44:26 AM
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November 9, 2006

Todd Speck's remarks at the Williamsville all-candidates meeting

We're happy to post a copy of Todd Speck's remarks at the Williamsville all-candidates meeting.

It's a well-deserved upbraiding of current mayor Harvey Rosen and Williamsville incumbent Ed Smith. Read the whole thing.

Williamsville: it's time to elect a councillor who will stand up to the special interests that have hijacked the political agenda of this city.

From what we've been hearing, this looks to be happening city-wide.

Published: 11/09/06 04:17:43 PM
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Bittu George's grossly misleading campaign brochure

Bruce Todd writes:

Today I received a huge flyer from Deputy Mayor Bittu George.

The flyer is four pages, and almost the size of Kingston This Week.

D-M George brags about a number of his accomplishments, but he omits a number of issues he has supported, contrary to a lot of opposition in the city. For instance, interestingly enough, there is absolutely no mention of his voting record for one of the largest projects in Kingston's history, in which he strongly supported throughout the last three years the building of an LVEC in the heart of Kingston's downtown, with no dedicated or on-site parking. I wonder why!?

For the record, here is Bittu George's voting record on Council, including the LVEC (LVEC votes illustrated below).

Conclusion: Bittu George is 100% supine to the Downtown Kingston agenda as personified by Harvey Rosen and as set by the Downtown BIA and KEDCO.

We can't remember a single notable non-softball question posed by Bittu George, on any issue, over the past three years.

Certainly Bittu George was an LVEC pushover on Council.


Click to see a more complete picture of Buttu George's voting record.

Click to see where Bittu George sits in the The KEDCO / BIA web

Bittu George isn't the only one misrepresenting his voting record in this election.

Published: 11/09/06 01:01:17 PM
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November 8, 2006

Updated KCAL Feature: LVEC Timeline

We've just updated our interactive LVEC news item timeline. This is handy when you're looking for details a particular event in the past.

There are now three bands in the timeline.

Click and drag to scroll the timeline left or right. Click on any item to see details.

Published: 11/08/06 12:13:12 PM
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November 7, 2006

Wendy Erickson-Gray: A citizen doing good homework

Wendy Erickson-Gray recently created and circulated this 8-page vision of the Memorial Centre property. It features two rinks, an expanded pool (possibly up to 50m in length), space for the fall fair, fence options, and plenty of greenspace. You won't find scale technical drawings but, remember, for months we saw squat from the LVEC's professional planners and consultants until the penultimate moments.

Once you look past the clip-art -- after all, people must use the tools they've got -- and read the captions, there's good substance there.

It's certainly commendable to come forward with something like this. Does this dovetail with what the Memorial Centre Revitalization Committee is working on? We don't know because their work is not (yet) online. But that doesn't much matter at this point. What matters is this vision could solve a number of otherwise intractable problems.

The Memorial Centre revitalization Committee made one major tactical error: somehow the marooning of the M-Centre became disassociated from the LVEC project. In other words: the cost of marooning the M-Centre isn't being tallied as a cost of the LVEC. But at the end of the day, there is apparently plenty of money for Harvey Rosen's LVEC. Those bills will be paid whether the project costs $40, $50, or $60 million. Despite what Mayor Rosen says, ALL cost overruns, in addition to what's being filched from capital reserves, come from taxpayers,

But now the Memorial Centre revitalization will need to scrape for every dime, every inch of the way. The Memorial Centre Committee should not assume that it ranks before any other facility in Kingston. Some of our other facilities and parks are borderline pathetic in their level of maintenance, both day-to-day and deferred.

Moreover most of the money that comes will be needed for upkeep on the old building, which is a yearly six-figure proposition.

Where is that money going to come from? Short answer: as things stand now, it's not.

So despite what some pro-North Block people are saying, moving the LVEC might, in fact, give us a bigger and better bowl at a lower price, all things considered. It's not hard to imagine that Ellis Don might be delighted and prefer to build a bigger building with lower project risks, far fewer logistical constraints, and broad community support.

After next Monday's election, the pro-Downtown ruling faction of Council will no longer be monopolizing the decision making in the City of Kingston. There looks to be be few, if any, Downtown-Kingston pushovers on the next Council, down from eight or nine voices previously. This changes everything.

This discussion should have happened two and a half years ago.

Published: 11/07/06 02:54:34 PM
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November 6, 2006

Matthew Gventer: Kevin George's voting record questioned

Last Friday, this letter from Matthew Gventer was printed in The Whig. Therein:

At the King's Town district all-candidates meeting, I asked mayoralty candidate Kevin George how he could claim to be interested in more consultation with citizens and greater access of citizens to council when he chaired the committee that brought in bylaw changes that restricted citizen access, and voted for those changes. He said he had to present the bylaw changes as committee chair but voted against them. I read the minutes of the Nov. 30, 2004 Committee of the Whole meeting and the Dec. 7 council meeting, which gave third reading to the bylaw.

Only councillors Rick Downes and Steve Garrison voted against the bylaw changes. George voted for the changes.

In a Kingston Life article this fall, the author lists George as having voted in favour of the city picking up the flood- damaged effects of people whose homes were flooded several years ago. In fact, he voted against it. In fact, he was one of three councillors who voted against reimbursing dumping fees for residents who had already taken flood-damaged effects to the dump. I asked him why he was so insensitive to the people who had suffered this disaster. He answered that he was looking for a way to help people without using taxpayers' money. Isn't it reasonable for our taxes to be used to help each other in times of disaster?

I asked George why he voted against the referendum on the sports and entertainment centre proposed by councillor Rick Downes. He said he made a strategic error. I asked why he opposed a public meeting on the Kingston Centre development. He argued that it was private property and that the city had no authority to hear the issue. Loblaws didn't have to pay attention to what the citizens said, so a public meeting would be a waste of money. My wife pointed out that at least Loblaws would have had the choice to listen or not.

Looking further into this, with LVEC votes in mind, we notice something about mayoral candidate Kevin George's candour about his LVEC voting record on this Council.

Here is a 6-page document titled " Councillor Kevin George Voting Record (Recorded Votes only) 2003-2006-08-10" you can download from Kevin George's website. The full URL is: http://www.votekevingeorge.com/Images/Voting_Record_Table.pdf

Consolidating all the LVEC votes in one table, -- LVEC votes are scattered throughout Kevin George's document -- we tally four votes:

The Kingston Taxpayers Association website lists 19 LVEC recorded votes. Here's a more complete picture of how Kevin George voted on the LVEC. Conclusion: Kevin George, in his campaign documents, doesn't tell the whole story and, in particuar, his omissions tell us a lot.

Published: 11/06/06 10:42:58 PM
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November 5, 2006

How Gananoque could EASILY trump LVEC
Know that debt financing for the LVEC is a 30-year deal.

Among the many risks completely ignored by the LVEC business plan is that nearby Gananoque might take a hint from the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York (about 20 miles East of Syracuse).

The Turning Stone Casino has an 800-seat dinner theatre showroom that's booked pretty solid with some great acts. For example, between July and December 2005, Turning Stone hosted The Beach Boys, Kenny Rogers, Chicago, Engelbert Humperdinck, Rich Little, Olivia Newton-John, Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Three Dog Night, Little Feat, George Thorogood, Huey Lewis and the News, Crosby Stills and Nash, Loretta Lynn, Steve Miller Band, Billy Ray Cyrus, Vince Gill, Don Rickles, and many other lesser names.

That's in one single six-month period.

Don't think that Gananoque couldn't replicate this. And soon.

Note that for many Kingstonians, driving to the Casino in Gananoque would be quicker, less expensive, and far less hassle than driving downtown and parking (somewhere) to then walk to the LVEC. Especially in winter. For Downtown Kingston, it never enters that building a small sub-optimal LVEC in a sub-optimal location might, in fact, soon be shown to be a very dumb idea.

For many Kingstonians (we'll know just what proportion on November 13th) the LVEC, as conceived, is already clearly a dumb idea.

Below is a summary of the list of 27 shows in Turning Stone's showroom for just the next three months. By contrast, over the same upcoming three-month period, London's John Labatt Centre lists just 12 non-hockey events. The Hershey Centre in Mississauga, which is managed by the same operator that will manage Kingston's LVEC, lists just 5 non-hockey events. Over the same period, Oshawa's new 5,500-seat General Motors Place lists just 8 non-hockey events. These counts in London, Mississauga, and Oshawa include multiple shows for the "World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions" who are also coming to Kingston this year, but the poor lame little LVEC won't be able to accommodate this show without closing King Street for staging purposes.

Summary of the list of shows in the Turning Stone Casino showroom
for the next three months:

November 3 Kris Kristofferson (singer/songwriter) $40/$45/$55
November 4 Kevin Nealon opening act: Joe Starr (comedian) $30/$35/$45
November 07 Jewel (adult contempoary) $65/$70/$80
November 08 Ruben Studdard (R and B) $15/$20/$30
November 10, 2006 Cosmo (classic rock) $10/$15/$25
November 11 The Slackers Comedy Tour (comedy) $25/$30/$40
November 15 The New Cars (classic rock) $50/$55/$65
November 16 Los Lobos (Hispanic-American rock) $25/$30/$40
November 17 Mo'Nique (comedian) $40/$45/$55
November 18 (2 shows) Friends of Bob and Tom Show (comedy) $30/$35/$45
November 23 The Vietnamese Concert variety show $20/$40
November 24 Dr. Dirty - John Valby (comedian) $15/$20/$25
November 25 Craig Morgan (country) $35/$40/$50
November 29 Davinci Code (movie) Free Admission
December 3 The Pretenders (classic rock) $55/$60/$70
December 4 Clay Aiken (Christmas Show) $75/$80/$90
December 4 The Wreckers & Little Big Town (country) $40/$45/$55
December 9 Benny Mardones (classic rock) $30/$35/$45
December 12 Kenny Rogers Christmas Show (country) $80/$85/$95
December 15 Linda Eder (Christmas Show) $40/$45/$55
December 29 Jim Gaffigan (comedian) $35/$40/$50
January 13 Bennie & the Jets: A Tribute to Elton John (classic rock) $10/$15/$20
January 20 Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular (class rock) $15/$20/$25
January 26 Aaron Lewis of Staind (rock) $50/$55/$65
January 27 Air Supply (adult contemporary) $25/$30/$40
February 1 Scrap Metal (classic rock) $15/$20/$30
February 3 Saturday Night Live Reunion (comedy) $40/$45$55

Picture scanned from Gananoque's ad in The Whig, November 4 2006, page 6.
Published: 11/05/06 04:16:20 PM
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LVEC EDUCATED: a new LVEC-related blog

There's a new LVEC-related blog in town, penned by an alias named "Dogma". Check it out.

http://lvec-showtime.blogspot.com/.

It seems very similar to Harvey Rosen's blog in that, so far, it has zero outbound links and, apparently, isn't compelled to substantiate anything, or link to supporting evidence, assuming any exists.

Hopefully this will soon change.

For example, one of LVEC EDUCATED's first posts talks about the October 24th, 2006 Whig Standard page where Bruce Todd and Don Curtis' arguments are juxtaposed. LVEC EDUCATED's post doesn't provide a link to the letters, which leads us to conclude that this blog is probably more about making a "show" of promoting the LVEC to project backers than it is a genuine attempt to educate the citizens of Kingston, as implied by the blog's name.

Whoever is behind this blog, its early days are certainly all about gushing all over Don Curtis who, we know, wrote his opinions without disclosing his direct ties to KEDCO, which is ethically consistent with what we've been seeing from many LVEC proponents. So far LVEC EDUCATED appears no different.

Published: 11/05/06 02:28:32 PM
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Whig Editorial: KEDCO plays politics
Saturday's editorial in The Whig is right on.

The gyst is: KEDCO is meddling in the election by announcing FIVE new initiatives, 11 days before the election.

KEDCO general manager Jeff Garrah told The Whig that the agency wanted to release the information about the new developments earlier but was waiting for permission from the companies. "It's not as if we were stacking all these up... and wanted to release them in the middle of an election campaign," he said.

This CKWS-TV story from October 2nd 2006 shows us Bernie Robinson, Chairman of the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, which gets $2.3-million in city funding annually, stumping for incumbent mayor Harvey Rosen, on TV, at the opening of Rosen's campaign office.

How slimy is all this? You decide. You're paying for it.

Published: 11/05/06 01:30:44 AM
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November 3, 2006

Carl Holmberg: To ease tax pressure, economy must grow

Today the Whig published this letter from Carl Holmberg.

Sure, of course, everyone agrees that Kingston's tax base could use a boost.

But according to Mr. Holmberg:

Speaking of marketing and sales, we have a bone to pick. Carl Holmberg, remember, is a founding member of Friends of the Entertainment Centre, a group formed solely to sway Council, and was part of the extensive Downtown Kingston sell-job surrounding the LVEC.

This group and some others generally agreed that

... was a fine idea.

What Mr Holmberg is saying about Mr Downes just doesn't square with reality. A big part of KEDCO has been all about selling the Downtown Kingston agenda to the amalgamated city of Kingston.

Rick Downes said this on December 19 2005:

Over the past two years the LVEC has been packaged, marketed and sold to council under the guise that its proponents represented the "silent majority." Even Carl Holmberg, vox populi, has the temerity to claim that "by far and away" the majority support the LVEC. Of course, by now we understand that these people are speaking for their own vested interest. Their business interest has morphed into the public interest. The believers have converted us all.

The "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" website, it should be noted, had a botched debut, questionable steering, and went dark in August 2006 after only one year.

Today the Friends' domain serves as a portal for porn. See http://FriendsOfTheEC.org.

How embarrassing is that? This otherwise proud and committed group of Kingstonians could not muster the will, or the nerve, and the $25 it would cost to keep their website online for a moment longer than needed.

Friends of the Entertainment Centre (2005)
Friends of the Entertainment Centre (November 2006)

The FriendsOfTheEntertainmentCentre.org domain was registered to Mat Abramsky who was, for a time, tasked with "special projects" for KEDCO and who, moreover, is the son of Jay Abramsky, a senior KEDCO board member. The accountability of KEDCO and some of its operatives for their undue influence over Council -- by overtly manufacturing the pretense of city-wide public support for the LVEC -- is apparently being avoided here.

More recently, Mr Jay Abramsky is described here, in Harvey Rosen's October 26th, 2006 blog post, confronting Rick Downes. Evidently, for Mr Abramsky and for Mayor Rosen, volunteerism trumps ethics.

We've heard Carl Holmberg-style "Watch Kingston Grow" songs elsewhere. The Kingston Accommodation Partners campaign, about which Claude Scilley said:

it is being touted by a campaign so misleading it would never be approved to sell used cars or soap.
-- Claude Scilley, Sports Editor, Whig Standard, May 27, 2006.

... is set to go dark on April 11 2007, five months from now, and a full eight months before the LVEC is supposed to open.

Read 'em while you can. Note the KEDCO logo on all the ads.

KEDCO.

KEDCO sits squarely within the Downtown Kingston echo chamber, and in the matter of "selling" the LVEC to Council, KEDCO was a central player.

It was KEDCO that dutifully produced the document titled Economic Benefits of the Kingston Sports and Entertainment Centre (LVEC), commissioned by Downtown Kingston insiders, paid from budgets administered by Downtown Kingston insiders, for the sole benefit of Downtown Kingston insiders.

In April 2005, we said this about the KEDCO LVEC report:

The problem with these LVEC proponents is there are never any downsides. The following words appear zero times in the nine page document: "risk", "debt", "finance", "pay", "expense", "water", "waterfront", "harbour", "shore", "unique", "outdoor", "boat", "parking", "walk", "customer", "patron", "rain", "snow", "weather", or even "Wellington", or "Anglin".

The word "Buskers", an outdoor street festival? Six times. "Winter" appears exactly once. (Link)

Read also what Stewart Fyfe has to say about KEDCO's LVEC report.

One conclusion of the KEDCO LVEC report: the LVEC will generate $22.5 million in annual "impact on economy (GDP)".

Huh?

$22.5 million divided by the 300,000 expected annual attendance, equals $75 per ticket sold. Think about that: the KEDCO report says a sold-out Frontenacs game, therefore, will be worth (5,000 X $75)=$375,000 in "benefits" to our minicipal commonwealth. Imagine that.

During the last term of Council, just what was KEDCO supposed to be selling, and to whom?

Kingston's "marketing/sales department", as Mr Holmberg calls it, has a lot to answer for, and little to show. It has spent rather too much time conning Kingstonians and their City Councillors. It has certainly served admirably as a pawn of the land and business owners in Downtown Kingston.

See, council is elected to make decisions. But once elected, the KEDCO and the BIA get systemic regular access to influence the decision makers for the duration of the term. The City of Kingston even recenty decided to move a large number of City staff into downtown offices, all the easier for Downtown Kingston players to influence them too.


The The KEDCO / BIA web

That's how Downtown Kingston set the agenda for the whole of amalgamated Kingston between 2003 and 2006, and a small, shoe-horned, and massively unpopular rushed LVEC is what we're apparently stuck with.

KEDCO fully deserves the reset that's coming after this election.

Published: 11/03/06 02:42:34 PM
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A glance back: January 28 2006

Late last January we all learned a lot about Councillor Kevin George, Mayor Harvey Rosen, and Councillor Rick Downes. This Whig Standard editorial and article from January 28, 2006 should not be forgotten now. It's about being consultative on the LVEC, about our neighbourhood rinks, and how we really got here.

Read the whole thing.

Published: 11/03/06 12:16:52 AM
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November 2, 2006

Another municipal blog: LIMESTONED

Here's another Kingston municipal blog with several LVEC-related posts already: LIMESTONED.

Published: 11/02/06 03:40:59 PM
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November 1, 2006

A glance at government funding for LVEC
There's a conspicuous blank spot on the sign proclaiming LVEC at the North Block site.

This is surely where the "new federal government of Canada" logo will go once federal money materializes. It might be a long wait: we've heard whispers that the arena project apparently doesn't pass some stinky prerequisites for federal funding.

Also, there's also a notable omission of the LVEC in the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion's news page. Kingston's LVEC should be listed there around the end of May 2006. A subsequent announcement of similar genre, funding for the National Soccer Stadium at Toronto's CNE (highlighted below), is listed.

How solid is LVEC government funding, anyway?

Under Rosen-era "open government", who knows? The LVEC Steering Committee hasn't met publicly in 16 months, and its most recent public minutes date from May 31st, 2005, that's May 2005, a mere 17 Months ago. In other words: zero public input or accountability since long before the North Block site was "selected".

Published: 11/01/06 10:43:37 PM
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October 30, 2006

Randy Cleary: Bullish on Kingston: I rate its stock a buy

Today The Whig published this letter from Randy Cleary.

Read the whole thing. His praise for the rule of Downtown Kingston is, quite frankly, spectacularly over-the-top.

What's never said, though, is this: Randy Cleary is on the Board of Directors of KEDCO. That somewhat explains the excessive cheerleading and the collegial self-congratulation that permeates Mr Cleary's letter.

We're not talking about token stakes here. In the 2005 KEDCO business plan, we find $654,888 (!) allocated to creating or retaining 150 manufacturing, warehouse and distribution jobs. Note Randy Cleary is listed there. The average Kingstonian is rather more interested in real accountability, as opposed to blind and mindless self-promotion from senior members the KEDCO club, especially those masquerading as independent objective opinions.

Published: 10/30/06 09:12:34 AM
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October 28, 2006

Harvey's Blog: Costly referendum or shovel in the ground?

Harvey Rosen's latest blog entry is up. Read the whole thing.

The thing Harvey Rosen doesn't get, and on November 14th he may wish he had, is if Rick Downe's LVEC referendum had been entertained, the LVEC would be a compartmentalized side-issue in this election, and not its uncontrollable primary issue.

We can say many things about Harvey Rosen, but saying he's political astute isn't one of them.

Unfortunately for the Downtown Uber Alles ruling faction of Council, two weeks from the election, it's not looking good for any of them. Here's how Council voted to quash the LVEC referendum motion that, ironically, may have saved many political careers.

Published: 10/28/06 03:51:53 PM
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October 27, 2006

Whig: Parking plan unveiled; 600 spots proposed near arena site (Updated)

Today The Whig published this article about the possibility of a 600-car parking garage behind the OHIP building. This would replace 225 existing parking stalls, for a net gain of about 375 stalls.

The most amazing things come up at election time, don't they?

Like an 8-story parking garage right on Kingston's waterfront is ever going to happen.

If the arena wasn't being built, waterfront reasons aside, this is not where you'd want to place a parking garage -- it's too far from the downtown core where most people work and shop. With parking garage stalls costing about $25,000 each to build, we're looking at $15million for 375 net new parking spaces, or $40,000 for each new stall. It doesn't make much sense and, if this goes ahead, the City will probably have to subsidize part of it.

We expect Harvey Rosen to tout this while being coy about the several million dollars this ersatz garage would add to the total cost of the LVEC.

It's not clear from the article where, exactly, the parking garage would stand. We're pretty sure some of the Whig's details are incorrect. Nonetheless, here's an aerial view of the general area, with a red outline showing where the garage might go.

Update: CKWS-TV reports that Mayor Rosen is applauding this news. Of course he is.

Published: 10/27/06 04:50:41 PM
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October 26, 2006

Whig: Should the arena go ahead?

It's Bruce Todd vs Don Curtis in today's Whig Standard, side by side.

If you need someone to shill the party line, equate the acts that grace 10,000-seat arenas with those that ply 5,000-seat arenas, and shamelessly present the promises of stadium promoters at face-value, call Don Curtis.

Moreover, Don Curtis' recent freelance work for KEDCO is not acknowledged in the article.

Don Curtis is a former executive vice-president and managing director of a large communications agency. His experience handling tourism-related communications includes several government departments or organizations, such as the federal Department of Tourism, the Ontario Department of Tourism, Ontario Place, the Canadian National Exhibition and Canada's Wonderland.
.... and KEDCO.
Published: 10/26/06 09:10:18 PM
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Harvey's blog: Rick serves up coal tar sandwich and slurs

Today Harvey Rosen, Kingston's current Mayor, serves us this. Read the whole thing.

There may be some way to salvage KEDCO, but something tells us this isn't it.

Published: 10/26/06 11:52:42 AM
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CKWS-TV: LVEC work going ahead

CKWS-TV News reports that work is proceeding on the contentious LVEC, and that foundations will soon be poured, regardless of the obvious uncertainty that permeates the atmosphere.

The lack of any broad public support for the project is increasingly clear. Today we face the prospect that few, if any, of the councillors who shilled the LVEC will be re-elected.

If ever there was evidence of lack of intelligence among senior managers at City Hall, this would be it. If the project starts in earnest now, then senior heads at City Hall will surely roll after the election. A conscientious manager would, instead, prepare the project for delay at best, and outright cancellation at worse. To blindly proceed now is ethically reprehensible.

Published: 10/26/06 10:48:10 AM
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October 25, 2006

Harvey Rosen: Reality Check #8

Over at Mayor Harvey Rosen's blog, "Reality Check #8" was posted earlier today.

Read also the Mayor's Reality Check #7. Heck, read 'em all. Several of them are LVEC-related.

Published: 10/25/06 07:53:17 PM
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Whig: Downes would move arena

Yesterday's Whig reports that Mayoral candidate Rick Downes would, if elected, move the Arena to the Memorial Centre site.

This is a conversation Mayor Rosen should have initiated back in early 2004. He never entertained the idea, so now people will, one way or another, get their say. Rosen's not going to like the answer.

The Rosen campaign responds with this 3-page media release. Talk about the pot caling the kettle black.

Published: 10/25/06 10:17:02 AM
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October 24, 2006

It rocks that the LVEC and the LCBO are kitty corner

The City probably thought it got something special when the Frontenacs conceded the LVEC's pouring rights.

What's the margin when four lads order one large pop and three tap waters with lots of ice? We're guessing it won't take long for the wise to figure out their pre-event routines.

Published: 10/24/06 07:12:42 PM
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More from the downtown echo chamber: Peter Kingston

Wood Gundy's Peter Kingston sent this letter to The Whig, which they published on Saturday.

Once elected, the process started with a group of people from the community being assigned the task of choosing the best location for an entertainment centre. Once their decision was made, the democratic process continued.
We wonder what's so democratic about a hand-picked secretive task force mostly composed of Downtown Kingston sycophants who produced no record of any quantitative location analysis. That committee then submitted their report to a Council heavy with Downtown Kingston Uber Alles councillors, who approved a puppet steering committee chaired by a manipulative Downtown Kingston BIA board member, all of which leads to the predictable fiasco in which we find ourselves embroiled today.
The recommended location, Anglin Bay, was hotly debated by council. It was decided that the centre should be built on the North Block. Again, after plenty of lively discussion and debate, votes were cast to decide who should build and operate the entertainment centre. It is my understanding that the arrangement with the builder is a design-build contract that very much lowers the risk of going over budget.
We wonder which city Mr Kingston has been observing. Anglin Bay was a done deal until KCAL dropped an 11th hour show-stopping 4,000-name petition on Council. New plans were quickly improvised, at the very last minute, and all subsequent plans and votes were all ridiculously rushed and compressed into last-minute stand-offs.

Also, it's shocking that someone from Wood Gundy would offer us such a shallow appraisal of the project's financial risk.

The simple fact is this: there has never been any evidence of broad support for building an arena at the sole whim of the Downtown BIA, and now that it's election time, this is increasingly evident to everyone.

It's pretty clear that the people of Kingston are seeing through transparent attempts to bullshit them into believing the LVEC process has been democratic, and that its benefits, assuming any beyond the Springer family, will outweigh its costs.

Downtown Kingston would be well advised to cease bluffing and recognize that they've over-played their hand. They should genuinely attempt to fix this problem before the election. Otherwise, what's coming is a well-deserved haircut that may leave Downtown Kingston without any meaningful representation on Council for the next four years.

In short, Downtown Kingston will either suck it up before the election, or do so for a long time afterwards.

Published: 10/24/06 10:45:02 AM
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Exhibitionist: It's KCAL's fault

Mr David Cliff, who once posted under the alias " Exhibitionist" on the Kingston Electors forums before getting tossed, continues to blame KCAL for the city-wide fallout arising from the arrogance of Mayor Rosen and his coterie.

Published: 10/24/06 10:36:08 AM
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The text of Stoparczyk's hilarious letter

We've posted the text of George Stoparczyk's letter to the Editor printed Saturday in The Whig.

Writing about Kevin George's pledge to re-open the arena project, Stoparczyk' says:

"I cannot find the people that are supporting this thing" is a statement that strains the credibility of the speaker.

Evidently George Stoparczyk doesn't get out much, and he's not paying attention to what everyone, city-wide, is reporting from the campaign trail.

George Stoparczyk is not running for re-election.

Published: 10/24/06 10:04:47 AM
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October 22, 2006

Time for another 2008 Memorial Cup reality check
Anyone who thinks or says Kingston has potential to host the 2008 Memorial Cup is lying to you. You need only check the OHL Standings to see that the perpetually moribund Kingston Frontenacs with a pathetic attendance record that matches their performance are currently dead last in the league standings.

We've talked about Kingston's Memorial Cup chances here and here. The Memorial Cup comes to Ontario every three years. The host team gets a bye into the tournament. It follows that only competitive teams have a chance of selection -- ignoring that the successful bidder also needs a functional arena large enough to keep the CHL and the OHL in clover, which Harvey Rosen's LVEC most certainly isn't.

Not that any of this stops Harvey Rosen from continuing to insult the intelligence of Kingstonians with baloney like this:

Published: 10/22/06 09:31:20 PM
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October 21, 2006

New feature: LVEC news item timeline

We've just posted an interactive LVEC news item timeline. This is handy when you're looking for details a particular event in the past.

Click and drag to scroll the timeline left or right. Double-click on the lower band, and the timeline will automatically scroll to center on that date. Click on any item to see the news story.

Published: 10/21/06 10:46:34 PM
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October 19, 2006

More drivel from Sydenham District incumbent Floyd Patterson
When we first saw Floyd Patterson's campaign pamphlet, it appeared to be a draft copy, complete with typographic errors. Surely this can't be what's meant to be said. But now the same text also appears on Floyd Patterson's website. Get a load of this baloney from Sydenham District incumbent Floyd Patterson's campaign materials:
This is what Floyd helped deliver in the last term...
  • An unprecedented "Great Debate" affirmed our belief in the right to speak out and gave birth to the Kingston Regional Entertainment Centre -- a new home for our Junior B Hockey franchise and providing Kingston with a major entertainment destination

Floyd, what are you talking about?

As an elected representative who supported the LVEC without fail, lobbing ceremonial softball questions and accepting promoters' estimates at face-value instead of protecting Kingston's taxpayers from fleecing, Floyd Patterson doesn't seem to be up-to-speed on this dossier.


See also: Floyd Patterson: Mr Happy.

Published: 10/19/06 08:15:31 PM
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October 18, 2006

Kevin George: LVEC Position (Updated)

Mayoral candidate Kevin George puts the smelly fish squarely on the table.

As councillor for Loyalist-Cataraqui district, I work hard to keep myself informed on the attitudes and views of my constituents.

With this view in mind, I voted against the motion that Council approve a total project budget of $41.77 million. This motion was carried by a vote of 8 to 5.

As I continue to campaign throughout our City, the one issue that unites thousands of Kingstonians is their opposition to having the LVEC in a downtown location. I'm reminded of this opposition on a daily basis at countless doorsteps, in coffee shops, shopping malls, through telephone calls and in emails.

In view of the significant citywide opposition to the LVEC being in a downtown location, I believe that this issue needs to be re-examined and, if elected as your new Mayor, I will support any motion to do so by the new City Council.

.

Update: Articles by The Whig and CKWS-TV.

Published: 10/18/06 01:54:03 AM
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October 17, 2006

Sault Ste Marie opens new 5,000-seat, $25M Steelback Centre
The Steelback Centre in Sault Ste Marie opened last week. The building seats 5,000 for hockey, 6,500 for concerts, and is designed to be expandable.

More on the Steelback Centre at Wikipedia. See its underwhelming events calendar here. According to the Wikipedia article, the arena's naming rights were sold to Steelback for $135,000 per year over a period of ten years.

In contrast, Kingston's LVEC seats the same number of patrons, has a projected cost of $42 Million, and naming rights are expected to fetch $150,000 per year.

Published: 10/17/06 10:24:40 PM
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October 13, 2006

Vicki Schmolka campaign, Day 11

Vicki Schmolka reports an interesting comment from a potential voter in Trillium District.

A man with a young family told me that he believes that within a few years the LVEC deficit will be too much for the city, and the Springers will be buying the building for 20 cents on the dollar. (like Skydome)

Actually, given the fabulous 20-year deal cut by the Frontenacs (40 years of you include extensions) it's inconceivable that the LVEC could be sold to anyone else.

Published: 10/13/06 12:51:26 PM
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Revisiting the Memorial Centre

Here's a look back at one of Council's LVEC-related votes of September 20, 2005, the same night KCAL submitted its show-stopping petition on Council. Instead of realizing the LVEC project was rotten to the core, and ought to be completely re-thought, supine swing councillors including Kevin George, Bittu George, George Sutherland, and Beth Pater were lured into endorsing the North Block location that we are today stuck with.

Here's where council stood on the issue of seeking a broader consideration of locations for the proposed LVEC.

Published: 10/13/06 10:19:25 AM
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October 12, 2006

Tracking the size and composition of the Downtown Kingston BIA
Because the BIA has quite a lot to answer for.

Category: LVEC pre-construction background data.
Source: http://www.downtownkingston.ca/bd_browse.php
See also: The 2006 LVEC parking area fast food franchise index

Published: 10/12/06 12:45:45 AM
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October 11, 2006

Trillium District All Candidates' Meeting, October 10, 2006

Kingston Electors' Nancy Foster reports on yesterday's all candidates meeting in Trillium District.

Is this municipal campaign all about LVEC? How widespread and deep is opposition to LVEC? Is that all voters care about?

If this meeting is any example the answer is yes, the campaign is about LVEC and those who attend public meetings are overwhelmingly opposed to it.

Read the whole thing.
Published: 10/11/06 10:42:57 AM
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October 10, 2006

Whig: Arena access concerns linger

Today The Whig reports what's plainly obvious to all who've seen the proposed LVEC location, read the evidently shallow and supine IBI traffic study (see also here and here), and seen the site plans: Getting to Harvey Rosen's Place Kingston Garnier Fructis Place de Kingston will be a zoo, especially of you aren't fully able-bodied.

Published: 10/10/06 11:11:04 PM
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Public Memorial Centre site planning workshops, Oct 18-21

Here's the flyer for the Memorial Centre site planning workshops to be held at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall, 214 Concession Street at the following times:

The Memorial Centre is marooned, without any identified source of funding. The future costs of operating the Memorial Centre does not factor, in any way, into the costs for the LVEC. Such is Rosen-era project accoutability.

Published: 10/10/06 02:22:30 PM
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October 4, 2006

A glance at Rosen-era project accountability
To December 31 2005, Gerard Hunt, Commissioner of Finance and Corporate Performance of the City of Kingston, reported LVEC project spending of $719,843

.

To March 31, 2006, the City reports LVEC expenses of $804,004.

.

To June 30, 2006, the City reports LVEC expenses of $453,175.

How is this possible? How can total spending on this project be decreasing with time?

Answer: the $504,100 the city blindly wasted on Anglin Bay isn't currently being reported as a project cost. In other words, the mismanagement and the mistakes arising from the blind, done deal, screw-everyone-else mentality that drives this project is being hidden away by the accounting staff at city hall.

What's more, it's not clear whether any of these figures include the considerable municipal staff time and other overhead allocations. We're guessing they don't. Another cost that's hidden elsewhere is the heap of money wasted on the boulevarding of Wellington Street.

One thing is certain: up to June 30th 2006, the official tally represents much less than half of the costs incurred so far.

The galling thing behind all this deceitful accounting: It's sanctioned by Council. The vote (see below) came down along the usual lines:

.

Published: 10/04/06 11:28:39 AM
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October 1, 2006

LVEC comments from Vicki Shmolka's campaign

Today Vicky Shmolka shares more LVEC-related campaign impressions. The so-called silent majority is speaking out, again.

Published: 10/01/06 12:59:00 PM
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September 28, 2006

Kingston and the "Physical Activity and Recreation Infrastructure Deficit"
Today the Provincial-Territorial Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport, Physical Activity, and Recreation issued a press release calling on communities to increse opportunities for sport and recreation. The press release opens like this:
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"?

Published: 09/28/06 07:02:47 PM
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September 26, 2006

The 2006 LVEC parking area fast food franchise index is 3

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.

.

Published: 09/26/06 09:05:42 AM
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September 22, 2006

YouTube.com: 152 Tragically Hip videos, and counting

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.

Published: 09/22/06 02:13:14 PM
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Whig: Committee approves arena's site plan

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.

Published: 09/22/06 09:52:43 AM
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September 21, 2006

Floyd Patterson: Mister Happy
Today The Whig published this story about tonight's Planning Committee meeting where, if the committee has any collective sense of ethics, the construction on the KRSEC will be delayed. Therein The Whig attributes startling comments to Councillor Floyd Patterson:
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:

Published: 09/21/06 09:29:04 AM
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September 18, 2006

Bruce Todd's final comments on the IBI transportation study.
Bruce Todd has compiled his thoughts about the IBI Transportation study for the KRSEC.

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
Published: 09/18/06 04:38:07 PM
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September 17, 2006

KRSEC final approval: let's give George Wallace carte blanche
The Thursday September 21st Planning Committee agenda is out.

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.

Published: 09/17/06 10:40:16 AM
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September 15, 2006

IBI's Kingston Regional Sports And Entertainment Centre transportation study
Here is the 55-page Kingston Regional Sports And Entertainment Centre transportation study prepared by the IBI Group and released in July. This report was never put online by the City of Kingston, and we think we have an inkling why.

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.

Published: 09/15/06 12:11:31 AM
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September 13, 2006

Lanie Hurdle replaces Don Gedge
CKWS-TV reports that Lanie Hurdie is replacing Don Gedge at the helm of the LVEC project. Mr Gedge has been sidelined indefinitely due to health issues.

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.

See also Google

.

Published: 09/13/06 09:51:02 AM
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September 12, 2006

First notes from campaigning door-to-door

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.

Published: 09/12/06 11:27:58 PM
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Whig Editorial: Walking the walk (updated)

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.

Published: 09/12/06 10:52:56 AM
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September 10, 2006

Summaries of the September 7 2006 Planning Committee meeting

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.

Published: 09/10/06 02:10:49 PM
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September 8, 2006

Pro-LVEC Council Candidate: Tom Dall, Cataraqui district

Tom Dall refers to the "exciting new LVEC development" in this letter to the Kingston City Police Association. Tom Dall is contesting Sara Meers' seat in Cataraqui ward.

Published: 09/08/06 04:28:46 PM
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September 6, 2006

The cost of finding a namer
Here's an article about the cost to the City of Saskatoon of hiring a company to find a company that will pay for the right to put its name on a facility. Saskatoon's planned Blairmore Centre is their version of a multiplex. It will cost about $200,000 to hire a consultant to sell the naming rights. Contrast this with Kingston's LVEC, whose dealings in such matters are opaque to the public.

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.

Published: 09/06/06 09:11:54 AM
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September 4, 2006

Here's the space use at the 100-level

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.

Published: 09/04/06 04:16:30 PM
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Frontenacs space usage in the LVEC - KRSEC
Illustrated here, shaded in yellow, is the Kingston Frontenacs space in the LVEC - KRSEC according to plans for the Concourse and Mezzanine levels. To these we must add one of the luxury suites, drawings of which have not been released. All this is part of the Frontenacs 20-year deal, which is sweet. Read the whole thing.

Click for larger versions.

Published: 09/04/06 02:33:57 PM
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September 3, 2006

It just never ends with these people
In the Tuesday September 5th 2006 Council meeting agenda:

.

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":

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The people who run Kingston's hotels apparently don't know how much they've already overplayed their hand with Kingston's taxpayers.

Published: 09/03/06 02:53:40 AM
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September 2, 2006

Planning Committee documents finally available

The Planning Committee agenda for next Thursday's meeting is now online. Accompanying this is the staff report including, finally, some drawings for the public.

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.

Published: 09/02/06 05:33:02 PM
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August 31, 2006

KCAL puts some KRSEC (LVEC) site plans online

In mid-August, some dedicated KCAL members went to the City offices on Midland to view materials that the City didn't want to put online. These montages are site plans for the dysfunctional Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre (LVEC). You should see an "All Sizes" link above each photo where you can see a much larger versions. Some things to note:

We're sorry about the dodgy quality but at least it's online, which is way more than the lazy managers at City Hall are doing for us.

Published: 08/31/06 11:48:16 AM
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August 30, 2006

Vicki Schmolka has information on the Sept 7 Planning Committee Meeting

Vicki Schmolka has the scoop on how the Planning Committee meeting is supposed to go.

Published: 08/30/06 08:54:19 PM
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August 29, 2006

September 7 Planning Committee meeting announced

The City of Kingston has announced a public meeting for Thursday September 7th. At this meeyting a change in zoning is proposed, and the site plan application is scheduled for approval.

Such is the rush to build this arena that there is no integration plan: it's an arena mindlessly plunked and shoehorned at the Lasalle Causeway entrance to the city. Public comment is not sought, never was.

Published: 08/29/06 05:23:20 PM
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August 21, 2006

More marina shenanigans

The same bright-lights at City Hall who saw nothing odious with clobbering a private marina with an arena are now apparently in the midst of an accelerated process to delete Portsmouth Olympic Harbour and Confederation Basin from our municipal commonwealth, or at least insofar as boaters, residents, and local regatta organizers are accustomed to using them.

Read the whole thing, especially the background documents.

Published: 08/21/06 05:22:01 PM
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Whig: Tab for Grand overhaul tops $17M
Today's whig carries this story about the cost escallations on the Grand Theatre project. This comes on the heels of a Whig story on Saturday's (not online) about the Multiplex, still in planning stages, costing an extra $9.1 Million.

The incompetence of City Staff clearly hath no bounds. Wait, there's more: at Tuesday's Council meeting there will be debate on a By-Law to Indemnify Council Members and Employees against Legal Proceedings and Damage Awards or Fines. The taxpayers of Kingston get screwed by City staff yet again.

Published: 08/21/06 05:10:42 PM
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August 18, 2006

LVEC Site Plan Meeting: Sep 7th at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers

Vicki Schmolka reports on Thursday evening's Planning Committee meeting where they set the time and place for the meeting to review the site plan for the LVEC, AKA the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre. That meeting will be held on September 7th at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

Published: 08/18/06 01:43:41 AM
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"Friends Of The Entertainment Centre" website goes dark
Right on schedule, the "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" website has expired and no longer replies to web queries. The Friends' website was an embarrassing scam from day one. The website was created by Mat Abramsky to manufacture the illusion of public support for the LVEC.

During the LVEC-ramming epoch, Mat Abramsky was an employee of KEDCO, via his father Jay Abramsky who is a KEDCO board member and a BIA mover.

Here's another thing about Mat Abramsky: He was the originator of the Youth of Kingston support the LVEC online petition that, over more than a year, managed to collect fewer than 200 signatures online, many of them clearly bogus. By contrast, KCAL collected over 4,000 signatures opposed to the LVEC, real signatures on paper, over a three week period.

We've saved a copy of the Friends' of the Entertainment website, including the list of its members padded with the names of minor children, for future generations to enjoy.

The next LVEC-related website to go dark will be watchkingstongrow.com which expires in April 2007. That website, panned by KCAL here, was described as so misleading it would never be approved to sell used cars or soap. by Claude Scilley, Sports Editor of The Whig Standard.

The KCAL website, documenting the Kingston LVEC fiasco and the excesses of the Downtown Kingston BIA (see also here), will be online until the year 2015 at least.

Published: 08/18/06 01:38:55 AM
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August 13, 2006

Feb 2004 BIA LVEC Presentation

Here's the text of the BIA's LVEC Task Force Presentation dated February 20, 2004.

Read the whole thing.

Interesting how their semi-workable concept of using the "North Blocks" morphed into a much smaller and dysfunctional building shoehorned on just one block.

Published: 08/13/06 11:21:02 AM
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August 10, 2006

See it while you can

It may be days until the FriendsOfTheEC.org website goes dark. The registration information states an expiration date of 16-Aug-2006.

Published: 08/10/06 08:15:42 PM
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More deceptive graphics from The City of Kingston
Get a load of the front-and-centre image on the City's LVEC home page. Frontenac Village and the Food Basics just do not exist, and there are wide boulevards and ample verdant greenspace.

How is the average person in Kingston supposed to get accurate information about the LVEC?

Cynthia Beach heads the department that continuously brings us these misrepresentations.

Published: 08/10/06 08:11:17 PM
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August 2, 2006

The Operators

In mid-July the City of Kingston made this announcement that the LVEC operators were not, in fact, O&Y/SMG, but Arcturus/SMG, which is a combination of Arcturus Realty and SMG.

Looking at the SMG roster of arena-style venues, Kingston's will be very small, across the border, and not, as some are insinuated, situated conveniently between other SMG venues on the 401 Highway axis.

See SMG's glorious prospects at the 5,600 seat Hershey Centre in Mississauga, SMG's only other venue in Ontario, home of the Ice Dogs, with a market population of 4,500,000 and 2,200 on-site parking spaces.

All this ain't the stuff of the hyperbole coming from the current Mayor of Kingston.
Published: 08/02/06 01:07:14 AM
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August 1, 2006

Whig: What's in a name?

Monday The Whig published this story about naming rights for the LVEC.

The rights are expected to bring $150,000 in revenue annually for about 10 years, according to the budget submitted by the centre's private operator.

"Frankly, I think we can do better," Rosen said, adding the budgeted price was conservative.

Conservative? translation: don't expect a quick deal here. What prospects are offered here is the naming a dysfunctional building, born of dysfunctional city project management, housing an incompetently operated hockey team. All told, the namer of the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre is being asked to partner with a third-class operation complete with hick-town politics (see also here) and all that comes with that.

The City of Kingston appears to be ripe for the pickings on naming rights.

Moreover, when it comes to naming rights, even John Labatt isn't immune from embarrassing events.

The Whig follows-up on Tuesday with this puzzling editorial which, among other things, emphasises constraints on the limited pool of prospects for the dubious benefit of naming the dysfunctional home of a local OHL franchise.

Published: 08/01/06 11:40:57 PM
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July 18, 2006

Another 'done deal' down at City Hall?
This one takes the cake: from the Repurposing of Identified Community Centres / Arenas - Repurposing Stakeholder Consultation Plan, which is about the done-deal that is the planned "repurposing" of many of Kingston's neighborhood arenas.
The City of Kingston has secured the services of Rob Wood of 8020 Info Inc., working closely with City of Kingston staff, to provide various services in delivering an effective outcome through transparent and open consultation with the above described key stakeholders as outlined in the 'Repurposing stakeholder Consultation Plan'. The Communications Division and its staff are also providing key guidance and support throughout the process.
Mr Wood, you may recall, is a front-row Council cheerleader. You can find him listed as a Friend of the Entertainment Centre, an early presenter in the BIA-led pro-waterfront LVEC public meeting, a member of the Downtown BIA's Marketing Task Force Committee, and a participant in other BIA-led shows of strength.

The Downtown BIA was already over-influential beyond reason in matters of municipal recreation services. And now this.

Published: 07/18/06 06:21:51 PM
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July 12, 2006

Bruce Todd to The Editor: Whig missed big arena story

Bruce Todd sent this letter to The Whig Standard which was published today.

Therein:

The Whig had its chance to challenge the details of an LVEC but buried its head in the sand. I know for a fact that The Whig was sent hundreds of articles expressing concern about this venture, but show me one article the newspaper put together voicing these concerns.
Read the whole thing.

Also related to the City of Kingston's complete disregard for traffic planning and the LVEC, another article in today's paper titled No way out for condo owners which emphasises how dysfunctional the North Block site really is.

Published: 07/12/06 11:40:29 AM
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A glance at Douglas Fluhrer Park

Douglas Fluhrer Park has rarely looked more neglected than it does today which, as our Flickr photo set shows, is saying something.

Meanwhile, the Douglas Fluhrer Park sign was missing a slat over two years ago, and it still isn't repaired.

The sign proclaiming it as a permit-only parking lot, on the other hand, is new.

Published: 07/12/06 01:11:26 AM
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July 6, 2006

Whig editorial: The arena's traffic woes

In a stunning display of hypocrisy, today's Whig Standard editorial poses questions about traffic and parking that have been evident to many, and known to Whig editors, since April 2005 (see also here and here and here and here).

Why isn't there a separate traffic study of the North Block? The need for one is obvious.

The Whig Standard should be ashamed to be posing such questions now that it's far too late.

The Whig has also been silent about the quality of the City's LVEC-related communications with its citizens, including traffic and parking, which have been borderline unethical (see also here and here) and saying nothing about the ethics of some arena supporters and the systemic influence of Downtown Kingston BIA in the so-called LVEC "process" (see also here).

Kingstonians are understandably concerned about traffic flowing in and out of the new civic centre. The irony is that given the experience of other cities, whose debt-ridden centres lie empty most of the week, Kingstonians should be more concerned about traffic not flowing in and out of ours.
When it comes to the LVEC, far be it for the Whig to now belatedly suggest what Kingstonians should be concerned about. The LVEC has been a done-deal, an inside-job, from the very start and by actively ignoring this, The Whig is complicit in the deal. Whig Publisher Fred Laflamme is a founding member of "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" and a prominent participant in thinly disguised, one-time-only pro-LVEC sideshows.

Shame on the Whig.

Published: 07/06/06 10:48:28 AM
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June 23, 2006

City seeks a Capital Program Manager

Here is the City of Kingston ad for a Capital Program Manager. Interesting that the term "risk" appears zero times in the advertisement.

Judging by the very near closing date -- two weeks, about the same time alloted to the hiring of clerks -- and the mix of skills required, this ad appears to be ceremonial. Another done-deal down at City Hall? Regardless, candidates with substantial private-sector experience need not apply.

Published: 06/23/06 09:09:34 AM
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June 22, 2006

Whig: Market Square falls short

The Whig Standard reports today that public donations for Market Square renovations are falling over a million dollars short.

Considering that Market Square is seriously damaged goods, we probably should be thankful the shortfall isn't much greater.

The people "managing" the LVEC "process" would be well advised to get the $2M in "public donations" in the bank before the LVEC acquires any more of that rancid, Market-Square smell. In both these cases, the taxpayer is ultimately on the hook, and the promises made by half-baked fundraising side-shows is just another among a long list of promises from Kingston's downtown business community that should never have been taken at face value by demonstrably incompetent City staff and our current systemically biased Council.

Published: 06/22/06 10:16:33 AM
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June 13, 2006

Independent Voice: In which we follow the money

Jamie Swift asks in the June 2006 edition of Independent Voice: Who pays? Who profits?

Published: 06/13/06 10:31:38 PM
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June 9, 2006

Entertainment facilities ineligible for development charges
A sharp-eyed contributor points out that, according to the Development Charges Act of 1997, entertainment facilitiy funding is considered an ineligible use of development charges. Kingston's dodgy LVEC project has a $3M component of its funding that is supposed to come from development charges.

It looks like the project's obviously inadequate $1.5Million contingency may already be spent twice-over.

Nevermind that Kingston's development charges bylaw, created in 2004, is intended in part to address Kingston's very low per-capita recreational square footage, and its hijacking for the LVEC is nothing less than outright theft from the residents of Kingston.

From the Development Charges Act:

Considering the LVEC is now informally named at the "Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre" there is little doubt that the LVEC is ineligible to a notable degree.

From the LVEC Business Plan:

From the LVEC Design-Build documents (the Business Plan part deux):

Published: 06/09/06 12:25:28 PM
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June 8, 2006

City of Kingston's statement of taxpayer immunity
The City of Kingston published this item in Kingston This Week on June 6 2006. It's also available here. We've preserved copies of this because, well, because this one's a keeper if ever there was.

Over the next few days we'll have a lot more to say about this. For the time being, enjoy this piece of propaganda in its pristine and original condition, un-annotated, with the full pretense of its credibility un-shredded.

The person admitting responsibility for this ad, and presumably its creative aspects, is Paul MacLatchy, P.Eng.

Keep in mind that these numbers were only released on May 27th 2006, and on May 30th, a mostly supine, gullible, and unduly influenced Council (see also here and here) voted 8-5 in favour of final approval of the LVEC project.

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Published: 06/08/06 10:59:54 AM
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June 6, 2006

The Grand Theatre cost overrun report exposes City staff weaknesses
The Whig recently published two stories about the Grand Theatre cost overrun fiasco. Yesterday's story, No one to blame for Grands cost overrun, report finds, and today's, Lifting back the Curtain. Also CKWS-TV has a story transcript here and Kingston This Week weighs-in here. These accounts all broad-brush the findings and recommendations of the 19-page Assessment of the Grand Theatre Redevelopment Project prepared by the firm of KPMG.

The tally of hidden costs of the rushing and selling the deeply flawed LVEC project to swing Councillors remains unknown, but the derailing of the Grand Theatre project, along with the resources KEDCO wasted away from its core mission both ought to count for something. So more than an imminent financial disaster, the Rosen LVEC adversely affects everything else, including what some on this Council prematurely hail as accomplishments.

There is probably no better example of the managerial incompetence of City staff than the following pargraph in the 314-word Risk Assessment section of the Large Venue Entertainment Centre: Evaluation of Design-Build Proposals which, in fact, is the long overdue and rushed (and buried) revision to the stale and misleading[1] business plan documents that are still central to the city's so-called "communications" for the LVEC project.

Who is responsible for this drivel? Cynthia Beach, P.Eng. If anyone should answer for sugar-coating the LVEC project, the planning shortcuts, the whitewashing of risk, the wonky communications, and her department's inability to execute, all leading to an eventual taxpayer fleecing, it's Ms. Beach. Expect to eventually hear news of her mysterious exit to employment elsewhere.


[1] The business plan documents still show Anglin Bay concept diagrams, a site that was rejected nine months ago, in September 2005.
Published: 06/06/06 10:55:18 AM
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June 3, 2006

Whig: Does arena deal give Fronts home-ice fiscal advantage?

Now that it's too late, The Whig finally explores a pertinent question.

The abject failure of Kingston's mainstream media in conveying the many dodgy aspects (also here and here and here and here and here and here and here...) of the arena deal and its evolution is astounding. We hope to fully summarize the failure of mainstream media to serve Kingston citizens, but for now it's notable that Whig publisher Fred Laflamme is a founding member of the "Friends of the Entertainment Centre" and that both Kingston This Week and The Whig Standard newspapers are owned by the same struggling outfit and pandering to advertisers evidently trumps everything else.

There is probably no better example of this than a line from the story by Stephen Petrick in Kingston This Week on Friday, June 02, 2006.

But overwhelming community support for the project shifted the attitude of a few councillors who were iffy from the get go.
Overwhelming community support?. That's rich.

Over most of a year the Friends of the EC collected only 800 names online. Over more than a year the "The Youth of Kingston Support LVEC" petition collected only 200 names online. In both those online polls a notable proportion of names belong to children.

In contrast, KCAL submitted 3,700 real signatures, on paper (over 4,000 with late returns) collected over a single one-month period. Both the tally of Whig Standard letters and the more recent oldies 960 online poll show LVEC support at one-in-three at best. The same can be said of media polls that were visible for a time, conducted online by The Whig, Kingston This Week, and CKWS-TV. At no point did any indicator ever show even a hint of majority support for the LVEC project.

What really happened is Downtown Kingston pulled out all the stops (also here), blatantly lied to Kingstonians, and most of Council, including ALL THREE so-called "swing" Councillors are systematically entwined by downtown business interests. Councillor Patterson even went so far to publicly thank Mr Jeff Garrah for his dilligent work on the project. If that doesn't qualify as a malappropriation of public resources, what does? Rick Downes warned everyone about using city staff to ram through the arena back in October 2004.

Overwhelming community support? Stephen Petrick needs to get a clue.

Published: 06/03/06 01:25:25 PM
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May 31, 2006

Council approves arena by 8-5 margin

History will inevitably and very soon show how Councillor Bittu George, Councillor Beth Pater, and Councillor George Sutherland, especially Councillor Sutherland, were utterly suckered by the excessive and structurally systematic influence of downtown business interests on Council.

It will soon be clear what the BIA has pulled off: credit for $3 Million, and it won't cost them a dime.

But what's also amazing is the financial plan calls for a minuscule $1.5 Million contingency, and the way the deal is structured, taxpayers alone, in addition to what they are already paying, shoulder all cost overrun risks. This is, quite simply, outrageous.

The Whig has three accounts today: here, here, and here.

Published: 05/31/06 11:31:53 AM
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May 30, 2006

We've preserved this Ministry Of Health Promotion home page for posterity

Here is what the Ministry Of Health Promotion, the source of $4 Million for Kingston's LVEC, is ostensibly all about : On the About The Ministry page:

The Ministry will help Ontarians lead healthier lives by delivering programs that promote healthy choices and healthy lifestyles. To do this the Ministry will work closely with partners, stakeholders and all levels of government.

In addition, the Ministry will facilitate access to information and programs by partnering with various ministries, including the ministries of Health and Long Term Care, Education, Agriculture and Food, Children and Youth Services and Labour on initiatives that can target specific sectors of society. The Ministry of Health Promotion looks forward to working with these partners and many others in establishing an active and healthy Ontario.

On the Sports and Recreation page:

The ministry encourages involvement in sport, recreation and physical activity for the health, social, and economic benefit of Ontarians and the communities in which they live. Through its support of the sport and recreation sectors at the provincial and local level, the ministry helps meet the government's priorities in health, education, job creation and economic growth and promotion of voluntarism.

The ministry contributes to a strong provincial sport system and the development of athletic achievement in Ontario. It fosters the involvement of children and youth in sport and recreation, recognizing their contribution to healthy child development and positive youth development.

Let's hope that the LVEC doesn't negatively affect these objectives in Kingston. How does this $4 Million handout for the LVEC affect other worthy causes and programs in Kingston? How does this affect Kingston's overall tally from this source? This can't be good. Is downtown Kingston stealing yet again from residents and kids all over our community?

Published: 05/30/06 02:26:13 PM
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May 29, 2006

$4 Million offered for Sports/Recreation

The City website proclaims that Ontario Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson announced a commitment of $4 million to support sport and recreation development in Kingston. Mayor Harvey Rosen thanked the minister and Kingston and the Islands MPP John Gerretsen for funding that could help build a proposed sports and recreation centre serving the Kingston region.

Remains to be seen if this will be construed as money for "elite sport and arena-based entertainment".

Published: 05/29/06 02:03:34 PM
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May 27, 2006

May 30th Meeting documents are posted

The documents for the May 30th Council meeting, 107 pages worth, are posted on the city website in multiple different documents.

Some early conclusions:

  • Budget is now $41.77M
  • 40-year term on debt
  • KAP to carry charges on $3M in debt.
  • Council is being asked to reconsider and approve that the $504,100 of site-related costs related to the Anglin Bay location be funded from the Working Fund Reserve.
  • The base building contingency cost is a laughable, laughable 5%.
  • "Incremental parking revenues" increase to $3M.
  • It is being recommended that the honorarium costs of $150,000 proposed to be given to the three unsuccessful proponents be funded from the Working Fund Reserve. (!)

    More to come...

  • Published: 05/27/06 10:56:39 AM
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    May 26, 2006

    CKWS-TV: Ellis Don is recommended for Design/Build

    CKWS-TV reports that Ellis-Don is the recommended firm to design and build the proposed LVEC.

    What's not in the transcript is film of Cynthia Beach stating that we might see a 40-year term on debt being proposed for the LVEC.

    Just how deplorable will LVEC project stewardship get? Remember, this is potentially just the begining.

    Good odds that this is window dressing for the Minister.

    Published: 05/26/06 09:59:36 PM
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    May 21, 2006

    Medicine Hat: Arena Feasibility Study Report

    In November 2005 Nustadia Recreation Inc. submitted their 47-page Medicine Hat: Arena Feasibility Study Report that is both interesting and stark in contrast to what's going on here in Kingston.

    Notable is frankness about the attractiveness of 5-6000 seat stadiums in attracting premium sporting events. Here in Kingston, project proponents are not above shamelessly holding-up potential Memorial Cup tournaments as a realistic expectation.

    In Medicine Hat, unlike Kingston where the site is pre-determined by a back-room deal with the Downtown BIA (see also here), they publicly compared and contrasted 14 different sites throughout the city. The Nustadia report included a Site Analysis Matrix that equally weighted seven simple attributes.

    How do you think Kingston's North Block would score in Medicine Hat?

    Published: 05/21/06 01:50:13 PM
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    May 20, 2006

    Whig: If you build it, they won't leave

    The Whig reports today what everyone has expected all along: a threat by the Springers to sell their struggling OHL franchise.

    Over the past five complete seasons, the Frontenacs have played 170 regular season home games and only 5 home playoff games. They have sold out the Memorial Centre exactly once, and have attracted over 3,000 fans only three times. Over that period, the Kingston Frontenacs have attracted over 2,500 fans (75% of arena capacity) to fewer than 10% of their games.

    What evidence do we have that the Springer family will be able to support their end of the bargain, which relies entirely on their long-term ability to field a quality product on the ice that will attract 4,000-strong average attendance and a yearly average of four home playoff games per year over 30 years?

    Without a quality franchise there will be no long-term large crowds, no prospect of long playoff runs, and no chance whatsoever of already improbable things like Memorial Cup tournaments. So far, with just five home playoff games to show for the past five years, the Springers are the weak link anchoring an otherwise very weak and dodgy arena project. The so-called benefits that stand to accrue to the Springers (who own the team, hotels, and lots of downtown property) is totally out of proportion to their contributions to the project, and to their track record on the ice.

    Full list of the 16 Kingston Frontenac crowds over 2,500
    in the 175 games over the past 5 seasons.
    (170 season and 5 playoff games since 2001-2002)
    GameDateOpponent

    Attendance

    11175 21-Jan-05 London Knights 3300
    10953 19-Nov-04 Belleville Bulls 3079
    10532 15-Mar-02 Belleville Bulls 3079
    10055 09-Nov-01 Mississauga IceDogs 2957
    12243 31-Mar-06 Sudbury Wolves 2931
    11934 13-Jan-06 Belleville Bulls 2874
    9880 21-Sep-01 North Bay Centennials 2862
    10028 02-Nov-01 Belleville Bulls 2857
    12214 24-Mar-06 Sudbury Wolves 2806
    12100 24-Feb-06 Peterborough Petes 2773
    12128 03-Mar-06 Belleville Bulls 2746
    11149 14-Jan-05 Belleville Bulls 2720
    10635 20-Mar-04 Barrie Colts 2662
    9950 12-Oct-01 Oshawa Generals 2595
    6064 12-Mar-04 Oshawa Generals 2569
    11372 11-Mar-05 Belleville Bulls 2521

    Source: http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/stats

    Published: 05/20/06 03:03:01 PM
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    The "straight facts" from the Sports and Entertainment Centre hype machine, part two
    Not content with excessive systematic face-time with Council, the proponents behind the current $50,000 pro-LVEC ad campaign are apparently not above the pretense of providing "straight facts" to Kingstonians to pressure three swing Councillors to vote their way.

    A copy of this ad appears in Today's Whig Standard.


    (click for a larger view)

    We've looked at another one of the ads here.

    Published: 05/20/06 12:40:32 PM
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    May 17, 2006

    Downtown Kingston BIA's sweet arena deal in numbers (updated)
    The Downtown Kingston BIA has been driving the LVEC process from the inside since inception. The deal it has cut for itself at taxpayer's expense is, in a word, breathtaking. Here's how the deal works for the BIA, and against Kingston taxpayers.
    1. Kingston Taxpayers shoulder $3M in debt. It's notable that the BIA gets all credit for this amount in the mainstream media, as if this was new money earmarked for the project.
    2. The BIA will repay The City of Kingston $80,000 the first year, increasing by 4.5% per year for 30 years.
    3. The BIA will additionally pay, starting in year 11 (upon the end of the Princess Street revitalization project,), $60,000 more per year.
    This payment schedule is worth $3M when the rate of return is 4.57%. Here's an Excel spreadsheet that models the BIA deal.

    In effect, the city of Kingston is giving the BIA a 30-year mortgage at 4.57%. That's a sweet deal.

    There's more: If interest rates rise over the next 30 years, which is probable, taxpayers lose again because the deal is at a low rate for a remarkably long term. The only party protected in all this is the BIA.

    A reader named Graham adds:

    I have reviewed the payment schedule for the BIA's $3,000,000. contribution to the proposed LVEC. The BIA's payments are structured to avoid most if not all debt repayment until sometime after the 20th year. Assuming that the City borrows the $3,000,000. on behalf of the BIA this means that the City will have to cough up $100,000 + in the first year and on a declining basis each year thereafter until the BIA's increasing annual contributions catch up to the shortfall around the 20th year. This can be seen from the first year's interest of $137,100. on $3,000,000. at 4.57%. The annual debt charges (debt retirement plus interest - compounded annually) would be about $185,000. on an equal annual payment schedule over the 30 years.

    In short the City will have to meet the annual shortfall in the first 20 years or so by using taxpayers dollars in the earlier years until eventually recouped from the BIA. In effect the $3,000,000. BIA debt will balloon to say about $4,000,000. If the City chooses to structure this additional $1,000,000. dollars into its capital borrowing mix (by borrowing a bit more on other major capital projects) it could avoid the additional $100,000. demand for current tax dollars, but the effect would be a postponement of other capital needs until money from the BIA eventually comes in.

    No doubt the proposed debt repayment schedule was designed to accommodate the BIA's plans for projects without a big increase in rates to its members in the earlier years - might generate complaints! Admittedly these figures are not too significant in the City's total operation but I hope you find them useful.

    To the extent the 4.57% interest rate is below the City's borrowing rate it would constitute a subsidy or an effective contribution of less than $3,000,000.

    Q.E.D.

    There's more: Since the deal has a 30-year term, things that BIAs are supposed to fund according to the Municipal Act, like beautification and maintenance, the sort of thing called for in the Downtown Action Plan, must come from taxpayers instead. It is arguable, therefore, that ultimately the BIA contributes little or nothing to the LVEC's financing because BIA levies occur regardless, and are limited in practice to a reasonable maximum which they have already reached. So this "BIA contribution" money isn't new funding, it's existing funding with a convenient LVEC label on it. This money is "stolen" from the future things the BIA should, in fact, be paying for.

    Want more? The BIA's contribution is fixed, and remains the same whether the building costs $37.3 million, $40 million, or $50 million, nor does it vary if the building spins rather less cash than predicted, and requires annual taxpayer subsidy to cover the shortfall.

    Therefore the BIA calls all the shots, and controls the entire process, stages the sideshows (also here) and in net terms all this costs them little, arguably nothing.

    Keep in mind that all the so-called benefits of the proposed Sports and Entertainment Centre, if any, accrue in near totality to some of the BIA's wealthier and currently influential members, facility builders and operators, the City of Kingston parking enforcement department, and not to Kingstonians at large.

    Who speaks for the Kingston taxpayers in all this?

    Published: 05/17/06 11:10:33 AM
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    May 16, 2006

    Revealing the Sports and Entertainment Centre hype machine, part one

    Not content with excessive systematic face-time with Council, the proponents behind the current $50,000 pro-LVEC ad campaign are apparently not above wildly overstating, even fabricating benefits to Kingstonians to pressure three swing Councillors to vote their way.


    (click for a larger view)

    Published: 05/16/06 10:21:24 AM
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    May 15, 2006

    May 16 Council Agenda -- LVEC expenses of $804,004 to March 31st 2006. (Updated)

    At tomorrow's Council meeting, Gerard Hunt, Commissioner of Finance and Corporate Performance of the City of Kingston presents to Council his 1st Quarter 2006 Capital Budget Status Report. Buried within unsearchable scanned graphics (as opposed to text which is easily searched) is the following information about LVEC project expenses. $804,004 to March 31, 2006. (The total to Dec 31 2005 was $719,843).

    Update: The.PDF document is now mostly searchable -- the tables in landscape orientation remain unsearchable.

    It's not clear whether this figure includes the considerable municipal staff time and other overhead allocations. We're guessing it doesn't.

    .

    Update: In the same report there are also references to the BIA's LVEC Levy:

    LVEC Levy: is a special levy, representing the BIA's commitment to fund $80,000 towards the LVEC, as authorized by a memorandum of understanding between Council and the Board of the BIA [ed: full details here] in September 2005. A by-law authorizing this special levy will be presented to Council on May 30th; therefore, this levy will take effect upon passing of the appropriate by-law. Schedule C-5 attached to the by-law sets the rates and assessment upon which this levy is raised.
    Published: 05/15/06 12:38:02 PM
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    May 14, 2006

    Visual shenanigans in the Giffels / Norr consortium's model photographs? (Updated)
    It appears that City pictures of the Giffels / Norr consortium's LVEC model may have been manipulated to make it look smaller than it is. If so, then everyone who views the models of the proposed LVEC on the City website is visually deceived.

    Update: The photographer who took the model gallery pictures is Bernard Clark. We're told that they may have set up each shooting angle separately, and moved each model in and out for each angle, not marking the table for each model. If so, then none of the galleries be completely trusted for judging building size and encroachments.

    The photographs below, which are from the third and fourth photos in the Giffels / Norr image gallery, first show the North-West corner of the arena encroaching on Place d'Armes street. In the other view, there is no encroachment on Place d'Armes street. The model was altered between views in a way that benefits the Giffels / Norr proposal.

    Published: 05/14/06 05:35:57 PM
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    May 12, 2006

    The Giffels Construction and Norr Architects proponent handout

    Somewhat lost in the model presentations are the proponent handout documents, which vary between two and six pages in length. The Giffels-Norr consortium's handout uses 150 of their 1,300 words lauding Kirk Muller, mentioning his name no less than six times in two pages. City of Kingston taxpayers will pay $50,000 for this bid.

    There's a pattern emerging here: rolling-out a celebrity to plug holes.

    Published: 05/12/06 07:32:53 PM
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    Globe and Mail "In Conference" magazine -- No arenas
    Twice a year the Globe and Mail publishes a 32-page glossy magazine titled In Conference which serves as an advertising vehicle for conference venues. It's distributed across the country to Globe subscribers and meeting planners. The Spring 2006 issue was delivered yesterday.

    It's notable that in the current issue, as well as the Fall 2005 issue wherein London, Ontario was prominently featured, there is never a mention of hockey rinks or stadiums of any sort among the features and assets used to lure conventions and conferences. You'd think that if a 200'x85' surface with bowl seating was a competitive advantage in luring conventions and conferences that somebody would be pushing that, yet nobody appears to be doing so, certainly not in The Globe, in this magazine or anywhere else.

    Keep this in mind when LVEC proponents tell you that conferences and conventions is a notable reason to build Kingston's proposed LVEC.

    Published: 05/12/06 11:33:37 AM
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    The Peterboro Petes are bound for the Memorial Cup

    The Peterboro Petes, who play in the renovated 3808-seat Peterborough Memorial Centre (see renovation details here), defeated the London Knights to earn the right to be the OHL's entry at the 2006 Memorial Cup in Moncton.

    Published: 05/12/06 09:26:29 AM
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    May 11, 2006

    It's official: Public consultation to be avoided at all cost (updated)

    This is one of the Design-build RFP addenda wherein bidders' written questions are answered.

    Here's question 9:

    Related Update: CKWS has these comments from Mayor Rosen on camera:

    THE MAYOR SAYS THE CITY IS STILL WAITING FOR WORD ON THE GRANT, BUT IN THE MEAN-TIME PUBLIC INPUT IS THE MOST VALUABLE ADDITION TO THE PROCESS.

    "it's very important that the community has the input, and that they're seen to have input... that they understand that they're being listened to, in terms of what theyre (sic) preferences... in terms of the designs"


    Here's question 32:

    Published: 05/11/06 03:17:24 PM
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    CKWS-TV: North Block Models

    CKWS-TV was the first to broadcast and publish news of the LVEC models that are given a whopping 3-hour preview on a single night at City Hall tonight.

    Next was The Whig with this story though the photos are not online.

    Published: 05/11/06 10:55:36 AM
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    May 10, 2006

    We've just updated our LVEC relationships diagram
    We've just updated our LVEC relationships diagram to reflect the recent prominence of Kingston Accommodation Partners and their http://watchKingstongrow.com pro-LVEC ad campaign and accompanying website.

    The LVEC is currently being heavily promoted by the very group that stands to reap the totality of its benefits. Now we're hearing (and recording) many promises of not just spectator benefits, but commonwealth benefits, some of them astonishing, that are being written and broadcast.

    What's important to know is those who stand to benefit the most from the proposed LVEC are in for chickenfeed, and the taxpayer is all-in.

    Published: 05/10/06 08:32:32 PM
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    May 6, 2006

    Whig: Rink bidder broke rules: Politician

    Ottawa's Randy Sexton reportedly wrote in an email to Kingston City Council members:

    "Should we be selected as the LVEC operator, we would immediately engage with the community leaders in Kingston to map out a plan to include Kingston in various world junior events and games," the e-mail states. "We look forward to further discussing this with you."

    Read the whole thing.

    What we'd like to know is, what's the real difference between a junior team from say Latvia, and an OHL team like the Sudbury Wolves? A few additional hotel rooms maybe? So assume we see something like Latvia versus Norway in a meaningless pre-tournament exhibition friendly between mostly jet-lagged teens. How is that economically different from Sault Ste Marie vs Kingston on a Friday night followed by Sudbury vs Kingston on Saturday? Both scenarios involve no more than 40 hotel-room-nights in total, and the World Junior gig would be one box office, whereas the perfectly ordinary OHL weekend games is two, and the OHL games actually mean something. Just how economically significant is a World Junior exhibition game to Kingston, really? It's barely even notable.

    It's annoying to be taken for a bunch of country hicks by the likes of Randy Sexton. Regardless, Mr Sexton's blatant attempt to curry favour for his bid to operate Kingston's proposed LVEC has certainly been noticed.

    But it doesn't stop there. In a related story, Kingston This Week wrote this about statements reportedly attributed to the Kingston Frontenacs marketing director Jeff Stilwell.

    Although the 31 tournament games will be played in Ottawa, Kingston could draw exhibition games and "fingers crossed" maybe one would involve Canada, Stilwell said.
    It's inconceivable that Hockey Canada, which runs our national world junior program, would consent to interrupt the preparation of the national team in the Nation's Capital to play or publicly practice in Kingston given the number of larger-sized facilities in the National Capital region. None of those making "fingers crossed" comments to supposedly gullible Kingstonians have any say whatsoever in the preparation of the national junior squad, which will be meticulously planned and completely free from outside influence of the likes of Randy Sexton and the Kingston Frontenacs marketing department.
    Published: 05/06/06 02:28:36 PM
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    May 2, 2006

    Whig: Big names sing the praises of a bigger venue

    Here's the link to today's Whig story about Kingston business owners spending up to $50,000 on a "slick pro-entertainment centre ad campaign".

    Published: 05/02/06 06:09:57 PM
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    Kingston Accommodation Partners is behind the new pro-LVEC website

    We'll surely soon comment on the veracity of the claims made in the current pro-LVEC advertising campaign. For now it's interesting to note that the watchkingstongrow.comwebsite is registered to the group that stands to gain the most from massive public subsidy that this half-baked LVEC proposal represents: Kingston Accommodation Partners, a loose affiliation of local hotels with all the usual ties to the BIA, the Chamber of Commerce, and KEDCO.

    We last talked about Kingston Accommodation partners back in December 2005. Read the whole thing. The manufacturing of the illusion of public support for the LVEC contines.

    Published: 05/02/06 03:11:14 PM
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    May 1, 2006

    May LVEC meetings

    Finally the May meetings calendar has been posted on the City of Kingston website.

    There are two LVEC-related special council meetings planned:

    The LVEC steering Committee has no public meetings planned.

    Published: 05/01/06 01:49:07 PM
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    April 28, 2006

    Windsor Star: City's goal: $55M arena

    It looks like Windsor will build a four-pad arena, featuring a 7,200-seat rink, somewhere on 30 acres in the east side of the city for an estimated $55-million plus land costs. The link is here and a more readable printer-friendly version is here.

    Here'a a quote attributed to Winsor Spitfires spokesman Warren Rychel. Imagine, just for a moment, Kingston's LVEC promoters showing concern for paying customers.

    Rychel said they have no preference for a site, as long as it's easily accessible for fans. He said the 7,200 seats won't be hard to fill. "It's not just about the Windsor Spitfires. It's about getting events here -- figure skating, lacrosse, concerts."
    Also this:
    But Wilson said word is spreading among developers in town. If the new four-pad multiplex is built in the east end, there would be eight ice pads within a short distance of each other, if the rinks in the Town of Tecumseh are counted. The cluster of rinks would make the city a sports-entertainment destination for hockey tournaments and other ice sports.
    Kingston's Memorial Cup hopes for 2011 have just about completely evaporated. It was that easy. And Skate Canada, with no practice facilities nearby? Forget about it.

    There's more:

    The new arena could be paid off by 2010, without borrowing a penny, according to city treasurer Onorio Colucci. Money will be freed in 2008 after many of the city's larger capital projects are paid off through a pay-as-you-go plan that was implemented in 2002. In 2008, $15 million will be available. In 2009, $23.5 million will become available and in 2010, $36.4 million will be free to use for a new arena. A one per cent capital levy that was tacked onto tax bills back in 2002, to pay for large projects, was to have ended in 2009, but could continue in 2010 to help pay for the arena, according to Colucci.
    Makes you want to cry, doesn't it?
    Published: 04/28/06 11:51:34 AM
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    April 26, 2006

    Read the CIBC's Economic Snapshot of Canadian Municipalities

    As KEDCO fiddles with Hockeyville initiatives, and its employees peddle the LVEC to Kingstonians and its luxury suites to the wealthy among us, read the CIBC report about how Kingston stacks up on nine different economic indicators.

    Published: 04/26/06 12:34:05 PM
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    Today is the LVEC design/build RFP closing date

    Today is the LVEC design/build RFP closing date. The Operator RFP closed three weeks ago and all information about that is being withheld from the public.

    Published: 04/26/06 10:58:00 AM
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    Whig: $20-million worth of disappointment for city

    Today The Whig published this story about the city's ongoing project funding woes. The Grand Theatre renovation, budgeted in 2004 at $6.5 million, and upped to $9.8 million as recently as last summer, is now expected to cost a minimum of 11.9 million or $14.42 million, depending on which newspaper you're reading. Were that not enough, it looks like the city won't be getting provincial and federal money for the $17 million it was counting on to renew John Counter Boulevard (see also here).

    Moreover,

    The money problems come at a time when the city is still struggling to find grant programs to provide at least $8 million to build a downtown entertainment centre that will cost more than $37 million.
    Kingston This Week has more on the budget problems with renovations at The Grand Theatre.
    Published: 04/26/06 09:54:41 AM
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    The Globe: THE UNDERACHIEVERS: Four economies with potential, but missing the mark

    Here's what Gordon Pitts of The Globe and Mail has to say about Kingston today:

    Kingston looks like a winner: a historic town with a renowned university, famed military college, attractive lakeside setting, and 115,000 people situated along the major highway between Toronto and Montreal. Alas, look more closely -- the city is way down in the rankings in the CIBC economic activity index. It is attracting new people but they are often senior citizens who like rustic limestone cottages, but are less interested in industries and events that make the economy grow. Trouble is, a vibrant economy needs lots of new people in the 19 to 65 age group. Projects that appeal to young families, such as an arena and entertainment complex proposed for the downtown, get a ho-hum response or downright resistance, from greying residents. Traditional manufacturing has been under pressure from the high Canadian dollar, and new companies are not sprouting in large numbers to take up the slack. Queen's University graduates do create startups, but they tend to do it elsewhere, business professor Ken Wong says. The Conference Board of Canada expects that manufacturing and construction will bounce back over the next two years, but what about the long term? Kingston has to shed its fusty institutional and anti-development bias and build a private-public consensus around projects that make it a more balanced economy.
    Ken Wong, a decorated professor of marketing at Queen's, was a member of the Mayor's LVEC Task Force. Was he appointed to the Task Force because of his expertise on the role of hockey arenas in productive Canadian societies, or was it to provide a framework for selling the LVEC? Since the Task Force report, the marketing of LVEC to Kingstonians has been botched. This is surely not what The Mayor had in mind when he brought Professor Wong aboard.

    Regardless, the LVEC project, as currently conceived, certainly never had the merits to sell itself, and has suffered from rank-amateur process and communication problems since day one. In the end we have no doubt that the blame for the LVEC fiasco will stick where it rightfully should. Until then, if anyone has objective data about the role of hockey arenas in the sustainable growth and productivity of Canadian cities (as opposed to cooked-up data by project promoters) we'd love to see it.

    Published: 04/26/06 09:47:46 AM
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    April 19, 2006

    CKWS-TV: Parking Shortage

    Here's a transcript of yesterday's CKWS story about the deteriorating parking situation in downtown Kingston.

    Published: 04/19/06 08:36:17 PM
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    Two weeks have passed since the LVEC Operator RFP was due

    April 5th, two weeks ago, was the closing date for the Large Venue Entertainment Centre Operator Request for Proposal.

    Well?

    Published: 04/19/06 01:29:56 AM
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    April 17, 2006

    Whig Editorial: Support the LVEC? Then put your money where your mouth is
    On Wednesday April 12th, The Whig ran this editorial asking why the so-called "silent majority" hasn't come forward to actively raise money for the proposed Large Venue Entertainment Centre.

    Time may show that the LVEC's "silent majority" is a pretentiously manufactured spin by KEDCO employees, who may soon be called to account for the hours and resources spent selling the LVEC to Kingstonians instead of selling Kingston to the rest of the world. It doesn't bode well for KEDCO that such inwardly-directed LVEC-selling has been happening for some time and that The Whig apparently doesn't know about it, or pretending it doesn't exist and thereby actively ignoring it's inefficacy.

    Regardless, time is running out. The LVEC Business Plan calls for $2M in in private donation pledges. This is in addition to the carrying of $3M in debt service by the BIA.

    We estimate that the BIA has about one month to ceremoniously put this $5M worth of surety on the table. That could cascade the $8M required from senior governments.

    It's hard to imagine funding from senior levels of government materializing if the BIA doesn't step-up.

    Nonetheless, see how loosely the Business Plan is worded:

    This is a fishy deal because guess who holds the bag in the interim? Taxpayers! The BIA, considering the extent to which they've driven (hijacked?) the project, should have their chips all-in at the outset.

    But the BIA isn't all-in, far from it. If that's not testament to the degree the BIA seems to own this Council, then what is?

    Would somebody please explain how this arena deal, as structured, in any way protects the interests of Kingston's taxpayers? Remember, here the developer is also the regulator, and no public consultation, no further public review of any sort, is planned.

    Wait, there's more: The Business Plan, the documents that Kingstonians and senior government officials have at hand to evaluate the poject, is a year out of date and the LVEC Business Plan landing page on the City website still links extensively to plans and concept diagrams showing Anglin Bay, and links to Anglin-Bay-centric blurbs of all sorts. In other words, since November 1st 2005, the LVEC Steering Committee, prominently featuring Mayor Rosen, Councillor Ed Smith, and Mr Don Gedge, haven't bothered to anotate, nevermind revise, crucial public documents about the project.

    So this much is certain: officials of the McGuinty and Harper governments currently have Internet access to year-old documents that don't even reflect the current proposal.

    Given all this, it must be embarassing trying to pull together $13 Million in total funding before Council votes in May.

    Published: 04/17/06 12:12:28 AM
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    April 15, 2006

    Whig: Parking woes downtown

    This Saturday's Whig has a this front page story about parking woes downtown. The 76-space parking lot at the corner of Queen and Bagot is closing, and this is putting noticeable pressure on the downtown's parking supply.

    This parking lot is the Kincore parking lot which, according to the Kincore website, is full with a waiting list. According to this Whig article, more than 500 parking spaces are dissapearing from downtown this year to make way for development.

    The city is quoted as saying that people are just going to have get used to using transit rather than bringing cars downtown. They say the lack of parking is a sign of a thriving downtown, and that the downtown is vital enough to sustain scarcer and more expensive parking.

    Doesn't this seem to contradict the claim that the city needs the LVEC downtown in order to keep it vital?

    Published: 04/15/06 10:51:09 AM
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    April 12, 2006

    Nine months of suite sales

    The Whig Standard reported back in July 2005 -- a front-page story that is no longer online but we covered here and reproduce from ProQuest here -- that the city was ready back then to sell luxury suites.

    Today, more than nine months later, suite sales are in full sell-mode.

    In Sault Ste Marie the Luxury Suites required a $2,000 deposit, which is double what's required here.

    This project, in the absence of communications with ratepayers, now seems to be looking for any sign of positive news to convey. Expect to see gloating over the selling of suites which, in reality, is the collection of deposits at rock-bottom prices.

    Published: 04/12/06 07:42:01 PM
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    April 10, 2006

    TV-COGECO: Local Politics On Television

    Coming next week on TV-COGECO, Mayor Rosen and Councillor Ed Smith fielding softballs from Ms Lynn Rees Lambert.

    Perhaps Ms Lambert will inquire what the LVEC Steering Committee has been doing behind closed doors for the past nine months. She could ask when we can expect to see a straight LVEC Traffic and Parking Report, one that mentions the Lasalle Causeway more than zero times. Perhaps she might inquire whether the Mayor and Mr Smith have any qualms about spending our tax dollars on current digging exercises in the absence of any such analysis, and about the notable absence of genuine public consultation surrounding this massive taxpayer-funded subsidy to downtown landowners and a few BIA members. Ms Lambert could also ask why future perpetual six-figure annual subsidies to the Memorial Center as a result of the LVEC don't factor in the LVEC business plan which, incidentally, hasn't been revised since its release over a year ago to reflect the new realities of the currently proposed LVEC. Was the LVEC business plan an exercise in busy-work, a ceremonial going-through-the-motions? If not then where are its long overdue revisions?

    Published: 04/10/06 04:53:48 PM
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    The LVEC Design Build RFP appears updated

    A sharp-eyed reader reports that the City seems to have revised the Design/Build RFP that's posted online. If so, no public notification of this was emitted.

    In the Urban Design Guidelines, Page 28, they have added a new Appendix J which is a draft of Urban Design Guidelines prepared by an adjacent landowner. I wonder who that might be!
    Let's find out. Here's the new reference:

    The city website says we can download the complete text of the RFP, and here's Appendix J:

     ; ; ; ;

    Gotta love those critical missing attachments.

    Ok, moving on,

    They have now introduced "Soft Costs" into the "Hard Costs" component of the performance specifications. The terms "soft" and "hard" were used in the business plan. Staging, curtaining, catwalk and flygrid are now included in the performance specifications for pricing. They have also added a line item at the end of the performance specifications which requires the contractor to carry a 5% construction contingency cost. All this has been added while the capital cost remains fixed at $29 million. The pricing proposal form has not been changed to indicate that these "soft" costs would be over and above the capital costs. I can only assume that the City is trying to squeeze more items into the capital cost. If that is the intent, then something else has to give. The building may not be so significant after all with a lesser budget.

    They have now included the requirement for two dessicant dehumidification units. The performance specifications are so lacking that they have not even specified the climate requirements within the building.

    History teaches us that, in the end, stadium budgets and subsequent construction cost estimates don't mean much. It'll cost what it will cost. The prime objective now, we must remember, is to pass all this through this supine downtown uber alles Council which, from the very start, has been an 8-5 sieve. The veracity of the assumptions, documentation, or reports, and even the complete absence thereof, hasn't been a problem for the majority of this Council so far.

    Pass this next vote and thereafter the purse is bottomless, and current pretenses of oversight vanish, and everybody knows it.

    Published: 04/10/06 01:01:39 AM
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    April 9, 2006

    Compare the communications of Sault Ste Marie to Kingston

    Compare the communications of the Sault Ste. Marie Sports and Entertainment Centre steering committee to that of The City of Kingston and, most egregiously, that of the Kingston LVEC steering committee.

    For reference, Sault Ste. Marie's development schedule is about a full year ahead of Kingston's.

    We observe several notable differences in quality:

    All told, when the post-mortem of the Kingston LVEC train-wreck is performed, regardless of whether the arena is actually built, there will be no escaping that the managers involved will have the LVEC they deserve.
    Published: 04/09/06 04:19:43 PM
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    Asheville Citizen-Times: City struggles with Civic Center

    Here's a story by a media-savvy newspaper in Ashville NC. The Citizen Times documents the city's efforts to modernize or replace the 7,654-seat Asheville Civic Center. The story even includes (brace yourself) outbound hyperlinks!. Imagine, for a moment, a Whig Standard web story, or a CKWS-TV web transcript, with a working hyperlink within it. We are in Spring 2006, and so far it hasn't happened once.

    Back in North Carolina, the story bemoans the lack of concrete action on replacing their 32-year old facility.

    10 years and $200,000 later, council has not decided on action plan for aging building.

    Not like Kingston, where we waste $504,100 in 14 months (see here for details), and in the "process", we don't even get one of these: .

    Instead we get a rushed take-it-or-leave-it proposal, one with no "Plan B" other than what's cobbled together at the last moment upon the imminent failure of previous plans. Overall the project has little support outside downtown and now requires crisis-driven brinksmanship negotiations with funders, designers, and builders to proceed. No input from ratepayers is planned.

    So in Asheville they are, in fact, doing things right: Instead of waiting 50-years to replace their building, like we've done in Kingston, they started the process when the building was between 20 and 25 years old. In 10-years, they've spent a fraction of what Kingston wasted in a much shorter time, and they have a solid basis for building a general concensus to proceed.

    Mayor Rosen is correct: " good process guarantees one thing, good process". Good process is all about averting mistakes early and inexpensively, before they blossom into very costly mistakes later on. It's possible that soon Kingston will have blown a million dollars actually drilling and digging on two inapropriate sites, all without any sign of a credible traffic report (past of present), no site-selection paper trail, very little information disclosure, and no genuine public consultation outside the immediate downtown area. Picture Mayor Rosen, looking bewildered, blaming "political reasons" for the lack of buy-in from stakeholders, citizens, and upper-levels of government. Try mismanagement.

    Published: 04/09/06 01:16:57 AM
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    April 8, 2006

    KMaps: Memorial Centre and North Block, side by side, to scale (Updated)
    KMaps provides us with a way to compare the North Block, the site "chosen" for the proposed LVEC, to the site of the Memorial Centre, a location that was never seriously considered for the proposed OHL arena. Oddly, when you talk to Kingstonians, the Memorial Centre property is the preferred location of a great number, possibly the majority, of respondents.

    Here is how both properties compare at "1:5000" scale according to KMaps.


    Memorial Centre

    North Block

    Note the size of the current Memorial Centre in relation to the North Block property. On the minuscule North East corner of the North Block, the City proposes to build a facility that's expandable, so they say, to 6,000 seats which is about double the capacity of the current Memorial Centre.

    Here's what the Kingston Taxpayer's Association has to say about how Council voted on September 20th 2005, on a motion to consider the Memorial Centre site upon the total collapse of the LVEC's originally proposed location, on Anglin Bay.

    Meeting date: September 20, 2005
    Motion: Upon rejection of the Anglin Bay site, to include the Memorial Centre as an alternative site
    Council's vote Lost (4:9)
    FavourOpposed
    George Beavis
    Rick Downes
    Steve Garrison
    Sara Meers
    Leonore Foster
    Kevin George
    Bittu George
    Beth Pater
    Floyd Patterson
    Harvey Rosen
    Ed Smith
    George Stoparczyk
    George Sutherland
    Published: 04/08/06 01:07:47 PM
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    April 5, 2006

    NINE MONTHS
    It was nine months ago today , on July 5th 2005, that the LVEC steering committee last publicly met. The minutes from that meeting still have not been posted, and the most recent Steering Committee minutes available are from May 31st, 2005, which is more than 10 months ago. That meeting was about purchasing land on Anglin Bay and other concerns no longer related to the current project.

    If anyone has a better example of potential dereliction of duity and failure to communicate, we'd like to see it.

    Published: 04/05/06 12:44:49 AM
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    April 4, 2006

    City: Licence your LVEC suite!

    The city is publicly offering licences for luxury boxes at the proposed LVEC.

    Here's the press release.

    Here's a link to the DEPOSIT AGREEMENT, a link that doesn't work on the City Website in the Firefox browser.

    Reading the press release, the project is clearly in sell-mode. It starts with a re-branding to "The Kingston Sports and Entertainment Centre", or KSEC.

    The Kingston Sports and Entertainment Centre, formerly referred to as the LVEC, will be a modern, state-of-the-art facility located downtown within a central business district block bounded by Ontario Street, Barrack Street, King Street and Place D'Armes.

    The private suites will range in size from 8 to 12 seats. The annual licensing fee will also vary between $12,000 to $18,000 depending on the size and location of the suite.

    The term "Memorial Cup" appears twice in the press release.
    Published: 04/04/06 03:37:35 PM
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    April 2, 2006

    Charlotte: Arena visitors upset about parking uptown during work day

    A helpful reader forwards this story about parking near the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena during events scheduled on work days, such as Disney on Ice. Be sure to view the video, especially if you work for Harvey Rosen.

    Published: 04/02/06 06:55:07 PM
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    March 29, 2006

    Kingston Taxpayer Association: LVEC-related votes

    The Kingston Taxpayers Association has posted a page that details all the Council votes related to the LVEC. There are also pages related to the Market Square renaming fiasco as well as for other contentious issues from this term of Council.

    Spot any patterns?

    How well does your current councillor represent your civic values?

    Published: 03/29/06 01:34:21 PM
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    Whig: Money shuffle could boost arena: MPP

    Kingston's MPP says the city can spend a surprise $4.85-million grant announced in the provincial budget indirectly on a downtown entertainment centre.
    Read the whole thing.
    Published: 03/29/06 01:31:33 PM
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    March 28, 2006

    Sarnia Observer: Arena hasn't lived up to billing
    On March 24th The Kingston Whig Standard published this bit taken from the Sarnia Observer about the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre (see April events here):
    The Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre has been a positive addition to this community, providing badly needed recreational ice time and a nifty showcase for its premier sports team, the Sarnia Sting. But the centre never became the "showplex" envisioned by proponents.

    More proof of that arrived this week when London dropped its bid to host the 2009 world junior hockey championship. London had approached Sarnia council about jointly hosting the games. The bid was doomed to fail. As Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley put it, organizers wanted $1.5 million up front from taxpayers and revenue of $2 million. Yet they offered no guarantee of hosting any of the good games here.

    When supporters pushed for a multi-purpose centre a decade ago, the world juniors were, like the Memorial Cup, help up as one of the events for which Sarnia could compete. But the reality is that junior hockey has become big business, one too rich for the blood of small-market teams.

    Published: 03/28/06 10:25:00 AM
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    March 25, 2006

    CKWS-TV: Budget reactions

    CKWS-TV ran this story about the recent money announced by Queen's Park. Therein:

    Towns and cities fared better in the budget.
    In Kingston, an extra 5 million dollars for road and bridge repairs. But the mayor is disappointed the LVEC project got no mention.

    Harvey Rosen:
    "We're only permitted to use the 4.8 million dollars for roads and bridges without exercising any discretion as a municipality as to what infrastructure is most in need of investment."

    ....like the LVEC.
    But Municipal Affairs Minister says Kingston can get creative with the 4.8 million earmarked for roads. He says city council can use any or all of it for the sports and entertainment centre.

    John Gerretsen:
    "It could very well be that city council may want to restructure some of its priorities that it had budgeted for this coming year but that's up to this council to decide."

    Shifting new roads money to the LVEC project may the only way Kingston gets any provincial money for its signature arena.
    ... a move that could trigger a local budget battle.

    Indeed.
    Published: 03/25/06 01:22:29 PM
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    March 24, 2006

    A closer look at LEED

    We've just posted a new article titled A Closer Look at LEED. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it's being given far more importance than many other things in the proposed LVEC project. We're predicting that the LEED "Silver" rating target is going to be missed by a wide margin and, given all the other constraints (including money, space, time, bargaining leverage) that LEED is going to fall by the wayside in short order.

    Published: 03/24/06 01:49:52 AM
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    March 21, 2006

    Council fast-tracking finance plan, and $504,100 sunk cost for Anglin Bay (Updated again)
    According to documents to be tabled tonight the City is proposing to approve the LVEC's financial plan at the same meeting as the recommendation for the design/build team.

    Were that not enough, the same document proposes that the $504,100 in direct costs that were wasted on the Anglin Bay site be financed from the City's working reserve fund.

    We have a suggestion: send the invoice to the BIA (see also here).

    Note that the upside maximum for this project has already been set at $37.3 million. Reading between the lines, we should brace ourselves for the first of many upward adjustments of this amount.

    Update: Council voted 7-6 against drawing the $504,100 from the working reserve fund. This means the money will be charged against the LVEC budget, as it should.

    Update: Here is CKWS-TV's report on the matter.

    Published: 03/21/06 09:56:00 AM
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    March 18, 2006

    Whig: Arena hangs by a vote (updated)

    Today The Whig Standard published this story about Collins-Bayridge district councillor Bittu George's misgivings about the perilous state of the LVEC project's financing.

    We wonder if Councillor Bittu George is being misquoted.

    In the absence of a handout from Ottawa or Queen's Park, George's support has waned.

    Without the grants, the other option would appear to be asking taxpayers to pick up the tab, he said.

    "I can't see how or why we would proceed with this," he said. "That just puts us in a much tighter financial situation and you run the potential of costing the taxpayers money and then you get into a real situation where taxpayers are going to have to pay for this."

    Er, even disregarding federal and provincial funding, the taxpayer is already on the hook, "picking up the tab". Councillor Bittu George has been an unabashed project backer since day one. Why is he now, suddenly, claiming concern for the costs and risks to be inflicted on Kingston's taxpayers? These costs and risks, and their total omission from official project documentation, have been known for a long time, and the $8m in federal and provincial grants doesn't change things much.

    There's more: Councillor George sits on the Board of Directors of KEDCO, and thus shares responsibility for the KEDCO whitewash of the Anglin Bay LVEC project (see also here and here), and shares some measure of responsiblity for this Council's supine position towards the downtown business interests who are the only drivers, and the only people who get true "face time" where this poject is concerned.

    We welcome Councillor George's well-founded concerns, but we wish he'd taken this stand a year ago when the case for concern was already clear prior to this set of May 3 2005 council votes that would have saved taxpayers a lot of money by redirecting the project away from Anglin Bay six months sooner, and prior to the overwhelming citizen's revolt which has haunted this project ever since.

    Published: 03/18/06 01:36:09 PM
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    Kingston Electors: Water and sewer service before the LVEC

    The following article talks about the quickly escalating cost of water in the Toronto area. Many of the same water infrastructure problems face us here in Kingston. All this makes you wonder why we are raiding our municipal reserve funds to build projects such as the LVEC.

    Published: 03/18/06 02:05:27 AM
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    Kingston Oh Kingston -- LVEC Projects Elsewhere in North America

    There's an interesting and link-rich new item on the Kingston Oh Kingston blog about more or less comparable LVEC experiences elsewhere in North America. This dovetails well with some of our research about buildings in other OHL cities. All this supports the notion that estimates of costs and economic benefits made by promoters of sports and entertainment stadiums should never be taken at face value.

    Published: 03/18/06 12:42:03 AM
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    March 17, 2006

    CKWS-TV: JLC London, part two

    Here's a transcript of part two of CKWS-TV's road trip to just one other city with an LVEC-like building. This episode focuses more on the financial downsides in London, which has a building, a site, and a capture area that are almost totally incomparable to Kingston's.

    "We do make a little bit of money but it was never built to make money. These buildings do not generate enough money to pay for the capital that's in them and if that's what people expect then you shouldn't build it."
    Memo to city staff: stop the pretense of covering capital costs.
    "You know none of these things are risk free just understand your risk. I'm not for one minute saying Kingston and area shouldn't do something like that but just be aware of what some of the risks, what some of the costs really are."
    In Kingston there are no risks, no foreseeable cost overruns worthy of mere mention. It's a slam-dunk, lead-pipe cinch. According to Harvey Rosen's acolytes, each ticket sold will generate $73 in economic benefits1 for Kingston.
    1 $22.5 million per year divided into 307,000 people per year (projected total attendance) equals $73.29 in so-called economic benefits per person walking through the LVEC turnstiles. As improbable as that seems, of course none of that leaves town in the pockets of touring acts, nor does it leave in the coffers of out-of-town arena management companies.
    Published: 03/17/06 02:02:12 AM
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    March 15, 2006

    CKWS-TV: JLC London, part one

    Here's the transcript of the first of two installments of CKWS-TV's road trip to other cities with LVECs. In this episode they mostly feature proponents of the John Labatt Centre in London, including the Mayor and representatives of Global Spectrum, the company that runs the facility. As you might expect, it's all rosy and good. Apparently tomorrow's episode is about some of the downsides.

    Published: 03/15/06 11:10:42 PM
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    Kingston Oh Kingston -- Let's get real about the Large Venue Entertainment Center

    A local blogger writes: Let's get real about the Large Venue Entertainment Center. Good points, read the whole thing.

    Published: 03/15/06 08:18:00 PM
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    Whig: Ex-mayors weigh in

    A front-page story in today's whig describes former mayor Helen Cooper's feelings about raiding the city's Capital Reserve Fund to build the proposed Entertainment Centre. This dovetails with an article published last Saturday that describes former mayor Gary Bennett's similar feelings.

    In today's article, councillor Ed Smith is quoted.

    "Obviously it's important to have good water and sewers and that type of facilities, but it's not what makes your town great," Smith said in an interview. "I certainly think using the reserve fund in a responsible way, meaning not taking huge portions of it... for the LVEC is a responsible way to use it."

    He said "quality-of-life infrastructure" is an important component of bringing jobs and tax-base growth to Kingston.

    "I think that's one of the areas we have significantly lagged behind," he said.

    Smith said the recent layoff of more than 250 Bell call centre workers in Kingston is an example of the necessity for Kingston to significantly diversify.

    "Industry and business and service industry, technology-based businesses want quality-of-life facilities in communities before they'd consider moving jobs here or expanding their business base," he said.

    "It's an element that this community has ignored compared to other communities in Ontario and Canada for the last 15 years, and if we need to take some of our reserve money to get that off the ground, I have no problem with that."

    Apparently Ed Smith feels that an OHL arena, designed and built to minimum urban standards, will make Kingston great, and serve as an economic motor to attract high-tech businesses to Kingston. Fortunately for all Kingstonians, Mr Smith, who has botched everything he's touched in the LVEC dossier (also here and here), has no chance of reelection in November.

    Published: 03/15/06 03:14:11 PM
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    March 13, 2006

    Comments on the City of Kingston Draft RFP for Design/Build of the LVEC

    We've posted some comments on the Design/Build RFP for the proposed LVEC.

    Page 6:

    The selection of any successful Proponent will be by Kingston City Council upon review and recommendation made to it by the Technical Evaluation Committee.
    Comment: For prudence, probity, transparency, it is always a good practice to have a qualified third party, not a part of the process to date, evaluate and make the recommendations. This should also ensure that the process is fair. As it currently stands, Page 7 indicates that the "Technical Evaluation Committee will be made up of representatives from the Steering Committee, the LVEC Project Director, City Staff and other consultants as required". The City should be taken to task for not ensuring an open, fair, and unbiased assessment of all the Proponents submissions.

     ;

    Comment: ; On Page 10: ; The City has tasked the Proponents to provide a facility and that it

    be designed as a signature building recognizing its inner action with a regenerating historical urban downtown setting
    and furthermore
    to reflect and enhance the urban fabric of the area.

    and on and on and on.

    Baird Sampson of Neuert Architects was commissioned by the City in January 2006 to extend an earlier study titled " Urban Design Guidelines for the North Block Central Business District". ; Their findings, guidelines, and recommendations are attached as a document to the RFP to assist the Proponents with their design. However, in the Evaluation Criteria Table on Page 7, they are willing to allocate a maximum of 10 points out of the 600 or 1.67% for Proponents who adhere and respect those guidelines.  ;

    Comment: The Performance Specifications permit an incredible amount of leeway in terms of design and construction. They essentially require the contractor to meet the requirements of the OBC. ; So much for a signature, state of the art, classy facility.

    Comment: All the proposals should be evaluated on technical merit in the first instance. Only then should the price be made available to the evaluators. Access to the Proponent's cost figure for the delivery of the facility very often has a tendency to sway the evaluators. In essence, this should be a two envelope system. We all know just how important the price component will be for the City given the lack of financing available. ;
    Comment: The Evaluation Criteria Table asks for a separate price for the LEED component of the work. Incorporating LEED criteria is integral to the design component and is very difficult to price as a standalone component. One wonders if it might become an item for removal for at the negotiation stages in order for the City to meet budget requirements. LEED also has a tendency to extend design and construction timelines as a great deal of effort is required to obtain a Silver designation in LEED. If they are so pro LEED they would have required the proponent to name their sustainable design consultant and insist on people with LEED accreditation.  ;
    Comment: Note in the General Terms and Conditions that the City has stated that they are not liable for any costs incurred by the Proponents in preparing their submissions. This seems to be somewhat at odds with the Honorarium section on Page 8 of the RFP wherein the City has promised a $50,000.00 sum for those proponents who score a minimum of 400 out of a possible 600 points. I guess the City's legal/finance folks missed that contradiction in their review of the RFP. Achieving a score of 400 out of 600 is very subjective; the submission requirements and evaluation guidelines are sketchy at best. Our guess is that all the successful Proponents will have no problem achieving the minimum score.  ;
    Comment: There is only one thing that the City really knows for sure it wants: ; they have single sourced all seating for the arena. This is roughly a $0.75 million dollar expenditure that is directed to a single company in the States. So much for getting best value for money. Single sourcing flies in the face of prudent expenditure of taxpayers money. With the remainder of the performance specifications being short on detail, one wonders why the arena seating has to be single sourced!


     ;

    Comment: The existing environmental constraints could be very large in terms of additional cost, remediation, and the construction schedule.


    Comment: Archaeological issues, most notably Fort Frontenac, may be an issue, and could lead to delays in the project delivery or project gold-plating, and hence cost overruns.


     ;

    Comment: The milestone project schedule has one glaring omission. The successful proponent goes straight from award to design development. What happened to the concept stage?


     ;

    General Comment: ; Design/build projects tend to relinquish the ability of the City to control the end product, particularly in the absence of good performance specifications, which is the case in this RFP. Design/Build projects are time driven with design and construction being essentially concurrent operations. The City has not indicated that they will retain an advocate architect to represent and protect their interests. This document as presented clearly puts the contractor in the driver's seat. Any changes or revisions required by the City post submission will be very expensive. Lily Inglis had it right when she said the City is going about the process in a backwards fashion. ;
    Published: 03/13/06 01:57:30 AM
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    March 10, 2006

    Sault Star: Steelback is only bidder in search to name new Sault arena
    Efforts to sell the naming rights to the 5000-seat Sault Ste Marie Sports and Entertainment centre aren't going very well.
    Other communities, such as Sarnia and Guelph, attempted to sell naming rights after their facilities opened and were unsuccessful.

    Here in Kingston, the term "naming rights" is mentioned 10 times in the increasingly obsolete LVEC Business Plan and, back in April 2005, the city was hoping to get $150,000 per year for those rights. The plan cites a 60% no-sale probability which, given the evidence elsewhere, is looking rather low. It would have been more prudent to not factor naming rights, but then again, this arena project is all about shamelessly manufacturing imaginary benefits.

    Published: 03/10/06 07:46:03 PM
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    March 7, 2006

    KTW: Mayor confident funding exists for LVEC

    Kingston This Week has this story about how Mayor Rosen is hearing "encouraging rumblings" of funding from higher levels of government for his massively unpopular LVEC plans.

    Published: 03/07/06 05:43:17 PM
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    March 4, 2006

    March 7 Council Agenda -- LVEC expenses of $719,843 to December 31 2005

    At next Tuesday's Council meeting, Gerard Hunt, Commissioner of Finance and Corporate Performance of the City of Kingston presents to Council his 4th quarter 2005 capital budget status report. Buried within unsearchable scanned graphics (as opposed to text which is easily searched) is the following information about LVEC project expenses. $719,843 to December 31 2005.

    It's not clear whether this figure includes the considerable municipal staff time and other overhead allocations. We're guessing it doesn't.

    Mr Hunt, we'd like to know why you submit this straightforward tabular information to Council and the citizens of Kingston, year after year, in scanned format which cannot be electronically searched? Try searching for "LVEC" in this PDF document. This key information is unduely invisible for search. Why?

    .

    Published: 03/04/06 07:32:15 PM
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    CKWS-TV: Frontenacs deal close

    CKWS-TV reports that the Springer family, owners of the Kingston Frontenacs, are close to signing a long-term deal with the city to play in the proposed LVEC. Apparently this would be a 20-year lease.

    As usual, it's all happening behind closed doors. We understand that a long-term lease is required to land crucial funding, but normally a design comes first, followed by a detailed cost estimate, and then comes draft agreements with tennants. We believe that the City of Kingston is doing things backward for the sake of expediency. When the the developer is also the regulator anything is possible, just like in cartoons.

    The recent past has been very, very good for the Springer family. In 2005 the City sold them perpetual naming rights to Kingston's Market Square for less than one-fifth the cost of a single Square renovation. More recently the City has chosen to build a swimming-pool-less multiplex (a singleplex?) adjacent to large tracts of development land owned by the Springers. Now we're hearing of a 20-year deal to have the Springer's OHL team play in the proposed taxpayer-funded LVEC, a deal hatched and negotiated long before a detailed facility design is established, and costs are realistically estimated. Such is the rush to get the LVEC rammed-through before the next municipal election, and such is the sway of the downtown-business-buddies-first culture at Mayor Rosen's City Hall.

    Compare Kingston's secretive and rushed practices with what happened in Oshawa where the business terms between the City of Oshawa and the Oshawa Generals Hockey Club were publicly disclosed and attached to the detailed RFP documents to builder candidates for the $45 million, 5,400-seat Oshawa Sports and Entertainment Facility (see also here) which is currently under construction.

    Published: 03/04/06 11:16:15 AM
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    March 3, 2006

    Whig: Arena plan in peril

    Here's a link to a story The Whig Standard ran on February 25th about how, despite pretenses and the recent influx of taxpayer cash, the whole LVEC plan is floundering.

    Published: 03/03/06 09:58:22 AM
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    Eight months and counting

    Sometime this weekend we'll mark the passing of eight months since the LVEC steering committee last publicly met.

    Published: 03/03/06 12:47:28 AM
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    March 2, 2006

    Compare Oshawa's Sept 2004 RFP to Kingston's Feb 2006 LVEC RFP

    Compare Oshawa's September 10 2004 RFP to the LVEC design/build RFP released by Kingston last month. There are many glaring differences in the quality of the specification, which we hope to analyze in some depth very soon.

    What's most intriguing is Kingston is proposing to take 3-weeks to evaluate the RFP's, whereas Oshawa planned two months for the same activity. Oshawa allowed 2 months between winning party notification and signing agreements, whereas it's clear that Kingston's not planning to negotiate for very long, so ripe it is for the picking.

    Oshawa

    Kingston

    Published: 03/02/06 11:52:01 PM
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    Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority - $417M to 64 communities.

    Here's an interesting link to the Feb 10th announcement of the 64 comminities that split $417M in OSIFA low-cost-loans, including Kingston which got $43M, over 10% of the loot for 5.5% of the population among the municipalities listed.

    None of it is for the LVEC. Kingston's loan application is all about the Ravensview sewage project, and the money is spread over 5-years.

    Belleville's Memorial Arena renovation, on the other hand, may get an $8M loan.

    Belleville Intelligencer, Friday, February 17, 2006

    Approval for a low-cost $8-million loan from the provincial government may bode well for the future of a downtown landmark. MPP Ernie Parsons announced earlier this week the City of Belleville has been approved for up to $8 million from the Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority (OSIFA) which may be used toward renovations at the Memorial Arena.

    Not to be confused with the Belleville Yardmen Arena.
    Published: 03/02/06 11:16:42 PM
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    Whig: City gets cash to plan arena

    Another half-million in LVEC spending approved by Council. Also, Kingston This Week prints this story: City to pay LVEC bidders $50,000 (each) which includes reporting of Councillor Stoparczyk's put-down of City arena employees.

    Published: 03/02/06 10:50:31 PM
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    KTW: Downtown parking crunch has workers scrambling
    Kingston This Week published this article on Tuesday, February 21st about the tough parking situation downtown during business hours.
    As for the LVEC, parking officials aren't worried, because events will take place at night, when more parking spots are free.
    That's poppycock. According to the city's own 11-month old LVEC business plan, at least 20% of foreseen LVEC events will be daytime events.
    Published: 03/02/06 10:13:00 PM
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    February 21, 2006

    Whig: Design dean criticizes arena plan
    One of Kingston's authorities on its architecture, Lily Inglis, says the LVEC process is flawed.
    The process by which companies are competing to design and build a downtown entertainment centre is flawed, says the woman who could be considered the dean of city architects.

    Lily Inglis retired in 2002 at age 76 from an award-winning 40-year career of designing and preserving Kingston buildings.

    She says the city is going about the design of the large venue entertainment centre backwards.

    "It's absolutely not the way to get a good building," Inglis told The Whig.

    Read the whole thing.
    Published: 02/21/06 09:21:13 AM
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    February 19, 2006

    LVEC RFP Documents posted on the city website

    Despite numerous difficulties in accessing these documents, we've hacked the non-functioning javascript obfuscation created by the comfortable and uncooperative civil servants who run the City of Kingston website. Here are links that work in all browsers, sans javascript popup obfuscations:

    There are a number of surprises in these documents. Here are some of them, with more to come.

    The somnolent and dysfunctional LVEC Steering Committee, which hasn't met in nearly 33 weeks, proposes to pay for unsuccessful bids. .

    Note: Surprise! The proposed opening date is Dec 15, 2007 and not September 2007 as we've been lead to believe since April 2004.

    There are many more issues with these documents, which we will be highlighting in the coming days.

    Published: 02/19/06 03:42:50 PM
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    February 18, 2006

    Whig: Arena plan at critical point

    Today's Whig reports that the city is ready for LVEC bids.

    Yesterday, two thick and detailed documents were released that describe what the city wants built and how it should be operated.

    "It is a critical decision point," said senior manager Cynthia Beach, who is guiding the project.

    Local politicians will be asked Tuesday to approve the documents.

    Read the whole thing.

    Of course, and as usual, there's absolutely nothing about this on the City's LVEC pages.

    Published: 02/18/06 09:35:49 AM
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    January 31, 2006

    Saturday's Whig: two interesting items

    There were two interesting LVEC-related stories in last Saturday's Whig Standard (January 28 2006). Paul Schliesmann's editorial titled Arena debate shut down and an unattributed piece on page 12 titled Selling our children - and other council antics.

    Published: 01/31/06 03:22:37 PM
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    January 27, 2006

    Whig: Public can't vote on arena

    The Whig today reports on Councillor Downe's referendum motion. A council closure motion means that they didn't even debate the matter, and it was defeated 9-4. Read the whole thing.

    Published: 01/27/06 09:49:15 AM
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    January 25, 2006

    CKWS-TV: Chamber Breakfast

    CKWS-TV reports on the Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Wednesday January 24, 2006, featuring Mayor Rosen and city businessmen pitching the LVEC to our Liberal MP Peter Milliken and to our Liberal MPP John Gerretsen. The proceedings didn't go according to plan.

    Published: 01/25/06 12:09:19 AM
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    January 24, 2006

    City website: revamped LVEC home page

    The LVEC home page on the City's website has finally been stripped of its dated and misleading Anglin Bay material. Those materials are now more properly found in a new Anglin Bay Document Archives section.

    Published: 01/24/06 09:10:49 AM
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    January 21, 2006

    Janury 24th Council meeting agenda

    The agenda for Tuesday night's Council meeting has finally been posted. Councillor Downes' LVEC referendum motion is on page 50.

    Published: 01/21/06 05:45:14 PM
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    January 19, 2006

    A look at the City's LVEC home page
    We've taken a closer look at the City's LVEC home page and we have ample evidence to believe that the city is doing a terrible job of communicating facts about the LVEC project to its citizens over the internet. Given the LVEC's six-figure budget and the number of staff and consultants devoted to the project, they should be doing far better than they are.
    Published: 01/19/06 04:59:54 PM
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    Whig: Four in running to design arena

    Today the Whig Standard published this story about how the list of private firms that want to design and build the LVEC has shrunk from 10 to 4. There's no mention of who the four firms are.

    The article alludes to the reawakening of the LVEC's somnolent and ineffectual steering committee, and eventually another round of public input, which we all hope will be above the window-dressing level of last April's public input sideshow.

    Published: 01/19/06 09:34:28 AM
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    January 17, 2006

    TVCOGECO -- Multiplex and LVEC segments inexplicably cut.
    On Tuesday January 17th 2006 at 10:44 PM, TVCOGECO abruptly cut the feed on a Minutes with the Mayor episode featuring Mayor Rosen and Councillor Foster being interviewed by Lynn Ress Lambert. Just as discussion came to the multiplex and the LVEC, the show's broadcast was inexplicably cut short.

    Here's what Google tells us about the show -- There's really only one source for info on the show, it's not COGECO, but the City itself, and the city's schedule is a month out of date.

    Where is the average person in Kingston who watches television supposed to get their Multiplex and LVEC information?

    For those who, like us, are on the Internet, the City's LVEC strategy page is woefully out of date, and mentions the word "debt" exactlty zero times, and the word "tax" twice, both times in the context of the LVEC "creating new jobs, incomes and tax revenues" even though history everywhere teaches us that LVECs do the opposite.

    Dubious and otherwise incorrect, dated, or irrelevent information occupies well over 50% of the area of the city's LVEC home page.

    the KEDCO person who's ultimately responsible for the project-anchoring claim that each LVEC ticket sold will generate $73 in economic benefits1 recently quit.

    The last LVEC Steering Committee meeting was on July 5th. A mere 28 weeks ago.

    Spot the pattern?


    1 $22.5 million per year divided into 307,000 people per year (projected total attendance) equals $73.29 in economic benefits per person walking through the LVEC turnstiles.
    Published: 01/17/06 11:17:34 PM
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    Whig: Arena poorly handled, candidates say

    The Whig reports on a recent meeting between local Federal election candidates and the Whig's editorial board. By and large the candidates don't seem impressed with the process behind Mayor Rosen's LVEC plan. Read the whole thing.

    Published: 01/17/06 09:50:41 AM
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    January 16, 2006

    Whig: Grits pledge arena funds

    Though there is no specific mention of the LVEC, apparently Paul Martin has $350 million for "community centres and sports facilities" as reported in this Whig story today.

    Published: 01/16/06 03:21:03 PM
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    January 15, 2006

    Tally of Whig letters related to Councillor Downes' referendum motion

    We've started a new tally of Whig LVEC referendum letters. These are letters related to Councillor Downes' referendum motion which will be debated at the January 24th Council meeting.

    At the moment the letters are running 11 to 4 in favour of the referendum motion, a proportion that, so far, closely mirrors the overall level of public discontent with the project.

    Also: we're only counting letters since early December 2005 when the Whig first reported that Councillor Downes was considering a referendum motion. Since April 2004 when the LVEC project was first announced there have been dozens of other letters from Whig readers alluding to a referendum or a plebescite on the matter.

    Published: 01/15/06 03:21:13 PM
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    January 14, 2006

    We've updated our tally of Whig letters to the Editor (Updated)

    Since our last update on September 17 2005, nearly four months ago, The Whig has published 47 new letters to the Editor about the LVEC, 33 of which are from authors whose views we haven't tallied before. Of these 33 new authors, nine appear to support the LVEC, 22 are against, and two letters could not be interpreted either way.

    Despite the change in the proposed location from Anglin Bay to the North Block, the most recent letters, like all letters tallied since the April 2004 LVEC announcement, continue to run at better than 2:1 against. It's notable that a significant if not large proportion of the 75 letters supportive of the LVEC come from BIA members or members of their immediate families.

    There can be no pretense that the LVEC project is supported by a "silent majority" of Kingstonians as suggested by Carl Holmberg and Bill Crowe. If they have any evidence of this, we'd sure love to see it.

    It's notable thet the so-called Friends of the Entertainment Centre haven't updated their website in months, continue to collect "signatures" for an LVEC on Anglin Bay and a surprising proportion of their 800+ members are minor children.

    Given that crucial federal and provincial funding looks dodgy, then referendum question or not, the next municipal election will be about the Mayor and some councillor's handling of the LVEC file, which could turn into a real backlash against the influence of the BIA in city matters since the BIA has clearly overplayed its hand in this matter.

    It's also notable that ALL the Whig letters supportive of the LVEC since early December, when Councillor Rick Downes indicated he might call for a referendum, have been critical of a referendum, and seething with personal criticism of Mr Downes. Despite clear pretenses otherwise, LVEC supporters know that the project, as conceived and rammed-through with the BIA as sole beneficiary, has no chance at the ballot box.

     ; Results to
     ;January 14th 2006
    Results to
    September 17 2005
    Total number of letters published 375 328
    Total number of authors 279 246
     ;  ;  ;
    Authors supporting the proposed LVEC 75 (26.8%) 66 (27%)
    Authors Against 188 (67.4%) 166 (67%)
    Unknown 16 (5.7%) 14 (6%)
    Published: 01/14/06 02:04:31 AM
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    January 12, 2006

    Whig: Entertainment centres in London, Guelph have cost taxpayers millions
    Here's the long item the Whig ran on Monday January 9th about the costs to taxpayers of entertainment centres in London and Guelph.

    Finally Kingston's mainstream media has reported on the startling information about consultant Ron Bidulka and Guelph which we first documented back in September 2005.

    Published: 01/12/06 01:01:01 AM
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    January 9, 2006

    Councillor Downes' LVEC referendum motion

    Here is the text of Councillor Downes' Notice of Motion on the LVEC referendum that will be presented at the January 10th Council meeting. The actual motion will be discussed by Council at the January 24th Council meeting, after the federal election.

    Published: 01/09/06 04:20:01 PM
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    Mayor's speech to the Rotary Club

    The text of Mayor Rosen's Rotary Club speech is posted by the city. Therein he mentions the LVEC several times.

    Published: 01/09/06 12:32:42 PM
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    December 29, 2005

    Whig editorial: Kingston's top newsmaker

    On Wednesday the Whig ran this (image scanned) editorial by Paul Schliesmann. He picks Chief Bill Closs as top newsmaker, but there are interesting observations about Mayor Rosen and the LVEC. Read the whole thing.

    Published: 12/29/05 01:03:39 AM
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    December 28, 2005

    Letter: Elizabeth Harlow

    Today The Whig published this letter by KCAL chairman Elizabeth Harlow about the December 13th editorial by Paul Schliesmann.

    Considering that The Globe, Canada's national newspaper, publishes letters the very next day, we wonder what's so special at The Whig that letters about the City's most topical subjects langusih for more than two weeks before publication.

    Published: 12/28/05 04:04:50 PM
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    December 26, 2005

    Letter and sketch by Roger Fielding

    Roger Fielding has sent the following short letter and attached sketch to all members of City Council, The Whig, Peter Milliken and John Gerretsen.

    Sir,
    While scrambling to find monies to support those in need, Kingston City Council - with one exception, is bent on diverting millions of Taxpayers' dollars to a venture which is drawing many to feed from the trough!
    "If they will come, they should pay!"

    This evokes (a sanitized version of) this cartoon by New York City artist Hugh McLeod. Here "Rich Boy" is, of course, the Kingston taxpayer.

    .

    Published: 12/26/05 01:50:06 PM
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    December 20, 2005

    Globe: Civic politicians showing backbone

    David Milner reports in today's Globe on the trend of cities driving harder bargains with stadium developers and operators.

    Although no politician wants to be the one blamed for losing a team, most now realize that publicly financed stadiums do not produce any where near the economic benefits promised and that the huge debt is hard to justify by governments strapped for cash for other major projects.

    The difference with Kingston is the the developer is also the regulator and we're being sold a bill of goods by elected officials with no experience, bogus self-imposed deadlines, and who believe their own uncorroberated so-called research by a dodgy city agency whose top official has just quit.

    Elsewhere, it seems that increasingly politicians are wising up to question the wisdom of pouring millions of taxpayer's dollars into facilities that will mainly enrich the sporting and entertainment interests while taxpayers bear most of the financial risk.

    Published: 12/20/05 04:20:45 PM
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    Letter: Bruce Todd on the proposed LVEC in snowstorm conditions

    Bruce Todd sent this letter to LVEC powers about the tough sledding down to the proposed LVEC location in winter.

    Published: 12/20/05 09:32:36 AM
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    December 16, 2005

    Whig December 13th editorial: Arena process must be open

    We've just posted this text of Paul Schliessmann's editorial of December 13th.

    Published: 12/16/05 03:50:31 PM
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    December 13, 2005

    Whig: Four bid to run arena

    The Whig-Standard reports today that 10 companies have expressed interest in building the proposed LVEC, and four companies have expressed an interest in running it.

    Its more than I expected, Gedge said in an interview yesterday.

    We're not surprised. Given that the City has placed itself in a weak negotiating position (no money, bogus self-imposed deadlines, low probability of critical Federal and Provincial funds materializing within those deadlines, the series of sub-optimal site selections, ad-hoc steering, the near total abandonment by so-called friends, and zero evidence of broad popular support) we think the City's taxpayers are ripe for the picking here, and the number and eagerness of potential candidates may be a reflection of that.

    Also in today's Whig is an editorial by Paul Schliesmann titled Arena process must be open, about the need for either an "open process" or for a referendum.

    In our view, the process should have been open a long time ago. It's clearly too late to be "opening the process" within the the projects's current accelerated schedule. There is no escaping that the LVEC, and and the disproportionate influence of downtown business interests (see also here) on the so-called "process", are going to be a major issue at next November's municipal election.

    The views of the citizens of Kingston, their purse, and consideration for them as customers of the proposed facility have, so far, never counted for anything, and that is a shame. It's too late to fix that on current timelines.

    Published: 12/13/05 12:12:59 PM
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    December 10, 2005

    Whig: Arena: Who gets final say?

    Councillor Rick Downes is suggesting that Mayor Rosen's LVEC "plan", such as it is, be the subject of a November 2006 referendum. Read what LVEC boosters Carl Holmberg and Ken Wong have to say about the idea. Holmberg represents a group that's still collecting Anglin Bay-centric petition signatures on their recruitment page. Professor Wong, an author of the now totally discredited Task Force Report on an LVEC, suggests a referendum is a bad idea because minor children should be given a say in the matter, and besides, we've had plenty of public debate on this issue.

    Really?

    So far, the only people who've had any real say on the LVEC and other projects like the Market Square (and it's botched naming deal) is downtown business (see also here). Face it: the 2006 municipal election is going to be all about the LVEC, the Multiplex, the Market Square fiasco, and how artificial rinks have dominated municipal priorities at the expense of just about everything else. Meanwhile the KEDCO person who's ultimately responsible for the project-anchoring claim that each LVEC ticket sold will generate $73 in economic benefits1 has just quit.


    1 $22.5 million per year divided into 307,000 people per year (projected total attendance) equals $73.29 in economic benefits per person walking through the LVEC turnstiles.
    Published: 12/10/05 08:29:05 PM
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    December 8, 2005

    Whig: Boss leaves economic agency

    KEDCO head is history after less than a year on the job.

    Published: 12/08/05 02:43:09 PM
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    December 4, 2005

    Kingston Accommodation Partners (Updated II)

    There's an interesting item in the Dec 6 2005 Council agenda and in the attached reports. It's touted as a new source of funds for the LVEC from a group called Kingston Accommodation Partners, a consortium of 15 local hotels and a cruise line.

    Great! But there's something fishy in the way this is presented in the attachments.

    But, KAP is in the LVEC business plan, on page 52.

    Let's hope this funding is indeed in addition to what's been budgeted in the business plan.

    But it's doubtful if this money is, in fact, anything new. See, the KAP has been the source of a similar level of funds for First Capital/Canada Day Festival Development and for other things like the promotion of Kingston in the Toronto market, support for Chamber of Commerce events, and support for the Marine Museum.

    So it's not yet clear whether this money grows on trees for the LVEC, or if the LVEC is cannibalizing those other worthy causes. Also, given that KAP is the occasional recipient of Federal funds for promotion, how does all this play out in net terms?

    If the KEDCO report on the LVEC is to be believed (and we're definitely not suggesting it should) then the members of KAP stand to be the recipients of bountiful riches and benefits and, as such, $50k per year is peanuts on the scale of riches predicted by KEDCO.

    There's more: Look at some of the conditions of the deal:

    We're guessing that KAP, which appears to be a simple loose association, probably could be dissolved in a few minutes on just about any pretext.

    So in all respects we wonder about the real story behind this pending agreement with the city.

    Updated: Here's what CKWS-TV News and The Whig report.

    Published: 12/04/05 06:21:38 PM
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    The City of Kingston proposes to purchase the Queen Street dock (Updated)

    Also on the agenda for the December 6th Council meeting is this item about the City proposing to purchase the Queen Street dock, which is next to the Wolfe Island Ferry dock and across the street from the proposed LVEC, with no immediate or clear purpose in mind.

    Updated: Read CKWS-TV's report of Monday, December 5th.

    Published: 12/04/05 05:47:49 PM
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    November 30, 2005

    City Website: Mayor's Speech To The Rotary Club of Kingston

    The text of Mayor Rosen's speech to the Rotary Club of Kingston luncheon last Thursday (Nov. 24) has been posted on the City website. It's interesting reading.

    Published: 11/30/05 09:08:52 PM
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    November 28, 2005

    Twenty-one weeks, and counting

    The last LVEC Steering Committee meeting was on July 5th. That's 21 weeks ago.

    Moreover the most recent minutes of the Steering Committee posted to date are from May 31st, which was 26 weeks ago, or one-half year.

    The mandate and terms of reference Steering Committee can be found here.

    MANDATE & TERMS OF REFERENCE

    The LVEC Steering Committee is a council-appointed committee and provides overall general direction to the process. The steering committee will guide the detailed planning for, and implementation of the LVEC proposal to include but not be restricted to, receiving and considering various functional studies and appraisals from the CAO and staff and providing recommendations to City Council. The steering committee will receive and consider responses to a Request for Quotation and Request for Proposal for the Large Venue Entertainment Centre project and provide recommendations to Council. The steering committee will form a 'Stakeholder Group' in a timely fashion to provide input on the proposed project and further, the steering committee will report to Council and the community regularly regarding progress.

    Here's the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition of "pretense".
    Published: 11/28/05 11:37:01 PM
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    We've just updated our chronology page

    We've just updated our page titled The LVEC Process: Responsible? Democratic?... You Decide to reflect some of what's happened in the past months.

    Published: 11/28/05 03:03:20 PM
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    November 25, 2005

    Whig: Arena could take on piece of history

    The Whig today published this story about Harvey Rosen's LVEC-related comments to the Kingston Rotary Club. It seems he fancies incorporating the remnants of Fort Frontenac into the design of the LVEC.

    If the mayor wants to incorporate the ruins on the triangular bit of ground where currently a stone replica sits, he will have to face a planning process, as that bit of ground is zoned "park". The current LVEC plan appears to have zero slack time for frilly niceties such as "planning" so, as we're seeing, it's now down to a process of conning the Federal Government for money that should go to deserving causes in our region but instead are being proposed for attracting "culture" (like tractor pulls, WWF wrestling, and rock concerts) to Kingston and, in the process, to supposedly bring huge "benefits" to downtown land and business owners. Meanwhile, all the risks are foisted on taxpayers who, on balance, have a far nobler sense priorities.

    At the bottom of the article there's this:

    While speaking proudly of the projects that have begun during this term of council, Rosen acknowledged he's concerned about what is not obvious in Kingston.

    "For as long as I can remember, Kingston has been a city of significant disparity in wealth and opportunity," he said.

    It is not unlike many urban areas, he said.

    "Perhaps here we have been more successful than other cities in camouflaging these disparities," he said. "The unparalleled beauty of our natural resources and historic monuments may mask the plight of many who are in need and who do not share equally in the richness of this community."

    Rosen said he's encouraged that service clubs and charities are showing leadership, establishing new programs to try to bridge this economic gap.

    Not obvious in Kingston???

    Mayor Rosen, excuse us, but if your mandate is clear on one thing, it's the poor aren't a priority in this community.

    Published: 11/25/05 08:48:04 PM
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    November 23, 2005

    CKWS-TV: LVEC update

    CKWS-TV's Lucy Lopez reports Wednesday that the upcoming federal election, and its outcome, may stall the LVEC since its construction critically depends on a Federal handout.

    Mayor Harvey Rosen says without federal funds flowing into the LVEC, it could delay the project indefinitely.

    No kidding. Looking at Don Gedge's ambitious action plan, such as it is, we reckon that if that funding is not confirmed by the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2006 at the latest, then the whole project structure will collapse unless the city comes up with the money on faith that Federal funds will eventually come through.

    And so it goes when your pet project can't fly on its own merits. On the other hand, one would think that given the exalted hyperbole justifying the project that local businesses, and all levels of government, should be tripping over themselves to fund this sure bet to transform Kingston into El Dorado.

    The same CKWS story ironically features a downtown publican beating the drum and raising money for the LVEC by selling coffee mugs for five dollars each. Based on the disproportionate clout the Downtown BIA has had on the LVEC process (see also here), we're estimating that downtown businesses would need to sell between five and ten million coffee mugs to justify their influence. The tally so far: 100 mugs.

    Read the whole thing.

    Published: 11/23/05 11:45:44 PM
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    Whig: Summer start for arena, Hedge says

    Note the typo in the headline of today's Whig Standard story about yesterday's press release is inexplicably replicated in the Whig's web-edition of today's front-page story. Of course, that should be "Gedge", not "Hedge".

    Mr Gedge certainly doesn't appear to be hedging here.

    Mr Gedge's prior ambitious work plan (October 2004 ) didn't work out. This was because of early and obvious massive public opposition, nevermind the utter lack of common sense principles, to shoehorning an OHL arena right on our waterfront, far from the so-called synergies, creaming a working harbour to boot. Months of time, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, were wasted in a process of wishful thinking and actively ignoring what was plainly obvious.

    Either Don Gedge is a yes-man, or his bumbling political masters aren't listening to him, but it can't be both. We can't really tell which is true, but today it's hard to say that Don Gedge understands the finer points of actually getting this sort of buiding constructed with proper deference to the public purse.

    Just how bad is it?

    Gedge also is firm about how the facility will be run. "The management model will be a private-sector operator."

    Gedge expects the centre will be wholly owned by the city.

    Kingston councillors haven't had a public policy debate about the propriety of hiring a private company to run a significant public asset.

    The city can't do it as well as a private sector group with a proven track record, Gedge said.

    "It's an event facility so you want an operator who has significant experience in events, you want somebody who has significant experience in food and beverage services and [in] the city we don't have that experience," he said.

    How rushed is Gedge's current work plan?

    This Friday is the deadline for firms to submit information to the city that will prequalify them to bid to design/ build and operate the entertainment centre.
    There's more:
    In late December, the city will ask for proposals from private companies to operate the facility and a separate request for proposals will be issued for packages from firms that hope to design and build the facility.
    In other words, Don Gedge is suggesting that the City of Kingston appoint an operator with no ownership stakes, and that it select designers and builders long before knowing the building's detailed requirements.

    Make no mistake: the pretense of building the best possible LVEC and, in the process, getting the best possible deal for taxpayers, has now completely vanished. This isn't about doing things right for Kingston, and bargaining from a position of strength in securing these deals. Now it's clearly all about getting this pig built before the voting public, unto whom Mr Gedge is piling all the risk, has a chance to frog-march its political promoters out of office.

    Published: 11/23/05 01:23:10 PM
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    November 22, 2005

    City Press Release: Ambitious Action Plan Moves LVEC Effort Forward

    The city just posted this press release that claims the city hopes to break ground by next summer. Therein:

    In the coming months, City staff will also begin the site plan approval process - including studies such as the concept plan, parking and traffic and a storm water management plan. Other steps that require Council approval before construction of the LVEC begins include:

    • Requests for Proposals issued to pre-qualified design and construction teams and operators;
    • Selection of an Operator;
    • Selection of Design Build Team;
    • Approval of the final LVEC Design.
    We're guessing that, based on the massive traffic gridlock following this weekend's Santa Claus parade, there is little chance that the traffic and parking study will be favorable unless the report is fudged, as we believe we proved about the Anglin Bay T&P study.

    Even ignoring the traffic and parking aspects, this ambitious and overly rushed work schedule is unlikely to be met. This work schedule is clearly designed purely to avoid turning this proposed LVEC -- a massive gift to the Downtown BIA in general and the Springer family in particular -- into a municipal election issue. This just won't fly.

    Published: 11/22/05 10:48:57 AM
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    November 19, 2005

    The Whig: Goodale backs federal funds for arena

    Clearly it's election time in Canada. Ann Lukits reports on a conference call with finance minister Ralph Goodale.

    Published: 11/19/05 11:16:50 AM
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    November 18, 2005

    North Block LVEC means re-jigged, possibly narrower surrounding streets

    A sharp-eyed reader points out that the North Block site is, in fact, too small, and that the LVEC as conceived will cause an encrochment into King, Barrack, and Place D'Armes streets, meaning that these streets will need to be realigned and possibly narrowed.

    This information noted in the LVEC North Block report:

    Published: 11/18/05 08:59:43 AM
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    CKWS-TV: KEDCO website not built in Kingston

    CKWS-TV's Jay Westman reports that the KEDCO website was not built in Kingston despite a large competent Internet sector in this region.

    KCAL would like to know why all those wonderful economic multipliers that will supposedly arise from the LVEC as described in the phantasmagorical and warped KEDCO document titled Economic Benefits of the Kingston Sports and Entertainment Centre don't factor in allocating the spending of Kingston's municipal government. Unbelievable.

    Published: 11/18/05 08:09:55 AM
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    November 17, 2005

    Ongoing neglect at Fluhrer Park (Updated)

    The sign at Fluhrer Park continues in its state of disrepair. All of Kingston's parks have 3-slat signs. This one has been missing the top slat, which once said "Douglas Fluhrer", for quite some time, over a year, maybe two.

    Also note the ratty picknic tables, and of course the signs proclaiming the LVEC zoning fight are still in place. Updated: Those signs are now gone.

    Clearly the city doesn't give much of a hoot about this park. It spends, however, big dollars for consultants whose reports are ignored, and really big dollars for entertainment centres to benefit downtown landowners in general and the Springer family in particular, but nothing for basic maintenance like these things.

    Published: 11/17/05 09:38:02 AM
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    November 12, 2005

    Whig: Skate or swim? Analysts challenge city's recreational spending plans

    Rob Tripp reportsin Saturday's Whig on the seemingly disjointed priorites of the current council's spending on recreation, namely all on new rinks, including most of it one one rink mostly for the benefit of the Springer family, and nearly nothing elsewhere.

    If the city proceeds with the entertainment centre and the multiplex, it will be the biggest recreational system upgrade in the region in decades, at a time when the city lacks a critical guiding document, a culture and recreation master plan, to inform the decision making.
    Not to mention that the Downtown Action Plan, still warm since it was approved in principle by City Council in September 2004, doesn't even mention an LEVC.

    Read the whole thing.

    What's also notable is a common thread in all this. Trivia: who's the city politician who's spent years overseeing the steering of Kingston's decrepit arenas with no improvement whatsoever in their state, who also sat on the Mayor's Task Force on the LVEC with it's disastrous outcome, who was the lone vote opposing the relocation of the LVEC off the waterfront to the North Block, and who has has actively opposed the inclusion of a swimming pool in the proposed multiplex at every turn?

    Answer: Pittsburgh district councillor Leonore Foster.

    Published: 11/12/05 01:23:10 PM
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    November 11, 2005

    Whig: NHL's Senators keen to run arena

    The organization that runs the Corel Centre in Ottawa also wants to manage the proposed $37-million civic arena and entertainment centre proposed for downtown Kingston.
    Comparisons between Kingston's proposed LVEC and the Bell Sensplexseem, at first glance, ridiculous. See the Sensplex facility features, for example.
    Published: 11/11/05 11:08:58 AM
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    November 10, 2005

    KTW Editorial: North Block LVEC still has questions

    There's a good editorial by Stephen Petrick in the November 8 edition of Kingston This Week. They also have an article titled Fate of Memorial Centre is up in air.

    It's pretty clear where this is going: if the LVEC is built as conceived, the Memorial Centre will be disused, and it will continue to decompose, except at a faster rate than our current arenas (if you can imagine that) until someday it'll be razed. The LVEC, meanwhile, will deliver approximately what all other LVECs deliver, namely no net benefits whatsoever, and a big hole where taxpayer cash gets swallowed on an annual basis.

    Published: 11/10/05 05:48:19 PM
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    LVEC-related tender ads posted on the city website

    We note the following three LVEC-related tenders on the city website.

    Published: 11/10/05 10:40:13 AM
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    November 4, 2005

    Reply to The Whig's inane editorial of November 3rd.

    Robert Harlow has sent this letter to The Whig about yesterday's dumb editorial.

    To state that the reason City Council decided to shift the site for a proposed LVEC from Anglin Bay to the North Block was that "a loud and vocal minority of opponents, mainly the NIMBY crowd and the waterfront conservationists, who combined to shoot down" the original site, implies that the Councillors are a pack of easily-frightened ninnies.
    Clearly opposition to Anglin Bay had nothing to do with NIMBY. The whig's roll of letters to the editor shows that, city-wide, people were opposed to Anglin Bay in a ratio of about 3:1, and possibly much higher since a significant proportion of Whig letters from Anglin Bay LVEC supporters came from the BIA, KEDCO, and the Chamber as part of an overt push to manufacture the pretense of public support (see also here).
    A final point: the editorial's author alludes to a "vocal minority" in opposition to the Anglin Bay site. Over a period of about three weeks, a handful of volunteer opponents to that location for the LVEC obtained almost 4,000 signatures (currently 4,300) on a petition against the site, certainly one of the largest, if not the largest, petitions City Hall has ever received. The petition was typically snatched from their hands, in the signers' eagerness to affirm their endorsement of that opposition. Kingston taxpayers opposed to that location were neither "surprised", nor were they a "minority": they are a majority, and they are very angry, and they are looking forward to the next election.
    What people don't realize is how gratifying it is to circulate a petition that seemingly everyone is eager to sign. We wish LVEC supporters had tried to circulate an actual petition, which involves personal contact with people. We have no trouble imagining that this would not have been a gratifying experience for them.

    KCAL collected 4,300 actual signatures in a very short time from all over the city. By contrast, the Friends Of The Entertainment Centre with the help of a fawning media (takes a while to load), collected online only 800 or so names and published this list that is padded with the names of several dozen minor children of some of the signees. This suggests a ratio of 5:1 opposed at least.

    The Whig really needs to get a clue.

    Published: 11/04/05 05:21:16 AM
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    November 3, 2005

    Whig: Anglin Bay residents rejoice

    Indeed.

    Note the really glib things Doug Ritchie allegedly says about traffic and parking, and the bit about the North Block being the BIA's preferred site all along.

    We should keep the KCAL website online for the next 30 years, so that every Kingston resident and their children can read all about it. What say you now, Mr Ritchie?The accountability for the LVEC is just starting and it starts Doug Ritchie and the Kingston BIA.

    Published: 11/03/05 07:48:42 PM
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    November 2, 2005

    Whig: North Block wins approval

    Ian Elliot reports on last night's council meeting. Council approved the North Block with full knowledge that they've been sold a bill of goods when it comes to traffic and parking.

    Councillor Foster, who has been inept in all matters concerning Kingston arenas for many years now, clearly has no clue:

    "I still feel the original site could have been a signature building in the the city, one of architectural significance," a disappointed Foster said.

    "Perhaps in Kingston we do not set our sights high enough. "

    She was the lone dissenting vote on another piece of business last night that pulled Anglin Bay off the table as a proposed site for the centre and directed city staff "to cease all work and negotiations related to the... site. "

    Published: 11/02/05 09:12:40 AM
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    October 30, 2005

    LVEC-related items on the November 1st Council agenda

    There are two LVEC-related items on Tuesday's Council agenda.

    REPORT NO. 122 OF THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER (Recommend)reads as follows:

    Such is the rush to ram this project through before the next election that CEO Glen Laubenstein doesn't even identify the correctblock in subsection 1 (it's between King and Ontario, not Wellington and King), and in subsection 3, Mr Laubenstein recommends that the Mayor, who we believe has shown little project sensibility, be given carte blanche to henceforth make all deals related to the LVEC. This is outrageous.

    Read the full text of Mr. Laubenstein's recommendations in Report No. : 05-385.

    Considering that Castleglenn's much ridiculed Traffic and Parking study mentions the Lasalle Causeway exactly zero times, we expect that, at minimum, council should make the North Block location subject to a true traffic and parking study.

    Further down, on page 16 of the agendawe see Councillor Downes' motion related to Anglin Bay.

    Hear hear!

    Published: 10/30/05 04:34:57 PM
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    October 29, 2005

    The North Block study is out

    The North Block studywas released yesterday, at least two weeks ahead of schedule.

    Both CKWS-TVand The Whighave stories about it.

    Here are diagrams of what's proposed.

    Published: 10/29/05 10:19:10 AM
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    October 22, 2005

    CKWS-TV: Councillor Rick Downs wants Anglin Bay off the table

    CKWS-TV reportsthat Councillor Rick Downes will put forth a motion at the next council meeting to remove Anglin Bay from consideration as a possible site for the LVEC. The motion would also prevent the Memorial Centre from being sold to finance it.

    A possible snag: Councillor Bittu George, a recent convert to sparing Anglin Bay, will be out of town.

    Published: 10/22/05 11:23:53 AM
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    October 21, 2005

    Hundreds attend MetalCraft Marine's open house (Updated)
    Update: Here is CKWS-TV's story on the MetalCraft Marine open house.

    Here below is undoubtedly the best photograph taken at this afternoon's MetalCraft Marine open house, which was attended by at least two to three hundred people who were treated to displays, donuts, coffee, great conversation and camaraderie on a brilliant Kingston afternoon. Thanks to MetalCraft Marine for putting on such a great event!

    The talented photographer behind this photo goes by the name "Wavespire". He has a brilliant collection of Kingston photos on Flickr including several from Anglin Bay and surrounding area.

    Published: 10/21/05 08:41:24 PM
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    October 19, 2005

    MetalCraft Marine: open house Friday 1-3 PM
    MetalCraft Marineis hosting an open house Friday to thank Kingstonians for saving its shipyard. Other members of Kingston's lively working waterfront will be there as well.

    Published: 10/19/05 10:35:48 AM
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    October 16, 2005

    Letter: Robert Mackenzie. The North Block. Should We Jump for It?

    Robert Mackenzie sent us this letter which he sent to the Mayor and Councillors.

    Published: 10/16/05 04:13:23 PM
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    Whig: Experts dispute belief arenas revitalize downtowns

    This excellent article reminds us that evidence of the benefits of downtown arenas is in dispute.

    Published: 10/16/05 04:12:45 PM
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    October 14, 2005

    The Whig: Federal grant may aid arena

    Today The Whig published this storyabout an interview with Federal Liberal House Leader Tony Valeriwho reportedly stated that a grant under the COMRIF program, the "Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund", might be a potential source of funding for the LVEC.

    Really?

    Here's a list of recentCOMRIF grant recipients.

    Looking through the COMRIF Step-By-Step Online application Guide we note some of the guidelines. While Federal funding would be welcome, don't bet on this one.

    Published: 10/14/05 11:36:49 AM
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    KTW: District residents have more support for LVEC on North Block

    Kingston This Week has published this storyabout the meeting chaired by Rick Downes on Wednesday evening.

    We also have this scan of an article published by The Whig on Thursday. The title of that article is "New site lauded but process called a sham" though KCAL members who were there report that certainly nobody who spoke "lauded" the North Block site.

    Published: 10/14/05 11:28:12 AM
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    October 11, 2005

    LVEC Official Plan & Zoning Meeting Postponed

    The Anglin Bay zoning meeting, originally scheduled for October 27th, has been postponed.

    Published: 10/11/05 05:58:13 PM
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    October 8, 2005

    Media Advisory: King's Town District Public Meeting

    City Councillor Rick Downes will host a King's Town District Public Meeting on Wednesday, October 12, 2005. The purpose of this meeting is to seek community input on the proposed site change for the LVEC to what is known as the "North Block. "

    WHAT:King's Town District Public Meeting to seek community input on the proposed site change for the Large Venue Entertainment Centre to what is known as the "North Block. "

    WHERE: Artillery Park Gymnasium, 76 Ordnance Street, Kingston, Ontario

    WHEN:Wednesday, October 12, 2005 from 7 p. m. to 9 p. m.

    Published: 10/08/05 05:48:22 PM
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    September 30, 2005

    Article: Jamie Swift

    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.

    Published: 09/30/05 04:50:13 PM
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    City website is finally just annotated to show new LVEC direction

    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.

    Published: 09/30/05 11:09:39 AM
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    September 28, 2005

    The Heritage: LVEC on the move, council to study new downtown venue

    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.
    Published: 09/28/05 06:47:12 PM
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    London's JLC on the North Block and on Anglin Bay

    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.

    Published: 09/28/05 12:33:15 PM
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    OHL Arena Guide: The Top 20 Rinks of the OHL

    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.

  • Introduction
  • The top-20 list
  • Conclusions, where therein Kevin says:
    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.
  • Published: 09/28/05 12:13:30 AM
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    September 27, 2005

    City Website: Still no change to the LVEC pages

    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.

    Published: 09/27/05 02:48:17 PM
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    September 23, 2005

    Our LVEC "relationships" diagram has been updated (and updated again)

    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:

  • We've updated the area titled "Bogus, self-imposed deadlines". It's notable how many of these items, taken from a list releasedon May 3rd, are very late. We've asked Don Gedge if there exists a newer version of these milestones, but he hasn't yet returned ourcalls and emails. We're also wondering when the traffic and parking peer review is to be expected.

    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.

  • The marketing study took four months, cost about $40,000, and it really did not much influence Council decision making. Today we know that consultant Ron Bidulka was an early project insider, and was on record as supporting the LVEC project, and hence not as independent as reasonably expected. The new diagram reflects this.
  • We added a box that links the Friends Of the Entertainment Centre group to the scion of a prominent BIA mover.
  • It turns out that The Renaissance Networkis related to another prominent BIA member. The Renaissance Network had a pro-LVEC Staff Briefing sessionat Council on March 1, 2005. Also, city documents show Don Gedge attended a Renaissance Network meetingon February 21, 2005.

    It's simply amazing how the BIA keeps appearing under so many different guises.

  • Published: 09/23/05 09:39:10 AM
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    September 22, 2005

    KCAL petition bearing over 3,700 names drops on Council

    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.

    Published: 09/22/05 03:41:57 PM
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    September 21, 2005

    CKWS-TV: LVEC Survives

    CKWS-TV has posted this transcript of Lucy Nersesian's story about happenings on Tuesday night.

    HARVEY ROSEN:

    "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?

    Published: 09/21/05 11:11:51 PM
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    The next Planning Committee meeting is on October 20th, 2005

    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?

    Published: 09/21/05 07:51:04 PM
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    Whig: New arena site proposed

    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:

    Published: 09/21/05 07:24:28 AM
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    Summary of September 20 Council Meeting

    "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.

    Published: 09/21/05 06:55:23 AM
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    September 20, 2005

    Letter: Robert Mackenzie - LVEC - City Council should not commit to the Inner Harbour

    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:

  • May 3, 2005: The LVEC Business Plan and the concept of a "signature building"
  • April 28, 2005: Council Should Not Rely on the Work of the LVEC Steering Committee
  • April 1, 2005: Would a LVEC on the Downtown Waterfront Play to Kingston's Strengths?
  • February 7, 2005: The LVEC - Let's Rethink Fundamental Questions First
  • December 7, 2004: The Role of Citizen Participation

    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.

  • Published: 09/20/05 05:01:14 PM
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    Friends Of the Entertainment Centre list padded with names of minors and children

    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.

    Published: 09/20/05 12:20:52 PM
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    September 19, 2005

    A breakdown of the LVEC-related items at the Sept 20 Council meeting (Updated)

    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 main Agenda, a 38-page document, is here. You can click on the images below and you'll be taken to the appropriate page among all the documentsbeing tabled at this meeting.

    Therein:

    It's going to be a long night, and we expect that the will of the two-thirds proportion of Kingstonians who are opposed to a waterfront location for the LVEC won't be summarily ignored for much longer.
    Published: 09/19/05 08:18:14 AM
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    Whig: Countdown to a controversial vote

    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.

    "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. "

    So $50M isn't going to surprise Harvey Rosen.
    Published: 09/19/05 07:43:59 AM
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    KTW: Readers asked, LVEC project manager answered (sort of)

    Kingston This Week ran its first LVEC Q&A on Friday.

    Published: 09/19/05 07:43:06 AM
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    September 18, 2005

    Geoff Smith: It's time for Kingston to shake its edifice complex

    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.

    Published: 09/18/05 11:54:21 PM
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    September 17, 2005

    City Website: City's Council Members Receive Completed LVEC Market Study

    Ron Bidulka's report has been received by Council members. See the announcement hereand download the report here.

    Be sure to read Appendix B.

    Published: 09/17/05 11:48:23 PM
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    Updated tally of LVEC-related letters to the editor of the Whig Standard

    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.

    Published: 09/17/05 10:18:32 PM
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    Ron Bidulka's track record in Guelph

    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.
    Published: 09/17/05 08:10:37 AM
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    September 16, 2005

    CKWS-TV: Taxpayer Meeting

    CKWS-TV reports on the inaugural meeting of the Association Of Kingston Electoral Districts that took place on Wednesday night at City Hall.

    Published: 09/16/05 12:44:08 PM
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    September 15, 2005

    Letter: Andy Soper

    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.
    Published: 09/15/05 12:22:16 AM
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    September 11, 2005

    The boulevarding of Wellington street (updated)

    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.

    Published: 09/11/05 12:29:03 AM
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    September 8, 2005

    Letter: Raymond Colledge

    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.

    Published: 09/08/05 10:21:27 AM
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    The sports stadium scam: What is seen and what is not seen

    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.

    Published: 09/08/05 09:21:10 AM
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    Letter: Vicki Schmolka

    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.

    Published: 09/08/05 12:04:40 AM
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    September 7, 2005

    CKWS-TV: The LVEC puzzle is starting to come together.

    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.

    Published: 09/07/05 11:06:44 PM
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    Ron Bidulka's prior involvement in the LVEC project

    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".

    Published: 09/07/05 07:38:53 PM
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    Notice: Kingston Municipal Voters Open Meeting

    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.

    Published: 09/07/05 09:37:14 AM
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    Letter: Mary Louise Adams

    We've just posted this letter from Mary Louise Adams about some condescending LVEC-related comments made by Mayor Rosen last week.

    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.

    Read the whole thing.
    Published: 09/07/05 09:13:29 AM
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    Whig: Arena gets thumbs-up from expert

    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.

    Published: 09/07/05 09:03:47 AM
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    September 4, 2005

    Whig: Are we even in the running?

    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.

    Published: 09/04/05 05:48:36 PM
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    September 2, 2005

    CKWS-TV: LVEC Decision Delayed

    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.

    Here are links to the Marketing Study Terms of Reference as well as the ammended project scope and objectives documents, a segment of which we reproduce below.

    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.

    Published: 09/02/05 11:47:19 PM
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    August 28, 2005

    Whig: 'Friends' distort arena size

    Derek Baldwin reports in the Saturday edition of The Whig on the deliberately forged imagery on the Friends of the Entertainment Centre website.

    Elsewhere in Kingston's mainstream media, Kingston This Week and CKWS-TV both prominently featured the Friends' 11-page website.

    Published: 08/28/05 10:47:20 PM
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    August 26, 2005

    Spot the differences (Updated, again)

    Today there is little doubt about who's misinforming whom. The recently unveiled Friends of the Entertainment Centre website features, on every page, obviously and deliberately forged images of the proposed LVEC.

    Hint: compare the heights of the LVEC as presented. Click the images to go to the respective sources.

    Note also that the city's image is undersized by 5 feet in height to begin with.

    This is a shameful day for the founders of The Friends of the LVEC, which include Rob Baker, Michael Davies, George Speal, Carl Holmberg, Ken Wong, Marg & Bill Knapp, Bill Leggett, Sonny Sadinsky, Mat Abramsky, Alicia & Barry Gordon, Audrey & Reg Shadbolt, Barry Keefe, and Robert Boucher.

    Update I: An astute reader forwards us this animated illustration that shows what the Friends of the Entertainment Centre are up to with their manipulations.

    Update II: The Whig reports on Wednesday that they finally changed, after several days, the website's logo, but there is no explanation of why all this happened in the first place. Don Gedge speculates that "they didn't do a good job of Photoshop".

    Below are the two images used to create the Friends' original home page:


    friends.gif

    building.gif

    Note that the distortion occurs within the second image, and not as a result of stitching the two images together. This is not a case of "difficulty with Photoshop". It's a botched forgery.

    Published: 08/26/05 03:13:33 PM
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    City Website: LVEC Backgrounder

    The city has just posted this LVEC Backgrounderdocument.

    Most Kingstonians agree that the Entertainment Centre is one of the best investments the City has ever made.

    Read the whole thing.

    Published: 08/26/05 02:24:34 PM
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    KROCK 105.7: Rob Baker and "Friends of the Entertainment Centre"

    This morning KROCK 105. 7 enthusiastically plugged Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip as the lead spokesman for a group named "Friends of the Entertainment Centre".

    Their website is http://FriendsoftheEC.org/. Their "founding members" page is here. Right now the only "substantive" material on the site, if we can call it that, is a rehash of this page from the City of Kingston website.

    KROCK had Rob Baker and Councillor Steve Garrison on the air between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM today in what was an overt "pile on Garrison" session by the KROCK host and a laughably misinformed and disillusioned Rob Baker, along with "publicly diss the caller" towards any listener who dared to phone and question why Kingston's waterfront should be used for this purpose.

    KROCK is owned by none other than John Wright. The website is registered to Mat Abramsky (see also here ).

    Expect Kingston's mainstream media to fall for the star-backed publicity.

    Published: 08/26/05 08:05:50 AM
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    The Heritage: City's LVEC negotiators close to signing deals

    Bill Hutchins reports in this week's Heritage newspaper that deals with two parties that stand to gain from the proposed waterfront LVEC are close at hand.

    Published: 08/26/05 03:13:24 AM
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    August 23, 2005

    Whig: Springers to get say on Market events

    The Market Square renaming fiasco is far more odious than previously thought. Read Derek Baldwin's interesting summary of the whole thing so far.

    The Springer family also owns the Kingston Frontenacs, and stand to be major beneficiaries of the proposed taxpayer-financed LVEC.

    Published: 08/23/05 09:31:43 AM
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    LVEC Budget Expenditures to June 30, 2005

    We've received the following reportshowing that, up to June 30th 2005, almost 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.

    Published: 08/23/05 09:14:27 AM
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    August 18, 2005

    Letter: Roger Fielding

    Roger Fielding sent this letter to The Whig, the Mayor, and members of Council on August 5, 2005. It was published in The Whig last week.

    Published: 08/18/05 10:04:29 AM
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    August 16, 2005

    The Heritage: Consultant is no stranger to stadium controversy in Kingston

    Bill Hutchings reports that the consultant chosen for the so-called "LVEC marketing study" is Ron Bidulka, described in the article as a LVEC supporter.

    Published: 08/16/05 01:42:24 PM
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    August 15, 2005

    City Website: August 31st Planning Committee Meeting (Update)

    The City of Kingston's online meetings calendar has recently been updated, without explanation, to include a "Special Planning Meeting - OP and Zoning By-Law Amendments (Large Venue Entertainment Centre) " at 6:30 PM on August 31st.

    .

    There is yet no agenda published.

    Update:This meeting has been postponed, and the word is it won't happen until mid-October at least.

    Published: 08/15/05 03:12:43 PM
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    August 11, 2005

    Letter: Tony Malavenda of Syracuse, NY

    The Kingston Whig Standard published this letter from Tony Malavenda of Syracuse, NY. Mr Malavenda is a boater who uses Kingston's Confederation Basin Marina as a base.

    Published: 08/11/05 10:25:26 PM
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    August 8, 2005

    92 ft Powerboat at Anglin Bay Marina (Updated August 10th)

    We've just been forwarded these photos of a 92-foot powerboat berthed at Kingston Marina on Anglin Bay for the next few days. The word on the waterfront is this vessel was not well received at Confederation Basin.

    Update August 9th: CKWS-TV has this story of what happened to this vessel at Confederation Basin marina on Sunday.

    Update August 10th:CKWS follows up with this story with quotes from councillor Sarah Meers, who's been there. Kingstonians are generally unaware of the poor quality of Confederation Basin Marina:no fuel, no pumpout, no chandelry, no nearby grocery store, no convenient liquor or beer store,short and narrow finger docks, very noisy metal dock junctions underfoot, limited fresh water and power, boats packed together, no anchoring, and all around are windows looking down on you. In wheeled terms, take the worst RV park you can imagine and, except for the downtown location, what you have is probably better than Confederation Basin Marina.

    The City's promotion of its marinasis also most embarassing.

    The City of Kingston just doesn't "get" the marina business. What's more, in terms of the LVEC, the so-called "Stakeholders Advisory Marina Sub-Committee" has produced this error-filled and, frankly, ridiculous two-page draft reportthat doesn't make any of this any better and, quite likely, far worse since it recommends a marina capacity and service downgrade for the City.

    Published: 08/08/05 02:38:43 PM
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    August 4, 2005

    National Fisherman: Protect Our Communities

    We've been forwarded this interesting short editorial by Jerry Fraser, the editor of National Fisherman Magazine, on the theme of threats to working waterfronts. This particular editorial talks of the fishing business, but could well apply to boat building and even to boating and marina operations.

    Essentially, there are many pitfalls that arise from people who don't have a clue about what makes a self-sustaining waterfront and, as the editorial points out, we must add tax-grabbing municipalities to the list.

    The central theme is that once the current LVEC proposal is defeated because of its ridiculous and mysteriously-selected location, the fight to preserve Anglin Bay for productive marine purposes won't be over. Once we get past this episode of erratic shenanigans, what we really need is a new and realistic vision for the inner harbour and Anglin Bay area.

    Published: 08/04/05 10:58:02 AM
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    July 29, 2005

    LETTER: Sandy Crothers

    The Whig Standard published this letter from Sandy Crothers today. Sandy is the manager of St-Lawrence Marina on Anglin Bay, currently operated by MetalCraft Marine.

    It seems the Anglin Bay LVEC project got input from a marinaadvisory sub-committee, stacked with hand-picked members which didn't include anyone from the current marina, but included competitors, namely from Collins Bay Marina and the Commodore of Trident Yacht Club. All the other members of the sub-committee are individuals of, coincidentally and conveniently, little or no marine-related repute.

    Guess what they recommended?They put the best possible face on building the LVEC on Anglin Bay (not building in this location wasn't ever on the agenda), urging the shutdown of the Marina, gas dock and all -- a nice earner -- and only rent the slips to transient boaters. In other words, the marina would be mostly empty except in high season.

    The sub-committee made no mention that Kingston's entire marine service industry will dissapear as a result of building the LVEC. The only other current service location, Rideau Marina, is owned by Homestead, the region's most aggressive property developer.

    This is another classic example of the sort of abuse that seems to happen whenever the the regulator is also the developer.

    Published: 07/29/05 03:47:15 PM
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    July 27, 2005

    Whig: More secrecy at City Hall: Details of contract with Frontenacs hockey team blacked out

    This item dates back to June 15th, but it's worth bringing up at this time since we now have the full text of the article.

    There are some apparent shenanigans between City and the Springer family, owners of the Kingston Frontenacs, the main tennants of the proposed LVEC.

    Published: 07/27/05 02:54:32 PM
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    Whig: An epitaph for KEDCO

    We've finally posted the text of Claude Scilley's excellent editorial titled An epitaph for KEDCO which was published on Juy 18, 2005.

    Read the whole thing, as well as this letter in response from Betty Harlow.

    KEDCO's been taking a well-deserved pounding in the mainstream media these days. There is no question that, as a thinly disguised marketing arm of Council, they aren't producing results, nor being real business and resident's advocates, for the heap of our tax dollars that are thrown their way. With KEDCO there are never any downsides, and never any hard choices, and everything is always rosy and easy.

    Published: 07/27/05 12:29:01 PM
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    July 26, 2005

    CKWS: LVEC COUNCIL

    The City of Kingston's plan to build a 37-million dollar Large Venue Entertainment Centre cleared another hurdle last night with the approval of a market study.

    Read the whole thing.
    Published: 07/26/05 04:33:08 PM
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    July 12, 2005

    KEDCO: Reaching our Potential

    The Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) today released a 16-page economic development blueprint titled Reaching our Potential, that will guide plans to re-energize the city's economy over the next few years.

    As you might expect, the report mentions the LVEC project:

    Read that again. The LVEC continues to be presented by KEDCO as a notable driver of full-time tourism employment in the Kingston region. We think not.

    Has anyone ever ordered a peer-review of the plans and documents that these people produce?

    Published: 07/12/05 11:46:53 PM
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    July 10, 2005

    New photos of workings at Anglin Bay

    We've just received several photos of some of the bigger boats served by the 75-ton crane and the other service capabilities of the marina on Anglin Bay.

    If the proposed LVEC is built here, and when the Homestead-owned Rideau Marina is redeveloped, then theKingston region will cease to have a reasonably complete marine maintenance and service infrastructure.

    That's because there are no marine services whatsoever available at Confederation Basin, fuel only for small and mid-sized boats at the Kingston Yacht Club and Treasure Island Marina, just fuel at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, and fuel and about half the hoist capability at Collins Bay Marina. None of these harbours have dedicated on-site marine maintenance personnel with complete workshops to support them. The best some of these sites can muster is dock-side maintenance and repair scenarios, calling-in for hoist and fix capability.

    Yet the so-called "Stakeholders Advisory Marina Sub-Committee" has produced this error-filled and, frankly, ridiculous two-page draft report that doesn't mention any of this.

    One would hope that if the Kingston region stands to seriously downgrade its marine maintenance and service capabilities (when everywhere else these services are, if anything, expanding), and if convenient fuel facilities are unavailable for boats visiting downtown, that someone in the fully-staffed and consultant-loaded LVEC machine will be on to this.

    If anything, once this is realized, what we have here is a genuine face-saving show-stopping reason to work towards alternatelocations for the proposed LVEC.

    Published: 07/10/05 12:25:44 PM
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    July 6, 2005

    Whig: Arena luxury boxes ready to lease

    Derek Baldwin reports in the Wednesday, July 6th edition of The Whig that the city is moving to lease LVEC private boxes even though the project doesn't have political approval.

    The Whig persists in describing this as a "$37. 3-million" project even though this figure doesn't include the cost of the waterfront land, the cost of MetalCraft Marine's expropriation and relocation, the realistic costs of site finishes required to make the building, the parkland site, and the marina into a "jewel" (their words), nor does it include the costs overruns that always (always) accompany projects with pivotal bogus deadlines, nevermind the cost overruns that always come with these sorts of projects under the best of conditions.

    Regardless, if anything, this signals that it's time for Kingston's downtown businesses to pony-up. We suspect Don Gedge needs the cashflow to keep his retinue of city staff and outside consultants in clover without needing to go back to council for additional funds. Just whom is overseeing the management of the funds of this LVEC project has never been clear. What is clear is a key element of strategy is to burn enough, soon enough, in order to make turning back an unpalatable option.

    This is what happens when the overseer is also the developer. Haste in order to make waste, as it were.

    Published: 07/06/05 06:55:16 PM
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    July 5, 2005

    Public Consultation Window Dressing

    Amid the attachments on the agenda of the July 5th LVEC Steering Committee Meeting:

    Recommendation: That the attached reports developed by the LVEC Stakeholders Advisory Group be forwarded and reviewed by the LVEC Steering Committee, the LVEC Project Management staff, the selected LVEC Design-Build team and the Operator of the LVEC.

    It's 97 pages long. The first 25 pages are improperly collated and appear incomplete, especially the contributions from "Representatives Of The Neighbouring Buildings". Certainly nobody actually paid particular attention while collating them.

    There are a number of frankly unbelievable recommendations coming out of the marina advisory sub-committee that we will be pounding on soo