Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Circuses on Burlington Bay

Before my post, I'd just like to say that I'm very sad to hear Mario Laguë was killed today in a traffic accident. I've dealt with him a couple of times through e-mail communications, and was always very helpful to me. Canada as a whole has lost a very dedicated person.

*****

I'm not sure if anyone has followed this recently, but as a Golden Horseshoer(?), and involved in the politics right across the Bay from the epicenter of the issue, it's a pretty big one.

A fight has been brewing over the location of the stadium that needs to be built for the upcoming 2015 Pan Am Games which will be held partially in Hamilton, Ontario, and surrounding communities (including Burlington, which will build a soccer stadium).

The contenders include Hamilton City Council, led by Mayor Fred Eisenburger; Bob Young, Hamilton Tiger Cats owner; and the feds + province. The situation has been playing out like this:

The stadium must have an obvious location somewhere in Hamilton. The Council's overwhelming choice (by a vote of 12-3 originally, which then switched to 10-6 during the ratification vote) is the location colloquially known as "the West Harbour," where there is easy access to transit, and reason to clean up the area and the toxic dump sites around it.

Bob Young's choice, as well as the feds and the province who will be providing the money for the stadium through the stimulus package and grants, is at a location known as East Mountain, where access to public transit is low, and they're planning on building what will essentially be a parking-lot-to-parking-lot experience.

The pickle is that, under Hamilton's regulations, if they're going to build this stadium, there must be a tenant. That's where Bob Young and the Ticats come in. The feds and the province both believe that the stadium is essentially pointless to fund without the Ticats as the anchor tenant. It's gotten to the point where, unless Bob Young gets his way, he's threatened to move the Ticats from Hamilton.

The impasse is representative of some of the poor planning that went into the event in the first place. While Hamilton had a great PR firm that convinced the Pan Am officials to locate the stadium there, it's clear to many that Council had no idea what they would actually do.

The same goes for Burlington City Council, where people are raising a stink about the location of the soccer stadium/field at City Park, just after they raised a stink over the original location at Sherwood Forest Park. It's gotten to the point where the Niagara Escarpment Commission managed to have cancelled the planned stimulus funding that would have gone to build the statement, because of the location at City Park. Their own alternative choice - Bayview Park - is, in my opinion, untenable and stupid.

How we even got the Games I'll never know. If the planning had gone better, we might be looking at millions of new stimulus money coming in to help the area revitalize itself. But, alas, this is apparently too hard for the leadership in Hamilton and area.

The folks at the Pan Am Commission must be shaking their heads at this sad spectacle.

3 comments:

  1. So, I'm guessing the feds and province will win out, seeing as there's no point in building a stadium if the local team won't use it.

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  2. Essentially, yes, though the deadline was this week, and if they have nothing by tomorrow, the Pan Am Commission will most likely just move the stadium from Hamilton.

    That leaves Burlington's soccer field, which, if the Hamilton stadium goes, will probably leave with it. It's a stupid situation propagated by stupid decisions made by somewhat smart people.

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