Special Report: Pan Am

Interview With Mayor Eisenberger: City Building and an East Mountain Stadium

Whatever happened to Hamilton's goals of progressive development and urban revitalization? Mayor Fred Eisenberger talks about the sudden change in fortunes over the city's negotiations with the Ticats over a Pan Am Stadium location.

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 09, 2010

Last night I conducted a telephone interview with Mayor Fred Eisenberger over the sudden shift in momentum in the city's Pan Am Stadium plans from the already-chosen West Harbour location to a new East Mountain location on a provincially-owned parcel of land framed by the Red Hill Valley Parkway/Lincoln Alexander Parkway, Stone Church Road and the Mud Street interchange.

At a late stage of the conciliation process between the City and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats over the location, Metrolinx and the Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) proposed the new location. Facilitator Michael Fenn drew prominence to it in his report, and the Ticats immediately responded with a generous-sounding offer of $74 million, which actually turned out to be only $15 million in new money.

With the exception of Councillor Brian McHattie, who dared to point out, "this is all about private interest trumping public interest," Council quickly fell in love with the new location, which promised a "driveway-to-driveway experience" for Ticat fans.

This sudden change flies right in the face of the process up to now. Council and staff undertook a careful, two-year assessment with related traffic studies and public consultation, only to abandon it all literally overnight for a new location that violates every one of the city's objectives.

The Mayor has long been a champion of the West Harbour location and the broader goal of urban revitalization, and this defeat is a pretty devastating blow. During the interview, the Mayor was diplomatic as usual, but it was impossible not to notice the deep frustration in his voice while we discussed the issue.

Crumbling Resolve

On April 13, the Mayor came out strongly in support of West Harbour, calling the Ticats "minority" partners and stating, "We can't let [the investors attracted by West Harbour] down by wavering on" the location. Then on May 6, he forcefully reconfirmed the city's goal of "building community" and "what's best for the people of Hamilton - today and into the future" by investing in the West Harbour.

So what happened? How did this resolve crumble into the the negotiations that resulted in the East Mountain location?

Mayor Fred explained:

I've maintained and I still maintain my resolve that the West Harbour site is the best possible location. My hope in the facilitation process was that we'd dismiss the sites that weren't suitable and that the West Harbour would come out on top.

All the research showed this, and I was hoping that the Tiger-Cats would come to understand the benefits of the West Harbour location for them. As for the benefits of our city building initiatives - we were led to believe they were important to the Ticats as well.

He concluded, "That's just not where we ended up."

Ticats Bargaining in Bad Faith?

I shared my strong sense from reading the facilitator's report that the Ticats seemed flat-out unwilling to accept any of the city's arguments, no matter how much evidence the city put forth in their defence.

I was thinking, for example, of this line from the report: "The parties disagreed on the ability of the West Harbour site to provide the appropriate level of local roadway access, despite the macro-level analysis provided by transportation consultants IBI Group indicating that the site could meet transportation demands."

I suggested that for a mediation process to work, both participants have a responsibility not to be intransigent. He responded, "I don't disagree with that.

It was a surprise to me that Bob Young was not going to play in the West Harbour in any way, shape or form. It was a real departure. In terms of where we ended up, Michael Fenn was left with trying to find a solution that tries to satisfy both sides.

I think Michael Fenn's thinking is - and I wouldn't disagree with it - that the objective is to get a stadium landed and city building initiatives at the same time. He put forward a location that might have an opportunity for a stadium and some development around it, and the city building initiative on the West Harbour should be part of the arrangements that we put forward at the end of the day.

Do I think the West Harbour site is the right site? I absolutely do. I continue to believe that, and I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary from a city building perspective. But the Ticats had different imperatives.

Their vision was a singular destination for football, and they were very mindful of the sustainabilility of football over the long term, and the revenues that could be generated. They believed those revenues couldn't be generated at the West Harbour.

Their imperatives are different from the city's imperatives. I don't think we should totally cave to the Ticats' imperatives, obviously.

Remediation Money

Given Michael Fenn's suggestion to grant the Ticats their stadium on the East Mountain and then proceed with acquiring and remediating the West Harbour location, I asked Eisenberger where the money for that remediation is supposed to come from.

He responded:

We're still working with two streams. We must continue to assess both streams, and be mindful of the possibility to make something good and solid from the West Harbour, having the ability to remediate at a standard that allows development. We should absolutely insist that this be part of the outcome.

That actually lends us to the kind of development that might have been envisioned in [the] Setting Sail [neighbourhood plan for the North End]. There are some positives. It's not perfect in my eye, but I think there's still an opportunity to get some positives out of this scenario if we maintain our focus and commitment.

He added that the Province and Pan Am HostCo need to share this goal. "We mirrored our goals on Places to Grow, and I'm going to speak long and hard to making sure that their commitment to those policies will be fulfilled."

Did Council Get Played?

If council had maintained its resolve, could it have called the Ticats' bluff? If Council have said, "We're going with the West Harbour and we're building a Pan Am stadium. If you want to participate, we'll help you make it work. If you refuse, then best of luck to you," would the Ticats have accepted West Harbour?

He answered:

That's what I would have done, but there are fifteen members of council who have different views, and people in the broader community who have different views.

Frankly, I think we're going to hear more of the silent majority now who didn't say much because they thought the issue was in hand. They're going to voice their displeasure. But there's another part of the community, a vocal part, that believes in highways and car culture.

I asked him flat out: did Council get played?

The fact that we could never get a financial commitment from the Ticats from the get-go until just a few days ago tells me they were holding out to have influence at a late stage of the game.

Whither the Province

The Ontario Government has made it clear that rapid transit investment decisions are political and flow out of Queen's Park, not the Metrolinx board. If we're not willing to invest in revitalizing our own downtown, I asked, how can we expect the Province to invest in our downtown with light rail?

He replied:

I've got to tell you that the Province has been involved in all of this.

I believe everything you say - progressive development means you interconnect developments, you do it in the inner city, you promote intensification and that's the philosophy I follow. I'm not happy we're moving in this direction. I think it's the wrong development that may suit the Ticats very well, but does not suit our city building needs.

The Province needs to answer to why they would allow funding to flow to that use.

I hearken back to the days when we brought in the PASO [Pan-Americano Sports Organization] team that came to Hamilton to look at our preferred location in the bid book. They came in by GO Train, and their comments were, 'Look how easily this is connected by public transit.' The province said, 'We're going to extend public transit to make this even more connected in the future.' That commitment made this site viable for the Province.

The Province is well in the loop on this one. Clearly they're aware of the new direction. I've communicated with the Premier's office and other ministers, and the local ministers. They understand where I stand on the issue and where Council's preferred location has been. But something in the last couple of weeks has changed and the Province is aware of it.

Adding Up the Numbers

I asked: after taxpayers have to pay for all the necessary upgrades for the new location - including potentially a new highway interchange - how much will the Ticats' $15 million deal-sweetener really be worth? He said:

My fear now is that we won't do the proper assessments on the new location in time to make the decision - that we'll take the Ticats' numbers at face value. From what I've seen, it doesn't tell me they're putting in enough to make the stadium hold 25,000 plus [seats].

There must be no more than $60 million on the table from the City of Hamilton. If the city benefits aren't there at the ORC lands, there ought to be a declining commitment from the city so we can reserve some funds for the West Harbour.

Changing Council's Mind

I finally asked: Is there still a possibility of changing Council's mind before the August 10 vote? Eisenberger said:

I can't answer that question. The community needs to speak up. I've been saying this for some time: people need to state their views of what they think progressive development is, the value of a stadium on the harbourfront, that it's the right thing to do.

Sadly, we haven't heard this until now. We've heard from Ticats fans that a highway location is better. We did some community engagement on the West Harbour site but there hasn't been community engagement on the ORC lands.

I'd always prefer to have more time. I think it's unfortunate that all of this has ben left by the Ticats to the very end. We would have been better served, if they had this view, that they would have said this earlier on in the process.

They were involved the whole way up and never once stated any concerns about the location of the West Harbour as a place where they would not play. Things evolved after that, I guess.

He concluded:

Progressive cities don't put stadiums on highways. They interconnect them to the inner city. They understand that intensification and vibrant inner cities are not only good for the tax base, but also for the vibrancy of the city, and for creating an entertainment district that invigorates a neighbourhod that needs a lift and provides more value to the waterfront.

I don't see that from ORC.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

52 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By stormysky_dw (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2010 at 08:29:54

Nice interview Ryan. You definitely can sense the mayor's frustration throughout this interview. Hopefully this story isn't over yet and there is another dramatic change that alters this narrative.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By lorne (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2010 at 08:41:11

Thanks for the interview, Ryan. It is very clear from his comments that Mayor Eisenberger is frustrated with both the underhanded tactics of the Tigercats and the ease with which our City Councillors are seduced by the promise of money and the prospect of construction contracts to developers.

I hope the Mayor is able to maintain his commitment to limit the City's contribution to $60 million and can convince Council to do the same. As he suggests in the interview, I will make my opposition to the new site known to my councillor. Sadly, however, observations from past developments suggest the effort will be futile, given that the majority of our civic politicians seem more inclined to hear the voices, not of ordinary constituents, but rather of those with money, leading me to wonder if 'democratic' is an accurate way to describe our municipal political system.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:01:15

Glad to see the mayor hasn't caved like a Windsor parking lot.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Hunter (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:24:29

Does anyone else think our municipal democracy doesn't work? The Mayors of both Hamilton and Toronto only have one vote. Without power, you can't have respect and therefore you can't lead.

Mahatma Ghandi or JFK couldn't lead this council if they only had one vote. As the mayor is supposed to look out for the entire city and is voted for by the entire city, why not give him more power - ie 5 votes?

As it exists now, councillors have nothing to lose taking potshots at the mayor and playing to the ignorant factions of their constituency. 15 chiefs jealously guard their own fiefdoms, succumb to groupthink, lowest common denominator agreements and literally tear the city apart.

I think giving the mayor more actual power would increase the efficiency of the city whether you supported the mayor or not. At least there would be some leadership and accountability. Councillors should fear the mayor, not the other way around. Just look at what the current system has brought.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By z jones (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:26:43

Glad to see the mayor hasn't caved like a Windsor parking lot.

Well played sir.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:38:57

@Hunter - yeah, I've been watching council meetings on Cable 14 and It's shocked me how little power the Mayor seems to have. Is he really just one more vote on the council (plus acting as a chair and setting agenda during meetings)? I can't find information anywhere on how our municipal council is actually run.

Considering how nobody seems to really bother to vote for the wards... I mean, has anyone seen any coverage or discussion of ward-level politics? It's shocking that such an utterly unknown part of the democratic process seems to wield more power than the Mayor, who is the face of the municipal government that we really actually vote for.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-07-09 08:40:24

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jason (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:40:45

I can only imagine the frustration of being a forward thinking, progressive politician in Hamilton.

Comment edited by Jason on 2010-07-09 08:41:29

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Hunter (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:52:50

@Pxtl - Yes the ward politicians are the council who control the city. they are largely ignorant amateurs who get elected by accident or because they used to be on tv and then they go on power trips. they have 15 votes and the mayor has one vote. Council decisions are made by majority of votes. I think the mayor can break a tie by his vote but i'm not sure.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:53:57

What I'm always confused about is how Fred presents himself as an urban-friendly liberal... but yet his political career before the Mayor's office was an ill-fated run for the Conservative party in Hamilton East -- Stoney Creek riding in the '04 federal election.

edit: Hunter, I find that terrifyingly dysfunctional... and I'm actually quite mad at the Spectator for putting so much emphasis on the Mayoral election, when our individual votes are 15X more powerful being spent in our Ward.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-07-09 09:06:17

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:58:46

It's unfortunate that being 'urban-friendly' has somehow come to be associated with the left side of the political spectrum. Good urban design is as business-friendly as it is community-friendly, and Fred is a classic Red Tory. I see no contradiction there myself.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2010 at 10:29:50

Very good interview Ryan - and Mayor Eisenberger. I, for one, am glad Fred is wearing his frustration on his sleeve, and not voicing meaningless commentary like my own Councillor, Bob Bratina.

Something stinks in this whole process. Michael Fenn has overstepped the terms of reference and forgotten that he was hired as an unbiased facilitator, not as a consultant or worse, an urban planner. How could he feel comfortable directing the flow of this process to the extent he has? Ask Dalton McGuinty. He knows.

We're going to pay the Ontario government for ORC lands, and the province is going to take our money and "give it back to us" through "enlightened" investment in the West Harbour. I can hear Dolton using his oft-repeated "for Ontario families" line as he talks about brownfield remediation, urban intensification, public transit, access to greenspace (waterfront), etc. Everything that a stadium in the West Harbour would have provided and so much more! Nothing of which the ORC lands provide. This is a 70+ year decision and Council, with the exception of Brian McHattie and the Mayor, are lining up like the naive lemmings they are to take us over the cliff. A dark day for Hamilton is on the horizon. That is, unless we can create enough noise at the local AND provincial levels to at least try to stop this madness. Otherwise, it's going to be, "If at first you don't succeed, lower your goals."

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2010 at 10:37:44

Ptxl wrote:

Is he really just one more vote on the council...?

That's correct. I posted a comment about this on the skyscraperpage a couple of years ago. Looking back at what I wrote, it still seem to hold more or less true today.

highwater wrote:

It's unfortunate that being 'urban-friendly' has somehow come to be associated with the left side of the political spectrum.

Absolutely. I just made a similar comment on RTH recently in reply to BobInnes.

More generally, there's nothing really intrinsically left-wing or right-wing about urbanism, particularly given its connection to rural sustainability, local food. I'd go so far as to argue that progressives and conservatives alike ought to be concerned about suburban sprawl and the blurring of the sensible distinction between rural and urban land use.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 12:04:31

"Mahatma Ghandi or JFK couldn't lead this council if they only had one vote. As the mayor is supposed to look out for the entire city and is voted for by the entire city, why not give him more power - ie 5 votes?"

But what if that Mayor was "Pave Paradise Put Up A Parking Lot" DiIanni???

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 12:07:17

^It's easy to get people to do stuff they were going to do anyway. You can walk in front of a parade and even wear a silly hat but that doesn't mean they're all following you.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Hunter (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 12:54:10

@ AnneMariePavlov - Then the majority of people that voted for Dianni as mayor would at least see that he had the power to make things happen. He could get things done and be judged accordingly at the next election. He could lead and be held accountable. And so would the next mayor and the one after that...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2010 at 13:35:21

@ AnneMariePavlov - Then the majority of people that voted for Dianni as mayor would at least see that he had the power to make things happen. He could get things done and be judged accordingly at the next election. He could lead and be held accountable. And so would the next mayor and the one after that...

It could give more imortance to going to vote with the knowledge that our Mayor is going to have more power. Make the right choice.

You are right Hunter, if the Mayor had this kind of power, we probably would have a better example of the kind of leader they actually are.

If you are going to put someone in a leadership role, give them the proper tools to be a leader.

The four traits of effective leaders: Listen, Encourage, Assert, Decisive. On the latter, "They know what needs to be done and they make timely, even difficult, decisions when neccessary. But they can also take charge without running over the people in their lives"

How can our mayor achieve this last trait, if the only time he really get's to be Decisive, is on a tie vote. All he really has is his opinion. Other than that, as is evident in Ryan's interview, all he can do is sit with his head in his hands and try his best to hide his frustrations.

One (of the many) thing(s) the new proposed site doesn't have, is access to the proposed LRT. And what is bus service like out there? Last time I took a Stonechurch bus they ran like every hour? Guess I won't be having one too many wobbly pops and then grabbing a $10 taxi downtown from IWS, or walking from a waterfront location.

Looks like we'll need a power boat to get up there actually. Or a canoe and really strong arms.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2010-07-09 12:38:43

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Locke (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 14:17:22

"Frankly, I think we're going to hear more of the silent majority now who didn't say much because they thought the issue was in hand. They're going to voice their displeasure. "

I do hope people engage council on this and let it be known we support a west-harbour site. The majority of people I speak to see it this way!

Edit: Here's a Facebook page called West Harbour Stadium is OUR choice http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=13...

Comment edited by Locke on 2010-07-09 13:25:19

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By logonfire (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 14:58:38

I have said to all those who would listen among my contacts over the years that the re-design of the City Council a few years ago did not result in a good configuration. What we needed - and need now - is an Executive Committee (formerly known as a Board of Control) elected City-wide.

I measure the decline of the City from the time that the B of C was eliminated some fifty years ago. As it is, we still have Ward by Ward politics and no overall leadership. The importance of a City-wide vote was not recognized by those in charge of directing the recent changes. We are now suffering from that oversight, and have done so for years.

Basically, the system is broken. We need to revamp City Council and have a five person Executive Committee elected City-wide!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By dESMOND (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 15:29:49

Yeah, that's exactly what we need, 5 more politicians.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By frank (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 16:06:17

If they are five good politicians who think about the betterment of the city rather than local special interest groups or individuals I'd welcome their coming.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Bill (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 16:53:01

Good Interview Ryan. Wonder why McSquinty has his finger in the pie? Just follow the "Money Trail" who REALLY stands to gain from the Mountain Location,could it be be those who own Eating and Banqueting Facilities in the area and proposed hotels, who just happen to be "Financial" supporters of this present "Shower" who run Queens Park?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Today is the day (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 17:11:08

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 17:44:16

I thought the mayor made some good points, however I don't think he showed enough a desire to work with the Ti-Cats or even comment on any potential investors for both locations. I would be for the West Harbour, if there was adequate private sector support at this time. However, it's missing and "working with two unnamed revenue streams" isn't enough, in my mind to give the West Harbour a green light.

That being said, if by the end of the month, the mayor comes out and says "We have these two major investors willing to put up this amount of money, that is equal or greater then Mr. Young's commitment." then I think that both the mayor and Mr. Young should weight the pros and cons and see if that additional money can make the West Harbour site work not only for the financial future of the Cats, but also the economic benefit of the city.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By What If? (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 17:54:26

All those who want to give Fred 5 votes or even 65 votes forget that he hasn't backed a winning project in 4 years...all mayors in canada have only one vote; most get things done. This guy is asleep at the switch...if Bob Young is the Caretaker, Fred is the Undertaker. Presiding over this city's funeral.

Get a grip Fred; do everybody a favour and retire before we do it for you.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By logonfire (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 18:01:38

There would not be five extra politicians, there'd be five fewer Councillors (Aldermen).

Frank made the point that we need five GOOD politicians.

I believe that we should require a two year course at a Community College to be attended by anyone wanting to run for office in order to qualify. The curriculum would include courses on finance, how to run meetings, Municipal and Provincial laws, communications and so on.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 19:38:10

All those who want to give Fred 5 votes or even 65 votes forget that he hasn't backed a winning project in 4 years...all mayors in canada have only one vote; most get things done.

That tells me that most councilors in Canada actually care enough about the communities who voted them in to do the right thing no matter who tries to buy them off and get them to make decisions that will harm the city as a whole, but benefit one guy or one organization at the expense of everyone else.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By What If? (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 20:05:54

"That tells me that most councilors in Canada actually care enough about the communities who voted them in to do the right thing no matter who tries to buy them off and get them to make decisions that will harm the city as a whole, but benefit one guy or one organization at the expense of everyone else."

Look I have heard the rumours about who owns lots of land in the West Harbour and who is on the Future Fund Committee...but I don't buy it. I don't think people buy land trying to anticipate city projects nor do I think the mayor or councillors would jeopardize themselves studpidly. No. It's about saying something and following through...and Fred even with 65 votes can't seem to do it.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 22:00:36

Look I have heard the rumours about who owns lots of land in the West Harbour and who is on the Future Fund Committee...but I don't buy it. I don't think people buy land trying to anticipate city projects nor do I think the mayor or councillors would jeopardize themselves studpidly.

Ahh, to be young again. LOL. At least I presume you're young. Perhaps not. Some necessary reading for you my friend - "The Media, the Mafia and the Party Machine". It gives a whole bunch of great insight into the inner workings of this fab city of ours.

Backroom dealing MIGHT be the number one issue that plagues Hamilton's political arena. Many would argue that it IS the number one issue and anyone with knowledge of what goes on would absolutely agree that it's right up there as a massive problem. Has been for decades.

It's not just a Hamilton problem I realize, but follow the money scent and you're bound to find something that stinks.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2010 at 00:04:43

I'll take that one Jason. Backroom dealing is without a doubt the most crucial issue in Hamilton today.

Look at DiIanni. He cheated in the election, and won (as was the style with that month's elections). We caught him - Hamilton had the proof posted within days of the election, and council didn't want to succeed. Joanna Chapman put up the money herself, and we got him tried under the new municipal elections act, and won. He had to pay back the money (0% interest on a loan that buys a city) and write a letter of apology.

He was allowed to run in the next election, and has since been courted for many others. Many of those who illegally donated were repaid with slick contracts. The owners of the City Centre gave him free campaign space, and within a few years they had city hall renting out half the mall.

I worked as a scrutineer in that election. As one other lady doing the same for another candidate confided in me "I donated to both candidates. I have to. I own a business. I donated more to one of them, and he knows, but the other doesn't".

Corruption. Plain and simple.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jarod (registered) | Posted July 10, 2010 at 02:19:12

Jason: I take only mild offense to the phrase "to be young again".

Only mild because, in terms of political knowledge, young people do tend to lack (ahem schools...you could be doing better with your civic classes)

But still offense because to be young does not necessarily mean to be ignorant. Nor does being old(er) necessarily lead to wisdom.

I do agree with the rest of your response.

Happy face.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted July 10, 2010 at 07:26:50

Jarod, yea no offense intended and I wouldn't even use a term as harsh as ignorance. My point was the more you learn about what goes on behind the scenes, the more you realize that things you and I may deem 'impossible' or 'only happen in movies' actually happen.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jarod (registered) | Posted July 10, 2010 at 07:34:44

agreed

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By geoff's two cents (registered) | Posted July 10, 2010 at 07:43:26

Thought I'd post my SSP rant here:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showpost...

Some points may be of interest to RTH readers. I'd submit something more polished for an RTH article but simply don't have the time.

To my way of thinking, point #6 represents the only fiscally and ethically responsible move the city can make in the face of Bob Young's less-than-honorable bargaining tactics.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2010 at 07:56:25

Geoff, I read that over on SSP this morning and thought it was one of the best summaries I've seen to date.

It's a tangent (edit) but I hope we get some fresh blood in the fall election... It seems like there's very few people who aren't in Ward 1 or 2 that are aware of what a city is... and willing to run.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-07-10 06:58:50

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2010 at 08:42:36

Jarod, yea no offense intended and I wouldn't even use a term as harsh as ignorance. My point was the more you learn about what goes on behind the scenes, the more you realize that things you and I may deem 'impossible' or 'only happen in movies' actually happen.

Love this Jason. Nothing is impossible is it, if we surround ourselves with the right people.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2010 at 13:19:06

In my experience, though some young people lack experience, most are at least as likely to be politically involved or aware. Especially teenagers - not being able to vote means you have to get involved in other ways. And while not all have the years of connections and hours of stories that some of us have, young people tend to bring a lot of positive energy to political organizations and campaigns. Brilliant ideas, theories and inventions come from young people all the time, because so many brilliant ideas are more instinctual than everything else. Kids adapt really well to very complex circumstances - it's why kids are so good with computers. Apply that to any of the many areas us dirty kids had to learn quick at Red Hill (law, media, ecology, Iroquois building etc), and you end up with kids who can help run a media campaign before they can legally drink. Some were as young as fifteen at the time, many were dropouts, and few of us worked much - but all of us learned a million times more than if we'd been at school.

Tokenize kids, and they'll show up to drink your beer. But honestly include and engage them and you'll end up with high-school students (or dropouts) who blow you away.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2010 at 17:52:53

Some were as young as fifteen at the time, many were dropouts, and few of us worked much - but all of us learned a million times more than if we'd been at school.

Reminds me of one of my favorite Springsteen tunes: 'We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school'.

As I talked about on another post, my grandfather dropped out of school in grade 8 to help support his mom and dad and sister when his father was injured at Westinghouse. Life, books, travel, and just loving to talk to people, taught him more than he probably would have learned in school too. There are so many life lessons missing from our education system.

I think things like Freeskool are a step in the right direction as far as education goes.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By livin'here (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2010 at 22:10:41

Putting a stadium on the Rheem land was not necessarily going to be the in the best interest for Hamilton. Stadiums do not necessarily "fix" neighbourhoods, (or downtowns!) although sometimes damage can be mitigated through community consultation and including the residents on the design and planning committees. Would that happen in Hamilton?

This stadium, whether it be at the West Harbour or somewhere else, will be built by the Pan Am group - Hostco (I think its called). Hostco has no particular interest in our community, but they do have an interest in the PAG. It has to fit the Pan Am Games, not the downtown, not the neighbourhood.

We needed it for the Tiger Cats.

So, it seems to me the whole "mediation" process should have taken place before Feb. 2009! The Cats and the City should have been working together throughout the process. The City and Fred knew all along they needed the Cats.

This whole thing including expropriating my neighbours, smacks of "urban renewal" circa 1960 - 1970's.

The best thing for "fixing" Hamilton's downtown is intensification. (Plus a few others like converting King, Main, Cannon into 2 way streets). There is no reason why the Rheem site can't become a "greenfield". Work though "Setting Sail" like Fred said.

Residential is the best use of the land and gives the city money through property taxes, and more people living'here is good for business and Hamilton.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By slodrive (registered) | Posted July 11, 2010 at 00:37:38

As I've stated, I'm a West Harbour/ downtown proponent. And, as such, I have similar views to Mayor Fred, and many on this site.

However -- and a big however -- I'm not going to sit here and believe that the Ticats are these evil dictators who smiled and nodded all along. I think Fred and his crew needed to give the main tenant of this stadium a whole lot more of a role in this from the get-go. If the Cats were reluctant to get involved, they should've been dragged by the ear.

The major downfall of this whole process, I believe, are all the 'what-ifs' that go along witht the West Harbour. Personally, I envision LRT going east-west and, somehow, upper and lower. But, if you are a business owner are you going to bank on that? We are talking about real dollars and real investment. Regardless of the actual numbers. All it will take is a change in government (which, looks prety likely in this province) for there to be, at least, a hiccup in the plans.

I very much believe that the ORC lands are a mistake. I'm a huge Ticat fan, a proud Hamiltonian, and, thus, hope they can jam 30k in there no matter where the stadium ends up. But I have a hard time putting much blame in Bob Young's court here. He knows his customers and he knows how the locations fit the customers -- and/or those who are going to make this investment worthwhile for the city.

I just wish the city had just a bit more for the Cats at the West Harbour (or, as I'd prefer, something even closer to downtown.)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 11, 2010 at 00:48:29

We;re trying to intensify downtown * I think * . But we need to have honest and sincere developers that want to build downtown. Outside of Stinson, there has been no real proposals/developments that haven't needed public funds for 20 years. I think the question is? Why haven't we seen the private developments? What is the root problem?\

It's great to say, "we need downtown development". Okay. So let's do it. We are trying to fish, but no bites, why? This is not SimCity, we have to fix the root problem. I give Chief De Caire mega props for doing his part. But what are the other pieces of the puzzle? I don't know. I don't think anyone does or we would fix it. Hamilton sits like an island missing the last 20 years of Golden Horseshoe prosperity. I wish I knew why? I wish anyone knew why, because first we need to find the problem before it can be solved.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By lorne (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2010 at 07:58:18

I was watching CHCH news last evening, paying particular attention to Scott Urquart interviewing Ticat fans outside of Ivor Wynne. In answering the question of which site they preferred, two out of the three shown indicated the East Mountain site. The first man, from Brantford, said it would be more convenient for him, and the second one, while admitting to knowing little about the issue, thought the parking would be better.

What struck me, however, was that despite those preferences, they were still attending the game, which, I believe, had an attendance of 25,000, making it obvious that people attend, not because of location, but because they are fans of the game. So the need for a "driveway to driveway" experience the Tiger-Cat organization is always on about does ring a bit hollow, just another reason City Council should stand firm against Bob Young's extortionate tactics.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By MarkWhittle (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2010 at 08:09:31

HostCo rules and regulations stipulate that the Stadium must have a legacy tenant/partner, the Tiger-Cats are it. The EMED (East Mountain Stadium District) has one, and the WHSP (West Harbour Stadium Precinct) doesn't have one.

Mayor Fred is the Architect of his own demise and should be held to account at the ballot box.

That's why Games CEO Ian Troop gave Hamilton time to get their act together with the Tiger-Cats, or lose the Stadium and track events completely, even the Velodrome is now in question.

IMHO,It should be severed from either proposed location and built right downtown, near Copps Colliseum.

And any huge parking lots at the EMED could be paved with the latest permiable materials, that allow rain water to be absorbed by the ground underneath. Enviro-technology and construction have come a long way in recent years, whereas road construction has not.

All the roads that run paralell to the Linc on the Mountain provide local access to this area, as well as at least four bus routes that originate from various nodes, like Gore Park or Limeridge Mall.

But what surprises me the most is the reaction of the West Harbour supporters, none of which actually live in the area itself.

Most of those people living in the area are being ignored and their rights trampled. The people affected are having their homes expropriated and their businesses destroyed.

The bill For demolition (Rheem property) and soil remediation will dwarf councils contribution to the actual Stadium.

Remediating contaminated soil is very expensive and only one location in Ontario is allowed to do it. Millions of metric tons will have to be shipped there by truck, and will be using inner-city truck routes to get to the closest highway out of town.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By m diggs (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2010 at 12:32:14

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted July 11, 2010 at 13:07:27

^Hi Larry!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By sselway (registered) | Posted July 11, 2010 at 19:13:25

So much doom and gloom about the potential new stadium site! There were many also problems also with the West Harbour site, yet many were so pumped to have it there, they didn't think about the expropriations or even best use of the property. Advocates are so wanting that site, they didn't even consider the possible problems. Would it still be the best site if the stadium was a hunk of concrete, if roads were widened, if more parking lots were built, if home owners started parking in their front yards, if home owners started selling, . . . .

Not to be boring, council had rejected a stadium on that site before and zoned it for medium density residential through a public process: the secondary official plan, Setting Sail.

With all due respect, council would have probably put the parking lot/road access scenerio into the West Harbour site and not stopped at the 600+ spaces. Or worse yet, decided to increase road width or even built easier access roads to the WH stadium.

I have seen good stadiums where negative impacts were mediated through a strong public consultation. Never have I heard of our mayor/city contacting the residents or neighbourhoods in order to engage or consult with them! We were informed.

However, by going back to the plans in Setting Sail, we have a chance to achieve all the city's vision - raise a child, engage citizens, promote innovation, and business opportunity.

So lets put the velodrome there, build houses, small businesses, transit, and greenspace! Hamilton can achieve its goal of progressive development and urban revitalization.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2010 at 09:11:07

I still say we need the stadium built near the 403 for easy access. The Linc is way out in the middle of nowhere buried somewhere on the "mountain", nobody goes out there unless you live there. Why not put it right off the 403 - easy access for many more people and easy access for those in the GTA.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 12, 2010 at 11:36:10

Wow, take a weeklong vacation from the interwebs and all hell breaks loose : )

I would have asked Mayor Eisenberger about the funding. Since the $60 million from the city is coming from the Future Fund and money from the Future Fund must be applied for, this project should be required to reapply for funding due to the significant changes to the project.

Was the Future Fund established to build suburban stadiums for corporate interests?

I don't believe so.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2010 at 19:28:55

I've spoken with the Mayor about the allocation of the Future Fund money to the West Harbour stadium site and told him to expect a push to return the money if the East Mountain site is selected.

Kiely is absolutely correct saying this is a new project. Same topic, but completely new implications. Also, I understand the Future Fund Board of Governor's is scheduling a meeting BEFORE the Council vote. Likely to get even more interesting, or should I say ugly?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2010 at 21:20:32

If the city thinks that the community really wants a new stadium, then why don't they allow consumers to finance it through higher ticket prices or user fees. We don't ask the city to finance new stores, or new restaurants/bars, yet they get built. We don't ask the city to finance the construction of new homes, yet many get built every year.

If someone thinks that there is enough consumer demand to support a new stadium, it will get built. If there isn't enough consumer demand, then why are we asking taxpayers to fund it? We talk a lot about improving Hamilton's economy, which is based on fostering companies that are profitable. Without profits, there are no jobs.

How do we create more profits in this city? By not taking money away from people and spending it on projects that will never make a profit, like a public stadium. If this money was given back to the people, it would flow back into local businesses, allow them to expand their operations, and this would create employment.

Running an economy is simple, let people decide who is best at creating consumer value and they will voluntarily give businesses the capital they require to finance new capital projects. It's democracy and voting, but without the need for the middleman of government.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2010 at 00:15:58

"We don't ask the city to finance the construction of new homes, yet many get built every year."

Not true. The City of Hamilton charges some of the lowest development fees in the region and therefore often takes a loss of a tens of thousands of dollars servicing new suburban homes.

Profits don't give people jobs, and profits don't pay people's wages. Profits are what gets taken off the top of those, and other expenses. I agree that people should be able to run their own economies, but capitalism is hardly democratic.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2010 at 13:56:46

Undustrial >> often takes a loss of a tens of thousands of dollars servicing new suburban homes.

Which, if true, proves that government should not be spending nearly as much of our money as they do today.

>> Profits are what gets taken off the top of those, and other expenses.

Profits are a measurement of how much a business creates economic value for society. If a business produces things that people want to buy, they will make lots in profits and expand production, creating jobs. If they don't produce things people want to buy, they will go out of business and employ zero.

In contrast, when government invests money, they rarely make a profit, which indicates they don't produce things people really want. Take the HSR for example, it loses $30M every year.

If this $30M was give back to the taxpayers, how much of it would find it's way back to the HSR in fares? If it's less than $30M, then the difference represents the amount that government is wasting on things people don't want to buy. In other words, the difference represents the loss of capital that would have gone into creating jobs that produce things society values.

I ask you, would you rather have a job where people value what you produce, or a job where people don't really appreciate your effort? Which job will pay you more?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By ProgressiveHamilton (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2010 at 17:15:58

If you think that the West Harbour is the most progressive place to build the stadium please join the facebook group:
Support the WEST HARBOUR site for the Pan-Am Stadium in HAMILTON, ON

As the mayor mentioned in his recent interview with RTH, "The community needs to speak up."

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds