Special Report: Pan Am

Our City, Our Future: A Retrospective

The Our City, Our Future campaign is an interesting case study of how citizens used alternative and social media to mobilize public support and directly engage decision makers.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 25, 2011

The owners of professional sports franchises get what they want. In rich markets and poor, in times of rousing success and dismal failure, sports team owners manage to squeeze tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars out of the public to fund the stadiums and arenas in which their teams play.

It's a phenomenon so well understood that it has acquired a glib nickname: Pro Sports Extortion. All the owner has to do is threaten to leave and relocate the team to some mythical greener pasture, and politicians fall over themselves to close the deal - no matter the public cost.

This tired refrain recently played out in Hamilton, Ontario, but with a fresh twist: a group of citizens organized a campaign calling on the municipal and provincial governments to put the community's public objectives ahead of the football team's private interest. It was a good example of community engagement and popular education.

The outcome of the affair is a mixed bag, but the campaign offers lessons that may help other citizens trying to change the terms of debate in a controversial, emotion-laden issue.

Background

Our story begins on February 23, 2009, when Hamilton City Council voted to join a regional bid, led by Toronto, to host the 2015 Pan American Games, an international multi-sport event featuring amateur competitors fromthe nations of the Americas.

The clincher, for Hamilton, was the opportunity to get higher level funding for a track and field stadium that could be used as a community facility for both recreational and competitive sports, as well as subsequent international sports events. At the same time, a new stadium at a strategic location could act as a catalyst for economic reinvestment and uplift in the surrounding area.

The stadium could also serve to replace the aged and decrepit Ivor Wynne Stadium, home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL football team.

The City had already gone through a selection process to pick a stadium location through its earlier involvement in bids to host the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games. The preferred site was a parcel of abandoned industrial land at Barton Street and Tiffany Street, just north of the downtown core, that overlooked Bayfront Park and the city's beautiful West Harbour.

The West Harbour is a charming, mixed use urban neighbourhood in recovery from a history of heavy industry, decline and disinvestment. However, the Barton-Tiffany property is a sore spot: a vacant brownfield in a prime location that is contaminated by past industrial use.

A number of developers and property owners have expressed interest in redeveloping the site, but banks won't touch it because of the risks involved in soil remediation. A successful Games bid looked like an ideal opportunity to fund the remediation of the Barton-Tiffany site and create a new legacy facility that would house the Ticats and provide a catalyst for reinvestment of the surrounding properties.

When Hamilton joined the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games bid, the West Harbour site was the obvious choice of location for Hamilton's track and field stadium: close to downtown amenities, close to local and regional transit - including planned light rail transit lines and a planned GO station providing all-day train service - and big enough to house the athletics track, a required warm-up track, and an adjacent velodrome for high-performance cycling.

The Toronto 2015 bid book included an artist's rendition of a pastoral Barton-Tiffany stadium overlooking Bayfront Park.

According to the proposal, the cost of a 15,000 seat stadium would be split between Hamilton, the Province, and the Federal Government. The Ticats and their corporate partners would contribute additional funding to bring the capacity up to 25,000 seats to meet the team's business needs.

Hamilton's contribution would come from the Hamilton Future Fund, a municipal endowment for city-building investments that was created when Hamilton Hydro was transformed into Hamilton Utilities Corporation.

On November 6, 2009, we received good news: the Pan Am bid committee had awarded Toronto the 2015 Games. Three months later, on February 18, 2010, with a business plan by Deloitte Consulting in their hands, Hamilton City Council approved the Barton-Tiffany site as the location for the Pan Am Stadium, warm-up field and velodrome.

The staff recommendation endorsing the West Harbour site concluded: "the true legacy of the 2015 Pan Am Games should be sustainable economic, employment, and prosperity growth."

But after that, the whole process started to go off the rails. The City had consulted with the Ticats as a legacy use partner from the beginning of the Pan Am Games bid, but once the decision was made, the team began publicly expressing concerns about the chosen site.

Ticats owner Bob Young, the technology entrepreneur who had built a fortune as CEO of Red Hat Linux, was quoted on January 13, 2010 in the Hamilton Spectator saying of a Pan Am/Ticats stadium, "We will make it work, whatever the site". (Later, he would claim that his words were taken out of context.)

By March, however, the Ticats were raising concerns about accessibility, visibility for naming rights and available parking.

A transportation study by IBI Group had concluded that the West Harbour site would be accessible "with the proper planning and implementation strategies" but the Ticats wanted more lane capacity and more parking. They wanted a stadium that would be visible from - read: next to - a busy highway.

On May 6, 2010, Bob Young posted a letter on the Ticats website that outright rejected the West Harbour location, detailing his objections and stating, "there has been no collaboration in Hamilton's stadium project to date."

He accused City staff of "summarily reject[ing]" the team's concerns about visibility, accessibility and parking, as well as concerns that the stadium would be a poor fit with its residential neighbours. He concluded that the team would lose $7 million a year at a West Harbour stadium.

Later that day, then-Mayor Fred Eisenberger held a press conference to dispute the Ticats' claim that they weren't part of the site selection process and to affirm that the City was "moving full-steam ahead on the West Harbour site" as the location that provided the clearest public benefit.

Unfortunately, his united front didn't last: a fractious Council immediately started kvetching publicly over the Ticats' objections. By May 18, the City and the team announced that they had agreed to hire a facilitator, seasoned bureaucrat Michael Fenn, to broker an agreement over the stadium.

On June 6, Fenn's report became public. His "compromise" was a different location altogether, a wheat field owned by Ontario Realty Corporation in southeast suburban Hamilton, where the north-south Red Hill Valley Parkway meets the east-west Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

This East Mountain location (named after the "Mountain", or the suburban part of Hamilton on the upper side of the Niagara Escarpment) clearly met the Ticats' demands for naming rights visibility, highway accessibility and parking - but in doing so sacrificed all of the City's objectives.

The report introduced the concept of a "driveway-to-driveway experience" for football fans, concluding, "Accommodating automobile traffic is crucial to stadium success."

Meanwhile, the new location had minimal local transit access, no regional transit access, and would require a new highway interchange to provide access into the proposed 7,000 car parking lot adjacent to the stadium. So much for leveraging public investment as a catalyst for new private investment in the immediate surroundings.

Nevertheless, Council fell in love with the proposal and actually considered dropping the West Harbour location from consideration altogether, before finally voting to study both locations side-by-side in advance of a final decision on August 10.

Public reaction

Meanwhile, the city was up in arms. For too many people, this looked like a straightforward capitulation to narrow private interests: a public investment that was supposed to produce broad public benefits was being hijacked to serve narrow private interests instead.

Opposition mounted. Expressions of support for the West Harbour started pouring in from hundreds of individuals and organizations: Hamilton architects and designers, downtown business owners, medical doctors, the Downtown BIA, the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, McMaster University students, property developers, and more.

A group of young downtown entrepreneurs held a press conference in the early afternoon to underline their support for the West Harbour stadium. They were surprised when 50-75 private citizens showed up to lend their support.

The message was consistent: the West Harbour would provide the potential for real public benefits that a suburban greenfield stadium next to a highway could not.

As the volunteer editor of raisethehammer.org, a local online magazine with a focus on urban issues, I keenly felt this public outrage. I was receiving dozens of emails a day from people who wanted to do something to stop Council from throwing away this opportunity to help revitalize the downtown core.

I met up with a few friends at a local pub and we decided on the fly to create a website where citizens could endorse the West Harbour and add statements of support that would be forwarded to Council, the Pan Am Host corporation and the Provincial government. We decided that the campaign must be positive and solution-oriented, not negative and competitive.

On July 13, we launched the "Our City, Our Future" (OCOF) campaign with a website, ourcityourfuture.ca, and an invitation to Hamiltonians to show their support.

The campaign called on City Council to "reaffirm the West Harbour location as its choice for the Pan Am Games Stadium to be funded by money through the Future Fund" and invited the Ticats "to be a community partner on new terms that allow for the financial success of the football club at the West Harbour location."

By the time Council made its decision on the East Mountain proposal in mid-August, the campaign had drawn 3,497 supporters and 1,577 public statements of support.

Let the games begin...

But in the meantime, the story took an astonishing number of twists and turns.

On July 19, Ticat owner Bob Young warned the OCOF campaign that the City's choice was not between a West Harbour stadium and an East Mountain stadium, but between an East Mountain stadium and no stadium at all. He wrote, "[T]he risk your campaign to improve Hamilton is taking in lobbying for the West Harbour is that you will win. If you win you will commit Council to a path that will ensure nothing gets built anywhere in Hamilton for the Pan Am games."

This early threat would characterize the counter-campaign that followed: Pro Sports Extortion 101.

On July 21, the Ticats launched their own website, "Go East Mountain" - goeastmountain.com - which mirrored the OCOF campaign in that it posted articles and letters in support of the East Mountain and ran a tally of supporters. (They also launched a paid Google Adwords campaign promoting the Go East Mountain site in banner ads to people searching Google for related keywords.)

However, aside from a daily selected statement, the Go East Mountain site did not publish its list of supporters or their statements. At one point, the Ticats posted letters of appreciation from the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton and the Lung Association under its list of supporters for the East Mountain, but the letters were removed after the charities complained.

On July 22, Storm Cunningham, an American urbanist and the keynote speaker at the 2010 Hamilton Economic Summit, wrote an op-ed in the Toronto Star disputing the Ticats' claim that they won't make money at a downtown stadium. He referenced a University of Maryland study finding that downtown stadiums have larger benefits and crediting Indianapolis and Baltimore for following successful "critical mass" strategies to locate stadiums and other amenities downtown.

On July 27, the Future Fund Board of Governors determined that the East Mountain location did not meet the Fund's mandate to grow the city's economic base, enhance the social fabric and build community. As Nicholas Kevlahan said to the Board of Governors in a delegation from a local citizens' group, "the Future Fund shouldn't spend $60 million of Hamilton's money to make it easier for people from Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Burlington or Brantford to get to Ticat games."

That same day, the Province issued a statement confirming that it would support the City's decision on a stadium site.

On July 29, the Ticats upped the ante with a proposal to build a soccer academy at the East Mountain and a music amphitheatre at the West Harbour. Under their proposal, the amphitheatre would be built using public Future Fund money diverted from the stadium.

Meanwhile, the Pan Am Host corporation decided to move the track and field events to Toronto after Athletics Canada expressed concern that the Ticats would rip up the track once the Games were over. Instead of track and field, Hamilton would get more Pan Am soccer games.

The next day, CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon wrote a letter warning Council to capitulate to Young's demands and choose the East Mountain. "Should this issue force the Tiger-Cats to leave the city, it will be the end of the CFL in Hamilton." On the other hand, the East Mountain location "appears to be a prime location for Grey Cups" (the championship game concluding the CFL season playoffs).

If Cohon's threat was supposed to intimidate Hamilton into backing down, it didn't work. The prevailing response from Hamiltonians, even many Ticat fans, was outrage.

Mayor Eisenberger replied to Cohon, noting that the Ticats had promised to share an economic analysis demonstrating that they could not make money at the West Harbour, but had not done so.

"Rather than point out that Hamilton may be on the verge of losing the Ticats," Eisenberger wrote, "you could perform a valuable public service if you would use your position to encourage the Ticats to put this important financial information forward."

At the same time, sources within the CFL acknowledged that Cohon's threat was hollow: the Ticats had nowhere else to go. Only Ottawa had a CFL-ready stadium, but was already committed to securing an expansion team.

An open letter to Council from the OCOF campaign a few days later marked a clear contrast to the bullying language of the Ticats and their supporters: "We are not here to bully or threaten you. We are here to show you the passion, desire, and vision we want for Hamilton and to help you make it a reality. Threats are for those who are in it for narrow interest, for the short term. We are all the caretakers of Hamilton's future and we are with you for the broad public interest and for the long haul."

On August 2, the Ticats tried to argue that the West Harbour violated the City's Official Plan and any stadium construction there would be bogged down indefinitely in red tape. The next day, Mayor Eisenberger issued a statement clarifying that the City's planning and legal departments had found "no basis at all" to the Ticats' claim.

On August 6, under close scrutiny from a highly engaged public, City staff finally released their report on the East Mountain stadium location: it would be significantly more expensive to build and operate than one at the West Harbour. It would also mean millions of dollars in foregone tax assessment growth, because rather than catalyzing adjacent investment it would actually displace potential investment by wasting a developable greenfield on low-value surface parking.

It concluded that the East Mountain location did not meet the City's objectives of "sustainable economic, employment and prosperity growth".

Things didn't look good for the East Mountain, and for its supporters the last resort was outright political interference. Out of the blue, on the afternoon of August 6, the Province issued a statement that the Federal Government would only provide funding for an East Mountain stadium.

In response to the news, Mayor Eisenberger fumed:

The community has spoken loudly and clearly that the West Harbour makes the most sense for the people of Hamilton. It is obvious that the upper levels of government are ignoring the community and have instead listened to private interests. The truth is the West Harbour won. The West harbour won the support of the community. The West Harbour won because it is best for the community. Powerful private interests compelled the federal and provincial governments to move the goal posts. They changed the game so they could win.

Phone calls and emails poured into the Provincial and Federal governments decrying this political interference. It dominated an angry panel discussion held that night to a standing-room only crowd at Christ's Church Cathedral on James Street North, which had been planned to discuss opportunities for city-building through the stadium investment.

It also dominated a packed rally the next day in downtown Hess Village. At the same rally, downtown Ward 2 councillor Bob Bratina, who had previously opposed the West Harbour stadium, took the stage and unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a WEST HARBOUR t-shirt underneath. "We're talking about the future," said Bratina. "Sprawl is the past."

That same day, Federal Sports Minister Gary Lunn issued a panicky denial, backtracking from the previous day's funding announcement and insisting that Ottawa's funding commitment was "not contingent upon the location of the stadium."

On August 8, two days before the Council vote on the stadium location, the OCOF campaign published a report summarizing the key themes that emerged fromthe thousands of public statements the campaign channeled: city building through spinoff investment and downtown revitalization; sustainability and accessibility to all Hamiltonians; a lasting legacy for future generations; and pride in a progressive reputation from showcasing a redeveloped waterfront. Citizens also expressed increasing frustration with the way in which the Ticats managed the debate.

The next day, after reading the writing on the wall, the Ticats formally withdrew from negotiations with the city over a new stadium, concluding, "We will play out our days at Ivor Wynne" stadium, their current site.

On August 10, the Committee of the Whole voted 12-3 in favour of the West Harbour. Two days later, full Council voted 10-6 (one Councillor reversed his vote and another attended who had missed the Committee meeting) to confirm the decision made two days previously.

At that decision, many Hamiltonians - including the organizers behind OCOF - heaved a sigh of relief. We were exhausted from all the campaigning and information dissemination and naively believed that now that the decision was finally made, the debate was over.

But wait: there's more...

Unfortunately, the Ticats and their supporters did not quit working behind the scenes to undermine Council's resolve. Over the next several months, the City lurched between a number of increasingly desperate fallback locations - including a proposed stadium in Burlington - as the hard February 1, 2011 site confirmation deadline from the Pan Am Host corporation loomed.

It looked like all was lost. Council seemed prepared to walk away from a stadium altogether rather than confirm a site - even a site with overwhelming public support - without the support of the Ticats.

Into this void, the community voice rose once again, this time advocating for a small-scale community sized stadium to be built at the West Harbour and preserving the Pan Am redevelopment opportunity for Hamilton.

Citizen volunteers contacted Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop and asked him to clarify the host corporation's criteria for funding a stadium. Troop confirmed that a 6,000 seat community stadium was a viable proposal and clarified that the stadium was "not about providing a stadium for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. If that's part of a solution, terrific, but that's not our mandate."

Once again, in response to public pressure, Council turned toward the choice that put the City's objectives first.

Sensing that the opportunity to use public money for their own needs was slipping through their fingers, the Ticats relented and did an about-face in terms of their demands for a new stadium.

At the very last minute, after a call from Queen's Park to the newly-minted Mayor Bob Bratina (formerly the Ward 2 Councillor who had worn the WEST HARBOUR t-shirt to the rally) to resolve the impasse, the City and the Ticats finally settled on a partial rebuild of Ivor Wynne Stadium, the team's current home. This was in complete reversal in their previous stance that the inner city location was not economically viable.

From a revitalization perspective, the new plan offers limited potential for economic spinoff - in fact, it proposes to demolish an adjacent community stadium to make room for parking - and leaves the West Harbour property an unremediated brownfield, but Council was so desperate to close a stadium deal and satisfy the Ticats that they accepted it anyway.

Lessons Learned

It should be noted that, in the end, unable to turn a blind eye to the expressed wishes of the public, City Council passed a resolution as part of the stadium decision to speed up revitalization of the West Harbour site. While the location of the stadium will remain the same, the OCOF campaign successfully countered the notion that private interests should trump the public good.

The campaign managed to stop significant public dollars from going towards a sprawl-oriented development. It kept a strong focus on the issue of Hamilton's future and engaged thousands of citizens in a public debate some may have wished remained behind closed doors.

This experiment in civic engagement offers some lessons for would-be organizers:

Conclusion

The Our City, Our Future campaign is an interesting case study of how citizens used alternative and social media to mobilize public support and directly engage decision makers. The public campaign was organized very quickly to achieve a broad reach and an impressive impact, especially given the financial resources and emotional community ties the Ticats were able to employ in promoting their agenda.

While the Ticats attempted to conflate the football team with the public interest, the OCOF campaign effectively separated the two and clearly communicated that the real public interest should take priority over private interests.

Finally, the richness and diversity of the comments posted to the OCOF website and shared with decision makers demonstrated that a public campaign can resonate strongly and achieve a broad consensus without resorting to negativity and fear-based campaigning.

Already the OCOF experience is having an influence: even now, a number of nascent citizen-led community building initiatives in Hamilton are developing around the same model of ad hoc organization, social media outreach and direct engagement.


This retrospective will be published in the Spring 2011 issue of Our Schools, Our Selves, a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It is published here with permission.

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.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 07:54:03

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By Hamiltontransithistory (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2011 at 11:51:12 in reply to Comment 61499

Written by Bob Young

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 08:22:02

"From a revitalization perspective, the new plan offers limited potential for economic spinoff - in fact, it proposes to demolish an adjacent community stadium to make room for parking - and leaves the West Harbour property an unremediated brownfield, but Council was so desperate to close a stadium deal and satisfy the Ticats that they accepted it anyway."

here's the weak part of the article. You had me up to this point. Your claims FOR the economic spinoffs at West Harbour were always thin - dependent on a Venetian plate, right Molinaro Group? And your claims AGAINST economic development around IW are just as unfounded. And the result is exactly the same for either property, one will be a vacant space. The difference is IW would have lain empty forever, whereas WH will get developed.

I applaud your efforts with OCOF and supported that when EM was the other option. But I think you got so caught up in that movement you didn't rationally consider the compromise and benefits of IWS.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2011 at 08:43:45 in reply to Comment 61500

Hi Bob, that's a reasonable comment but I really do believe WH had significantly better potential for ROI than IWS has. Graham Crawford has argued this case better than I can, here and here.

There are worse locations in the city than IWS for the Pan Am stadium, and there are better uses of WH than a Pan Am stadium, but given the political opportunity we had in the Games, IWS is at best a face-saving compromise that misses out on most of the spinoff benefits of the new investment.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-03-25 08:47:53

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By terrycooke (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 09:08:08

Ryan, Notwithstanding a disappointing outcome, the process marked a turning point in positive, thoughtful citizen engagement in Hamilton. It will inevitably shape future strategic debates because of the number people (particularly younger and newer Hamiltonians) that got involved for the first time because of a passionate interest and committment to our community. Thanks to all the OCOF volunteers for making a difference. Cheers.

TC

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 23:10:28 in reply to Comment 61504

Well said Terry

If not for the Our City Our Future campaign we may be looking at a Stadium jammed between a Home Depot and a Leons on the mountain

You did maintain a stadium in the city proper, with no sprawl, using existing roadways, and kept the "neighborhood feel".Not every box got checked but a lot did

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By MattM (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 09:54:18

It should be noted that things aren't quite over yet. We still need to push to make sure that the velodrome is not only built but ends up at the West Harbour. The way things have indicated, the city isn't exactly overly thrilled about building it, and even less so about paying for it. Seems that TO2015 is the only part that is even semi-serious about it happening.

Velodrome, shmelodrome eh Bob's?

Comment edited by MattM on 2011-03-25 09:55:23

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 23:06:14 in reply to Comment 61507

Agreed. I saw that McHattie is leading the charge to move Brian Timmis Stadium to the West Harbour. a velodrome and 5000 seat stadium can have a very positve affect on that piece of land.

We also have to work with the new IWS to see that it is developed in the best way possible. We need to hold the city and the ticats to the fire to ensure that it is as pedestrian and Transit friendly as possible. We need to ensure adjacent proerty is developed in a positive manner

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By Jeff Reid (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2011 at 11:08:33

I'm going to take a moment to apologize to OCOF advocates for sounding just awful here at the end of the debate. Did not want to lose the stadium altogether.

Funny story... This movement stopped updating long before my business arrived here; I first heard about all of this Our City, Our Future was when someone was finally kind enough to explain, send me the link ...in February 2011.

Maybe ignorance was bliss... But I am sorry if I was rude; that news-cycle got crazy!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2011 at 11:23:24

In retrospect, after hearing the numbers come back for the IW stadium, it sounds like there really never was another option without the Cats putting in money to make a Cats-satisfactory stadium. Their size needs were just way, way too much for the amounts the Government was putting forth - we kept getting municipal plans for stadiums about half the size that the Cats were talking about.

We only ever had the budget to build half the stadium the Cats need. So obviously the half-Ivor-Wynne plan was the only option... or to tell the Cats to put up or shut up.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 15:05:50 in reply to Comment 61511

That's right. Why would anyone expect a business owner to invest in his business?

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 11:26:33 in reply to Comment 61511

or to tell the Cats to put up or shut up.

This.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 12:31:01

In my more optimistic moments I'm inclined to side with the astute and esteemed Mr. Cooke, although I do think the unique passion-dynamics of urbanism and pro sports may offer a distorted picture of the way that the populace will engage with its policymakers down the line.

On the whole, I'm of the opinion that – despite its surfeit of entertainment value and spittle-flecked debate – this was a colossal waste of time, energy, money and political capital and a poor reflection on our city's business and political establishment.

Having said that, running down the list of awe-inspiring projects made possible by Future Fund monies, it seems less to do with planning ahead and more to do with reading water. The Cats made a splash but it seems like it has been doled out more mercenary purposes before, albeit ones with transient legacies.

http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/CorporateServices/FinanceBudgetTaxes/HamiltonFutureFund/Chronology+of+the+Utilization+of+the+Hamilton+Future+Fund.htm

All the same, "professional sports" is an oxymoron. The franchises that are run like proud, independent and successful businesses are the exception and not the rule. However you care to break down the financial lifeblood of the organization, the Cats exist as a charity. That uncomfortable reality surely contributed in no small part to Scott Mitchell's epic asshattery.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 12:38:24 in reply to Comment 61519

Bah... "less to do with planning ahead and more to do with *treading* water"...

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By Yawn (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 12:39:28

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2011 at 12:49:17

Two wrongs… does make a right for once!

Why this? Why now? Why again?

In most matters of passion there are no rights and wrongs... only massive disconnects from reality.

History still remains the best place for lessons to be learned. Attempts to learn anything from traumatic events that are still fresh in our collective memory can only serve to open up barely healed wounds.

Brevity demands that one leaves bygones be bygones if only to allow sufficient time to filter truths to the surface on its own accord.

It is a fact that major league sports team owners in North America are known to extract often untenable positions from communities. It is also a fact that career politicians approach issues of community building with an equal dose of entitlement and ignorance about urban and economic development issues.

To make heroes or villains on either side of an event gone awry is a foolish exercise which consumes time and distracts attention from more productive endeavours. Attempts such as these, to regurgitate the past, only end up exposing the deeply obsessive fascination for being correct in spite of evidence to the contrary.

As this premature haste in rewriting history shows so clearly - it was never about "Our City, Our Future" – It was always about "My City, My Future", with a collection of voices attempting to represent "Us the people". Was this not what led to the impasse in the first place?

If neighbourhoods like Ward 3 – an integral part of the damaged fabric of our city, somehow scores a win – it should be a cause to celebrate the power of natural systems, which has managed to override human myopia masquerading as human determination.

Common good is achieved from the ability to be brutally honest about facts and evidence – while acknowledging that positions driven by passion are often wrong. Without this ability, we are only left with group think and a false sense of civic engagement.

Transparency used to be a virtue once. In our times, it is only a prop used to promote positions, much as words like richness, diversity or inclusion are used to achieve broad consensus.

Could it be that we are all missing the point and that redeveloping Ward 3 was what Fred had in mind all along – simply because he truly believed that it was the right thing to do for Hamilton to succeed as a city? and WH for him was just a tactical diversion to ensure that real wealth via the PanAm games did get spread equitably in our city?

Seriously, how many of the WH proponents would have fawned over Fred, had he instead come out swinging for Ward 3. He knew that it was simply not sexy enough for the urban sophisticates in our city.

Hey, one never knows what goes on behind the transparent props of our times, after all Fred did get picked up to head a venerable urban institute after an extensive national search. Maybe they knew his capabilities in true community rebuilding, much more than we will ever know – for in the end, Ward 3 and Hamilton are indeed the truly winning outcomes of his position.

True community rebuilding is a very complex affair – which was much simplified by Jane Jacobs, and then unnecessarily complicated by Starbucks – who posed: What comes first? Affluent people, or cool coffee houses?

Mahesh P. Butani

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 15:39:11 in reply to Comment 61524

And burying your head in the sand is a great way of making sure that if an opportunity comes of to get screwed again, it will happen.

Analyzing the process to see what really happened helps to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

The real questions as I see them are as follows:

Were the 'Cats truly excluded from the decision making process?

On what basis did the 'Cats claim that they would lose $7M/yr at WH?

Why did Bob Bratina set as the prime goal of the last meeting as "keeping the Tiger-Cats" as opposed to "What's best for the city and let Bob Young do as he will"?

Excessive verbosity and flowery prose don't change the fact that a location that was agreed upon by a significant majority was, at the last minute, suddenly decreed as unworkable. It was a nasty play by Bob Young to maximize his personal profits at the city's expense.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 20:52:34 in reply to Comment 61540

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 21:58:46 in reply to Comment 61564

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 12:58:21 in reply to Comment 61524

Bless you, Mahesh, but LOL @ "Brevity demands".

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 13:06:17

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 14:05:49

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 14:27:20 in reply to Comment 61530

those stats wouldn't happen to have anything to do with alberta sitting on oil -a substance wars are being fought over, and PEI being home to an industry that is almost dead? Numbers never tell the whole picture.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 16:29:53 in reply to Comment 61531

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 17:23:54 in reply to Comment 61544

Just as your "Alberta is rich because it pays less tax" argument isn't sound.

Comment edited by SpaceMonkey on 2011-03-25 17:24:31

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 18:04:53 in reply to Comment 61551

Do you agree with higher gas taxes? If you do, then you understand the idea that when you tax something, you get less of it. Therefore, if you want a city that gets less investment in new developments, residential, commercial, industrial, keep taxes high.

However, if you want more of these investments, you need to lower these tax rates.

Here is a snippet from Ryan regarding gas taxes...

"So what happens if we cut the gas tax to lower prices?

3. Instead of driving less in response to higher prices, motorists will drive more in response to lower prices."

Did you catch that. Even a proud Bob Rae supporter admits that when you lower the price of something, people will buy more of it. If we replace gas with Hamilton land, then lowering the price (by lowering the tax rate), people will demand more of it.

He went on to say this...

" 4. That aditional demand for oil will further strain a global oil production system already running at capacity, causing prices to go up in response. "

In other words, by lowering the tax on gas (Hamilton land), demand will rise, which will in turn drive up prices (increased land values).

Seeing that we already have some of the highest tax rates on land in the GTA and lowest prices on land in the GTA, wouldn't it be in all of our best interests to push for lower tax rates, thus making our homes rise in value?

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By jacob (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 18:34:24 in reply to Comment 61555

hey Adam Smith, what's your rationale for lowering taxes on resources? I can follow the logic for innovation-driven industries to an extent. But say you've got a wealth of potash. What's company X doing that government Y can't do?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 20:12:53 in reply to Comment 61559

Lowering taxes on resources increases the margins of producers and thus makes it easier to invest in new products and counter market competition...

http://thebusinessofmining.com/2010/12/03/technological-risk-in-mining-biotech-replacing-potash/

If the government takes the money from potash producers and spend it on freebies, the cost of that may be the loss of jobs in the future.

That's what people need to understand about government, it is very bad at creating wealth and very good at wasting money. It is this way, because it doesn't have to worry about the future. In it's mind, it can always just raise taxes.

It's not unlike giving your immortal cousin the keys to the car when on a family trip.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 20:43:27 in reply to Comment 61562

in a socialized resource economy there would be no competition so no need to compete. The resources don't go away. More jobs will be created by using older technologies. That money goes into the treasury, not to shareholders.

Your wealth creation argument only makes sense if you're talking about competitive industries. We're a resource economy.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 01:23:04 in reply to Comment 61563

>> We're a resource economy.

In 2009, Canada produced 3.4 Mbpd of oil. At a price of $100, that works out to $124.1 billion. However, we only exported 1.0 Mbpd, the rest of this oil we consumed domestically. This means that for 71% of the oil we produced, we didn't benefit from the high prices, because we had to pay those high prices ourselves.

If we assume that the price per barrel of oil was $100, that means we exported $100 * 365 days * 1 million barrels = $36.5B worth of oil. In 2010, the total value of our economy was $1.62 Trillion.

In other words, the total value of our oil exports in 2009 amounted to just 2.25% of total GDP.

If we truly are a resource economy, then should are oil exports be much bigger than 2.25% of the economy?

If we look at Saudi Arabia, we see they produced 9.7 Mbpd in 2010, but only consumed 2.4 Mbpd. Using an average price of $80, that gives them $213.2 Billion in oil exports. In 2010, their total GDP was $434 Billion. That means oil exports are around half of their economy.

Even with that fact and the fact that oil prices have doubled since 2005, Canada's GDP still grew faster than Saudi Arabia from 2005-2010.

Ask yourself this, would you rather have Steve Jobs investing our taxpayer dollars, or Hamilton city council? Warren Buffet, or Dalton McGuinty? Mark Zuckerburg, or Stephen Harper?

If we went more private and less government, this city would be far richer than we are today, that's just a fact.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:38:38 in reply to Comment 61573

what are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait's tax rates? Since you've singled them out as bad performers.

What are Scandinavian countries and Germany's tax rates/ debt/ GDP?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 18:29:01 in reply to Comment 61593

I was hoping you would ask that. In fact, Saudi Arabia has very low tax rates for citizens (2.5%), 20% on foreigners. It also has a 11% payroll tax. So while official tax revenue was only 6.6% of GDP, spending was 29.1% of GDP due to money from the state controlled oil company, which is just another form of taxation on the private sector.

However, where the Saudi's lose major points is in investment freedom (major areas of the economy are not open to foreigners), higher corruption, state controlled banking system and lack of property rights. These are not direct taxes, but to the extent they restrict the free market from operating efficiently, they are still a tax on economic growth.

Kuwait is similar, low income taxes but lots of money from the state controlled oil revenues. Government spending is 31% of GDP. The same negatives apply to investment freedom, corruption, property rights and banking.

As for the Nordic countries, taxes are higher. However, if we compare Sweden and Saudi Arabia, we see that government consumption, which is the amount of money spent by the government directly, as opposed to cash payments to people (welfare, pensions, unemployment), it is about the same at 26.8% and 25.2% respectively.

The big difference, however is in the the Nordic countries openness to foreign investment, lack of corruption, strong property rights and greater ability to start and operate a business.

You make a good point about low tax rates. By themselves, they are not enough to grow the economy. What you do want, however, is a government that respects the people and their income.

However, within Canada, where all other factors are roughly equal (investment freedom, corruption, banking system), there is still a positive correlation between low tax rates and higher GDP per capita.

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By Jacob (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 23:13:02 in reply to Comment 61604

thanks A Smith. I appreciate your responses (and your tenacity!)

So the key is really not taxes but smart government and management. I don't like bloated government largesse any more than you do. But in Scandinavia they manage to maintain a huge public service alongside a very efficient free market. One reason I've heard is they allow businesses to lay off workers fairly easily, letting their EI system take care of them in the meantime. But I don't think it's as easy as saying that government, per se, is inefficient.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 00:57:23 in reply to Comment 61610

Actually, from 2005-10, Sweden's economy only grew 20% (in US dollars), while Canada's grew 37.9%. High tax Denmark grew only 18.2%, while low tax Switzerland grew 40.3%. So, no, I wouldn't say that taxes, or tax rates don't matter.

As for cash benefits, like E.I, welfare and pensions, as long as they aren't too lavish, but allow people to have all the necessities of life (rent, food, clothes), are probably very good for the economy.

I do find it interesting, however, that two of the cities most often referred to by RTH'ers as being models Hamilton should follow, Portland and Boston, both have property tax caps.

In contrast, cities like Detroit and Buffalo, whose economic fortunes are declining, have high property tax rates.

An interesting case is NYC. They have low tax rates, similar to Toronto. So instead, the city borrows the money to pay for their extensive city government. In this way, the people aren't punished with high taxes, just because the city politicians like to spend.

In Hamilton, our leaders have decided to do the opposite. They feel it's better to tax the people when they overspend, rather than add debt onto their own balance sheet. The result is that not very many people want to live here.

For example...

Hamilton had $7,760, per person, in net ASSETS on their balance sheet, as of 2009.

NYC had $12,908 in net DEBT, per person, on their balance sheet as of 2010.

Yet even though we have far less debt than NYC, Hamilton still has high tax rates. Why is this?

An easy work around would be to sell off some city assets, use the money to cut tax rates and then if they want to, borrow money to build new assets.

In this way, their decades long overspending and fiscal mismanagement will be taken off the current taxpayer and put where it belongs, on the city government balance sheet.

Then, with lower taxes, people will have more money to spend at local businesses. The result will be a better economy and a happier populace.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 14:59:00 in reply to Comment 61573

If we went more private and less government, this city ^W^W certain private individuals would be far richer than we are today, that's just a fact.

Comment edited by arienc on 2011-03-26 14:59:56

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 19:14:08 in reply to Comment 61588

arienc, you are correct. An economy that accumulates money at the top is not healthy. That's why I am in favour of moving welfare rates much higher.

The current rate is around $570 month, hardly enough to survive on. If the provincial government moved that up to $900, that money would flow right back into the competitive free market.

As of Jan 2010, Ontario had a welfare case load of 819,084. If you multiply that by an additional $330/month, that works out to an additional $3.2 Billion.

The total Ontario budget plan for 2010-11 was $125.8 billion.

To put this in context, in 1997-98, a year the Ontario economy grew 4.5% (2002 dollars) , the social services budget (welfare) accounted for 14.9% of total provincial expenditures. In that same year, the entire Ontario budget was only 15% of GDP.

Today, the Ontario budget is 20.4% of GDP and yet social services is only 7.4% of the budget. In other words, less of the budget today is spent on cash payments and more goes to employing public employees.

To be clear, in 1997-98, Mike Harris spent 14.9% of the Ontario budget on welfare and the economy was strong. In 2010-11, Dalton McGuinty is spending only 7.4% and the economy is just alright.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 14:31:13 in reply to Comment 61531

Lets not traverse Smithy's tired old tax path again. Thats a movie I've seen too many times.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 17:36:29 in reply to Comment 61533

While I probably don't fall on a similar side of the political spectrum as Adam Smith (especially his namesake), I find these posts pretty interesting/ enlightening. I don't have to agree with them to see value in them.

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 16:40:11

It seems like kinda a mark in the L column. It is great that citizens got up and railed against the machine, but somehow they beat us down, crush us and then make us love them for it (IW).

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By hammertime (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 22:18:57

What is the point of this whole debate again? Ryan's views on this subject are well documented. The RTH group's views are also well known and they are not friendly to anything other than the WH and downtown busniess core. Maybe you should call yourselves the downtown luv-in group instead of the RTH. As long as you keep bringing up the stadium/WH issue you will continue to be disappointed. Frankly I don't think there should be any hand outs to the WH/downtown group. There is more to the city than your special interests, like schools for example. Fly away little people. The stadium is being built were it should under the circumstances, and for WH? Who other than this left leaning group really cares. Is there any doubt this comment will be down voted? Not a chance, your all so open minded to what is really happening here right?

Comment edited by hammertime on 2011-03-25 22:24:24

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By George (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:44:13 in reply to Comment 61567

hammertime wrote,

What is the point of this whole debate again? Ryan's views on this subject are well documented. The RTH group's views are also well known ...

Perhaps you did not read the end of the article.

"This retrospective will be published in the Spring 2011 issue of Our Schools, Our Selves, a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It is published here with permission."

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 23:05:17

I appreciate what Ryan has done here and with the OCOF showdown last year but as far as some of the "opening old wounds" opinions go, I know I must also agree. Seriously, would anyone like my old T-shirt for an effigy?

The Big Cookie III JPG Image

Let's not return others naughtiness by seeming haughty with our effectiveness.

Cheers to OCOF & our soon to be new IWS! BTW, has anyone got a new name for IT yet?

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-03-25 23:16:43

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By Too Right (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:38:05 in reply to Comment 61568

Hey WRCU2;
What's IT?

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted March 25, 2011 at 23:15:08

Although the IWS decison came more from money, deadlines and saving political face, We should make mention of Larry Pattison's "Save Ivor Wynne Stadium" campaign. Even though everybody thought he was fighting the lost cause he never waivered.

Proof that you can't go wrong by following what you think is right.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 08:44:23

I can't wait to see the new parking lot on Cannon Street when this is done. Talk about amazing spinoff development. Maybe we can convince Molinaro to man the little ticket booth.

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By Hamilton revival (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 12:01:29

You know what would help Hamilton's economy? Production of tanks and ships. That way when the Chinese come, this city may have a fighting chance. Cheers.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted March 26, 2011 at 12:44:35

I took the time to read this article once again this morning, and I must say that I am extremely disappointed that it is slated to be published in a journal of some standing among a fairly large group of progressive regional & national readers.

The CCPA, Canada’s leading progressive voice for over three decades has developed a reputation for publishing a large body of well researched and insightful articles, reports & studies – which I presume are either peer reviewed, or at best vetted by an editorial board for integrity and depth of subject matter.

While this article attempts to assemble a chronology of events – it suffers greatly on account of its strong bias on the West Harbour location issue.

What I find here to be highly disingenuous is the attempt to bury all biases by making it appear that this article is about an: “interesting case study of how citizens used alternative and social media to mobilize public support and directly engage decision makers.”

While that may be true to some degree, it does very little to investigate this angle any further. Instead this lengthy chronology is used to launch more biased opinions on the West Harbour issue, while blatantly continuing to ignore all facts regarding the WH site – which are apparent to anyone who is willing to spend a little time investigating the location in question.

What comes through is a self-congratulatory assessment of the role that the writer and his supporters played – in exacerbating the already tenuous conditions created by the faulty PanAm games site selection process. Conditions which were in fact created by the very person (our then mayor) whom this group chose to anoint as a maverick of sorts – in what is painted here to be a battle to protect the interests of over half a million people of our city.

What one is left with is a confusing narrative which vainly attempts to establish that the “system” grossly failed the people of Hamilton – while the maverick and the “campaign” of a group of new-media driven supporters – battled against tremendous odds to save the city from being overrun by evil forces.

This could have had an happy ending, if the WH location were to have been selected. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

What follows in the wake of this is the most bizarre caricaturization of the lower city and its two neighbourhoods: The “rightful One” that supposedly lost the legacy, and the undeserving “insignificant other” which became the beneficiary of the legacy on account of the evil forces.

We all know what really went down. Most of “us the people” quickly came to terms with it – implying that lessons were learnt without the need to review lengthy chronologies.

What I believe that the “campaign” has yet to learn is the difference between the right way of doing things and the wrong way of doing thing.

For such “ad hocism” to be relevant to the “diverse” people and businesses of this city – the “campaign” needs to seriously ask itself: Was it really inclusive of other views – other people? And correspondingly, was this really a “good example of an engaged community and popular education” – when the very information they were being fed was certifiably biased?

Peer review is an accepted practice adopted by established journals for good reasons. While I sure hope that CCPA is not left holding the burden of an ill-researched article, this city deserves far better than such cavalier approach to redevelopment.

If the "campaign" is still open to other views, I would be more than happy to explain at length as to why the WH site was and will never be suited for sports.

There are other ways to raise money to remediate private properties on the West Harbour – which will never ask the new media to compromise its first-principles, nor ask it to indulge in a public charade which ends up polarizing the entire community.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-03-26 13:09:26

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By Clyde_Cope (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 14:03:20 in reply to Comment 61581

Mahesh - I'm afraid your tirade of negativity is just what Hamilton does not need or want. Are you the only one with the 'facts' - I think not. Good critical appraisal makes for stronger arguments. Fortunately bully politics like yours doesn't cut it!

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 10:41:28 in reply to Comment 61581

OMG! Get over yourself, Mahesh P..

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 19:49:06 in reply to Comment 61581

What follows in the wake of this is the most bizarre caricaturization of the lower city and its two neighbourhoods: The “rightful One” that supposedly lost the legacy, and the undeserving “insignificant other” which became the beneficiary of the legacy on account of the evil forces.

What a startlingly inaccurate assessment of the situation.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-03-26 19:49:51

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 20:35:10 in reply to Comment 61607

What a deliberately inaccurate assessment of the situation.

Fixed. ;)

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 13:29:28 in reply to Comment 61581

I personally very much appreciate Ryan's summary of the events leading up to the City of Hamilton's decision to spend our entire stadium contribution on an Ivor Wynne stadium renovation. It is a learning opportunity for those of us who were involved in this debate. For many of us it was our first experience participating in municipal politics, and we want to remain engaged. I would like to respond to your comment, but your writing style seems to be all sound and fury signifying nothing, really. I think you are trying to say that Ryan is biased, self-congratulatory and has no right to publish in a scholarly journal. And that the WH is a terrible place to locate a sports stadium. But despite your obvious inebriation with your own verbosity, your comment is all opinion and no substance. I look forward some actual ideas from you on how to "raise money to remediate the WH properties, so that new media never have to compromise their first-principles." Mostly so I can figure out what your last paragraph means.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 17:33:42 in reply to Comment 61584

I would like to respond to your comment, but your writing style seems to be all sound and fury signifying nothing, really.

Nailed that one on the head! That's all we get from Mahesh here.

I think you are trying to say that Ryan is biased, self-congratulatory and has no right to publish in a scholarly journal.

Here I can't agree with Z, I don't see trying from Mahesh, I see doing. IMHO I feel that Mahesh is jealous and covetous of the growing respect and influence that Ryan has attained through determination and hard work. Mahesh constantly leaves shit smears about Ryan all over the site. Of course he does this little graffiti act using his inane verbiage so he can defend his sly little act by countering that we didn't understand him or get his point. I always get your point here Mahesh, you're not pulling the wool over my eyes buddy. This trolling from Mahesh sickened me so much I didn't bother with RTH for a month, I wanted to puke on him after reading it. Have a read of the trolling I linked, I think he`d love nothing more than to run RTH instead of Ryan.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-03-26 18:07:05

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By George (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 18:29:13 in reply to Comment 61602

Having listened to Mr Butani during the mayoral campaign, and having read some of his writings on line, and enjoyed them all pretty much, I must say I'm greatly disappointed at that behaviour displayed by him in that exchange you reference.

Classic trolling to be sure.

What I would prefer to see from, Mr Butani is a truly dispassionate critique of RTH and (RTH and OCOF aside)explanations why he didn't like WH as a stadium site.

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By George (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 13:24:14

Great discussion, especially from Mr Butani who provides a respectful and thoughtful counter view.

Having the likes of Terry Cooke and Mahesh P Butani "here" is very encouraging. I encourage them both to continue participating here.

Perhaps it is time to re-engage the OCOF synergy and move forward with ideas for the Barton Tiffany area, and more downtown revitalization.

(I noticed plywood boards put up around the Hamilton Grand land on the corner of John and Main. Is construction to begin soon?)

Comment edited by George on 2011-03-26 13:25:40

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:00:08 in reply to Comment 61583

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 13:35:28 in reply to Comment 61583

I'm amazed that you found Mr Butani's comments respectful. I am not sure what makes him the arbiter of what is and is not fit to be published in a journal or on someone else's website. I also am dumbfounded that he cavalierly dismisses the many, many residents of Hamilton who got involved in the OCOF campaign by claiming that it was not an example of an engaged community movement. As far as I know, any and all comments on the OCOF website were welcomed and published. Anyways, sorry to be so strong about this, but all have a right to a voice in the future of this city...

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By George (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:51:18 in reply to Comment 61585

Zephyr wrote:

I am not sure what makes him the arbiter of what is and is not fit to be published in a journal or on someone else's website.

Perhaps Mr Butani's praise of the CCPA is an inadvertant validation of Ryan;s article.

I also am dumbfounded that he cavalierly dismisses the many, many residents of Hamilton who got involved in the OCOF campaign by claiming that it was not an example of an engaged community movement.

Agreed. I'd love some elaboration on this opinion.

Mr Butani wrote:

If the "campaign" is still open to other views, I would be more than happy to explain at length as to why the WH site was and will never be suited for sports.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted March 26, 2011 at 14:05:17

Zephyr,

Thank you kindly for clarifying my point so well, in a language that you seem to be more comfortable with. And I do apologize for any verbosity on my part which seems to upset you so much.

Also, I can assure you that there is no inebriation involved on my part presently - at least not at this early an hour :)

Slow down will ya! It is about real 'inclusion' we are talking about here. No one said it was going to be easy. And you do have rights - in fact more then me. I am an outsider. Don't let my style of writing intimidate you - it is just an affliction I picked up on the way. :)

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 23:07:13 in reply to Comment 61586

You are kinda cute in your condescending-tone-disguised-as-faint-humour thing. I fear I'm not clever enough to pierce through the denseness of your prose to find anything intimidating there. Your intent only seemed to insult - which you surely could have done a bit more efficiently?

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:10:51 in reply to Comment 61586

Don't let my style of writing intimidate you - it is just an affliction I picked up on the way

Do not dismay, IT is akin to me and my rhyme disease EH?

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By George (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 14:37:35

I would love to see an article, by Mr Butani, on how he saw the stadium process whether it's published here or elsewhere.

Not so much his views on the role of RTH and OCOF (although they were a part of the process) in the Pan Am stadium selection process, but more along the lines of exploring the process itself, from the province, to HOSTCO (Pan Am 2015), to former mayor Eisenberger, Bob Young, Scott Mitchell, the facilitation process etc., and why WH is not a good site for the stadium.

I'm sure RTH is ok with counter views.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 11:02:10 in reply to Comment 61587

comment from banned user deleted

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:16:12

I wonder if I'm the only one to notice that Ryan completely omitted the Aldershot and I-Mac Park deals in his exhaustive chronological zeal.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-03-26 15:18:57

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 02:52:23 in reply to Comment 61591

the Aldershot and I-Mac Park deals

FTFA: "Over the next several months, the City lurched between a number of increasingly desperate fallback locations - including a proposed stadium in Burlington - as the hard February 1, 2011 site confirmation deadline from the Pan Am Host corporation loomed. "

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 19:53:45 in reply to Comment 61591

Both were shot in the dark distractions by the 'Cats as "alternatives". Literally last minute examples that would have proven theoretically more profitable for Bob Young as he would have controlled the development of support facilities around them.

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By Too Right (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2011 at 15:42:42 in reply to Comment 61591

What's with all the rhyming couplets in all your posts???

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 18:17:24 in reply to Comment 61595

I have rhyme disease but don't worry, IT is mostly benign and not catchy.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted March 26, 2011 at 17:05:40

Thank you George! I would be glad to elaborate on this maybe later this evening.

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By hammertime (registered) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 14:19:12

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.

Comment edited by hammertime on 2011-03-27 14:19:59

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 15:42:56 in reply to Comment 61614

I've never known Ryan to walk away from an argument or a fact he didn't like. What specific facts has he ignored?

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 15:20:19

“Our Schools / Our Selves is the CCPA's quarterly journal on education.”

Education/Stadium-related, it would be interesting to see an investigative feature on the influence that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has had on issues such as urbanism (eg. Cadillac Fairview) and sports-centric development (e.g. via MLSE), media literacy (e.g. via CTVglobemedia, as well as the attempted takepover of BCE) and social justice (e.g. via holdings in private water systems in Chile).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQpDpRE13mI

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2011 at 17:09:28

Professional sports franchises are not the only ones accused of swaying crowds with emotional pitches, fear mongering, poor research & analysis or even downright misinformation. When it come to matter of agendas, just like the old media, many in new-media also use similar tactics. However some in our city believe that their mere association with the new media in itself absolves them of any kind of human failings.

George, before I elaborate, some assumptions related to the West Harbour (Barton/Tiffany) area are:

1) In the three large land parcels bounded by Tiffany, Stuart, Queen and Barton (call it Sector-A) – approximately 40 percent of the lands are city owned/expropriated; and the balance continues to be privately owned.

2) The lands to the north/northwest of Stuart which is around three times the size of Sector-A, is owned by CN Rail and is in active used presently, which prevents access at grade to the waterfront.

3) The larger lot with a structure to the south of the Rheem lands, at Caroline, along with a small parking lot across, are City owned – including all homes that are presently boarded up in the vicinity.

4) The old salvage yard land parcel on the slope between Bay, and Tiffany towards Stuart is not factored into this assumption presently.

In the post PanAm stadium scenario – if the above Sector-A lands were ever to be developed for any new purposes by the city – (which is not the city’s primary business), and further expropriation of private lands here not being an ethical option, it would require either outright purchase of the remaining sixty percent of lands; or negotiating a very complex joint-development agreement in-between three or more independent owners in this sector.

If the CN lands are factored into this development, it gets more complex on account of the larger percentage of their land holding. Considering the prohibitive costs of acquiring such a large parcel in today’s economic conditions, this would possibly entail them becoming the lead partners in this venture – (developing properties is also what they do - and they also control the access at grade from Sector-A to the waterfront).

Some ideas being tossed around for Sector-A, in the post PanAm stage are:

A) An unified mega-development with a star architect.

B) A scaled down sports venue w/wo a velodrome.

C) Remedying the current city acquisitions and reselling at higher value to developer for some speculative use – mix-use/condos/liv-work.

D) Relocating the education board facility on current city acquisitions.

...

A) One problem with a unified mega-development is that this may essentially remain an exercise in feel-good visioning. As the balance lands are yet to be acquired by the City or a private developer.

The problem with drawing up bold concepts and rushing to the community before land purchase is done (in a highly politicized development), is that it leads to inflated land values. Sellers of the properties on which this premature visioning is done – will react to the sensational nature of such proposals and use the last highest sale value in sector A – (possibly that of Rheem lands), as the basis of up-valuing their own property. If the City or a private developer now attempts to assemble lands for a mega-development, the asking price of such lands will spiral up fast, making any development cost-prohibitive.

B) The rational for slapping a stadium (full blown or the new scaled down version) on these lands was originally born from a knee-jerk development approach. It was only when the opportunity of provincial & local tax-payer funded Commonwealth games came up initially, followed by the Pan-Am games – that the temptation for a quick political fix to remedy the polluted lands surfaced – (Prior to that a more measured approach had already led to a community driven solution for this area).

This approach is in no way different than pro-sports organizations making use of tax-payers funds.

Some parcels of what were essentially private lands in Sector-A, suddenly became City or tax-payer owned, thru a highly questionable land-grab – supposedly done for a 'public good' at an absurdly inflated value. This practically destroyed the possibilities of ever maintaining rational market-driven land values in the surrounding areas yet to be developed, and consequently destroying the potential of a more organic market-driven recovery of the entire Sector A.

So what went wrong with the play on WH?

Some sincerely believe it was the Ti-cats who didn’t play ball. After all there was a near perfect fit with the much documented behavior of pro-sport teams. Who can challenge that?

Why did they walk away from WH, when all expenses were pretty much paid by the tax-payers? Did they want more? Or were they the first team in history to walk away from a free-meal – because they might have actually been serious about achieving financial sustainability?

I seriously doubt scalability or size resulting in extra costs was as critical an issue, as it is made out to be.

According to the chronology, it took them (Bob Young) --three long months-- to figure out that accessibility and visibility was a big issue with the WH location. They can surely be held guilty for not doing due diligence ahead of time – just as much as the highly compensated consultants and planners in our city can be held guilty for not figuring this simple fact out ahead of time --in more than three years-- when this location was being short-listed by them for sports use. Would not the projected users/tenants of the Commonwealth Games stadium back then, have also required visibility as a criteria for sustainable operations?

--Visibility-- drives revenues, which puts such precarious financial ventures like this on a track to being financially sustainable. It adds an extra layer of financial security in what is a high risk proposition for tax-payers.

On-line ads gives on-line property owners high visibility which drives traffic, which in turn drives online presence, and hopefully drives online revenues. Does one begrudge the on-line property owners for seeking on-line visibility?

--Accessibility-- to this location can only be truly experienced when one visits this location often.

During the games at IWS, it takes over an hour and a half of bumper-to-bumper cars crawling at 30kms/hr – spewing gas in urban neighbourhoods, just to pass thru International Village alone in order to get to the 403 exist. A similar impact on the WH is for anyone to imagine - and which is why the much more resourceful Aberdeen area residents quickly closed ranks, when the stadium visited their neighbourhood briefly on its journey thru our city!

Even after factoring the 'up-in-the-air billion+ dollars' LRT in place for the stadium on WH, and a new GO transit stop at James – what were the realistic assumptions made for the WH location, especially for those visitors who happen to not live within easy reach of these transit line? For good reasons, we will not factor in here, all the soccer moms attempting to use this facility, making frequent trips with their kids, gear and all, from public transit-challenged neighbourhoods to the WH.

The WH location was not Bob Young’s invention. As per the chronology, it was first short-listed by the professional consultants/planners who could have know better – and politicians who should have known better than to directly dive into a volatile site-selection process, and instead held the well-paid professionals feet-to-fire for not thinking thru the various scenarios and options they came up with for consideration.

In my opinion what happened was Young went along, until the alarm bells of financial sustainability started clanging in his mind. Then all hell broke loose.

According to the chronology itself – the “driveway to driveway” experience was something that the highly celebrated consultant came up with as a compromise – much later in the game, when Bob Young was pushed against a wall in what amounted to essentially a public lynching.

That the new media was used here to achieve this is a reflection of the immaturity of the new media in our city – and not a community engagement exercise, nor a badge of honour that its proponents can wear with any dignity.

Everyone involved in what followed rightfully should bear the responsibility for this sorry segment of the episode. If any premature lessons are to be learned here, it is that new media has yet to come of age in our city.

C) Remedying the current city acquisitions and reselling at higher value to a developer – to enable market forces to deal with the remaining private lands here – is possibly the only graceful way out of this mega-development fantasy. A course that could save tax-payers more anguish. It would cost some more in the short-term, but these costs could be recouped.

The question here is: will the market be able to absorb such cleaned up lands quickly enough? This will depend on how creatively these lands are packaged and marketed – to attract the right kind of outcomes the community desires on these lands – which will in turn depend on whether that same caliber of consultants which generated this mess, are deployed yet again to now find solutions.

D) Relocating the education board facility on current city acquisitions on the WH lands, will only result in what is now considered to be highly innovative in our city – It is the “Grand reshuffle”, a kind of cannibalism which prompts some to move organizations and institutions around the city in magnanimous board-game gestures, to give tax-payers the appearance of growth.

...

Finally, if Setting-Sails is the document that one wants to consider returning to, in order to regain that warm fuzzy feeling of stability and incremental growth in our city – it is still doable, but first, we all need to eat our equal share of the humble-pie in order to start over once again; we need to leave our egos and vanity aside for a change, and begin listening to the voices of the neighbourhoods into which we arrogantly choose to slams our collective dreams of becoming a great city.

Solutions that arise from such an approach are the only solutions that will give any credence to our claims of being a sustainable community.

If this tattered WH document is to be once again used as a framework to rebuild upon – a more progressive and cosmopolitan approach needs to be taken to generate design and financing ideas.

The organizing of a city driven 'international open design-build competition' for the WH lands is a distinct possibility which may be the only way left for us to leave a legacy worth leaving – on the last symbolic piece of buildable land at the head-of-the-lake.

Our city's deeply embedded parochialism is the only thing standing in our way.

The mavericks among us however will continue to dilute innovative development ideas that could easily put our city on the international economic map – by instead grabbing clichés and in-bred ideas to lead our community into the next decade.

Mahesh P. Butani

...

PS: I would like to clarify that this is just another viewpoint - and it would be a great shame if this is read as a personal attack on Ryan or anyone else here who has a opposing viewpoint.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-03-27 18:32:08

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By George (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 09:13:35 in reply to Comment 61618

Mahesh, thanks for the thoughtful reply, and while I think you bring up some thought provoking points, I remain unconvinced that WH was not a good site for the stadium.

I'm hopeful for a A) scenario, although I wouldn't characterize it as likely, but why would any such major development by a star architect, necessarily have to involve any "premature visioning", and spiraling and prohibitive land costs?

Sounds like the typical defeatist, "can't do" mentality that's become synonymous with Hamiltonians over the years, one that I do not associate with Mahesh P Butani. Please tell me "we" (typically cynical Hamiltonians) are not getting to you.

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By Ty Webb (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 23:04:10 in reply to Comment 61618

An hour and a half of bumper to bumper from IWS? I'm home in Waterdown in 20 minutes after games there! WH would have been great. Park downtown, walk or transit down to the stadium and then dozens of choices for after game food and drink.

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By George (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 09:03:47 in reply to Comment 61675

I go east to Stoney Creek, and get home in no time.

After looking back at the stadium fiasco, I'm thinking it was less about location and more about personalities like Scott Micthell, and perhaps even mayor Fred to a lesser degree.

Comment edited by George on 2011-03-28 09:51:14

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 08:42:18 in reply to Comment 61675

Ty,

Agreed! Traffic in the core will usually clear well under 30 minutes. I have never experienced 1/2 hour, let alone 1 1/2 hours. The heaviest concentration of traffic is when there is a very close game that goes down to the final minute.

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By hammertime (registered) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 18:18:31

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.

Comment edited by hammertime on 2011-03-27 18:41:39

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By Serendipity (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 07:05:33

Spot on Mahesh, thanks kindly for taking the time to write...beautifully written.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2011 at 09:18:59

Setting aside the ad hominem stuff, I understand why someone would not support a stadium for the Barton-Tiffany lands; in an absolutist sense I'm even somewhat inclined to agree. As I've argued all along, a West Harbour stadium is not the best and highest potential use of either that land or that money.

The reason I supported it - and, I expect, why a clear majority of Hamiltonians and a wide array of community and business organizations supported it - was that it appeared to be a politically achievable use of the land and the money that would deliver real benefits in achieving the city's community development objectives.

Politics is the practice of finding a balance between upholding individual principles and achieving a compromise that enough people can live with. The OCOF campaign settled on a compromise that a broad majority could live with: a high-profile waterfront stadium that would showcase the city, and a realistic means to fund the remediation of a major brownfield that was holding back North End community redevelopment.

What transformed that general support for the West Harbour into direct political action was the last-minute "compromise" of an East Mountain stadium that would pour well over a hundred million taxpayer dollars into a private enterprise that served none of the city's clearly-stated and long-understood objectives.

Imagine OCOF positioned part-way on an axis of compromise, with no compromise on the low end and total capitulation on the high end. Some people objected to OCOF from the lower end: the money should be spent on higher priority needs; Setting Sail already has a plan for the Barton-Tiffany lands; and so on. Others objected to it from the higher end, arguing that we needed to find a site that satisfied the Ticats, even if that meant giving up our city building objectives.

Of course this is only one dimension of a multi-dimensional issue, but it does have some descriptive power. The final resolution of the issue was farther up the axis of compromise than OCOF advocated, but a long way from the total capitulation that some other sites would have represented. That's why I called the outcome "a mixed bag" - if we had done nothing, the stadium would likely have ended up next to the highway and surrounded by acres of parking.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-03-28 09:46:50

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted March 30, 2011 at 15:05:22 in reply to Comment 61685

Totally agree here, Ryan. This would summarize my thoughts on the debate as well. In fact, I would believe that many fellow Ticat fans who supported the East Mountain would have to agree. Their angle, however, would be that having a stadium that, by perception, would ensure the profitability of the club would take something that's traditionally been a net-gain emotionally, but a net-loss financially, off the backs of the taxpayer. So, very internal/ Ticat focused with the city getting peripheral benefit. Short sighted, given the initial investment, for sure. We also must remember, too, that there are those who simply do not see the value of downtown redevelopment -- and would rather do the easier/ more efficient today exercise of developing easy-to-develop suburban lands.

Comment edited by slodrive on 2011-03-30 15:05:56

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By George (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 09:47:46 in reply to Comment 61685

a high-profile waterfront stadium that would showcase the city, and a realistic means to fund the remediation of a major brownfield that was holding back North End community redevelopment.

Bingo!

What transformed that general support for the West Harbour into direct political action was the last-minute "compromise" of an East Mountain stadium that would pour well over a hundred million taxpayer dollars into a private enterprise that served none of the city's clearly-stated and long-understood objectives.

Bingo, again!

I could not agree more. A terrific, concise summary.

@ Ryan WRT to WH: Now what?

Comment edited by George on 2011-03-28 09:50:26

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2011 at 14:58:54

" Ad hoc determinism" and " Planned determinism" are the two end of the Axis of Growth in most cities.

On one end of this axis are loosely affiliated community 'campaigns'; and on the other end are the 'planners and consultants'. Somewhere in the middle of this axis is the community's free-will –– which is simultaneously pulled in either direction.

The notion of 'compromise' or ' capitulation' of positions is what drives both types of such determinisms.

When the idea of 'competence' gets wrongfully associated with such extreme opposite notions, human behaviour shifts from being mostly logical to illogical - and either positions stop being aware of the consequences of their behaviour.

When complex issues surface in communities, it is all the more crucial for those who find themselves on either ends of the Axis of Growth in the city, to remain cognizant of the consequences of their behaviour.

Mahesh P. Butani


The logic of failure: recognizing and avoiding error in complex situations ~ By Dietrich Dörner

"If we never look at the consequences of our behavior, we can always maintain the illusion of our competence. If we make a decision to correct a deficiency and then never check on the consequences of that decision, we can believe that the deficiency has been corrected. We can turn to new problems. Ballistic behavior has the great advantage of relieving us of all accountability. The less clear a situation is, the more likely we are to prop up our illusion of competence with ballistic behavior. Such behavior reduces our sense of confusion and increases our faith in our own capabilities."

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By George (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 08:53:53 in reply to Comment 61696

Honestly, the first words that came to mind when I read that Dorner quote were : Scott Mitchell

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 15:40:24

Windsor: 6.35% Ratio of household income/total city revenues
Hamilton: 5.18% "
Burlington: 4.08%
Mississauga: 3.60%

Total city revenue % change 2005-09

Windsor: 8.59%
Hamilton: 30.20%
Burlington: 37.24%
Mississauga: 49.24%

As it appears, the greater the share of money that goes to city coffers, relative to the amount that families earn, the slower the city grows its revenues. In other words, when a city gets greedy, it makes itself less attractive for residents and businesses to locate there.

All this talk about where to locate a public stadium misses the point regarding Hamilton's growth. If we want more growth, more money needs to stay in the hands of the people.

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 19:19:29 in reply to Comment 61697

If we want more growth, more money needs to stay in the hands of the people.

BINGO

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-03-29 19:20:07

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By Jacob (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 16:35:23 in reply to Comment 61697

more cities please and tax rates, revenue changes: Kingston, Peterborough, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Oshawa, Guelph, Newmarket.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 21:59:03 in reply to Comment 61698

How about you show me some communities that are raising tax rates and where the city is growing. Windsor has been doing this and they're revenue growth is garbage.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 09:05:32 in reply to Comment 61705

you seem to have the stats at hand. I'm just suggesting you're picking stats to suit your beliefs. If your belief were true it would hold up generally. So show me.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 09:53:14 in reply to Comment 61718

Jacob, why should I have to prove, using your predetermined number of examples, that lowering taxes is good for a city? When a business wants a loan from the bank, they don't ask the bank to show them examples of why this loan would be a bad idea. Instead, it's the person looking for the money that needs to prove why the loan is a good idea.

If the city wants taxpayer money, they should have to prove why it is a good idea. If this were the case in Hamilton, they would have to explain why we need to pay around 50% higher tax rates than our closest neighbour, Burlington.

Here is the first question I would ask the city before signing off on their latest tax requests...

Why did wage costs rise 41% from 2005-09, or 8.9% a year, even though total salaries of Ontario workers only grew 10.6% in that same time frame?

Why did the number of full time employees increase 7.8% from 2005-09, even though our population only grew 1.3?

Why is the average city worker wage/benefit cost per full time employee $106k, while the median wage in the city is only $26,353 (2006)?

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By jacob (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 12:57:36 in reply to Comment 61721

there are a lot of reasons we can't have a Mississauga style tax rate.

I agree with some of your comments, I think public unions have created a totally unsustainable and poisonous and self-defeating situation for themselves.

But you have to admit it looks fishy to cite all these stats showing a correlation between low taxes and a good economy, and then not be willing to at least explain why this pattern may not always hold up. You've got the numbers, you could do it much easier than I. It would make for a much better argument for you - explain not only why your theory is true, but why it may not hold up.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 14:09:29 in reply to Comment 61736

>> there are a lot of reasons we can't have a Mississauga style tax rate.

If city wage gains had simply been kept inline with the Ontario wage gains from 2005-09, the tax savings to Hamilton taxpayers would have been $140.355M in 2009. The total tax levy in 2009, including for schools, was $827.030M. In the reduced wage model, taxes would only have been $686.675M.

The residential tax rate in 2009 was 1.54%. If we factor in the savings from decreased wage costs, this rate would have been lowered to 1.28%.

In other words, the ONLY reason why Hamilton's tax rates are 50% higher than Burlington and not 25% higher, is because city council rewarded city employees with lavish wage contracts, far exceeding the wage gains of average taxpayers.

In Portland, apparently quite a nice city with a strong economy and low taxes, city spending only increased by 23.6% from 2005-09. In Hamilton, city spending increased by 45.7%.

Explain to me why Portland can create a high quality city, while also watching spending, while Hamilton can't? Keep in mind that social service costs only went up by 25.5% in Hamilton during this time period.



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By jason (registered) | Posted March 31, 2011 at 10:22:01 in reply to Comment 61737

where have you been? Hamilton just had it's first ever $1 billion year in building permits. We've been called one of the top places to invest in Canada by all sorts of agencies and publications across North America. Our EcDev department has won awards for their great work and our real estate market is booming. The better Hamilton gets, the harder it will be for you to keep trotting out these useless stats. I wonder if Windsor's problems are in any way related to that city across the river from them?? Hmmmm....

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2011 at 12:55:46 in reply to Comment 61780

From 2001-05, city expenditures in Hamilton went up by 19.83%. In that same period of time, the average Ontario wage went up by 19.37%.

Between 2005-09, Hamilton's population grew 5.8%.

From 2005-09, city expenditures went up by 45.7%, while the average Ontario wage gains were only 10.6%.

What do you think Hamilton's population growth was between 2005-09? More or less than 2001-05? In other words, did the extra government spending make more people want to move here, or less?

Here's the answer...

Between 2005-09 Hamilton's population grew from 518,745 to 525,697, an increase of 1.3%.

WTF?

So, when city expenditures went up by 45.7% from 2005-09, Hamilton's population increased only 1.3%.

Yet, when city spending grew at only 19.83%, in line with the wages of taxpayers, Hamilton's population increased by 5.8%, 346% faster.

It would appear that smaller government is the way to go, if the goal is to attract more residents to Hamilton.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2011 at 13:02:15 in reply to Comment 61786

Edit:

Between 2005-09, Hamilton's population grew 5.8%.

Should have read...

Between 2001-05, Hamilton's population grew 5.8%.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2011 at 11:59:36 in reply to Comment 61780

Jason, was it a good idea for the City of Hamilton to increase city employee wage/benefit costs 41% from 2005-09, an average of 8.97% a year?

Or, would it have been a better idea to only increase these costs 10.6%, which is what the average person in Ontario got?

You know where I stand on this issue, where do you stand?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 22:29:34 in reply to Comment 61705

As usual you make no effort to determine causality. It's just as likely that cities that are doing badly have to raise tax rates to make up for falling revenue. But don't let that get in the way of your nice simple story...

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 01:06:56 in reply to Comment 61707

In 2009, the City of Windsor spent $692.1M for a population of 216,473 (2006). I don't have the updated population estimates, but let's assume it grew by 1% a year, bringing the 2009 population to 223,032. That means that in 2009, Windsor spent $3,103 per person. Of that, $1,137 went to social services per person.

That means the per person spending, unrelated to welfare was $1966 in 2009.

In 2009, Mississauga spent, including its share of Peel region, $1,514B for a population of 731,000. That works out to $2,071 per person, with the social services portion costing $696. This leaves the rest of the city budget at $1,375 per person for 2009.

Regardless of how Windsor is doing economically, why does it need to spend 42.9% more per person than Mississauga does to run its city?

Now let's compare tax rates between Mississauga and Windsor...

Residential

Windsor - 1.84%
Mississauga - 1.017%

Multi Res.

Windsor - 4.22%
Mississauga - 1.61%

Commercial

Windsor - 4.82%
Mississauga - 2.52%

Industrial

Windsor - 6.12%
Mississauga - 2.88%

Obviously, Windsor can't match Mississauga's tax rates in the near future, but it could start to take steps to become more efficient in its spending. By doing this, they would start getting a reputation as being a responsible city, like Mississauga enjoys. Over time, more people and businesses would move there and property values would rise, decreasing the need for high rates.

It's not automatic that cities have to just keep taxing and spending. Businesses don't operate this way and the ones that do, go bankrupt. Mississauga models itself like a business and in doing so, enjoys strong population growth and low taxes.

Windsor likely got used to being close to Detroit, felt less stress to run a tight budget and ended up unprepared for the eventual auto downturn. In other words, they got lazy and inefficient.

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By Jacob (registered) | Posted April 01, 2011 at 09:19:16 in reply to Comment 61712

it's hard to argue against this. I'm shocked actually that the difference unrelated to welfare is so great.

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By Clyde_Cope (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 17:54:37

This discussion is giving me flashbacks to the 50's & 60's coffee houses yep, been there - was part of it. The wonderous thing of those times was the recognition that there is a certain type that is verbose in their verbage - trying to win the argument at any cost, literally a verbal bully. It was also acknowledged that these people never but never put their words into action for the better good. It was all about the argument - not the positive results needed. Today I've seen a lot of words used as wedges, ya even hammers to get their point across. Let's have a lively debate without the need to beat everyone over the head with words - nuff' said.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 15:51:49 in reply to Comment 61700

Ontario shoppers would love a return to the fifties and sixties...

Historical Retail Sales Tax Rates for Ontario

Rate
September 1, 1961 - March 31, 1966 3%
April 1, 1966 - April 30, 1973 5%
May 1, 1973 - April 7, 1975 7%
April 8, 1975 - December 31, 1975 5%
January 1, 1976 - April 10, 1978 7%
April 11, 1978 - October 7, 1978 4%
October 8, 1978 - May 1, 1988 7%
May 2, 1988 - Present 8%

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By hammertime (registered) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 19:26:00

Well said Clyde

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2011 at 22:45:06

Clyde_Cope, Highwater, and Kevin -- Thank you for taking the time to engage here. And hopefully, you'll and many others here, do find the time to read Dietrich Dorner's book which I referenced earlier:

"An individual’s reality model can be right or wrong, complete or incomplete. As a rule it will be both incomplete and wrong, and one would do well to keep that probability in mind. But this is easier said than done. People are most inclined to insist that they are right when they are wrong and when they are beset by uncertainty. (It even happens that people prefer their incorrect hypotheses to correct ones and will fight tooth and nail rather than abandon an idea that is demonstrably false.) The ability to admit ignorance or mistaken assumptions is indeed a sign of wisdom, and most individuals in the thick of complex situations are not, or not yet, wise." ~ Dietrich Dorner, The Logic of Failure

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By Clyde_Cope (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 15:05:36 in reply to Comment 61708

Mahesh - if you had read Dorner's tome then you would realize the error of your ways - too many words, lack of focus and avoiding concise and precise language. You have a good brain - please focus it on where it will do the best for you, your family and the community in which you live.

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By Bonnie (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 16:25:03 in reply to Comment 61743

Clyde_Dude... "cope" with it as Kevin has, by accepting his shortcomings so concisely and precisely.

You my friend have been kicking dust in your own face all along and it is getting to be an embarrassment. Just let it go!

A quote by Marie Louise:
"I am convinced that [y]our "movement" will be more demoralized and weakened by blind and uncritical admiration than by frank admission of past mistakes."

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 00:12:07

I get it. You think I'm stupid.

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By Participant (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2011 at 19:47:17

I am so missing HamiltonFan right now: someone who could explain all this to me in terms simple enough for me to understand. Is it possible BY has loaned him to Gadaffi for the insurgency season?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted March 31, 2011 at 06:22:37

I'd pay $20 to read an unbiased (Hah!) 'retrospective' on all this going back a lot farther than the timeline presented here. It's absatively, posolutely the stuff of a documentary. Because while I'm grateful for Ryan's cogency in presenting the perspective of OCOF, outside the environs of RTH there's a need for a much broader perspective.

Hey; tomorrow's April Fool's Day; maybe an imp will provide a riff on what I'm suggesting.

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By mb (registered) | Posted April 02, 2011 at 22:50:09

As far as the Cats not putting much $ toward the new stadium:

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The city made a huge mistake in referring to the Cats as 'just tenants'.

At that point, BY probably thought "Fine, we're your tenants. Now build us a stadium".

Since when do tenants give money to their landlords to help them build a new facility?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted April 03, 2011 at 12:21:34 in reply to Comment 61823

Your right, we should have called them what they really are: a welfare case.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2011 at 15:10:45 in reply to Comment 61829

comment from banned user deleted

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2011 at 00:42:22

Sometimes less is more...

Less infrastructure ... tinyurl.com/3gqh9ed

More infrastructure ... tinyurl.com/3qnabpx

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6127548813950043200#

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2011 at 12:54:02

What area looks friendlier? The one which puts sidewalks as far away from the homes as possible (stay away from my house!), or the one who creates a buffer from traffic for pedestrians?

Stay away from my house... tinyurl.com/3e64y8u

Stay away from the road... tinyurl.com/3krtlyt

Hamilton also has a serious issue with trees, or lack thereof. Who in their right mind thinks NOT having lots of trees makes an area look better? This is a weird city.

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2011 at 15:30:15 in reply to Comment 61830

Mature trees are a real asset to any neighbourhood.
Trees add to the walkability of the street, clean air from pollutants, generate oxigen, provide home and food for birds and many other spicies. Shade in summer, wind protection, and beauty. They do create a view.
Those lucky who have large tree in their backyard can even have tree house for their kids.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2011 at 13:20:33

This... tinyurl.com/3f3sh6q ... area of Hamilton is very close to industry and yet because of the great tree canopy, it looks natural and relaxing.

In contrast, this area of the city ... tinyurl.com/3v8td77 ... which there are many in Hamilton, looks horrible. The driveways are in better shape, the lawns are manicured, but it looks artificial.

Does anyone have an idea as to why so many people in Hamilton like their neighbourhoods to look plastic?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted April 03, 2011 at 22:12:24

So what do you propose as the solution? Everyone hold hands and sing Kumbayah?

We had an incredible opportunity to fix an eyesore and rejuvenate an area that has lain stagnant for a long time. Essentially Bob Young's ego stopped that from happening. Whatever positive spin you put on this, this is what in fact happened.

Maybe Mahesh is right about the fact that prices would have been higher than if there were no stadium in play, but the fact was that we had millions more dollars coming in than we would have had if the city did it entirely on its own. It also would have provided a great reason to have LRT and a GO link right there. Will those transit issues happen now? Who knows.

So, given all that we feel that we lost to cater to Bob Bratina's ego, being the man who "saved" the 'Cats, and Bob Young's ego, who couldn't walk back the "We will never play there" line, how do you propose that we move ahead?

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By hammertime (registered) | Posted April 03, 2011 at 23:31:41

Move ahead with WH? I wouldn't suggest any such thing. Just Nuke the site already! Better yet, build a nuclear power plant there and it will eventually take care of itself.

Comment edited by hammertime on 2011-04-03 23:34:11

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By mb (registered) | Posted April 04, 2011 at 23:27:21 in reply to Comment 61844

Given the problems with nuclear reactors in Japan recently, that's probably not the most appropriate thing to say.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 12:56:11 in reply to Comment 61865

You know the trolls are getting desperate when they're taking shots at a country that just lost over 10, 000 people.

Pretty pathetic.

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By Enterprise (registered) | Posted April 14, 2011 at 07:49:31

I like your article, Ryan. Would like to see a book written about this series of events or this series of unfortunate events, depending on one's perspective.

This was my first time using social media to contact civic, provincial, federal gov to express my opinions. Also wrote to the spec. It was great to know that many many people were also writing to express concern over the hijacking of this process.

Was impressed by OCOF site. The positive approach was reassuring & I wanted to be part of a thought provoking process. What followed unfortunately was disheartening to say the least. Worst part was the clear bias on the part of the prov/fed bias towards the Ticat organization, followed by our fractured council.

As for the comments to date on this article...long sigh here....so much pontificating, gorilla chest bashing, and thankfully a good number enlightening comments. Brings all the pain & jaw dropping frustration back.

But that's a good thing. This is a learning process.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted April 15, 2011 at 16:59:45

I was just gonig to post that the April 20th GIC metting was designated for "velodrome loacation"

It no longer states that. intersting....

http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/C...

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