Revitalization

DiManno Pans Pan Am Games

By Ben Bull
Published February 25, 2009

The Toronto Star's Rosie DiManno weighs in on the Toronto Pan Am bid today. Arguing against the proposal - "The blueprint ... pays little heed to what is actually required for mounting a successful athletic pageant" - DiManno questions the practically of the multiple venues, and takes a predictable swipe at the Hammer:

[The games sites include] 16 municipalities studded around the Golden Horseshoe, which ain't so golden, and heavily skewed towards Hamilton, not exactly Canada at its tourism show-off best.

She goes on to question the longevity of some of the proposed developments:

For the privilege of hosting key events, Steeltown must pony up $60 million towards an estimated cost of $1.42 billion. For that contribution they'll get a 15,000-seat stadium, 50-metre pool and velodrome – arguably the most useless sports facility ever invented by man.

She also addresses the dubious economic benefits of the games:

In recent decades, the Pan Ams have been staged by Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Havana and Caracas, cities that wouldn't get a sniff from the Olympics. This may have done much for patriotic esprit but no economic boon resulted, nor did the legacy of sports venues turn any of those countries into an athletic powerhouse. In fact, it was scandalous that the Dominican, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, sank billions into the Pan Am folly.

Finally, DiManno suggests that, after failing to land the Olympics, Toronto is being deliberately unambitious:

Bidding for the Pan Ams – against Lima and Bogota – may indicate that Toronto, chastened by IOC rebuffs, is finally acknowledging it's a second-tier sports supplicant. Hell, Winnipeg hosted the games in 1999 so how much cachet can there be?

It seems to me, that in the end, the debate around the Pan Am games comes down to: How much will it cost? And how much will it recoup?

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By Ariel (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 12:40:18

See I was right all along (and Sam Merulla too)

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By Helvetica (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 14:02:19

Please leave. No one likes at know-it-all.

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By another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 16:21:29

Rosie DiManno

Who cares!!!!!

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 16:22:10

I can't beleive that I am actually agreeing with a T.O Star columnist!

Rosie Dimanno hits the nail right on the head.

The Pan Am Games are for losers and not worth the cost. Lets start fixing the roads in this city, ship the bums out of town, and begin expanding our industrial parks.

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By Crapitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 16:28:00

"I can't beleive [sic] that I am actually agreeing with a T.O Star columnist!"

Don't be surprised. DiManno is the Star's token right wing mouthpiece.

"Lets start fixing the roads in this city"

Already happening.

"ship the bums out of town"

Questio - how do we decide who "the bums" are, and where to we "ship" them?

"and begin expanding our industrial parks."

You mean the industrial parks that no industries want to buy but we keep rezoning to single family residential?

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 17:19:29

"expanding our industrial parks" HAHA...good one.

Maybe we should find the odd tenant first before we worry about expanding them. We've had plenty of room to expand them but have chosen to do crap like the Clappison box stuff, Hwy 2 box stuff, QEW/Centennial, QEW/Fifty Rd box stuff etc.....
In other words, nobody cares about our industrial parks except townhouse builders and Walmart. Oh, and don't forget PetSmart as one astute blogger pointed out the other day.

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By Helvetica (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 17:47:03


"Oh, and don't forget PetSmart as one astute blogger pointed out the other day."

Seriously - why do we need a big box pet store. I can usually find everything I need at my local Ryan's or PetValu...

Oh wait having a PetSmart in your city equals prestige. I forgot.

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By Ariel (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 18:17:32

Crap said, "Questio (sic) - how do we decide who "the bums" are, and where to (double sic) we "ship" them?

I don't agree that we should ship anyone out of town. Our town has room for everyone, even bums. It would be nice to go downtown on a nice day like today and see more than just bums however on King Street from James to Hughson on the north side. I have noticed that decent people walk on the other side and I was tempted today but resisted. It wasn't pretty though....people talking to themselves, one guy glaring at everyone and the scooters almost ran me over. Sad but true.

These are the 'unfortunate' Hamiltonians who need help and social programs. Who pays for these programs? It is those people in the suburbs who pay taxes and those industrial parks with the Pet Smarts and the Leon's and the Cineplexes that's who.

It is also the people who live in decent homes in Durand and Beasley and Corktown who choose to shop anywhere but downtown becasue of the scene I described above. So if you want to focus on anything focus on cleaning things up instead of pipe dreams like the Pan Am games.

And don't criticize those who want to do business in the Industrial parks you seem to have a problem with. By the way, I don't see any houses on these parks. Am I missing something?

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By arienc (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 22:01:50

"Industrial Park"

What an oxymoron. Just like those "Smart Centres" that are popping up all over the place. have you ever tried to go to one of these places on foot or by public transit. Not too smart!

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By Frank (registered) | Posted February 26, 2009 at 08:27:37

Ariel said "And don't criticize those who want to do business in the Industrial parks you seem to have a problem with. By the way, I don't see any houses on these parks. Am I missing something?"

What you've been reading is criticism for Industrial Parks on the basis of them being far underused. And yes, you're missing that "industrial parks" are have in some cases been rezoned for single family residential at the request of the city's developers.

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By Ariel (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2009 at 11:41:35

Frank said, "What you've been reading is criticism for Industrial Parks on the basis of them being far underused. And yes, you're missing that "industrial parks" are have in some cases been rezoned for single family residential at the request of the city's developers."

Well if the city is giving up industrial land they are foolish unless that land doesn't make sense in an industrial zone. On the other hand, and this brings us back to the road, I understand that at the airport the land was not attractive until the highway was built (#6) and in the east end, until the RHVP was built...so it all works together.

But the city should NEVER give up employment lands. Period.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 26, 2009 at 14:16:17

Ariel, please name one tenant that has moved out to the airport that wasn't already there since the new Hwy 6 opened. Also, please name one tenant that has opened a new plant along the top of Red Hill?? And no, PetSmart doesn't count. I'm talking industrial jobs, such as the thousands that were promised.

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By Ariel (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2009 at 19:29:52

Jason said, "Ariel, please name one tenant that has moved out to the airport that wasn't already there since the new Hwy 6 opened."

Just checked the airport website and according to them Jetport is the newest tenant.

Jason also said, "
Also, please name one tenant that has opened a new plant along the top of Red Hill?? And no, PetSmart doesn't count. I'm talking industrial jobs, such as the thousands that were promised."

First of all why shouldn't PetSmart count? Don't they employ people? I don't have a pet but all my neighbours do and they regularly buy things etc. And Jason go and see what's happened up there and you will see banks, cinemas, retail stores, furniture stores, construction offices, plumbing retailers and companies etc etc...and the place is still growing. Each of these locations Im sure pays taxes, employs people who pay income taxes and buy food, live in homes, and keep the economy moving. So what is wrong with this picture?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 26, 2009 at 23:53:11

It's not that Pet smart and other large retailers "don't count", it's that they are a net drain on the local economy. Yes, they employ people - mostly part time, low wage jobs with no benefits. Yes they pay property taxes. But they also consume large sums of money from local residents, most of which is funneled out of the local economy and absorbed by "head office".

To put it simply, they are low quality, low paying employers who will not think twice about shutting doors as soon as the local money stops flowing to the parent company. They are temporary. They are crappy. They are not what we should be striving for. And they definitely should not be held up as examples of a successful local economy.

Most of the people who shop at these places do not work there. So where are they working? Theirs are the jobs we should be aiming to bring into the local fold. Lrge retailers have their place, but that place is NOT the top of the heap, so we should stop treating them as the be-all end-all of our development goals.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 27, 2009 at 07:29:44

read old copies of the Spec and other media sources and you'll hear Larry DiIanni and other boldy proclaim that "this highway is NOT going to bring sprawl. It will be badly needed jobs in manufacturing/industrial plants." etc..... Jetport has been around for decades. And not a single plant has been built atop Red Hill. Sprawl is subsidized by current taxpayers. The whole point of building that road was to fill the lands above it with well-paying manufcaturing jobs. I remember chatting with LD once and he slammed his fist on his desk and said "there will NOT by homes and suburban sprawl on the lands on top of this roadway".

So far that's ALL (slamming my fist on my coffee table) there is.

comment updated at request of commenter

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 27, 2009 at 14:49:05

I don't see at the city's site or at The Spec, but McMaster is reporting that the bid was approved by council http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?i...

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By How'bout (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2009 at 14:55:51

I mostly agree with your assessment of retail-service jobs, Jason, though I would hasten to add that this in no way reflects on the quality of the people who take them. The thing about service jobs, though, is that they're not easily exportable, catalgues and internet sales notwithstanding. As we're increasingly learning, manufacturing jobs are easily exported when employers find they can make their products cheaper elsewhere.

You can make shoes almost anywhere in the world but if you want to sell me a pair and I insist on trying them on before I buy you pretty much have to have someone nearby to put them on display and collect the money, at least. So I wonder why, as the service economy kicks into gear, we are still reluctant to raise the minimum wage and block the efforts of employers to avoid paying benefits etc. through the use of contract and part-time hiring practices.

There's little benefit to the local economy if we try to protect low-paying manufacturing jobs. What is the point of competing with third-world economies for the honour of paying the lowest possible wages? That only reduces the buying power of the local population which is necessary to support even the local service economy. Retailers will stay in a community as long as they can sell their products at a profit.

It's true that decent wages and employment standards might cut into retailers profits, but I think you'll find that there is plenty of room in the markup on a pair of, say, NIKES and other fashion products.

There are some retailers with margins that cannot absorb higher wages. In these cases I suggest that higher prices will be a necessary sacrifice to make sure that more people can participate in the local economy. Don't forget that service-sector employees are also consumers and can be expected to contribute their higher wages to the local economy, creating more local wealth.

None of this should effect the employability of the highly skilled in the surviving manufacturing sector. They are already earning well above minimum wage and generally have unions to protect their working conditions. They can and will protect their jobs by continually upgrading their skills. But if we must have the service sector playing a bigger role in our local economy, and it appears that we will for the next several years at least, then we should make sure they the local economy benefits as much as possible from this change.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted February 27, 2009 at 15:31:19

I completely agree with the last post!

If the unions can safeguard good salaries for manufacturing jobs for so long without any significant impact on the product quality and profit margins of the employers, then the same can be done for retail jobs. No wonder the WalMarts of this world are so reluctant to allow the unions to take hold. They know that they have to locate close to the consumers, and they want to keep their margins high.

Ultimately the consumer has a choice in what businesses they support (although this of course can be hard when money is tight).

Improving working condictions across the board is the only way to stop the service sector/creative class sector gap from widening.

While we're on the 'new economy' thread here...something occurred to me recently listening to Obama's Presdential Oath speech. He mentioned something about helping out your neighbour by reducing your working hours. I think, in a time of economic difficulty, where jobs are scarce, that workers should have the option to reduce their hours and literally share their jobs. People can whine about a return to Rae days but I know when I was unemployed, after landing in Canada from the UK, I felt completely disconnected from the 'other' world of folks who worked and went to restaurants and paid their bills.

I'm sure there are many of us who work in middle and high income jobs who could scale back their work week a little. My current employer is promoting a shorter work week and unpaid time off. I'd like to see more job share initiatives taking place so we don't get a community of winners and losers.

Now where were we...Rosie DiManno? - Man, have we ever gone off topic...

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By Baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2009 at 17:42:04

I agree with the last post that this thread is going all over the place. I live down town and I am thrilled with the PanAm Games. I am also thrilled with the RHVP and am thankful that at least one brave politician made it happen. We can see that the new chief honcho can't get anything done and that is too bad.

I also wish that some, if not all of the commercial enterprises at the various outskirt malls would locate downtown. We need that assessment growth here too...good that it's somewhere, but why not here also.
I happen to have a profession and have to drive out of town every day to practice it; and I return to a needy downtown which I love. Let's hope the Pan Am games can help us.

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By Larry Di Ianni (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2009 at 19:47:36

I see that I have been referenced here by name so let me chime in. My friend Jason said, "read old copies of the Spec and other media sources and you'll hear Larry DiIanni and other boldy proclaim that "this highway is NOT going to bring sprawl. It will be badly needed jobs in manufacturing/industrial plants." etc....."

And he also made this point, " And not a single plant has been built atop Red Hill. Sprawl is subsidized by current taxpayers. The whole point of building that road was to fill the lands above it with well-paying manufcaturing jobs. I remember chatting with LD once and he slammed his fist on his desk and said "there will NOT by homes and suburban sprawl on the lands on top of this roadway".

A number of key concepts have been somewhat confused by Jason. I am not sure which Spec articles he refers to where I make my quotes about sprawl and the road. Here are the facts: the road did not lead to any urban boundary expansion. The expansion preceded the road building before I came on the scene. The urban boundary expansion in Glanbrook was approved by the Glanbrook Council and by the Region. I was on neither elected body. The road did obviously accommodate the planning decisions that were made earlier, but to suggest that the road was responsible for the planning decisions is disingenuous at best. In fact I was on record, if you check the old Spec archives that the urban expansion in Glanbrook was confrontational and ill-advised and I pledged not to get into a situation where staff and Council were on opposite sides of the debate as far as Hamilton's growth was concerned. I was also on record (and I recall one of the city's biggest opponents of development agreeing with me) that the old pre-amalgamation governance structure led to a fractured approach to planning. Each local Council was trying to grow their community without regard for the overall orderly growth of the Region. And Regional Council was powerless to stop it. If you are interested I write a blog essay on Sprawl, its myth and reality and expand on this point.

As for slamming my fist on tables. If Jason remembers this, fine. I am not the table-fist-slapping kind of guy. However, the only time I insisted that housing development would NOT happen was in reference to housing development on Industrially designated lands. I was adamant about that and would challenge anyone to find even one occasion where I didn't follow through on that pledge. In fact, I was chided by the same anti-development invidvidual I reference above that the North Glanbrook Industrial Park was going to for sure go from an Industrial designation to residential. I was visited by owners of lands there who wanted to do the same, even before I became Mayor and resisted this. And as Mayor I told staff not to entertain this notion. Hamilton needs industrial lands for employment. That is what the Airport lands debate was and is all about. Again I explore this topic on my blog. I regret that since I left, some Industrial lands have been designated residential. This was an error in my estimation and I would not have supported it.

As for the whole debate on development and commercial operations, I agree with some of the criticisms regarding the value of jobs. We all want the $100thousand jobs; but we also must recognize that Hamilton's labour market is diverse. We also need the lower and medium skilled jobs for some of our work force. For that reason, under my tenure we also approved the McMaster Innovation Park with its high end jobs; We also saw some good industial jobs go to Flamborough, and I tried to bring in the Maple Leaf plant in North Glanbrook to create employment. I believe that now that the North Glanbrook location is being serviced, you will see good opportunities there. But the commercial areas in upper Stoney Creek are paying their way also contributing to the job market and to the assessment base. None of this would have been possible in the east end mountain location without the road.

Just for the record becasue this piece started out as a comment on the PanAm games, I fully support Hamilton's bid and am thrilled at the location, having identified it in one of my essays more than a year ago. I pray that we get the games. The revitilization of the old Rheems property will do for the West Harbour what the McMaster Innovation Park is doing for the old Camco property. This is great. I do have a concern about the loss of the Future Fund and Hamilton's fiscal situation and Council needs to be mindful of that, as I am sure they will be.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 27, 2009 at 22:52:38

Hi Larry. thanks for chiming in on this. I appreciate you clarifying your personal stance on Red Hill lands. And no, didn't slam your 'fists' on the table. It was just one fist. LOL. I took it as your personal passion to see the Red Hill project succeed. I was unaware of behind the scenes pressure you were facing to convert some of those lands to residential. Hamilton has had a rotten time in the planning area over the years. We spend all this money on expensive highway projects such as the Linc, Red Hill and 403 extension only to line them with sprawl homes and box stores. The QEW from Halton to Toronto and 401 in the Golden Horseshoe is lined with industrial plants and offices. At least those cities are seeing an increase in their tax base with such ventures. We just keep increasing the debt burden with more roads and more sprawl.

By the way, best of luck with The Hamilton Grand. It's certainly one of the best looking projects to come to these parts in a long time. I hope to see it built. Cheers

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By Moseby (registered) | Posted February 28, 2009 at 00:04:12

I'm not a fan of Rosie DiManno or her writing style, but I wonder if she doesn't have a point here. I'm not completely convinced that the PanAm games are a good idea for Hamilton either. To me, they seem like they'll be a giant waste of money. I hate to see this city spending tons of money on something when there isn't any guarantee of a big payoff at the end. There are countless examples of cities going into serious debt from hosting things like this. I just think that this PanAm bid is another example of Hamilton moving in the wrong direction. Instead of focusing on projects that have proven to provide a payoff, we're going to sink millions into a sporting event that might make money for a few rich investors whilst the rest of the public foots the bill.

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By Ariel (anonymous) | Posted February 28, 2009 at 09:27:15

Here here Moseby.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 01, 2009 at 13:34:29

Mr Di Ianni: Yes of course, not everyone is destined for higher education and we need jobs for those workers but does it make sense when those jobs do not provide for a living wage, that may not provide for benefits or retirement? Considering the article in the spec the other day about those who cannot afford to pay their hydro bills and have to live without hydro, even though it is a necessity. How many of them are the working poor, how do you expect people to cope when they are not earning enough money to support themselves? What about the children? What does that say about our society when those at the top give themselves more money then is necessary, to see others struggle.

I am curious though on your thoughts on the impending legislation under Bill 139, which will be small step in helping those trapped in the temp industry. Do you support this bill?

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By Larry Di Ianni (anonymous) | Posted March 01, 2009 at 20:02:02

Grassroots asked me about the necessity of living wages and Bill 139. Let me make these few observations:

As Mayor I supported the 'fair wage' provision in the city's bylaws and had staff update the provision because it had been neglected for years, I was told. The labour movement made that request of me through the Building Trades. I also supported the Steel Workers when they were going through their CCAA ordeal and worried about pensioners losing their pensions. We organized a rally in support of these workers in front of City Hall and I pressed the case privately. My Council also accommodated Slater Steel which had been shut down. It reopened under new ownership who came looking for some property tax concessions. We made these concessions subject to the Union's satisfaction and the guarantee of jobs and 'legacy' obligations, or pensions. We also supported the 'living wage' resolution when it came in front of us.

All to say, that I wanted Hamiltonians to have a fair chance at leading productive lives with the basics being looked after and enhanced. I was asked to support property tax reforms for apartment renters. I did that. I was asked to give back the money the province clawed back from compensation for the marginalized. I and Council did that. There are other examples as well, not the least of which was the $20M or thereabouts we got from the Province to fund social services programs. We also launched the "Poverty Roundtable". etc.

In terms of Bill 139, I am not an expert but know that it is legislation aimed at assisting Temporary Workers gain a foothold in a more permanent job market with fairer rules for them while they are in the temp pool. It is a start only as you say, but an important one and a marked change in approach from the Harris government who introduced legislation to decertify unions. They spent their time fighting unions, McGuinty is spending time in supporing low wage employees. I support it.

The answer for Hamilton is to make us into a sustainable work community. We need to encourage business, not greed of course, but legitimate business that will make money, employ people and pay fair wages. Right now we are in danger of becoming a bedroom community to the GTA where too many of our residents work. The imbalance between Industrial/Commercial vs. Residential tax obligations is in the 70% to 30% range with the 70 being residential. This means that most of the tax money to run Hamilton's programs comes from homeowners rather than businesses. this trend needs to be reversed. Only by being business friendly and accommodating employment lands development and fixing up our brownfileds can this be done.

Apologies for length.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 01, 2009 at 22:08:12

Mr Di Ianni: Thank you for the input.

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By Gloom'nDoom` (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 18:59:50

Wow I can't believe that grassroots has come out of her stupor long enough to prognosticate accurately.
I agree with Rosie...the Toronto Pan Am Games are a waste and Hamilton is a sucker.
DiAnni would not have allowed this to happen.

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