Sports

Transcript of CHCH Interview

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 24, 2010

Yesterday, Herman Turkstra and I were interviewed on CHCH Live @ 5:30 program with Donna Skelly and Mark Hebscher regarding the Pan Am stadium and the call from the Premier's office to Mayor Fred Eisenberger. Here is a transcript of the interview.

Mark Hebscher: It seems the controversy surrounding the Pan Am stadium just won't go away. This weekend, residents learned that Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger had spoken with the Premier's office prior to the vote but didn't share details of that conversation with Council. And now at least three Hamilton Councillors want an emergency meeting to discuss the Mayor's handling of the call.

Donna Skelly: The councillors believe the Mayor withheld information that the Province had offered to help the City with building incentives if they didn't build the stadium at the West Harbour site. Councillor Dave Mitchell is asking Hamilton's Integrity Commissioner to look into the Mayor's conduct. Fred Eisenberger denies any Provincial offers were made. He says in a statement, "Any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate, false and misleading."

Mark: So where do we go from here? Well, joining us live in the studio we have Hamilton lawyer Herman Turkstra. On the telephone is Ryan McGreal, he's the editor of the blog Raise the Hammer. Herman, as it stands right now, Council continues to support a stadium at the West Harbour site. You're opposed to this; I want to know why.

Herman Turkstra: There were a group of us invited by the city in 2003 to look at that question. We spent three years examining it with the assistance of staff and consultants, and concluded that the appropriate use of that land was for housing to bring people to the core of the city, that a stadium was inappropriate for traffic, noise and adverse impacts. And that decision was sent on by us to the City Council. It was voted on by Council on three occasions. It is now a part of Hamilton's Official Plan that's sitting in front of the minister. Mayor Eisenberger voted for housing in Barton-Tiffany last June, along with all the other members of COuncil. It was a wise and prudent decision, because what the downtown needs is people living here, not projects that will have a very serious adverse impact on the neighbours.

Donna: Herman, where do you think, in light of the recent developments - where do you think the stadium, if we actually get one, should be located?

Herman: Everything that I've looked at says that Confederation Park is the number one site for a whole bunch of reasons. There are additional sites on brownfields that are not next to neighbours that are available. Clearly, there's even a possibility, I understand, of one on Longwood Road that meets the specifications. But the last thing you do - and I'm convinced that not a single Councillor who voted for the stadium in the West Harbour would put it in their own ward - the last thing you do is put a stadium next to thousands of people who are going to be living next to ten open-air rock concerts every year.

Donna: Ryan, what do you think?

Ryan McGreal: Well, none of the locations I've looked at or have been reported to me are ideal. But in terms of what's feasible and what's realistic, and what's going to take what is right now an abandoned industrial brownfield and turn it into a use that can allow for compatible private investment around it, I think the West Harbour, realistically, is at this point our best shot at making this thing successful. I understand Herman's objections, I agree with and share a lot of what he's saying, you know, it can be very, very frustrating to have a citizen based committee go through a process and then have it get overturned afterwards. But at the same time, when the Pan Am games came along and federal and provincial money came onto the table, the terms under which that decision has to get made changed and I think we have to be realistic about what's feasible and what's not.

Mark: But Ryan, you must admit, too, and you mentioned this yourself, this isn't just Herman Turkstra and a few other people saying that the West Harbour isn't the right site, that all the work that was undertaken, all the studies that were done, and even the facilitator's recommendation - never mind the Canadian Football League, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, forget all that - it seems that everybody in the know or who had done their due dilligence said that the West Harbour was not the right site. Not that any other one was the right site, but it should be anything but the West Harbour, and yet you continue to believe that this is, going against all conventional wisdom, the place to put the stadium.

Ryan: I don't agree that the facilitator said the West Harbour isn't the right place. I read the report, and what he said was the City had conducted studies and looked at traffic, and looked at parking, and looked at all these things, and that the Ticats rejected those studies. The facilitator, as I understand his role, was to try to find some kind of a location that both parties could agree on. He, you know, came to the conclusion that Council could be persuaded to accept the East Mountain. I don't get a sense at all from reading his report that he rejected the West Harbour as a viable location. He was trying to channel what the Ticats were saying, which at the very last minute, by the way, that they couldn't live with this, even though a few months previous, Bob Young had said, Wherever you put it, we'll make it work.

Donna: I want you both to comment on the recent develops over the weekend, and do either of you believe that the Mayor should have revealed the contents of the alleged conversation, I guess the conversation with the Province prior to the vote on the stadium site. Herman, I'll start with you.

Herman: There was a significant amount of conversation going on in the week that that occurred, that the Province was willing to do something to help the Mayor out of his box, because he put himself into a box in the West Harbour that he couldn't leave. And I think that if the Province so much as breathed to him that there was an opportunity to discuss funding for something in the West Harbour that would meet the goals that most people seem to have for the West Harbour site, that is redevelopment that adds to the core of the city - you don't get a telephone call like that and keep it to yourself. I'm sorry, I just think that's wrong.

Donna: Ryan?

Mark: Ryan, what do you think?

Ryan: Yeah, you know what, I absolutely would have liked if the Mayor had come out and announced that the Province had called, for the simple reason that I'm outraged that the Province was trying to get involved and manipulate a local decision. I mean, the way it looks to me is that the Premier's office called the Mayor and said, If we give you some money or some incentives, can we convince you to vote a different way on this decision? I mean, if the Province had a preferred location, if they wanted to go here or to go there, I wish they would have come out publicly and stated that. But instead, they set up a process saying that it's Hamilton's decision in the public, but then in the back channels, they're trying to influence that decision. I see that as being a really, really serious issue, and quite frankly, that's the big story as far as I'm concerned.

Herman: Can I just disagree with that?

Donna: Sure.

Herman: The Province has to deliver the Games on time, and it was very clear that up to that point, the Province was starting to learn that there were serious impediments to delivering a West Harbour site on time. There was a question as to whether or not it needed an Environmental Assessment, there was a question as to whether or not the Official Plan had to be changed, you had to deal with the fact that the City had gone through an Environmental Assessment that rejected the stadium at that site, and I think that the Province would have been derelict if it hadn't picked up the phone and said, Mr. Mayor, what can we do to help this? And if the answer is that you need some money to redevelop the West Harbour, maybe we can help you with that if it all ends up with a stadium that is still delivered on time. The other point that has to be remembered is that the Province was responding to the position that the Federal Government was taking, that the West Harbour site was not going to be delivered on time.

Ryan: I - [I wanted to address the point about the Federal involvement and the time line around the call from the Premier's office]

Donna: I want to move forward a little bit and find out what we should be doing now. I mean, we're hearing that the Ticats are going to leave, we still don't know what's going to happen, the fallout from this phone conversation with the Premier's office, Where do we go now? Ryan?

Ryan: I think we have to look at a very long, very public process that has gone through based on based on input from community and business stakeholders across the city, based on a huge, huge level of community engagement that I've never seen before in several years of being involved in these things. I mean the city has decisively chosen the West Harbour despite, you know, there are certain issue, like any location will have certain issues that have to be overcome. At this point, now, for us to turn around and start backtracking again, I mean, if we want to lose the stadium, the way to do it is to reopen the issue. We've already gone through a long, exhausting process. The Ticats and their supporters have followed a throw-anything-and-see-what-sticks kind of strategy to undermine this, and frankly at this point we have to stop allowing our public process to be hijacked by one narrow interest.

Mark: Okay. Herman, closing arguments, 20 seconds.

Herman: If Hamilton wants a reputation as a place to come to do business, you sure don't behave the way Ryan just described. What you do is you welcome people like Bob Young into town, you listen to the experts that they bring into town, you pay really close attention to what the marketplace is telling you. And what the marketplace is telling us in spades is that the West Harbour does not work.

Mark: Okay. Herman Turkstra, Ryan McGreal, thank you both for joining us. We appreciate your participation, and I'm sure the great stadium isn't over by a long shot. Thanks for your time.

Donna: Thank you both.

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.

45 Comments

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 10:35:12

Well said Ryan. No matter how we go back and forth over the issue, there's no excuse for the way the Ticats started making ulimatums within days of the original deadline, when the location was on the table for the better part of a decade.

Business stakeholders do need to be engaged in this kind of decision, of course. But they have responsibilities if they want to be at the table. Bob Young, as much as I like his work in the world of publishing and software, did not live up to those responsibilities.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-08-24 09:36:42

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 10:47:33

The thing is, the Ticats were involved, right from the beginning. The city partnered with the team from the start in considering a stadium site. As recently as early this year, Bob Young was still publicly saying, "We will make it work, whatever the site." The Ticats didn't announce that the West Harbour is unworkable until after what was supposed to be Council's final vote to ratify it, when the threat of withdrawal from the process would give them maximum leverage. Since then the whole affair has turned into, well, a political football.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-08-24 09:48:24

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 11:24:45

What you do is you welcome people like Bob Young into town, you listen to the experts that they bring into town, you pay really close attention to what the marketplace is telling you.

Translation: businesspeople know what's best for you. Don't worry yourself with facts or democracy.

It isn't as if Herman Turkstra is a major partner at a very prominent local real estate law firm or anything like that.

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By birdie (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 11:35:35

I'd love to listen to the experts they bring into town but they still won't show us thier reports.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 11:42:38

What you do is you welcome people like Bob Young into town, you listen to the experts that they bring into town

What about the experts that we brought into town?

What about the experts that didn't even come to town, who spoke up on their own?

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 11:45:53

Ryan,

I enjoyed the exchanges with Mr. Turkstra, a formidable opponent whose reputation as city activist par excellence (I believe) was clinched in his Red Hill Expressway and OMB battles. I sat in on some of those hearings back in the 80s. And I think you've articulated your pro-West Harbour Stadium position very well, based as they always are on research and clear thinking.

But I think you're fundamentally wrong on this issue. You're a spokesperson for a New Urbanism philosophy with clear ties to a Leftist "people over profits" agenda, which is nothing new in this town: a throw-back to the old NDP-dominated politics that made development of any kind seem synonymous with greed & exploitation, and the results have been disastrous. Given the way even City Staff have slanted language in favour of downtown development (in document after document), I fear the specter of NDP politics is on the rise again.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 11:59:58

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By trevorlikesbikes (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:08:42

I fear that Herman is spewing bs propaganda as the truth in typical NIMBY fashion. Yes Herman, it may be a little busier and louder in your neighourhood in the not so distant future...it's called progress.

And since the TigerCats are a socially subsidized entity they too may be NDP, they balance thier books as well as the NDP.

Comment edited by trevorlikesbikes on 2010-08-24 11:11:07

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:10:04

his political bias as you say is preventing him from seeing the stadium issue from a business point of view in terms of how the TigerCats business sees the WH site.

I understand exactly how the Ticats see the stadium from a business point of view: they want to capture 100% of the revenues that come from an event - all the parking receipts, all the concessions, all the food and drink and swag and entertainment.

The West Harbour would bring spinoff benefits to the entire stadium area and neighbouring businesses, which is good for the city since it increases property values and tax assessments, thus justifying the public expenditure.

The East Mountain would bring no spinoff benefits to the surroundings, because the Ticats would keep it all. Hence, the public expenditure on the stadium, parking lot, new highway interchange, road widening, storm water runoff, etc. would amount to a massive public subsidy to support one private corporation with no improvement in property values or tax assessments.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:14:20

You're a spokesperson for a New Urbanism philosophy with clear ties to a Leftist "people over profits" agenda, which is nothing new in this town:

Couldn't be further from the truth. Look at Ryan's articles and see how many of them are focused on creating an environment in which business can prosper in Hamilton.

That being said, we are talking about a stadium to be funded almost 100% by public funds. Hundred-million-dollar stadiums are not profitable in any location - they are a public amenity. If stadiums were expected to turn a profit, which by definition would have to flow to the investors, being the 3 levels of government that pay for the stadium, no stadium would ever be built.

The 'profit' in this sense, is the benefit to the community in terms of increased tax assessment, tax revenue from new business spun off from the stadium, and secondary benefits of outside investment in the community due to its improved image. On those counts, a stadium investment could hardly hope to break even.

We build stadiums as a public good - as you say, for people and not for profit. This is true of any stadium. Thus it needs to go where it benefits the public, and the future of the city, the most.

Comment edited by jonathan dalton on 2010-08-24 11:18:23

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:16:43

@cd +1 because your comment wasn't rude or passive aggressive but I disagree. The Ticats want corporate welfare, WH supporters want benefits to the whole community.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:42:25

Indeed Ryan does see exactly how the Ti-Cats view the stadium from a business point of view.

For those who spin this as a business versus anti-business battle, it's time to turn the mirror and have a hard look at yourself. This kind of corporate welfare and unbridled and irresponsible greed is reprehensible. Surely we can all agree that asking for 100% of everything is quite an opening stance when negotiating a deal.

If threatening, pouting, bullying, attacking, spinning, lack of openness, twisting facts to suit, going back on your word, and trust me I could go on, are what we call good business practices, then I want none of it. I spent nearly 30 years in the boardrooms of businesses across Canada, and just like any other playground, business has people who play fair, and a minority who choose to bully.

Thankfully, often the bullies end up creating their own problems.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:43:50

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Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-08-24 11:44:08

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:55:13

HamiltonFan,

What's your point? Why can't we position our arguments now?

So a business person chooses not to accept the largesse of his community. Enough of the weeping and moaning about the possible loss of a sports team. Yes, they're part of our heritage, but they alone are not our heritage.

If your point is Bob Young and the Ti-Cats were driven out of town because enough citizens reacted to their tactics, then I for one will not lose a single minute of sleep. Unlike Tom Jackson, you can put an asterisk beside my name because I'm comfortable with the idea that I, and many thousands of other citizens, stood up for the future of the city.

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 12:57:47

HamiltonFan you got suckered. You're the type of person BY was hoping to get when he threatened to remove the TigerCats. Unfortunately for BY there's no location anywhere else that he can get what essentially amounts to a brand new FREE stadium to play in so either he packs up and loses oodles of more money or he swallows his pride and plays at WH. Either way he's gotta man up because his tactics of late have been childish at best.

(perhaps aptly said I guess...I was speaking with someone the other day who asked if BY was "the little guy who hasn't grown out of his baseball cap yet" lol

Comment edited by frank on 2010-08-24 11:59:45

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 13:14:04

"The East Mountain would bring no spinoff benefits to the surroundings, because the Ticats would keep it all. Hence, the public expenditure on the stadium, parking lot, new highway interchange, road widening, storm water runoff, etc. would amount to a massive public subsidy to support one private corporation with no improvement in property values or tax assessments"

No spinoff benefits? Did not Bob Young say he'd invest in West Harbour revitalization if the stadium were located on another site? Weren't numbers (as per Brad Clark)in the East Hamilton proposal suspiciously duplicated to make it look like a financial drain? Aren't infrastructure changes as likely to be a burden to taxpayers wherever the stadium is built?

East Hamilton is part of the same socio-economic unit as downtown Hamilton.If you turn away from the typical 'wheat fields' perspective that's given by WH advocates & look at what's already there,(industry,roads, parking spaces,future residential development etc etc) you'll see how weak the pro WH position is. But then East Hamilton is only one other option, originally one among ten or so proposed. I'm not advocating for anyone place so much as commenting on how Leftist the pro WH movement is, clearly tied to an anti-corporate, anti-urban sprawl agenda. My fear is that this debate is being politics-driven. I see our region (and not just city) as a social community that's evenly distributed in its functions & financial resources, with no one part entitled to development in the name of a socialist viewpoint.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 13:46:27

It's important to see the difference between tailoring public institutions to serve a few businessmen (corruption) and creating a civic environment where all businesses can thrive. Whether you're an ardent, old-school Marxest or a devout follower of the Cato Institute, no serious economic theory believes that dumping public funds into private hands this way benefits the economy as a whole.

Hamilton has a long history of going "above and beyond" to help certain businesspeople build whatever they want - suburbs, big-box-malls, or highways. Take a walk down King St, Concession or Barton to see how that's benefited Hamilton.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 13:50:40

Socialist! I'd better get off this forum or change the way I vote. I didn't know you had to be a card carrying NDP to comment here. WH opponents are digging deep.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 14:04:49

I hadn't seen WH as a socialist stadium site, although can see where WH might be a fertile ground for that sort of perception, given that the site connects with so many other urban agendas, whereas EM seems like a state-financed power centre at best. But many commenters have simply been able to employ the Cats' own yardstick – that of "sound business sense" – on a build that, in terms of private sector buy-in, is just as insubstantial as WH. You can throw darts at the map all the live-long day and I doubt that the private sector would ever discover a site that they felt could fly without two-thirds of cost being covered by the public. And yet apparently still not share the organization's own business plan or operating costs with their project partners.

Then there's the tragic miscalculation of opening up site discussion at the tail-end of the selection process. If it took two years of lead time to make a flawed business plan, why would anyone expect any better from a compressed window of two months or two weeks? WH has been the city's favoured site for the stadium that would replace IWS since the first Commonwealth Games bid, circa 2002. This has been public knowledge for as long as BY has owned the team, as has the decrepit state of IWS. And yet through three mayoral administrations and over several years of decay and dismay, neither the Cats not the City has done much of anything to seriously address this problem. Law of inertia.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 16:06:15

I love Bob Young. I know that bugs some of you guys but too bad, your problem not mine. I'll continue to get 2 seasons tickets per year as long as Bob owns the TigerCats because as I say, I'm a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge fan of Bob. And of course I love our TigerCats to death, an iconic sports team that not enough people in Hamilton care about, wherever they live in these parts.

Bye for now. Carry on...

;)

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-08-24 15:07:27

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 16:29:52

@HamiltonFan, really? we coulden't tell! ;)

I like Bob as well, but not particularly for this situation. I don't blame him, "but he ain't a helping". At the end of the day owning a CFL team is a money losing venture no matter how you look at it. They just don't make money. Bob's only hope is to leverage other types of investments to spin off of that (hence the parking and proposed other items he wanted to build).

To me that proves Bob realizes that you can directly tie some revenue to the activities around (but not at the stadium). I have no problem with him doing so, just not government cash. If he wants to get into the Big Box retail type stuff, by all means, go ahead. But what he is asking the city to do is to place the stadium in such a location that he can maximize all that. He can take some of his cash and put a power center whereever he wants, no need for us.

The weird thing I don't get about all this WH-EM crap is that this mediator came in, and pretty much represented POLAR opposites of each other. WH is all City (according to BY) and EM is totally TiCats (according to the city). I look at it this way, if two people are getting divorced, and one wants "everything" , a mediator looks for some kind of common ground. Essentially what he guy did was say "Oh yeah? you think your getting 9 million, nuts to that, how about the OTHER person gets 9 million, how you like dem apples. Those are your two choices. Go fight."

Sure, give them EM, WH, and something in the MIDDLE and see how it plays out. For example, something downtown but NOT WH.

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By urban man (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 16:50:04

"because what the downtown needs is people living here, not projects that will have a very serious adverse impact on the neighbours."

Successful downtown's concentrate all entertainment venues, whether it be movies, theatre, art, and yes, football games.

Why is it that condos shot up around the Rogers/AC Centre after they were built and not before. People want to live NEAR the action, not away from it.

Yes, people need to live downtown, but most GO to downtown's. The 10,000 or so that pounce onto Hess Village on a weekend night, don't live there, they GO there. And the real estate around that hub is not cheap. No one visits Toronto to watch everyone go to bed at night.

An old, crotchety businessman is best to live on the mountain or Burlington if he wants to get his sleep. Sorry.

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 17:00:47

"I hadn't seen WH as a socialist stadium site, although can see where WH might be a fertile ground for that sort of perception, given that the site connects with so many other urban agendas, whereas EM seems like a state-financed power centre at best."

Interesting distinction, Fred. WH is connected to a New Urbanism communitarian model that talks about people-tenants, while the EM site is clearly tied to corporate (and "state-financed" interests). Mayor Eisenberger's reluctance to talk about his August 6 discussions with the provincial government certainly introduces the idea of a sleazy State and city connection that maybe, to his credit, he's tried to nix. I don't know. To discuss the WH stadium issue along ideological lines (at least for purposes of debate)is interesting except that it's not all that helpful to us here.

I'm prepared to look at any site, putting aside the rhetoric & looking at the facts tout court. A good case could be made for just about any proposed site. I'm not siding against anyone's political leanings; I just wish the WH supporters would admit to holding them whenever they raise their "people over profits" banner.

By the way, this system of vetting comments by "comment score" reminds me of the Athenian democratic system of drawing lots that Plato rightly condemned (in "The Republic")as democracy at its worst. It's disconcerting to me to see people's comments eliminated or faded: very Orwellian. A subtle and gradual way to prevent the self-organization & mobilization of any dissenting viewpoint.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 17:03:19

If the city wants to help lift poor parts of the city, why doesn't it introduce a progressive property tax system on homes, rather than building a stadium that will benefit only those with enough disposable income to enjoy concerts and CFL games...

Scenario 1

City establishes a basic exemption on the first 50k worth of home. For people who live in areas of the city where homes average 120k, this would reduce their "taxable" home value to 70k. This home is currently charged $120k * 1.538% = $1845.60. In the progressive tax system, the tax bill would work out to $70k * 1.538% = $1,076.60, a savings of $769 and an effective property tax rate of 0.897%.

Scenario 2

A person decides to buy a higher value home, which already enjoys high market demand and is in less need of help from the government. A $450k home - $50k exemption = $400k taxable value. That $400k * 1.538% = $6,152.0 The effective tax rate on this home would be $6,152.0/$400k = 1.367%.

If the city needed to raise the top rate to make up for lost revenue it could, but the relative changes in effective tax rates would remain.

The effect of this system would be to reduce the disparity in market demand that Hamilton currently suffers from. If an area of the city fell in value, it would get a tax break, which in turn would make it more valuable again. Conversely, if an area started improving faster than other areas, it would lose some of it's tax break, making it less valuable. The taxes paid to the city would still be what is required, but it would be paid in a more balanced way, since homes would be closer in value than they are today.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2010 at 19:05:08

It's disconcerting to me to see people's comments eliminated or faded: very Orwellian.

No comments are ever eliminated. For anonymous site visitors, comments with scores of -5 or lower are hidden by default but can be revealed with a single click (and not even a page refresh). Registered users who are logged in can set in their preferences whether comments are ever hidden by default, what the threshold score is, and whether negative comments are displayed in faded colour.

There is nothing whatsoever "Orwellian" about an online community taking reasonable and non-censorious actions to encourage respectful discussion and discourage insults and trolling.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 19:30:01

"I love Bob Young. I know that bugs some of you guys" What bugs us isn't that you love him but that you're so shameless in making excuses for him.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 19:54:39

And what the marketplace is telling us in spades is that the West Harbour does not work.

As a businessperson I find this usage of "marketplace" strange. To me and I believe, Adam Smith, the marketplace is the general public which purchases your goods and services. Bob Young, PJ Mercanti, and the tiny group of other businesspeople with a vested interest in Young's success do not constitute the "marketplace".

A subtle and gradual way to prevent the self-organization & mobilization of any dissenting viewpoint.

There is nothing whatsoever "Orwellian" about an online community taking reasonable and non-censorious actions to encourage respectful discussion and discourage insults and trolling.

Actually, I think cd makes a good point. I think we need to remember that the down vote button is not for expressing disagreement with ideas, it's to discourage unproductive and disrespectful behavior. cd has been respectful and I believe honestly engaged in the discussion.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 20:06:47

"cd has been respectful and I believe honestly engaged in the discussion." Is it "respectful" to dismiss WH supporters as "Leftists" and "socialists"?

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 20:38:10

"Is it "respectful" to dismiss WH supporters as "Leftists" and "socialists"?"

How am I disrespecting any viewpoint by calling it Leftist? I also used the terms New Urbanism and 'communitarian'. I might even throw in 'populist' as well & refer to the pro WH movement as a grassroots sort of activism aimed at undermining what it sees as the oligarchy of big business and municipal policy. These are all very respectable philosophies with which I'm not all that unsympathetic myself. I apologize if my tone's been seen as dismissive in any way.

Fred's used the expression "socialist stadium" as a nice way to introduce vital political divisions into the debate. A contemporary political theorist uses the term "conflictual tension" to characterize a true (healthy)democratic government: people ought to be passionately divided along ideological lines in order to ensure that any dissenting voice, whether from the Left or Right, not be seen by an overriding consensus as unfit to be heard.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 21:52:56

"How am I disrespecting any viewpoint by calling it Leftist?"

Since when is it "Leftist" to oppose giving $100 million of tax money to a private business owner and expecting nothing in return. Since when is it "Leftist" to not support urban sprawl. I'm tired of my tax money subsidizing an expensive way of life for other people, I want them to pay their own way if they insist on living in the middle of nowhere. Is it "Leftist" to want less public subsidies to peoples life styles? That makes no sense.

Your tone has dripped with condescension and the way I see it you're the one putting ideologies over everything, not the WH supporters. Most people support the WH because they can see it just makes more sense, not because of "communitarian" values or whatever. I'm not a "New Urbanist" I'm just an urbanist. I live in a city and I want it to not suck. If that's an ideology call me an ideologue.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 22:15:34

I have to disagree with anyone who thinks Bob Young's a socialist. Under socialism, taxpayers would OWN his business. He just wants them to pay for it.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 23:35:25

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.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted August 24, 2010 at 23:42:05

Tell us HamiltonFan, what, exactly, are the "obvious reasons"?

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 08:57:15

I'm kinda with nobrainer on this cd. I didn't vote on your comments because, while I don't agree with them, they seem to be well thought out. I am also not a "leftist" a communitarian (whatever that is) a socialist or any other label. I simply looked at both sites and realized that one made sense and would be a good use of my money at the same time bringing a quality of life to the area that has been long awaited and the other simply gave some millionaire a lot of my cash to build "the Bob Young Centre" from which Joe Public would gain nothing. I also noticed that while those who studied the WH location had actual information and studies, EM proposals had references to nonexistent studies or opinions of other business people who stood to benefit from the Bob Young Centre. Stereotypes are never helpful!

HamiltonFan the fact that you shamelessly prostitute yourself for someone like BY contradicts your moniker, it might be time to edit that...

I agree with whoever posted previously that Michael Fenn did a lousy job facilitating. How much did he get paid to simply present a site that Bob Young wanted? That's hardly a compromise in any way shape or form! Can we get a refund?

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 09:40:14

real, I'll let you figure that out on your own, you seem fairly intelligent and a good guy to boot and I don't want to belittle you in any way.

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By birdie (registered) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 09:44:18

Obvious reason, sports owners are good at bullying cities into buying stadiums for them.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 09:50:34

Or could it be that some cities actually see some social and economic benefit to having a professional or semi professional or amateur team in their city. hmmm...

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 11:35:45

"Stereotypes are never helpful!"

Frank, isn't your characterization of Bob Young and a poorly researched EM site (both of which claims are open to dispute) a bit of a stereotype drawn along some pretty obvious ideological leanings of your own?

And then there's this description of the WH and EM sides in the Pan Am Stadium dispute by Ryan in his August 23rd, 2010 article "Amid Denials, Questions Remain Over Political Interference":

"...on the one side, a broad coalition of diverse community and economic stakeholders who have evaluated the issue on its merits and come to what I regard as a sound conclusion based on clear evidence.

On the other side, you have a narrow coterie of interests who have engaged from the start in a sneaky, secretive and disingenuous campaign to distort, subvert, and co-opt the process (with its attendant tens of millions in public funding); and when they couldn't succeed at that, are now apparently trying to sabotage it entirely."

Isn't that not just a stereotype but an egregiously biased interpretation of positions? Why wouldn't I cite "a broad coalition of diverse community and economic stakeholders" language as part of a citizen-based New Urban point of view (that's at least twenty years old now) and who'd deny that the characterization of the EM position as "sneaky, secretive and disingenuous" is a hostilely anti- big government, or -capital, or -urban sprawl one? It's not helpful to deny that political labels exist and that almost all significant discussions stem from them.

Again, I say that the WH dispute is being divided into political camps (whether people acknowledge it or not), with Ryan's "Raise The Hammer" blog as a sort of community activist flagship for a pretty identifiable point of view. And, of course, there's nothing wrong with that. "Conflictual tension" of the kind that a real or cyber forum generates is good. I get the importance of talking about the material life of a downtown community that shuns the Bob Young logic of capital; and I'm also very sympathetic (as I've said) with a need to designate places like a vibrant downtown core for rallying around collective (or communitarian) interests. I'm personally involved in the downtown Hamilton Artword Artbar community of poets, musicians, & artists.

I'd just like people to be more honest about their politics.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 11:59:22

cd: “Fred's used the expression "socialist stadium" as a nice way to introduce vital political divisions into the debate.”

NB: I actually said “I hadn't seen WH as a socialist stadium site,” in reaction to its being painted as a leftist sports venue in an earlier post. Admittedly, I wasn’t crystal clear.

My intent was not to set up a dichotomy or stir any ideological pot but rather to suggest that regardless of its shortcomings, the WH proposition seems to hold value for many different groups for a lot of different reasons, whereas regardless of its of its shortcomings, the EM proposition seems to hold value principally for two groups of people: the company and its customers.

I think most people accept the notion of constructing a stadium using 2/3 public funds. Constructing a massively publicly subsidized profit generator for a self-confessed chronically insolvent private sports entertainment business may be another thing entirely. Especially when virtually all benefits accrue to that project partner. At least the feds and the province stand a chance of making some of their stake back via HST.




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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2010 at 12:06:41

My description was neither a "stereotype" nor "egregiously biased".

a broad coalition

Thousands of citizens from every ward in the city signed up for Our City, Our Future and wrote statements defending and supporting the West Harbour. In addition, this took place transparently in the open. If you want you can read every public statement.

of diverse community and economic stakeholders

Raise the Hammer, the Downtown BIA, business owners throughout the downtown, the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative, the Poverty Roundtable, the McMaster Students Union and a large majority of students, doctors and public health professionals, urban development experts inside and outside the city (real experts with real names), a clear majority of Hamiltonians in a controlled survey, a group of investors and property developers interested in stadium-oriented development, and our elected City Council itself, on multiple occasions.

who have evaluated the issue on its merits

Again I refer to the real, published studies by both the city and third parties showing that the West Harbour is feasible, accessible, well-connected, with adequate parking and opportunities for increasing property values and tax assessments.

and come to what I regard as a sound conclusion based on clear evidence.

Again, the argument for West Harbour is an evidence-based argument founded on solid analysis and the confirmed goal of brownfield remediation and city building.

On the other side, you have a narrow coterie of interests

The sole owner of the Ticats, the owner of a banquet hall and convention centre near the East Mountain location, a small handful of North End residents frustrated with how the City has handled Setting Sail, and Ticat fans afraid of losing the team.

who have engaged from the start in a sneaky, secretive and disingenuous campaign

They claimed falsely that the WH has no parking and is inaccessible and insist that their business studies prove the WH can't work - except that more than a month after promising to show us their studies, they still haven't. Instead they refer to their "experts" and "studies" without providing any real sources to cite.

They likewise claimed falsely that the EM is more accessible, which flatly contradicts the physical reality of lane capacities on the Linc/RHVP, local and regional transit access, and even parking lot capacity (9700 cars won't fit in a 7000-car lot).

They also threatened that the Province and HostCo would refuse to approve a stadium without the Ticats' commitment, even after both the Province and the Federal government affirmed that they will accept the City's decision on a stadium location.

to distort, subvert, and co-opt the process

Making false claims, citing phantom studies and issuing catastrophic threats is the very definition of distortion and subversion.

(with its attendant tens of millions in public funding);

Bob Young demands that taxpayers foot $100 million in public funds to build a stadium that will only serve his personal interest by allowing him to monopolize stadium-related expenditures and collect 100% of event-related revenues.

and when they couldn't succeed at that, are now apparently trying to sabotage it entirely.

I write "apparently" because that's exactly how it appears.

I'd just like people to be more honest about their politics.

I am nothing if not honest about my politics: I'm an urbanist through and through, and political but non-partisan. Politically I'm committed to free expression, democratic citizen engagement, and evidence-based decision making leavened by lively public debate.

I also generally favour open frameworks over closed; incentives-based regulation over top-down fiat; form- and performance-based building codes over zoning-by-use; and diverse competitive commerce over blocked monopolies (with the caveat that open standards maximize interoperability and hence network externalities).

I also support public expenditures for net public goods, i.e. public services that benefit everyone, not just their direct users, to a greater extent than the expenditure cost - e.g. universal public education, in which the increased wealth generated by an educated public more than makes up for the cost of educating everyone.

Does that make me left-wing? Right-wing? Libertarian? If you can find a label that fits, I'd love to see it.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-08-25 11:09:16

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By cd (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 13:18:52

Fred, Ryan

thank you for the clarification. I would have liked to see the "I am an urbanist through and through" premise clearly stated at the beginning; it would have eliminated a lot of ambiguity.There's lots to work with here but, in the end, the sides to this debate are pretty obviously politics-driven. Language gives it away.

The language of your reply, Ryan,—and it's the rhetoric of discussion I'm interested in here— is still accusatory and cynical,your position being predicated on some obviously anti-capital talk about "personal interest", "blocked monopolies", "phantom studies", "threats", while the WH side positively glows in "feasible, accessible, well-connected" possibilities. Nothing is that clear-cut, and if you cite study after study, report after report to support your claim, it's because you've already interpreted things in accordance with your own urbanist viewpoint & that of your many supporters at "Raise The Hammer".

Isn't it clear that descriptions that subtly demonize dissenting viewpoints (and the practice of arbitrarily ranking comments on your blog) are open to all sorts of inner-contradictions? Such as the inconsistencies, for example, among the many WH documents themselves, and the Mayor's own erstwhile anti-WH stance. And the duplication of numbers in the EM staff reports. And the recent backtracking of former avid pro-WH councilors. And, even more recently, how do you reconcile the "open frameworks" model, or the wider claim that the WH site has already met with the unanimous approval of Hamiltonians, developers & investors, with the reality (that a recent Hamilton Chamber of Commerce report has recently underscored)of the perception of our city as hostile to even small business?

Again, I'm not taking sides; in fact, I recognize the great opportunities to downtown revitalization that a WH stadium (or any proposed site) will create nor am I averse, in principle, to the "net publics good" criterion for spending that Ryan's made.But I submit that Ryan's refusal to talk politics and enter into the debate the possibility of real 'divisiveness' underlies a tendency to see the WH supports as a single identifiable totality ('bloc') & the rest as suspiciously devious and opportunistic.

I've been accused of being condescending but it's the expertise of bloggers (purveyors of information), planners & enlightened citizens (such as Ryan has listed)who've talked in this debate as though consensus is the only way to go.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2010 at 13:24:07

I would have liked to see the "I am an urbanist through and through" premise clearly stated at the beginning

RTH First Principles, right up there under the masthead.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 25, 2010 at 15:09:09

But I think you're fundamentally wrong on this issue. You're a spokesperson for a New Urbanism philosophy with clear ties to a Leftist "people over profits" agenda, which is nothing new in this town: a throw-back to the old NDP-dominated politics that made development of any kind seem synonymous with greed & exploitation, and the results have been disastrous.

Coincidentally, the same day you posted this comment, I posted the following on my facebook:

...the end game of making money just to make money is purely evil, since it disassociates money from what it exists for, which is in service of human beings. And once you do that---once you start to see human beings as existing for money and not the other way around---libertarianism, anti-environmentalism, and general hostility towards government and social services all follow. To call that a “work ethic” is to put a moralistic gloss on immoral behavior.

                                                                                            -Amanda Marcotte

Placing people over profits isn't "leftist", it's basic human decency. Conversely, placing profits over people, isn't 'rightist', it's sociopathic. As a recovering Red Tory, and on behalf of small 'c' conservatives everywhere, I take exception to the idea that using public money to benefit the public is the exclusive domain of the political left.

Shoehorning the stadium issue into a left/right dichotomy is worse than useless as an analytical tool, and contributes nothing to the debate but further polarization, which may explain some of the downvotes.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-08-25 14:10:43

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By Uh oh (anonymous) | Posted August 27, 2010 at 15:49:46

Sorry Ryan:

"I mean the city has decisively chosen the West Harbour despite, you know, there are certain issue, like any location will have certain issues that have to be overcome."

That about sums it up. West Harbour is not a good site, and those "certain issues" to be overcome are significant infringements on the quality of life of residents surrounding the stadium.

Terpstra states this quite clearly, and you do not, have never, addressed this issue. I empathise with all your arguments about the problems of suburban locations and the way political factions have played the game, but your game was in trouble early on when the short list included only one downtown location that was so bad that it made any on the list of suburban locations look half decent in comparison. And you took the bait. Now the best option is that nothing be built, with the possible loss of the TiCats a bonus. That is beginning to look very much like municipal progress to me.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 27, 2010 at 23:35:49

I see that Mr. Turkstra got the last word(s) & the last 20 seconds for his summation.
Was there no time for Ryan to do the same?
Ryan also got interrupted when he wanted to discuss the Federal aspect.

I honestly had high hopes for CH's new format. I was hoping that at last we would get local news reported properly & thoroughly. So much for that dream....... :(

I wish 'Hebzy' had stuck to doing Sports in Toronto on Global. He was a lot more fun back then.

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