Separating Fact from Fiction - my position on the GTA Centre arena

This has certainly been a lively topic over the past three years and a bit of historical re-writing by one group has occurred for the benefit of certain candidates in this election.  It’s been suggested that I voted in favour of an arena deal yet the actual record proves that I was one of ten who voted against the proposal on December 4, 2013.  It has also been suggested that only certain candidates are worthy of endorsement because they were they only ones opposed to the arena project. Nonsense.  I was one of the original members of Council appointed to the arena committee and along with the Deputy Mayor, the only two to submit our own briefs to the committee.

In August 2012,  I wrote the following confidential note to Council, which was leaked almost immediately:

“… I believe that our current, approved Financial Framework, is a very good deal for GTA Centre but certainly not the best deal possible for the residents of Markham.  Having an arena in Markham Centre is, without question, a unique and valuable addition to our municipality.  Getting an NHL team would change the face of our City and is a once in a generation opportunity.  But, this is a tremendous opportunity for Roustan too – who very much wants to be an NHL Governor  - and he knows it.  He has a willing city, in a hockey rich environment and a well-established billionaire developer as a partner.  Roustan is a shrewd businessman... we have to be prepared to walk (if the deal is not a good one).”

And on December 2, 2013 I wrote Mayor Scarpitti the following:

“A year and a half ago, I sent a confidential email to Members of Council indicating that, notwithstanding the excitement and allure of a possible NHL team here in Markham, we should be prepared to walk away from the deal if it were not in the best interests of Markham.  In fact, in all my discussions with you and my own residents I said that I believed the intelligent thing to do was to make a decision based on the merits of the actual MOU, not rumour, speculation or the scare-tactics we have witnessed.  

Believing the idea of an arena in Markham to be a good one and supporting a deal involving the City are two very different things and I am continually surprised at how some quite intentionally misrepresent my position for political benefit.


 

EXCERPT CONTAINING ITEM #0004 OF THE COUNCIL COMMITTEE (December 04, 13)


(1) MARKHAM SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURAL CENTRE (6.0)

Moved by Deputy Mayor Jack Heath

Seconded by Councillor Logan Kanapathi

1)         That Council rescind its previous approval of the Proposed Financial Framework (PFF) contained in the April 26, 2012 report titled “Markham Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre”; and,

2)         That Markham Council require the proponents and others to pursue private funding/private partnerships for the construction of the building as endorsed in the January, 2013 site plan; and,

3)         That staff report back to the Markham Sports, Entertainment And Cultural Centre Sub-Committee (MSECC) on the implications of deeming the Arena (GTA Centre) a Municipal Capital Facility providing an exemption for development charges and property taxes; and,

4)         That the GTA Sports & Entertainment (GTASE) and/or other parties in partnership be required to provide proof of funds for $325 million plus construction financing no later than June, 2014; and further,

5)         That Staff be directed to present the proposed Memorandums of Understanding from the Developers Group and GTASE to the MSECC.

CARRIED AS AMENDED BY RECORDED VOTES

(See following amendments)

(See following recorded votes)

            Resolution Nos. 1 and 2:

            Moved by Deputy Mayor Jack Heath

            Seconded by Councillor Logan Kanapathi

That the following Resolution Nos. 1 and 2 be approved:

            1)        That Council rescind its previous approval of the Proposed Financial Framework (PFF) contained in the April 26, 2012 report titled “Markham Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre”; and,

            2)         That Markham Council require the proponents and others to pursue private funding/private partnerships for the construction of the building as endorsed in the January, 2013 site plan;

CARRIED BY RECORDED VOTES

(See following recorded votes)

                        Recorded vote for Resolution No. 1 (13:0):

                        YEAS:       Councillor Valerie Burke, Councillor Howard Shore, Councillor Don Hamilton, Councillor Carolina Moretti, Regional Councillor Joe Li, Regional Councillor Jim Jones, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Regional Councillor Gord Landon, Councillor Colin Campbell, Councillor Alan Ho, Councillor Logan Kanapathi, Councillor Alex Chiu. (13)

                        Recorded vote for Resolution No. 2 (11:2):

                        YEAS:       Councillor Valerie Burke, Councillor Howard Shore, Councillor Don Hamilton, Councillor Carolina Moretti, Regional Councillor Joe Li, Regional Councillor Jim Jones, Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Regional Councillor Gord Landon, Councillor Colin Campbell, Councillor Logan Kanapathi, Councillor Alex Chiu. (11)

                        NAYS:       Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Councillor Alan Ho. (2)

            Resolution No. 3:

            Moved by Councillor Carolina Moretti

            Seconded by Regional Councillor Jim Jones

            That the following Resolution No. 3 be approved:

3)        That staff report back to the Markham Sports, Entertainment And Cultural Centre Sub-Committee (MSECC) on the implications of deeming the Arena (GTA Centre) a Municipal Capital Facility providing an exemption for development charges and property taxes;

CARRIED