Petition against rec multiplex location garners hundreds of signatures

By  | July 5, 2015 | 5 Comments | Filed under: Cambridge Council 2014/2015

sportsplex Conestoga_lands___Content

Field of dreams

Bill Jackson, Times Staff

A swath of land stretches north of Contestoga College’s Cambridge campus, where the city’s new multiplex facility is being proposed.
Cambridge Times

CAMBRIDGE – Bill Kirby doesn’t believe the mantra of some city council members who say a new sports and recreation facility would be delayed for 10 to 15 years if it isn’t built on land owned by Conestoga College.

“I think it’s a scare tactic; it’s smoke,” he said.

Kirby said a petition he’s created in opposition to the location has garnered hundreds of signatures from like-minded taxpayers. He’s hoping they will step forward when council considers the recommended approval of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the college on Tuesday (July 7) evening.

“Really this is about a show of support for an idea, and once again, no one is against the sportsplex itself,” Kirby said. “We are against the location.”

In a 6-3 vote, council approved the location, in principle, earlier this year.

According to staff, other properties considered were encumbered by a variety of factors such as contamination, lack of servicing, space and cost.

Council members in support of the proposed location on the western outskirts of the city, near Highway 401, cited reasons including the length of time it would take to clean up brownfields for development, as well as the high price tag that would go well over the project’s $53-million budget – $6 million of which was earmarked for land acquisition.

According to a report by community services commissioner Kent McVittie, a draft MOU specifies the college will make available land required to build and operate the multiplex for a $2.5-million fee, plus a nominal $2 per annum charge paid throughout the 50-year lease period.

Half of the $2.5-million fee would be payable upon execution of the MOU; the other half would be due upon the execution of a formal agreement (anticipated for late 2015).

“Should the parties fail to execute a formal agreement, the initial $1.25 million payment would be returned to the city,” McVittie noted.

Some councillors say they still haven’t had time to digest the details of the draft MOU and aren’t yet ready to vote on it.

“I have reservations about approving this during a time when people are starting to go away on holidays,” said Ward 8 Coun. Nicholas Ermeta, who previously voted against the proposed location, citing opposition from a majority of his constituents and the need for a more central site.

“I am still opposed to the location, so I don’t know how I can even get past that to even look at the memorandum of understanding,” said Coun. Jan Liggett.

“In all honesty I haven’t heard from or spoken to anyone who’s for the location.”

Yet Liggett said she still plans to work within the framework of the MOU to make sure it’s in the best interests of taxpayers.

“You can’t be so opposed to something that you don’t try to get the best deal for the residents of the community. You can’t just walk away from the table because you’re not happy with the location. You still have to work with the document itself.”

The MOU provides the framework for staff and Conestoga representatives to develop a long-term formal agreement.

Some of the key features included in the MOU, according to McVittie’s report, are as follows:

1. Recognition of the facility as primarily intending to meet community needs, while also acknowledging the opportunity for college use.

2. Long-term (50 years) nature of the agreement.

3. Financial considerations.

4. Establishment of expectations at the conclusion of the 50-year lease: a) continue with relationship; b) City returns the site to original condition if facility no longer required for municipal purposes; or c) College provides city with payment equivalent to the current assessed value of the building.

City staff has estimated that a facility incorporating a 25-metre pool, a double pad arena, exercise track, gymnasium, fitness facilities and community space could cost between $700,000 to $1,000,000 (net) per year to operate, though that estimate could vary greatly depending on final design.

A larger pool and additional ice pads would add to the cost.

Asked how much of the operating costs the college would be responsible for, McVittie reiterated, in an email, that a detailed agreement with Conestoga has yet to be worked out, “but an underlying principle is that use of the facility that results in incremental costs to either party will be recovered in full.”

Third-party operators may be considered for parts or all of the facility, his report says.

The report also highlights the project cost would be covered 90 per cent through development charges and 10 per cent through debentures, which seems to contradict figures in the city’s long-range capital budget forecast that show $19 million of the $40 million in construction costs covered by development charges and $21 million covered by “other revenue.”

But McVittie explained covering 90 per cent of the project through development charges is the city’s “most conservative” position.

“We are hopeful that we will receive financial assistance from other levels of government and through fundraising, but these numbers are not known at this time.”

According to numbers in his report, based on “conservative estimates” for interest rate forecasts, the annual cost to service that level of debt would be approximately $441,000 per year for the next 15 years.



5 Responses to Petition against rec multiplex location garners hundreds of signatures

    Bibby July 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    No one seems to be including the cost of upkeep that will be in the millions per year. Our taxes will jump large for this deal with the devil. Once again the dark side slithers through the masses to drain our money.

  2. Bingo@bongo.boing'
    Bozo July 7, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Yes and when you take the development charges from Peter and give it to Paul, for 50 years, where do you get the money to feed Peter again ? Tax increases of course. A fixed tax increase of how much per year before the usual increase plus regional costs?

    The Craig Legacy will be set in stone in our wallets and our children’s as well.
    Go Go Doug Go ! I really mean that.

    Best part is that all the groups coming with their “want ” lists will get screwed over but believe by supporting Monteiro l they’ll get what they want. That’s the shell game.

  3. Debbie Duff Vitez July 7, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Craig is totally out of control.. He has taken a true gem i.e. Cambridge and destroyed it..
    With his overinflated ego and pure greed.. Karma is a bitch and she will call.. She always does..

    Gloria July 7, 2015 at 10:31 am

    People really need to start paying attention to what is happening at Council.

    Development charges are supposed to be used for the cities costs for supplying and maintaining new services. However, these development charges are being used for reports and studies and other uses and when the new services have to be installed, it is the tax payers who then have to fork out huge dollars for these projects to continue.

    The current type of growth which followed an “old” process no longer works for us and is creating higher tax rates and putting a strain on our current infrastructure. When these pipes burst from the extra burden, again, it is tax payers money that have to pay for repairs. Any flooding that is not covered by home insurance will not be covered by the City and fall on the backs of the poor homeowner.

    This is an endless uphill battle that puts the city more in debt and cause taxes to keep rising to points where residents are having difficulties making ends meet…living from pay cheque to pay cheque. This in turn hurts local businesses cause no one has any extra money to spend. It’s a vicious circle and it is time for the people to speak out and make some changes to how things are being run in our city.

    Let us all stand together on all causes and issues as each and every one is important in one way or another to all residents. We can no longer keep our heads buried in the sand, or rely on the few to be the voice for all.

    Other cities and countries have learned to speak out and be heard…so why not Cambridge?

    Danny Boy July 22, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Ask Durocher…. Dex what he thinks of this!

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