Markham arena: New proposal isn't 100 percent 'private', says writer

Christian Petersen

A new financial framework was released for the Markham arena project that would make the venture "100 percent" privately funded. According to one reporter, that's not the case.

Sometimes, things sound too good to be true. That's the case with the new financial framework of the Markham arena project, according to Scott Stinson of the National Post.

Released on Tuesday afternoon, the new proposal states that the GTA Centre will be a "100 percent" privately funded operation that will no longer require the City of Markham to take out a loan of $325 million. However, the framework states that Markham will help facilitate that project through "private sector developer contributions."

That is where Stinson states the catch is, via the National Post:

When this plan was first tabled, those were to be levies of between $2,000 and $6,000 for each new home or condo unit built in the city. Thus, even though new homes would be subjected to a significant new tax, the people of Markham were advised not to think of it that way. As the Tuesday release put it, this money, $162.5-million of it, should be considered "private sector developer contributions."

Codswallop, I say.

Jack Heath, Markham's Deputy Mayor, put forward a motion to kill the project in August, which will come to council next week. Heath has yet to read the new proposal in full, but told Stinson that he would oppose the use of levies on new home construction to support the arena's development. In fact, Stinson writes that this method of contribution actually might be against the law.

Graeme Roustan, the figurehead of the arena project, was unavailable for comment for Stinson's story.

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