The west harbour it is for stadium
But organizers have back-up plan if city doesn't come through
February 19, 2010
Hamilton has a confirmed Pan Am Games stadium site, a wide-open plan B but lingering worries over parking and site cleanup.
This comes as the Pan Am host company CEO noted the Toronto 2015 plan will work on backup plans of its own for all sites in the Games footprint.
Ian Troop, who is currently putting his management team together, said he expects Hamilton to follow through with its commitment to be a senior partner in the Games.
But he added it was a logical step to be ready in case one or more of the 17 municipalities involved in the Games can't come through with a facility or event.
"That's just wise," Mayor Fred Eisenberger agreed. "They have to be ready if someone can't deliver."
Eisenberger was weary from seven hours of Pan Am meetings yesterday but delighted with the 10-5 vote endorsing having the Games track and field stadium northwest of Bay and Barton streets.
"This is a significant development and involved a lot of questions that had to be asked, as well as some theatrics."
He was surprised the stadium-site debate produced an amendment which left the city the option of a plan B if the west harbour site failed.
Councillor Bernie Morelli promoted an east harbour site on Windermere Road.
"We need a plan B in case west harbour blows up," he said.
The land Morelli identified is a slag site owned by Lafarge Canada. That location was one possibility offered two years ago when the Pan Am initiative began.
Morelli compromised with an open amendment for consideration of any option as Plan B.
One element that could force a move to another location is the cost of remediation at the west harbour.
A preliminary environmental assessment showed cleanup costs could range from $3.3 million to $37 million.
"I've never been thrilled about the Pan Am bid and I am concerned about the unknown condition of the site and remediation costs," said Brad Clark, one of the no votes.
Lloyd Ferguson said he couldn't back the site without the city looking at ways of getting more than 600 parking spots at the site.
That won him an amendment to the west harbour endorsement to look at parking, which pushed Brian McHattie to the nay side.
He said limited parking encouraged more public transportation and produced less traffic in neighbourhoods near the stadium site.
Persistent Games critic Sam Merulla said council was confusing "wants with needs," predicted costs would escalate and said "I hope I don't have to tell you 'I told you so.'"
Terry Whitehead summed up the yes vote with his thought that "this is a complex issue, there is no ideal location and there are always issues. But this provides a vital line between the harbour and downtown."
Council met in camera to discuss land acquisition and remediation.
TICATS: NO ONE CLEAR ON WHAT VISION IS
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats like the fact the city is moving forward on a Pan Am stadium site. Now they need to know what it means.
"It's another important step along the way and the city should be applauded for its initiative," said Ticat president Scott Mitchell.
"But the questions now are who is in this partnership, what should this development at this location be.
"No one is clear on what that vision is."
The city has funding for a $102-million stadium that could provide a stadium of 15,000 to 20,000 seats, but the football club needs at least 25,000 seats.
That could cost up to $50 million more, which the city wants the Ticats and private-sector partners to come up with.
But Mitchell said it is premature to come up with number until a vision for the stadium and developments around it are clear.
HOW THEY VOTED
Yes: Fred Eisenberger, Bernie Morelli, Chad Collins, Tom Jackson, Scott Duvall, Terry Whitehead, Maria Pearson, Lloyd Ferguson, Russ Powers, Robert Pasuta
No: Brian McHattie, Bob Bratina, Sam Merulla, Brad Clark, Margaret McCarthy
Absent: Dave Mitchell