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万锦市民是如何利用公民力量让一个大型体育馆下马的?
How Markham citizens killed a rosy arena project 6 years ago?




2019年12月5日是万锦市市民让万锦市建体育馆的提议流产六周年的日子。 2013年,万锦市市议会希望利用纳税人的钱建一个体育馆。万锦市长薛家平和他的许多企业朋友是这个项目的幕后推手。当年有一阵子不少人认为与市府作对是徒劳的。但事实证明,万锦市民完全可以让市长在“阴沟里翻船”。

Dec 5, 2019 will mark the 6th anniversary of the defeat of the GTA arena proposal in the City of Markham. In 2013, Markham's City Council wanted to have the GTA arena built using public funds. Mayor Frank Scarpitti and many of his business cronies were behind this project. For a while, fighting against City Hall seemed futile. As it turned out, that was the first “Waterloo” for the Mayor instead.

对我来说,参与反对建体育馆是我参与万锦市政治的第一步。那年,我成为反对在万锦兴建体育馆的市民组织,万民问责市府大联盟(MCCRG)的董事。对于许多万锦市居民而言,该组织把他们聚集起来,形成一股公民力量,向万锦市这个独裁气氛浓厚的政府挑战。因为市府想用纳税人的血汗钱来圆他们自己的梦。

For myself, the arena fiasco was the starting point of my involvement with politics in Markham. I became a director of an organization that was established by necessity to fight the arena project – Markham Citizens Coalition for Responsive Government (MCCRG). For many other Markham residents, it was the lightning rod that drew them together and galvanize them into a force that would turn against a dictatorial Council who wanted to spend their hard-earned tax dollars and mortgage their future based on a pipe dream.



当时,那些没有住在万锦市的居民不知道发生了什么。他们不知道,要想让该项目上马,万锦市将被折腾到乱七八糟。万锦市政府花了70多万,请咨询公司研究在万锦市建体育馆的可行性。市府的工作人员在此项目上花了无数的小时,但由于没有跟踪和核算的管理机制,到目前为止,市府自己花了多少时间和金钱在这个流产的项目上仍然是笔糊涂账。

Those who were not Markham residents at the time would have no idea as to what transpired. They would not see how the city was torn apart and preoccupied with this project. Over $700,000 was contracted to outside consultants to study the feasibility and viability of the proposed arena. Countless hours were spent by city staff on this proposal without proper tracking and accounting to a point that no dollar figures expended can be accountable to this very day.

该项目让市民分成支持和反对建体育馆的两拨人。支持方认为这个体育馆和娱乐中心将让北美冰球职业联赛的一支球队进驻万锦市。这将给万锦带来繁荣和地产价值的增加。反对方则认为,用纳税人的钱建体育馆,并免除开发商的开发税,这有可能导致未来的地税增加,并可能因为要承担维护体育馆和投资失败所带来的经济责任。

The city residents were divided into two camps. One group that advocated the building of this arena and entertainment centre, believing that it would bring a National Hockey League team along with prosperity and increased property values to this City. Another group being of concerned citizens who opposed to have the arena built using public funds and waiving of development charges with a potential risk for future tax increases and liabilities on maintenance and financial losses.



市政府从咨询报告中挑选了一些对建体育馆有利的理由,以展示项目的美好前景,并为万锦市民们描绘了一幅乐观的项目图画。他们有意不让市民通过“知情法”来了解项目的问题,不让市民查看这些咨询报告,并使用各种借口拖着不给这些报告。

The City cherry-picked items from the consultant's reports to show the best prospects of the project and painted a rosy picture of what they wanted the residents to believe. They stonewalled the “Freedom of Information” requests to see these reports at every turn and delayed them using every means at their disposal.

2016年2月,由于安大略省信息和隐私专员的介入,这些咨询报告得以公开。在研究了30个左右的城市之后,2012年的咨询报告指出:“经济学家们都有共识,建造新体育场馆并吸引职业球队使用这些设施的北美大陆城市中,没有任何迹象证明这一做法会给这些城市带来经济效益。”万锦市政府从来没有向市民透露这一事实,以及其他有关项目不可行的事实。

In February of 2016, the consultants reports were made public due to an appeal to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. “There was remarkable agreement (among economists) that professional sports facilities do not produce any tangible economic benefits in cities that build new facilities and attract new teams to these facilities,” the consultants wrote in the report in 2012, after looking at 30 or so examples across the continent. This fact along with many others adverse to the viability of the project were never revealed to the residents during the years of debate.

2016年12月3日至12月5日之间,罗杰斯有线电视台转播了在万锦希尔顿酒店和市议会举行的万锦体育馆可行性的辩论。期间共有170多人发言。辩论期间,市府邀请了许多局外人发言,并让他们先讲,而让万锦当地的居民发言在后。兴建体育馆的发起人警告一些市议会议员和居民不要引用报纸上那些对项目“泼冷水”的报道,并威胁要采取法律行动。

Between Dec 3 and Dec 5, 2016 over 170 people spoke in deputations at the Markham Hilton Hotel and City Council broadcast by Rogers Cable television. The deck was stacked by the City with many outsiders invited to speak ahead of those who were properly registered. Legal actions were threatened by the arena promoter warning some of the Council members and other residents not to quote newspaper stories detailing his “not-too-glamourous” reputations.



2016年12月5日,市议会以11-2票将体育馆项目打入冷宫。只有市长薛家平和议员何胡景两人投赞成票。市议会宣布,如果有人要建体育馆,他们得自己掏腰包。理事会还以13-0投票结果决定退出与体育与娱乐公司GTA Sports and Entertainment的投资协议。该协议要求GTA Sports and Entertainment以3.25亿元建造一个拥有20,000个座位的体育馆,GTA Sports and Entertainment和万锦市各出资1.625亿。

In an 11-2 vote on Dec 5, 2016, with Mayor Frank Scarpitti as one of the only two dissenters (the other one being councillor Alan Ho), council declared all the financing for any planned arena must be done with private investors. Council also voted unanimously, 13-0, to withdraw from a proposed financial framework with Roustan's company GTA Sports and Entertainment. That agreement called for GTA Sports to build a 20,000-seat arena for $325-million, with Roustan's company providing half the construction costs of $162.5-million and the city covering the other $162.5-million.

下一篇,我将与您分享我们如何与万锦市政府较量,并让体育馆彻底下马的故事。

I will share with you details of this struggle with City Hall and how the battle was won next time.




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