A consultant report that exposes a huge downside to the Markham Arena Project was kept as secret from the public over the past. As the report finally sees the light of day, Bob Mok’s serial column gives detailed account of problems with the project that cost $700,000 from citizens.
The proposed and now cancelled Markham Arena Project that divided the City of Markham residents into two camps is now history. Over the past few years, consultant reports costing over $700,000 paid for by citizens were shielded from public eyes. Now that the reports are finally released, we get to see information that was not available to the “opposition” camp throughout the campaign.
Overall there was a huge downside to the arena project of which the public was not made aware. Little wonder that some at the City did not want the reports released. After years of struggle to obtain the secret consultants' reports on the proposed Markham arena, the last report has finally been released by the City thanks to the efforts of Councillor Karen Rea, via the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Commission.
The report has exposed a litany of problems with the project, most of which would have affected the bottom line and increased risk in a major way. Many costs were excluded, underestimated or understated while some revenues were overstated. There were serious concerns about inadequate returns for investors. Furthermore the reports indicate that adequate due diligence was lacking.
There were numerous concerns about too much financial risk and inadequate financial protection for Markham, both short term and long term. Some forecasts were described as "not useful" while others made "unrealistic assumptions". While Markham estimated that the project caused $39 million increase on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Professor Humphreys’ assessment was that it had zero impact. Furthermore, projections for attendance and ticket sales were described as “too aggressive” and “overly ambitious”.
Professor Humphreys himself said his reports had been "cherry picked". It is our firm belief that Markham residents and businesses deserved to hear the whole truth, not just that part of the truth some on Council and others wanted us to hear. We feel the public was very poorly served by Markham’s one-sided approach to this very risky project, a project which we, many of our members, and many other Markham residents opposed from the beginning.
Next time, we will provide details on the controversial and/or unavailable information to the public (at that time), as revealed by these released reports now.
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