[Deputy Mayor Jack] Heath, who has backed the project since its inception more than two years ago, stunned the city on Thursday by announcing council should cancel the arena’s current “financial framework” and not provide any public funding.
“The proposed financial framework has become extremely controversial in our community,” Heath said in a statement. “I believe that discussions on it should be discontinued.” …
It now appears a majority of the 13-member council opposes the 20,000-seat arena in the city’s new downtown, in the Highway 407-Kennedy Rd. area, without significant change in the funding formula. That is in stark contrast to last April when council voted 11-2 for the financial framework.
Since then, opposition has slowly increased. More than 200 residents attended a public meeting recently where every speaker criticized the city’s financial involvement.
It’s way too early to call the Markham arena plan dead — these things almost never fully die so long as there’s hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds up for grabs — but it certainly looks like all the talk of illegal taxes and money-losing on-spec arenas is starting to take its toll. If nothing else, the arena developers are likely to need to attempt some fancy footwork to come up with a revised financing plan that sounds better to elected officials and the public, without, you know, actually requiring elected officials and the public to put in any less money. I recommend shouting, “Hey, look over there!” and then quickly erasing all the minus signs on the economic projections.