Wondering what’s been up in the Markham arena controversy since councillors in the Toronto suburb gave preliminary approval to the $325 million arena plan in January? For one thing, the city council is refusing to release the consulting reports that it says provided the economic rationale for committing $162.5 million in public funds to the project:
[Graeme] Roustan, chief executive officer of GTA Sports and Entertainment, has insisted that estimates from project partner Global Spectrum show the facility could attract 131 events and 780,000 users annually — numbers sufficient to make it economically viable. But some industry players say those numbers would be impossible to achieve without a major league sports tenant.
Councillors have seen the reports but signed confidentiality agreements that prohibit them from disclosing or discussing the contents. They had also agreed not to disclose information about the project for two years after Roustan approached them with a public-private partnership plan for an arena in early 2011.
Both the Markham Village Ratepayers Association and the Toronto Star have filed freedom of information requests for the documents, but have been refused on the grounds that they contain sensitive financial information. It will now be up to the province of Ontario to rule on whether Markham has to release the documents.