Markham arena developers promise new plan that’s an awful lot like old plan

The Markham city council was set to vote yesterday on its deputy mayor’s proposal to put a stake through the heart of its beleaguered NHL arena plan, but instead delayed a vote for another month to consider a new funding plan that isn’t so built on thin air. And what would this new plan be?

Arena promoters GTA Sports and Entertainment had proposed a public-private financial partnership whereby the city and primarily developers would split the cost of the venture. The city would borrow $325 million and the private sector partners (GTA Sports and others including key local developer Remington Group) would pay back half over 20 years under the arrangement…

Taylor said under a new formula, Markham would borrow a maximum of $162.5 million while the private sector would secure financing for the other half with the aid of investment banking firms Jeffries LLC and Canaccord Genuity.

Furthermore, Taylor said the city was working for payments and guarantees from developers that would negate any levies on new homeowners plus assurances that the arena managers would be responsible for all operating and maintenance costs.

So… instead of the city borrowing all the money and GTA paying back half of it, GTA would borrow its share and pay it off itself. And as for the other half, the city would still have to repay it, but would get “guarantees from developers” that would — okay, that part doesn’t make any sense, as the whole point is for developers to charge special fees to new homeowners in the arena area and hand the money over to the city. And so far as I know the arena managers were always going to be responsible for operating costs — though not, as some critical councillors have pointed out, property taxes or sales taxes, something that’s unusual for Canada.

Anyway, it looks like GTA is going to try one more Hail Mary pass, or whatever they do in Canadian football, to get some more of the council on its side before the final vote. Check back in late November to see how that’s working out for them.

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