So many people have lined up to testify at the Markham city council’s hearings on developer Graeme Roustan’s proposed $325 million hockey arena — after Monday night’s packed hearing, 123 more speakers signed up to testify last night, and dozens were still waiting as the meeting dragged into the wee hours — that the council has delayed a vote until after a third straight night of testimony tonight. And in case you’re wondering, the populace does not sound too happy about the project:
“This process is a sham,” said Markham resident Norman Manara. “Put this project out of its misery.”
Mr. Manara’s comments were met with a standing ovation.
Roustan, meanwhile, has responded in the way that only a developer scorned can: by threatening to sue citizens for libel if they keep saying mean things about his project:
A lawyer for Graeme Roustan, president of GTA Sports and Entertainment … said “personal attacks” to his reputation on the coalition’s website or in a public meeting “are not appropriate.”…
“Please be aware that public statements by the [Markham Citizens Coalition for Responsible Government] or its directors that do harm to Mr. Roustan’s reputation, whether or not they are a repetition of newspaper reports or other sources, may constitute libel or slander and give rise to serious legal consequences,” the firm said in the notice.
“We would ask that on your website and in any public comments by your directors, the MCCRG adhere to standard practice and not pose open-ended questions or make statements based on misinformation that are harmful to Mr. Roustan’s reputation.”
This, needless to say, is just all kinds of awesome sauce, and was immediately seized on by MCCRG members to paint Roustan as a big meanie. (“Threatening residents where you want to do business is not a smart thing to do,” said group director and Markham Village City Ratepayers Association president Karen Rea.) Figure on him not getting a standing ovation at tonight’s meeting.
Meanwhile, at risk of being dragged before some bewigged Canadian libel court judge (do judges still wear wigs in Canada? aw, crap), Roustan’s financial plan got even shakier yesterday, as investment bank Canaccord Genuity, which a Roustan spokesperson had previously said was “supporting” the developer’s private share of the project, declared that it’s only an advisor, not an investor. So we have Roustan not revealing where he’d be getting his half of the money, and Markham still not clear on where it’ll get its share, and — wait, is that the libel police I hear? Forget everything I was just saying: This Markham arena is totally awesome sauce!