Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Deputation MSECC April 15, 2013 by Donna Bush

April 15, 2013

Good morning Mayor and Councillors, 

The information contained in this deputation is Without Prejudice and it has been researched from various Internet websites using google searches. It is provided in good faith, and every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that it is accurate. I provide no warranty as to the accuracy of the information. It is for information purposes only. In no event shall I be liable for any damages arising, directly or indirectly, from the use of the information contained in this deputation, including damages arising from inaccuracies, omissions, or errors. Any person relying on any of the information contained in this deputation or making any use of the information contained herein, shall do so at their own risk.

I am here this morning to once again convey my concerns regarding the obvious lack of due diligence on the proposed arena project. How do I know about the lack of due diligence? Because if ANY due diligence was in fact done, this project would have been killed 11 months ago. Since we are still here, it is quite obvious that something has gone very wrong with the process.

In the COUNCIL MINUTES, April 26, 2012, 7:00 p.m., (Special Meeting) at
Council Chamber, Meeting No. 8 


Moved by Deputy Mayor Jack Heath
Seconded by Regional Councillor Gord Landon

That Report No. 25 – Special General Committee comprised of 1 item be received and adopted.

            AND CULTURAL CENTRE (6.0)
            April20Presentation  Report  April 26Presentation

1)         That the report entitled “Proposed Sports, Entertainment, and Cultural Centre in Markham Centre” dated April 19, 2012 be received; and,

2)         That Council approve the partnership and financial frameworks described in this report, to construct a Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre in Markham Centre, with approximately 20,000 seats, subject to due diligence results satisfactory to the Chief Administrative Officer, Council approval of final terms, and execution of final agreements satisfactory to the Town Solicitor and Chief Administrative Officer; and,

3)         That Council endorse the development contribution amounts as outlined in this report; and,

4)         That the Chief Administrative Officer be authorized and directed to continue with due diligence investigation and to finalize negotiations with GTA Centre, LP and its limited partner(s) and bring a report forward to Council on the final terms; and,

5)         That staff review and report to Council on any additional offers to contribute to the capital cost of the Town of Markham Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre that are brought to staff's attention; and further,

6)         That staff be authorized and directed to do all things necessary to give effect to this resolution.
            (See Motion 1)

(See following recorded vote)

YEAS:             Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Regional Councillor Gord Landon, Councillor Valerie Burke, Councillor Howard Shore, Councillor Don Hamilton, Councillor Carolina Moretti, Councillor Colin Campbell, Councillor Alan Ho, Councillor Logan Kanapathi, Councillor Alex Chiu. (11)

NAYS:             Regional Councillor Jim Jones, Regional Councillor Joe Li. (2)
Almost one year ago -- April 2012, I presented a deputation regarding my concerns around the financial framework of the proposed arena. I outlined a little bit of due diligence l had done on my own -- with just a few google searches. My searches were to learn more information about our prospective partner/promoter Mr. Graeme Roustan.

This time, I have made hard copies of just a tiny piece of Mr. Roustan’s history and will ask that the Clerk please have the information sheets copied and distributed to the full council, commissioners, and CAO and attach them to the minutes of this meeting.  

You will see that Justia.com, which I referenced one year ago, shows the Plaintiff as Touristic Enterprises Company (Kuwait City, Kuwait) v Defendant Roustan United LLC. In this case, the court awarded the Plaintiff a judgement in the amount amount of $482,419.14 and references “fraud in the inducement”.  I cannot comment on whether or not Mr. Roustan is associated with this defendant.

In The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA, February 15, 2010 Ms. Reabuck wrote an article titled, “Hockey team owners sue former managers”. The Johnstown Chiefs corporate owner Neil Smith alleged defendants Roustan United Inc, and related companies, Arena United, Roustan Planet Ice, and Roustan Ice along with company executives, W. Graeme Roustan and Scott Branovan for allegedly failing to pay operating bills totaling nearly $300,000. 

It goes on to say, “Roustan breached the terms of the contract and failed to carry out its fiduciary duty...” and “Branovan and W. Graeme Roustan allegedly are liable because the corporation were used to further their personal interests...”.

Apparently, the defendants have refused to pay. The article also states that bills from 2008 and 2009 in amounts ranging from $20 owed to Ear Nose and Throat Associates, up to $70,948 owed to Reebok-CCM Hockey US Inc remain unpaid. 

A Toronto Star article, written by Tony Van Alphen, October 7, 2012 quotes me as saying, “ When government is using taxpayers’ money, it is incumbent upon them (council) to perform the utmost due diligence...”It goes on to say, Roustan brushes aside the nay-sayers, stressing that everyone wins in the deal. Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti agrees, adding the city has conducted backgrounds checks on Roustan and Bratty and concluded “we have a strong project team”.

Through the Chair, my question to the CAO and CEO is have you done any due diligence on Mr. Roustan and IF you have done ANY due diligence on Mr. Roustan, why are you still wasting our tax dollars continuing this project? 

Why are some of you waiting for an MOU, when it is just a piece of paper that you must agree is unenforceable -- just like the others that I have referenced here today?  

As a taxpayer, I implore one of you Councilors to please put forth a motion to stop this arena process from continuing. 

Donna Bush
Markham resident

Deputation MSECC April 15, 2013 by Karen Rea

Without  Prejudice

Good Morning Mayor and Council,

The information contained in this deputation is provided in good faith, and every reasonable effort is made to ensure that it is accurate.
The information has been researched via Internet from different sites, and I provide no warranty as to the accuracy of the information. It is for information purposes only. In no event shall I be liable for any damage arising, directly or indirectly, from the use of the information contained in this deputation including damages arising from inaccuracies, omissions or errors.
Any person relying on any of the information contained in this deputation or making any use of the information contained herein, shall do so at their own risk. 
Here we are again, 12 months after the Arena has been announced and we are still fighting to get information released to the public.
Again, we have no issue with an Arena being built:
The two major issues are:
The Financial Framework
The Business Partner
There is no proof that the Arena will be viable and profitable, the reports are still under lock and key.
I have asked Town Solicitor, and Andy Taylor if they can let me know the breakdown of what the 130 events consist of:
Ice skating shows, monster truck, concerts, trade shows, family events. Apparently this information is also top secret.
I have researched and found a list of 40 Arenas worldwide, (in 2010) and it looks like our Arena will be on the top of the list for the shows.  We will have even more shows than the 02 Arena in London, England.
They top the list at 125, next after them is Madison Square at 71 shows.
So where did Global get the figure of 130 events from? the same information that was passed on to Raymond James to verify,  from the company that will benefit if the Arena gets built.  In my opinion this is a conflict of interest.
I also asked the Town Solicitor last week, if we had hired anyone to do the due diligence, I was told it was never adopted by Council, even though the motion was on the agenda and you all went in Camera, last Nov/Dec.
Mr Roustan told a resident that if this project did not get approved that he would sue 2 of the councillors, I have been told one of Mr. Roustan’s associates told a few different residents, that they couldn’t believe that the Town now wanted to do due diligence this late in the game, and if they wanted to due diligence on them, then they would start to do the due diligence on all the Councillors. 
And this is who we want as a business partner, someone that would do that to our Council, even if it’s not true, why would one say something like that.
Due diligence should have been done prior to signing the confidentiality report back in Oct 2010. We wouldn’t be in this situation today, if this was done.
In simple terms it would be like me asking my client to sign a waiver on a home inspection, before the inspection was done.
Negotiations are ongoing, we are being told. Why? we may not have the right partner. We are wasting staffs time when they could be dealing with other pressing and more important issues that relate to our quality of life within the Town.
You have ignored the deputations of residents, you turn a blind eye to the newspaper articles, one Councillor telling me it “it was all crap” on what was in the Toronto Star about the Promoter, yet they have never been asked to put in any retractions.
Today, we are going in camera again, for what?  property acquisition, discuss personal matters about identifiable individuals ?
Nothing about the Promoter should be held in camera… everything is available on the internet including the many judgements that are outstanding or have been settled. We all know about Texas and Kuwait. But what about the others: The Toronto Star reported about unpaid commission and unpaid taxes. 
Reported in the Tribune- Democrat.  Chiefs Professional Hockey filed a suit, for almost $300,000 defendants were Roustan United, and related companies Arena United, Roustan Planet ice, and Roustan Ice along with company executives Graeme Roustan and Scott Branovan, bills dated in both 2008 and 2009 range from small amounts, including $20.00 owed to Ear Nose and Throat Associates, up to $70948 owed to reebok-CCM Hockey according to the exhibit attached to the lawsuit.
According to TMCnet.com/news tribune democrat via acquire media Newsedge. 
Roustan United settled another lawsuit for $12612 by Lakeland plastics, Advantage staffing Inc of Altona obtained a $49944 default judgement against Roustan United and Burleys rink supply of Salix.
Unemployment compensation fund $3734.00 
Adex of Westbank filed a suit for $45580.00 for glass panels.  EDC is suing for $21010. for merchandise allegedly supplied to Roustan, and the list goes on. 
The Promoter, needs to stand in front of the residents and explain why these people and many more have not been paid, or if he has now settled these debts.
So for Council to keep going in camera… there is nothing to hide, it’s all available for free on the internet.
A motion should be considered to squash this project, let’s put it on hold till 2014, when those of you that still have no problems with it being paid for whether directly or indirectly with tax payer’s dollars and you have no problem with the Promoter, you can use it as your platform in the next election, and let’s see how much support, those of you that are still sitting waiting for more information, will get.  The question remains now, who is responsible for the wasted time and money spent on this project.
The alternative, since Mr Roustan said he was trying to buy the Montreal Canadiens, I’m sure he will have no problem coming up with a measly 325 million dollars to build the Arena on his own, considering the Montreal Canadians were sold for close to 600 million. This should be pocket change for him.
So let’s stop the In Camera meetings, be honest, open and transparent and let the public decide on what is in the best interests of Markham. The Arena if to be built, needs to be built, owned and operated with private funds

Karen Rea
Markham resident

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Parkland Dedication Deputation April 9, 2013 by Eileen Liasi

Parkland Dedication Deputation April 9, 2013 by Eileen Liasi                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Dear Council Member,

I don't believe in creating different, reduced or graduated parkland dedication standards for high density areas, not for centres or for corridors, nor do I believe in cash in lieu for this commodity. How can you put a price on fresh air, sunshine and green space?  People are people no matter where they live. The people who live in high density areas deserve just as much fresh air, sunshine and grass beneath their feet as do people who live in low density areas. In fact they may very well require more as they likely have very limited balcony space, ground space which is urban concrete and for those living on the north side of buildings and in the shadow of other buildings they likely receive little if any sunshine. To deprive this population of the quality of life their fair share of these factors provide is inhuman.

I don't believe the City will not be able to achieve urban structure without these reductions. We have enough incentives in place already to achieve urban structure. This is obviously the development industry pushing for these reductions so they are able to reduce their costs and increase their profits. The developers will not be living in these units so what do they care. They have their mansions set in beautiful parkland settings where you can't see the house for the trees and where they have ample access to fresh air and sunshine. Yet they want to deprive ordinary folk of their quality of life. 

People should not have to use their cars or take transit to get to green space. Parks should be within a reasonable walking distance for everyone. To purchase more suburban land with urban cash-in-lieu only makes the distribution of parkland more unequal, less available for use by urban dwellers and provides parkland for suburbanites which has been paid for by urban dwellers. How fair is that? 

Great cities of the world have great parks. Let's put parks for people instead of casinos for gamblers and arenas for millionaires and billionaires in our public spaces.

Eileen Liasi                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Parkland Dedication Deputation April 9, 2013 by Karen Rea

Parkland Dedication Deputation April 9, 2013 by Karen Rea

There have been many studies comparing the health of people related to the green space that surrounds them. Many of us know intuitively that green space, parks, forests and trees make us feel better. They refresh and recharge our batteries, bringing peace and tranquility. It improves our wellbeing by reducing stress and fatigue and improving mental health and longevity.

The closer the green space is to our homes, the more benefit we derive from it. In fact, there’s a growing body of research on green spaces and their positive impacts on the health and wellness of children and communities. A classic study demonstrated that patients with views of trees vs. views of a brick wall had shorter hospitalizations, less need for painkillers, and fewer negative comments in the nurses' notes.
The percentage of green space inside a one kilometre and a three kilometre radius had a significant relation to perceived general health. The relation was generally present at all degrees of urbanity. The overall relation is somewhat stronger for lower socioeconomic groups. Elderly, youth, and secondary educated people in large cities seem to benefit more from presence of green areas in their living environment than other groups in large cities.

This is not hard, and the complicated math that is shown in the reports is not necessary.
The higher the building the more people, the more people the more parkland and green space is needed, not less. All builders charge a floor premium- the same unit on a higher floor is more money. Floor premiums range from $500 to $2000 per floor.

For example Greenpark, on Markham Rd is charging $1000 per floor after the 2nd floor.
So a unit on the 20th floor is essentially $18000 more than the same unit on the
2nd floor. Builders are charging more and making more- it doesn’t cost them anymore
money to build the same unit on a higher floor, yet they are asking us to give
them a discount.

It is interesting, that we are asking the developers for money to build an Arena,
and now the developers want a break on the development charges, I guess they
want to cut the costs somehow, even though all charges are passed on to the new
homeowner. Exemptions for retirement homes and affordable housing and non-profit is not
acceptable. Everyone needs green space and everyone has the right to have some
fresh air, and a place to relax, regardless of age.

Parkland is a high quality public realm that has a tremendous value for all
As citizens, residents, taxpayers of Markham, we urge city staff and the City
Council to not lower the required amount of parkland dedication required by
builders. We should be actively conserving, protecting, restoring, enhancing, and
expanding natural areas and green space for public enjoyment, community
health, and ecosystem resiliency.”

Karen Rea

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Parkland Dedication Deputation April 9, 2013 by Donna Bush

Parkland Dedication Deputation April 9, 2013 by Donna Bush

I am saddened that Markham is even considering a reduction in parkland dedication because there are so many benefits that greenspace provides to local residents. In case not everyone on council has had the opportunity to research this topic, I would like to share some of my findings with you. You may be as surprised as I, to learn that there are huge benefits to parkland. 

Urban parks and open spaces provide many important benefits including improving overall health, increasing social and spiritual wellbeing, and enhancing environmental quality.

Some benefits that I have found include:
1.  Protection of natural environment
2.  Residents’ identity and pride
3.  Community visual appeal and function
4.  Development of strong communities
5.  Individual growth and development
6.  Prevention of social problems
7.  Reduction health problems and costs
8.  Integration of disabled, disadvantaged and socially alienated 

There are also many economic benefits listed in a publication called, “Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space: How Land Conservation Helps Communities Grow Smart and Protect the Bottom Line”. It states, “Communities around the country are learning that open space conservation is not an expense but an investment that produces important economic benefits.” 

  1. Attracting Investment: Parks and open space create a high quality of life that attracts tax-paying businesses and residents to communities;
  2. Preventing Flood Damage: Floodplain protection offers a cost-effective alternative to expensive flood-control measures;
  3. Safeguarding the Environment: Open space conservation is often the cheapest way to safeguard drinking water, clean the air, and achieve other environmental goals.

The Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences Deakin University Burwood, Melbourne states:
“...research indicates that ... humans may be dependent on nature for psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs that are difficult to satisfy by other means. Findings so far demonstrate that access to nature plays a vital role in human health, wellbeing, and development that has not been fully recognized.” 

In terms of health, parks and other natural environments have been viewed almost exclusively as venues for leisure and sport. Yet recent research shows that ‘green nature’, such as parks, can reduce crime, foster psychological wellbeing, reduce stress, boost immunity, enhance productivity, and promote healing. In fact, the positive effects on human health, particularly in urban environments, cannot be over-stated. As a result, urban planning should ensure that the communities have adequate access to nature.

Evidence shows that among other benefits viewing nature is positive for health in terms of recovering from stress, improving concentration and productivity, and improving psychological state, particularly of people in confined circumstances such as prisons and hospitals. Studies clearly demonstrate that being in a natural environment affects people positively, particularly in terms of mental health. 

Nature is important to people.

Most relevant to parks and nature are Cardiovascular Health and Mental Health.

Exposure to Nature and Greenery Makes People Healthier
A growing body of research shows that mere contact with the natural world improves physical and psychological health.
One important study reviewed the recovery of surgical patients in a Pennsylvania hospital. The rooms of some patients offered views of a stand of trees, while others faced a brown brick wall. A review of ten years of medical records showed that patients with tree views had shorter hospitalizations, less need for pain killers, and fewer negative comments in the nurses’ notes, compared with patients with brick-wall views.

“...research on recreational activities has shown that savanna-like settings are associated with self-reported feelings of ‘peacefulness,’ ‘tranquility,’ or ‘relaxation,’” Frumkin writes. “Viewing such settings leads to decreased fear and anger ... [and] is associated with enhanced mental alertness, attention, and cognitive performance...”

At this point we do not know when or where reduced parkland dedication may rear its ugly head, but we do know that it will have negative consequences on the young, the elderly, the infirmed, and for everyone in between. And, by proposing to swap parkland from those living in concrete in the sky to lower cost land away from thesParkland Dedication Deputation April 9 2013.pagese greenspace deprived taxpayers is cruel and unhealthy. 

A very interesting fact is that “Park and recreational service use continues throughout the life cycle. Recreational participation declines with age, but park use does not. In fact, people between the ages of 65 and 74 use local parks more frequently than any other age group from those 15 and older.”

Parks Support Play and Brain Development:  For small children, playing is learning. Play has proven to be a critical element in a child’s future success. Play helps kids develop muscle strength and coordination, language, cognitive thinking, and reasoning abilities.

Parks Provide Therapy for Attention Deficit Disorder:  Attention deficit disorder (ADD), is a condition that negatively impacts academic performance, peer relationships, and family harmony. In addition, children with ADD are at greater risk than their peers for low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Current treatments of medication and behavioral therapy have serious side effects or limited efficacy. 

Researchers have recently discovered that children with ADD can concentrate on schoolwork and similar tasks better than usual after taking part in activities in green settings, such as walking through or playing in a park. And the greener a child’s play area, the less severe the symptoms.

Research suggests that humans prefer nature in their landscapes because it is a key ingredient of human habitat, it is essential to our psychological and social health, and has an apparent beneficial effect on blood pressure, heart rate, mood, day-to-day effectiveness, social behaviour, cognitive functioning, and work performance.

Parks Promote the Social Health of Communities: Research shows that residents of neighbourhoods with greenery in common spaces are more likely to enjoy stronger social ties than those who live surrounded by barren concrete.
Parks and greenways can mitigate air pollution and increased temperatures. Mature tree canopies can reduce air temperature five to ten degrees and trees filter pollutants out of the air. According to American Forests, trees in Atlanta remove 19 million pounds of pollutants annually, a service worth $47 million.

In presenting this information to you today, it is my hope that this council will realize that a reduction in parkland dedication would be a very negative and short-sighted move that may pacify Markham developers, but it is definitely not in the best interests of any future Markham community. 

And, the only reason that I see for a reduction request is avarice -- in other words developers’ greed. As distasteful as this sounds, I cannot find another benefit to a reduction in parkland dedication. 

I respectfully ask each and every councillor, to vote with current and future Markham residents -- the young, the seniors, the infirmed, and all those who want to extend their good health and say NO to a reduction in parkland dedication. 

Thank you,

Donna Bush