Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Can't the Pan Am/Parapan Games Benefit the Whole Community?

Today the City of Hamilton (ON)  Council was finally allowed to see the design of the new Pan Am Stadium.  They weren't impressed.  To quote Councillor Clark (from @EmmaatTheSpec) 

"It's a glorified Ivor Wynne. It's not even close to the original (west harbour) design. But we have no authority," says Brad Clark.

I wrote a piece way back on July 13, 2010 on the Spectator's Poverty Blog No Excuses.  I've reprinted here is a bit of history and, OK I can't help myself, as "I-told-you-so.


I had problems with the pursuit of the Pan Am/Parapan Games but I put those aside when the games were actually awarded last fall.

I'm one of those guys who think these big international events don't really build community and, in fact, can do damage. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 when the unheard of happened and a man had a baby.)

But there's been some encouraging talk about "inclusivity" and "legacy" for these games. Maybe my concerns were unwarranted.

Now, with what appears to be the inevitable move of the stadium to a site apparently not even on the radar until last week, all the promised good stuff is being thrown out the window.

To win the Games, a 245-page pitch called a Bid Book was put together. Read the Legacy section (page 212):

Urban renewal is a priority as in: "Revitalize the communities in which they (the facilities) are located."

Good consultation is the way to go: "Establish consultative processes that allow the region's diverse communities to engage in the decision making in respectful and meaningful ways."

Or hear the words of Mayor Eisenberger in a Spectator piece from early May on the preferred West Harbour location:  

"…a strategic decision and, arguably, one of the most important decisions in the history of our city. Now, we must come together as a community, along with our key stakeholders and Pan Am partners, to get on with the task of planning for the Games.

"The legacy of the Pan Am Games will be social inclusion, healthy and active living, engagement of our young people, economic growth and civic pride. That future starts now."

But here we go, to paraphrase Councillor McHattie, letting private interests dictate what is good for the community.

In April, following publication of its disturbing Code Red series, the Spectator held a public forum.  Terry Cooke, one of the panelists that evening, was quite clear that we've created some of our problems through bad planning decisions: The kind of decisions that promote urban sprawl and ignore the needs of existing neighbourhoods. I guess we haven't learned anything.    

With the clock ticking down, I hope people will speak out in the next month. If we are going ahead with these events in Hamilton (and I think the "if" should now be a consideration), the Games need to benefit the whole community.

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