By PAM DOUGLAS
Special to Focus
Brampton councillors have told former mayor Peter Robertson they are “excited” about his proposal to build two major baseball stadiums — one convertible to cricket and kabaddi use — and have asked city staff to analyze it and come back with a report.
Whether or not the city will look at it in tandem with another attempt at a Pan Am Games bid will have to be decided at next Wednesday’s council meeting, where politicians will consider re-opening their February decision to give the baseball/softball site bid for the 2015 games a pass.
Robertson came to Committee of Council Wednesday to pitch his idea of building a baseball stadium/kabaddi and cricket field on city land at the Powerade Centre and a baseball stadium on Rosalea Park.
He was told to bring the idea to committee last week after he was denied a hearing because the issue was not on the council agenda. He said last week it would be too late, but said today the new “drop-dead” deadline for a Pan Am Games bid for baseball/softball is mid-June.
Most councillors who spoke at today’s committee of council meeting focused on the proposal to build a stadium downtown, on Rosalea Park, where an underground parking garage would accommodate 300-400 vehicles and could, according to Robertson, solve the city’s multi-million dollar flooding problem in the area. It would also include the creation of a river walk.
“I like the downtown one, I think it’s excellent,” said City Councillor Bob Callahan, who emphasized cost is a concern and whether or not the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) would approve the flooding solution offered by the plan.
Robertson said the TRCA has told his group that they can’t answer that question in time for a potential Pan Am Games bid, but Robertson said if the TRCA doesn’t sign off, the other option is to get two alternate signatures— from the Minister of the environment and the minister of housing.
Some councillors said the stadium in Rosalea and the stadium next to the Powerade Centre could be looked at separately on their merits, and apart from any possible Pan Am Games bid.
Robertson said no taxpayer money would be added to the tax bill to build both. The $37 million needed to build would come from the Games, private “investors” and $20 million would be fundraised by him, current Mayor Susan Fennell and councillors. They could approach area developers and ask for $1 million from each, he said. He didn’t identify the private investors interested, or what they would get in return for their investment.
He said, “We don’t have a hard and fast budget, but it’s somewhere around $37 million,” and if councillors fall short on fundraising, the plan can be scaled back.
His partner, Bruce Haines, who ran against Fennell last election, was in Toronto that same morning meeting with potential investors, he said.
However, developer John Cutruzzola, who had developed the Rosalea Park idea on his own as part of his city hall expansion proposal, did not attend the meeting with Robertson. He has requested to be on next week’s council agenda to present the plan specifically for Rosalea Park on his own.
Three other residents were there to support the plan, though, and one entrepreneur offering his social network services to help boost Brampton’s profile during the Games if they did come here.
The staff report will examine a long list of issues including traffic, parking, operating costs, land ownership and procurement.
City Manager Deborah Dubenofsky said it would also look at the Council Code of Conduct to see if councillors are permitted to ask for donations from developers to build infrastructure.
Dubenofsky told council any bid to secure the games would have to come from the city, according to the rules, and as such, Brampton taxpayers would be the ones to “backstop the bid” and would be responsible for “all the obligations”.
By PAM DOUGLAS