“All I can say is it would be a sizeable help if it comes through,” said Gord Singleton, a former cycling world champion who joined the local velodrome fundraising campaign in the fall.
Singleton said he’s been told not to discuss the source or amount of the mystery money, but Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said in a radio interview Friday an “interested prospective partner” has surfaced and “several million dollars is being talked about.”
“We’re not out of the game yet in regards to the velodrome,” he said in the interview.
That was news to Milton Councillor Mike Cluett.
Pan Am officials appeared to rule out Hamilton as a velodrome site earlier this month when they announced Milton as the preferred host pending the signing of a funding agreement by Jan. 24.
“Milton will have to decline (the velodrome) before Hamilton would ever be considered,” said Cluett via email. “Mayor Bratina now realizes that with all (council’s) dithering around they lost the opportunity … Hamilton had many opportunities but didn’t get the job done.”
The Spectator couldn’t reach a Pan Am official Tuesday to comment on whether a beefed-up Hamilton bid would be considered.
Hamilton started out as the preferred velodrome location but lost that status in October after Pan Am officials rejected the city’s $5-million offer towards a facility that could cost $45 million.
Milton plans to commit even less taxpayer cash to the facility, but has announced close to $9 million in private pledges from firms and foundations headed by Mattamy Homes president Peter Gilgan.
Singleton said he thought the secret funding boost under discussion locally could “swing the momentum back” to Hamilton, noting the Milton bid and funding sources aren’t finalized.
News of the funding boost had yet to widely circulate at City Hall Tuesday. Several councillors said they were unaware the extra funding had been secured, while others said they weren’t pleased to learn of the project’s resurrection.
“I believe this unaffordable velodrome is an unfortunate expense and cost to the residents of Hamilton,” said Councillor Sam Merulla. “Milton is geographically close enough for Hamilton residents to access without having to spend $5 million.”
The Spectator couldn’t reach Bratina Tuesday for additional information about the mystery funding. His chief of staff, Peggy Chapman, said the mayor wouldn’t be available for an interview until January.
Mark Chamberlain, the chair of the fundraising cabinet, didn’t respond to requests for an interview Tuesday. Vocal campaign cabinet member Andrew Iler wouldn’t confirm or deny the donation report, but said the group hasn’t given up on winning the velodrome and continues to chase donations big and small.
The fundraising cabinet, which includes several high-profile cyclists such as Singleton, Curt Harnett and Clara Hughes, announced earlier this month it had raised more than $1 million through smaller donations.
Again for those who missed the special council meeting last night regarding the velodrome issue, please click the following link. More details and comments to come. If you have any questions or concerns please email me email@example.com
Council overwhelmingly endorsed a commitment to move forward as the Pan Am velodrome’s preferred site during last night’s special council meeting.Council voted nine to two in favour of committing to funding 44 per cent of the costs of the velodrome, with only Ward 2 Councillor Greg Nelson and Ward 4 Councillor Rick Malboeuf voting against the staff-supported recommendation.
While it’s looking like a strong possibility world-renowned bikers from across the Americas will be descending on Milton during the 2015 Pan Am Games, a business plan will have to be worked out before council enters into a binding agreement with Pan Am organizers over the estimated $40 million facility.
“You hear that other municipalities tried and turned it down, so why are we moving forward with it,” said Ward 6 Councillor Mike Cluett. “We have a good working relationship with the private sector. That’s the only way this project will move forward. This is going to put a big spotlight on the town of Milton and that’s exactly what we want to do. We want to bring people to Milton.”
If approved by council, Milton will be on the hook for $17.6 million in velodrome funding, plus the cost of land and servicing the site.
Council was presented with letters of support from Mattamy Homes and TD Canada Trust, to name a few, during last night’s meeting.
Mattamy President and CEO Peter Gilgan has committed $7 million in pledged donations and $2 million for exclusive naming rights of the velodrome. Gilgan and Tim Hockey, TD Canada Trust president and CEO, also pledged support to rally behind a $3 million fundraising campaign.
“We recognize that the establishment of a permanent velodrome in Milton, already a hot bed of cycling, is a ‘game-changer’ for the sport in Canada,” wrote Hockey in a letter to the Town.
Staff will take the next month or so to work out a business plan that will identify any financial risks the Town may face in hosting facility and verify a cycling legacy in Milton.
Council will decide whether to give the project the final stamp of approval or not once the business plan is presented sometime early next year.
The Town has hired Sierra Planning and Management, the same firm that developed the Hamilton velodrome business plan, to draft the Milton version at a cost of no more than $95,000.
Malboeuf questioned the cost of the business plan. “How much money is it to edit out Hamilton and put in Milton?” he asked.
However, staff said the plan must be drafted using Milton data and taking into account the shared amenities and partnerships with the Milton Education Village, the planned site for the velodrome.
Malboeuf insisted since the velodrome debate came to light, he hasn’t heard any support for it from residents. “My concern is any time government gets involved in something, it doesn’t come out as planned…should something happen and the fundraising doesn’t come about, it’s the people of Milton who are on the hook.”
But Mayor Gord Krantz, who’s remained a strong supporter of the facility, said the velodrome would put Milton on the map.
Milton to pursue Pan Am Games velodrome
MILTON Town council is pedalling forward with the idea of the 2015 Pan Am Games velodrome being built here after Hamilton and Vaughan parked their interests over funding questions.
Council voted 9-2 Monday night to accept a report from community services director Jennifer Reynolds to have staff look at the scheme — but with strings attached.
They committed to funding the local share of $17.6 million required for the indoor cycling facility, but only if the project cost does not exceed $40 million.
They committed to hiring a consultant to prepare a business plan — Sierra Planning and Management, which did a report for Hamilton — but not to spend any more than $95,000 for it and any other analysis. Council was told the due diligence could take four to six weeks.
Councillors also agreed Mayor Gordon Krantz would not sign any agreements with senior government levels and 2015 organizers until completion of the business plan and verification of operating costs, community use and cycling legacy needs.
Milton staff had been lukewarm to the velodrome idea after Hamilton turned it down, but the town lately received letters of financial assistance — or what Reynolds called “significant commitments” — from the private sector. This included a promise from Mattamy Homes president and CEO Peter Gilgan to donate $7 million from his firms and foundation, plus $2 million for naming rights.
The proposed site for the velodrome is in the Milton Education Village, where the town is hoping to locate a Wilfrid Laurier University campus, at Tremaine and Derry roads.
Krantz and Councillor Mike Cluett were excited about what the velodrome will mean for Milton, with Cluett saying it was a good investment, would create jobs “and will definitely put Milton on the map.”
Both men said, however, it would not be going forward without support from the private sector.
“The only way this project can move forward is with co-operation from the private sector,” Cluett added. “It helps lessen the burden on the taxpayer.”
Reynolds’ report outlined $19.8 million coming from the “host” community. She said $3.8 million would come from the town, $7 million from Gilgan, $2 million from naming rights, $3 million from a fundraising campaign, $2.5 million from the education village partner (not confirmed) and $1.5 million from in-kind capital.
Councillor Rick Malboeuf, who had opposed the velodrome at the outset last month, complimented staff on the report. He said, however, all calls he got from residents were against Milton getting involved and that his comfort level had still not been met.
“My concern is that when governments get involved with something, it doesn’t come out as planned,” added Malboeuf.
Murray Noble, senior vice-president of infrastructure for the 2015 Games, attended the meeting. In a letter to council, he said Games officials would work closely with town staff over the next four to six weeks as the velodrome plan is finalized.
Voting to proceed were Krantz, regional councillors Colin Best and Tony Lambert, and councillors Cluett, Sharon Barkley, Rick Di Lorenzo, Zeeshan Hamid, Arnold Huffman and Cindy Lunau. Voting against were Malboeuf and Greg Nelson.