Yup, it's already started. I shouldn't be surprised, as I predicted this, but still....
My small city is building a new 'Events Center' after many years of the public crying out for one. According to supporters of the project, 'the majority' of city residents want this. But that is based on computer polls not like a city referendum or anything like that. Only people with access to computers and 'friending' certain groups on facebook, twitter, etc or following certain blogs, and people who voted in our local tv station polls online did the voting. I'm not sure how the results from that constitute 'the majority' but whatever. I saw some polls that were 60 to 80% in favor (some with only a couple hundred people voting) and some where barely 50% were in favor. Regardless, the City has finally decided to go ahead with the plan and build the new Events Center to house our WHL team and hold other events like concerts. To the tune of at least $60 million dollars. In a city of 60,000, that's $1000 per resident... or $3681 per family according to various census data online. Just to build it. Who knows how much it will cost to keep it running after the fact, or if it goes over budget (but of course, we all know govt projects neverrrr go over budget, oh no!)....
So this is where the Bitch and Moan Club starts up. a local radio station asks it's listeners if they would be willing to pay for parking at the center in order to help the city recoup building costs. the VAST majority responding on there said NO. They even sounded offended.
Oh okay, so the minority of city residents who will actually use this facility are not willing to pay more, but willing to let the majority of people that WON'T use it pay for it. That sounds fair, doesnt it? I'm tired of people saying 'the majority' want it - it can only hold about 7000 people and there are 60,000 people in the city so do the math - the majority do NOT use it obviously. I go into the seat totals more later, but just thought i would throw that out there.
They don't want to pay extra, in the form of user fees basically, to help the city build this center, or pay it off afterward? Why not? They wanted the darn thing - according to those polls, the majority of people in this city wanted it, demanded it even - but now the majority don't want to pay for parking fees while CHOOSING to attend it?
I have not visited the current/old arena in about 12 years - why should I risk my property taxes going up more, or higher utility admin fees or some other such form of increased taxation just to help everyone that wanted this place pay for it? Why can't they suck it up and know that parking fees are probably going to happen, and higher ticket prices than at the current center, higher concession stand prices, etc? Why do they think 'the City' can fork out over 60 million bucks in building costs and then run the place with a profit after opening? They would first have to come up with 60 million smackers (minimum) to break back to zero... then continue running the place and paying for staff, cleaning, upkeep, promotional materials, supplies, food, parking lot mainenance and snow removal, utilities, etc and making a profit at the same time.
The Events Center is proposed to have around 7000 seats for hockey games, and between 7000 and 8000 for concerts etc, depending on the set up. At opening it is to have 5500 seats, and more opened/installed as they see how demand goes. The current arena holds 4006 and has never met capacity according to various sources I read online. The closest was in 2008 when it was 218 seats short of sold-out. Now they think that magically after the 39 years it was open (remember, it was brand new back in the old days and snazzy and the WHL team used to win the Memorial Cup and have a blast and was very very popular, but even that did not sell out crowds, back when the traffic getting to and from was not bad at all, the city was much smaller and easier to get around in, etc etc).... they think magically they can fill a new one with nearly double the capacity? Interesting. But whatever.
My point is - I watched people bitch and moan about the prospect of paying more if they actually USE the center, and i just do not understand how they think its okay for everyone else in the City to pay more instead, whether they use it or not. This is not a school, it's not a hospital, it's an event center that may or may not hold cool concerts and will hold one hockey team and it's visiting team. That's it. But they don't want to pay more. I don't get it. I thought Alberta was a conservative-leaning province? my city in fact dumped out the PC mla in the last election for the WILDROSE mla, and so did the neighbouring county --- yet everyone acts like they want something for nothing, or want something and expect someone else to foot the bill. That doesnt sound very conservative to me! It's mind boggling and quite simply disgusting!
To end, I saw someone complain that the City said they can afford it, and then start looking for ways to charge people more (oh booohoooo). Why does everyone think the City can afford it (for one thing, the majority of money the city gets is from US through taxes - duh)? The City cannot seem to fix all that needs to be done around here, roads are crappy in lots of areas, traffic backed up the ying yang, 50 year old sewer system needs to be replaced, etc. what they mean is they can afford to pay for it right now, but they need to recoup the money asap afterwards for future spending projects that the city is supposed to be doing like infrastructure, schools, blah blah etc. I know that the WHL is saying our arena sucks now and they threatened to pull the team if we don't fix things up, but it's a WHL team! something that has yet to draw in a sell-out crowd. It's not essential to the survival of the city and from what I have heard, the team has not paid rent on the arena in YEARS, so all these people that supposedly support the team are obviously not coming out in droves to help keep them here. I doubt that the team actually brings as much money into the city as people seem to think - if they cant pay their rent, that means they are tanking, not profiting. if they buy stuff in the city but dont pay the rent on the building, they are not actually helping the city residents financially at all - that would be IN THE RED folks.