Brantford’s Gretzky Centre: ballooning bill

Taxpayers cannot afford the blank cheque mentality too many governments have toward sports spending.  Pan American and Parapan American Games come to mind, as does Brantford, Ontario’s Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre (WGSC).

WGSC, Brantford, Ontario ©

WGSC, Brantford, Ontario  ©

The WGSC opened in 2013 after years of delays and cost overruns.  The original 2007 budget was $37 Million.  The final price tag:  $64.3 Million.  That’s  approximately 74% over the original budget.  To date, $1.3 Million still needs to be raised to pay off that bill.

Now, Brantford city hall staff say that the sports complex or “athletics complex” needs the following defects fixed at a cost of $1 Million:

– a sprinkler system malfunction in an entranceway due to cold temperatures (this is Canada, eh?)

– the centre’s canopy leaks

– property drainage issues caused by culvert and catch basin problems

This leaves taxpayers scratching their heads, again.

Yes, some people have made positive comments about the renovations.  But, singing the praises of the WGSC should not be used to mask the apparent flaws in the mechanics of the process that left taxpayers with a ballooning bill.

One of Brantford’s few deep thinkers, Mr. Van Dongen has correctly said that Brantford city councillors, as “guardians of the public purse,” have been too quiet on this issue.  Why are the councillors who are members of the Brant Taxpayers Coalition MIA?  City council somewhat redeemed itself by asking that the architect and contractors be pressed to make good on the repair costs.

What lessons can a city learn from this project?

The culvert and catch basin problems, ironically, remind us where a city’s priority should be—essential infrastructure.


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