After years of suggesting that the stadium would not be paid for by public funds, the cat is finally out of the bag. Nothing seems sufficient to support the ambition and madness of the greatness of Stephen Bronfman and the wealthy investors who fantasize about the return of a baseball team to Montreal. Until now, the Montreal Baseball Group asked for nothing less (!) Than the winding up of federal land in the Peel Basin, municipal infrastructures created specifically for the project, a bespoke REM station and permissible regulation for a luxury mega project that will make the stadium profitable. And now it is the taxpayers’ money that is being asked by the Quebec government to finance the construction of the stadium. We can bet that the next step will be tax holidays and tax breaks.
Nothing to be surprised by here. Investors are obviously more interested in becoming shareholders in the Tampa Bay Rays and lucrative real estate developments around the stadium than in financing the construction of the stadium itself. But it is shocking that Mr. Legault immediately welcomes such a proposal with such openness that is beyond comprehension.
Rarely have we seen so much controversy and skepticism about the possibility and profitability of the stadium project, from all backgrounds and even among baseball fans. Reactions are everywhere to the obscenity of tapping into the treasury in favor of billionaire investors, especially for a hypothetical team project in joint custody with the majority of US shareholders, in the midst of a global pandemic.
Mr. Legault, have you read the studies (many!) Which show that the supposed consequences of establishing a stadium in a city are in fact zero or insignificant, without benefit to the local population or return on public investment? It is difficult to better illustrate the recipe – unfortunately too well known – about socializing losses and privatizing profits …
Mr. Legault, do you hear the indignant reactions of all the people who are suffering from the consequences of the pandemic, and who remind you of what the budget priorities will be for the coming years? Poor household and homeless populations, elderly in CHSLDs, immigrants and people with insecure status, young people struggling with mental health problems, abused women, employees and population victims for chronic underfunding of health and education institutions, community groups at the end of the role, businesses and businesses undermined of twelve months of sanitation … The list of important needs to invest quickly is endless, and does not include the crazy dream of a handful of investors.
As a community group in the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood, we are once again sending the question to public debate: Even before we ask how a stadium should be financed, Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa must take a stand on the very relevance of a stadium on Peel Basin. Will they choose to sell one of the last public lands in downtown Montreal to private interests for a mega-real estate complex with luxury and tourist apartments? Or will they take the necessary turn: reserving these countries for a living environment on a human scale and resilient in the face of the environmental crisis and pandemic, by meeting the real and urgent needs of the population in housing, jobs, services? such as parks, schools, kindergartens, sports and public transport centers? For the Action Guard, the answer is obvious, while Pointe-Saint-Charles, like other key neighborhoods, suffers completely from the effects of real estate speculation and gentrification.
The stadium project was already indefensible in the Peel Basin long before the pandemic crisis and Claridge’s registration in the lobbyist register for public funding. Monsieur Legault, take action, and fast! We have no money or public land to waste.
Karine Triollet, Action-Guardian, Pointe-Saint-Charles Community Development Corporation (CDC) *
* Group of 25 organizations from the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood working collectively to improve the living conditions of the population. The Action Guard recently led a popular planning operation to design a comprehensive population plan for the future of the Bridge-Bonaventure sector, including the Peel Basin.
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