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behind the scenes of the Velodrome

A reader of this blog sent the following background to me to share here. There appears to be a very interesting back-story to the ongoing Velodrome siting issue. 

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Regarding your recent web posting “millions more to encroach on Cootes?”, two main points need clarifying.  First, you say, “they are still talking about siting it in Dundas”.  Actually there is only one person/group calling for this.  This is Andrew Iler of the National Cycling Centre Hamilton.

Iler is a politically connected lawyer from Hamilton who is directing a cycling organization created by the corporate right wing lobby.  This NCCH is not democratic and is not connected to the cycling community.  As well, it has no connection to the city of Hamilton.  John Kernaghan and the Hamilton Spectator (Torstar Corporation) have done everything they can to try and legitimize Iler and the so-called National Cycling Centre.

The city of Hamilton and the cycling community want the velodrome in a prominent location with excellent transportation links (West Harbour / Liuna GO station) not out at Dundas. 

Jagoda Pike (CEO of Pan Am bid committee / Torstar kingpin) also led the Hamilton Commonwealth Games bid.  For that, first she declared there would be no velodrome, then, when she had to include the cycling track she said it would be a temporary facility built in a soccer park in Ancaster.  The only thing different this time is she and Iler have substituted Dundas for Ancaster.

The minutes of the Committee of the Whole meeting of August 10th have just been posted to the city of Hamilton’s website.  

From this document it does not seem that Iler has reiterated his preference for the Dundas site at this meeting.

By the way, the idea for this velodrome to be based on the Manchester example was all Iler’s.  He was told that it was totally impractical but didn’t care.  The city of Hamilton commissioned a study for the velodrome from a consultancy group.   Council has received the draft report, entitled, “Business Plan for the Development of a Velodrome for the 2015 Pan American Games in the City of Hamilton”.

In the minutes to the Meeting of the Whole it says that this report is attached as Appendix “A” to Report CM10005.  It calls for a modest permanent facility (not a tent or a bubble) that could have as few as 500 fixed seats – not Iler’s 3200 seat behemoth.

This leads me to the second point that needs clarifying.  As I said, Jagoda Pike first stated that because of the bad economy there would be no Pan Am velodrome, then said that there would be one but it would only receive minimal funding and would have to be put under a temporary cover (air supported or tension fabric structure).  The city took the money they were allocated on this basis, added their own share according to the funding formula, and came up with the $11.4 million number.
What’s happened here is that the bid book clearly states that this has to be a permanent facility.  The local cycling community has told the city that this will cost at least $21 million (e.g. Wales National Velodrome), and the recently released consultants report backs us up on that.

What Hamilton council has done is vote to give permission for city staff to approach the federal and provincial governments and make them aware of these facts and ask for the extra money.  This is not at all the same as cost over-runs at the Montreal Olympic Velodrome, for example.

I attended the city sponsored Pan Am velodrome consultation meeting back in May and have kept in close touch with Diane Lapointe-Kay (Director of Recreation, City of Hamilton).  What ultimately happens with this velodrome project I could not say, but it appears that city staff are listening and researching and being responsible with public money.  One thing for sure, they are not taking any direction from Andrew Iler and the so-called National Cycling Centre.

I think the city is determined to have this project built at West Harbour.  The Committee of the Whole report makes no mention directly of the preferred velodrome site.  However, if you contact your local councillor I think they will verify that West Harbour is still Hamilton’s preferred location for the Pan Am velodrome. Thank you for creating awareness of this issue.  I share your feelings about Cootes Paradise and commend your efforts.

Chuck Bonnaffon


James Curran said…
What appears to be happening "behind the scenes" here is that Mr. Iler may have "wronged" Mr. Bonnaffon in some past life.

Certainly, Mr. Bonnaffon has an agenda of "It's all about Iler" rather than getting a velodrome for Hamilton before we lose it to the likes of Markham.

"Iler is a politically connected lawyer from Hamilton who is directing a cycling organization created by the corporate right wing lobby"

Right wing lobby? The guy was president of the local liberals!

"This NCCH is not democratic and is not connected to the cycling community. As well, it has no connection to the city of Hamilton."

No connection to Hamilton? WTH?

Tell that to these kids and this councillor:

"The city of Hamilton and the cycling community want the velodrome in a prominent location with excellent transportation links (West Harbour / Liuna GO station) not out at Dundas."

Sure they do Chuck. Cause there's so many open spaces downtown to cycle in isn't there Chuck? Sure. The kids will ride right down the tracks there at Liuna.

And, every parent wants their children riding through downtown Hamilton after school don't they Chuck?

Sure beats climbing Sydenham, doesn't it? Yep, lots of hills to climb down in the City Centre. I'll sign my teenage kids up for that any day.

I suggest Mr. Bonnaffon climb off his high, Andrew Iler hating, horse and get with the program before the city of Hamilton loses another Commonwealth facility.
Randy said…
Dear James - it seems the Ancaster News article had to be corrected by Mr Iler on the NCCH facebook page

"Please note one correction, Sarah Rasmussen is a member of the Hamilton Cycling Club, not the NCCH. Sarah is an Ancaster athlete and we wanted to make sure that she gets the acknowledgement that she from her great results.

The main part of the story is that Ancaster/Hamilton athletes are champions and that the velodrome will only enhance our home-grown athletes abilities to win major championships!!"
Sean said…
James, your post is so wet with sarcasm that it's dripping from my screen onto the desk.

We all want what's best for cyclists and for Hamilton.

Can we keep this discussion civil?

Your derisive comments about downtown Hamilton betray your potential motivation - a drive-in-and-park-for-free experience.

We must consider all potential users of the velodrome when discussing its location.

Where will visiting athletes stay?

You speak of the children (by the way, many children do cycle and walk through downtown after school). What about the ones whose parents do not own cars? Shall we leave them all behind?

Hamilton's permanent velodrome should be located in the heart of the city where it is accessible equally to all citizens... even if you personally hate the core.

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