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"The State is Concentric, but the Individual is Eccentric", James Joyce

King City BLACK and Blue Over Schomberg Rec Centre

Posted by Cleve Mortelliti On October - 3 - 2010

There was a point during this term of council where I thought there was the possibility that Mayor Black might redeem herself to King City residents for the tumult she brought here during her tenure as Mayor vis a vis the King City Community Plan process and the implementation of sanitary servicing. But that quickly evaporated when she slammed the door on a prime opportunity to pull this Township together by misappropriating a 10 million dollar grant from the provincial and federal governments.

Doing the right thing by King City (and Nobleton) could have all but secured her re-election as Mayor. There is no doubt the Schomberg Arena was in dire need of replacement, but even though that building is 50 years old and well past its service life, the King City Arena is 40 years old and not far behind.

With council having passed a Parks and Recreation Master Plan in 2004 after extensive public consultation, the plan going forward was to build a multi pad, multi use facility that could service the whole Township. A facility with 3 ice rinks all under one roof. And with the clock ticking on the Schomberg Arena, and the growing threat of it being condemned after having seen a similar fate to an arena up in Orillia, the timing of stimulus money could not have been better. A golden egg of opportunity to fulfill the vision of the Master Plan literally dropped into council’s lap. But instead of our Mayor using her vote to spread the wealth by acting on viable options to service the greater population of the Township of King, she instead chose the path of political opportunism, locationally isolating King City from the new rec centre in the process, and pillaging its bounty of development charges to fill in the funding gaps. In terms of recreational options King City’s residents now find themselves stranded at the edge of Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Aurora. With its population poised to explode to 12,000, the Township broke and begging to the Ontario Municipal Board to increase its debt capacity, the reality is that there is little to no money left in reserves, and no chance over the next 20 years of expanding the King City Arena to meet the oncoming demand of 7,000 new residents, over and above the existing 5,000. (Schomberg’s current population is 2,500 (half of King City’s) and is only expected to grow to a mere 3,300 by 2021)

For many here in King City, a sense of betrayal pervades the village, because it now looks like doing the right thing by King City was never on the radar. Instead, King City has been used as a cash cow. A means to an end. And that means, and that end looks like this:

  1. Force Sewers into King City
  2. Balloon the population to 12,000
  3. Collect Development Charge revenue from the new development
  4. Leverage that money to serve the least population

Growth Creates Demand

King City is the largest urban centre in King Township with an existing population of 5,000, but that population is projected to grow to about 12,000 by 2021. Nobleton and Schomberg’s future populations put together amount to only 9,800. (Nobleton 6,500 and Schomberg 3,300 by 2021).

Based on electoral results for Wards 1 and 5 over the past decade, the majority voted against the sewer and the accompanying growth. That’s not to say that there were not people who wanted growth, nor does this statement discount some of the benefits that accompany growth, but the fact is the majority of Wards one and five said NO to this. Yet it was councillors outside of Wards one and five that chose to move against those councillors and the people who elected them. That alone has been enough to muster a feeling of mistrust of the Township council here in King City.

But for those residents who supported the sewer project in King City, consider this and ask yourself, is everything unfolding as you had hoped?

One of the benefits of growth comes via the collection of development charges revenue. This money is collected by the municipality to augment and increase services that will service the projected growth, like in the expansion or building of recreational complexes. To be able to enroll your kids in hockey, figure skating and swimming at a fair and reasonable cost, to be able to join a fitness centre in a local facility with an indoor pool, and to be able to do this all under one roof – these are truly some of the tangible and worthwhile benefits of growth that we have watched occur in our neighbouring municipalities. And seeing as both King City and Nobleton are projected to substantially increase their populations it is unavoidable that a substantial increase in the demand for services is going to occur in those places.

Why then, would your council choose to build a new “Township Recreation Facility“, the only one we will see for some time to come, in a Village that has 1/3 the population of the largest growth centre, and in a location that is the greatest distance from the largest growth centre? Does this strike you as a fair and equitable determination by your council? I ask this of all residents of King Township. Was this the right decision, a fair decision, for ALL the residents of King Township? Does it serve the majority of the population?

Location, Location, Location

Pulling politics out of the equation, the best business model for this facility would have placed it right at Highway 400 and King Road, where the Township owns land, where hundreds of thousands of cars drive past it every single day, and where memberships and naming rights would have been an easy sell. But recognizing that time was of the essence in obtaining this grant, was there another option that could at least give the appearance of equity? One that could appease the politics of location and the needs outlined in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan? YES. There most definitely was. The Village of Nobleton could have easily been argued as the best location for such a facility. This village has the newest among the three existing arenas in the municipality, and Nobleton has both the servicing, and the land required (on the existing arena site) for the expansion – land owned by the Township.

Click to Enlarge

The distance for King City and Schomberg residents to travel to Nobleton is virtually the same. Also, an additional ice hockey pad could have been built, instead of the dedicated curling rink, thereby instantly creating a three pad facility that services the majority while allowing for further expansion for either a pool or a dedicated curling rink . Had we done this, we would have been well on our way to achieving the goals set out in the Master Plan. This would have addressed the issues that exist with the aging arenas in Schomberg and King City (the two oldest) leaving those buildings available for reuse as indoor recreational facilities, or to be sold to generate revenue to pay down the debt on the new Township facility, or to further expand recreational services in the Township.

A 15 Million Dollar Opportunity to Build Township Unity – Squandered

We could have named the three pads after the 3 main urban centres i.e. The Schomberg Rink, The King City Rink and the Nobleton Rink. This would have encouraged the amalgamation of the NobleKing & Schomberg Hockey Associations into one thereby promoting healthy competition within our Municipality, not to mention creating efficiencies that might bring down the cost of hockey for parents while helping everyone to stay under one roof instead of driving all over the country side from one rink to the other. It would bring operating costs down, and if we sold the existing municipal offices/retail plaza in King City, we could use that money to build a proper administrative wing onto this multi-use facility and possibly build the indoor pool that most tax payers said they wanted.

Click to Enlarge

It would also help to promote some healthy economic development in the core of King City, instead of the Township cannibalizing its own commercial tax base by occupying arguably the most valuable piece of village core real estate in the Township of King, and handing developers the argument they needed (market demand study) to direct commercial retail to the King & Dufferin site because King City has a lack of retail. So many willfully mishandled decisions guided by a faction of councillors representing a minority of interests – enabled by the Mayor. And don’t forget, that although the Township will receive almost 10 million dollars in grant money from the province and feds, King Township must still match the respective one third portion of a 15 million dollar project i.e. almost 5 million dollars.

And so what stings the most for King City rate payers is that King City has been forced to grow, against the wishes of its electorate, to a future population of 12,000 by 2021.

Yet the benefits that usually come from growth such as development charge dollars that should be used to increase the service level in the area where growth is occurring, is instead being spent to disproportionately increase services in a part of the Township with the least population.

If this facility were going into Nobleton, I would at least have some logical basis, or moral ground to advocate the concept to the residents of King City, on the basis of servicing, zero land cost, fairness and Township unity. But a curling rink? In Schomberg? Not a chance. Residents here are down right angry. Livid in fact. Even those who’ve voted for Mayor Black in the past are admitting disillusionment. But the extra kick in the pants to all King Township residents will be felt when the unrealistic funding formula to cover the Township’s third can’t be met as we are already seeing with the naming rights estimate of $750,000 missing the mark by $450,000. That shortfall alone equates to a 4.5% increase on your tax bill – now what about the rest?. Try a 20% plus tax increase on for size folks.

The Mayor Must Be Made Accountable

I realize that many who are excited about the new facility do not look favorably on the position I have taken. But upon examination of the facts, I know that anyone with an ounce of open mindedness can see that a serious inequity has been permitted to unfold, in fact facilitated – by our Mayor – who was more focused on her bid for federal politics than she was in ensuring that 12,000 of her existing and future electors in King City were being served fairly.

Was a curling rink the right decision over a pool? Do the needs and wishes of the residents of King City mean nothing? Was Schomberg the fairest location to build this facility or was Nobleton? Why did she spend tax payers dollars on this Master Plan? Why did she toss it out the window?

One thing is certain, that if the tables were turned and council approved a 15 million dollar state of the art bocce court in King City, thereby leveraging virtually all the money the Township will have to spend toward fitness and recreation over the next 20 years, I wonder how Schomberg residents would feel about that – as their 50 year old building was closed down for good, with residents forced to drive to facilities outside of King to accommodate their needs. 10 million dollar grants don’t exactly grow on trees, they come by maybe once in a generation. For King City residents it seems quite apparent that when the Mayor and 3 other members of this council, (who do not live in King City or Nobleton) had the chance, and the power, to serve their Township, they instead slammed the door in our faces. From this side of the Township, one can’t help but wonder if this was the plan all along.

  1. Force Sewers into King City
  2. Balloon the population to 12,000
  3. Collect Development Charge revenue from the new development
  4. Leverage that money to serve the least population

I can tell you, that the anger amongst many of my constituents is real. As King City residents recount and absorb the sequence of events that began 15 years ago to bring us to where we are today, the feeling grows that King City and (now recently) Nobleton have been used as a means to an end. And that end has materialized itself as a 4 pad curling rink, and so called “Township of King Recreation Facility” – in the smallest village in King.

Click to Read Full Article

And the twisted irony is, that the only village in this Township with the word “King” in its name, feels less a part of King Township with each passing day as its residents are forced to go to Aurora, Richmond Hill, Maple and Newmarket to get the kind of municipal services that their own council had not only the power, but the ethical and moral responsibility to provide, yet willfully chose not to.

In speaking with a curling patron excited about this new facility, he said “but King City is getting a new outdoor ball hockey court and skate park.” But here are the facts. The total budget for this small project in King City amounts to $180,000. It was initiated by the King City Lions who are donating $30,000 to it. Additionally, $30,000 that I negotiated from Shoppers Drug Mart is going into it, along with an additional $45,000 that was negotiated with another land developer in King City for a total of $105,000 of privately secured funds. This will more than cover the first phase being the ball hockey court, with the skate park dependent on whatever can be obtained through grants. Where as Schomberg is getting the full benefit of a 10 million dollar grant, with the additional 5 million dollars coming directly from development in King City, as well from taxes that the whole Township will be forced to pay. A double and triple whammy to every resident who lives in or near King City – present and future.

This is why it is true, that a sense of betrayal pervades King City, one that will not soon be forgotten, as the population here quickly balloons, and the demand for recreational services out paces the supply.

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7 Responses

  1. Greg Locke Says:

    Cleve,

    This is an excellent, excellent article.

    I wish every voter in King Township would read it. It sheds light on so many flaws in our current leadership.

    I sincerely plan for us to work together in unison with the rest of the incoming Council to address these long-standing shortcomings.

    Sincerely,

    Greg Locke
    Candidate, Ward 4

    Posted on October 3rd, 2010 at 5:50 pm

  2. Tony S. Says:

    This financial issue has been in existence in King Township since I moved here in 1978 and I have yet to see any visual progress other than general city maintenance. Why is King City tax money used to build Schomberg? If we want to share in these projects it sounds resonable to me to build public amenities where everyone would have access. What do we have here? a Robin Hood approach to governing in King Township? No vote… for Black as Mayor.

    Posted on October 3rd, 2010 at 5:54 pm

  3. Jim Streb Says:

    Cleve,
    I’ve long noticed that Black, Pabst, Rupke, and Cober have tried (with great success) to divide the Township and convince everyone to ignore the plight of our fellow residents so long as we can reap some small advantage. Most recently, the Flawed Four have pitted residents of the Marsh (Peaker Plant) against residents of Nobleton (forced connection to an unneeded and unwanted sewer) against residents of Schomberg (the new recreational facility), against King City (the completion of the sewer project). In each case, we have been encouraged to consider only our own problem, and encouraged to look upon the other issues as someone else’s issue and as something with little impact on us.

    As residents of King Township, we must try to consider the Township-wide implications of all our local decisions.

    Posted on October 4th, 2010 at 8:36 am

  4. Cathy Wellesley Says:

    Cleve,
    Thank you for such an informative and well-written newsletter. (I, too, wish everyone in the Township could read it). I had general concerns and questions with regard to the new arena / fitness centre in Schomberg, but these facts that you have shared now make me angry and extremely disappointed as to what ‘might’ have been and what ‘should’ have been. Some how King City has ended up as the poor, distant cousin in this “family”. It is time to clean out this Council and the current leadership!

    Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

  5. Lori Appleton Says:

    Unfortunately as a King City resident, a fitness facility in Schomberg is irrelevant to me. It is closer for me to go to Aurora. I would never go all the way to Schomberg and I am a huge fitness advocate. A central and more neutral location would have made much more sense. I hope the Schomberg residents enjoy their new facility. I will continue to pump our recreation and fitness dollars into the coffers of another town. Sadly…

    Posted on October 12th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

  6. Marco Bortolussi Says:

    It is painfully obvious that this current mayor’s loyalty is to her own backyard of Schomberg. Who cares about King City? It is up to someone with a sense of fairness and a vision for the greater good of the community to come to the forefront. This mickey mouse run municipality needs real leadership that can make every resident of this community proud and enjoy being part of this community.
    Black has her own agenda that is self serving so see you later Black and on behalf of every resident in King city thanks for nothing!

    Posted on October 12th, 2010 at 7:36 pm

  7. Daniel Leschiutta Says:

    Cleve, great article! This article really should be published in the King Township Sentinel and King Weekly, so that all eligible voters are more motivated to exercise their right to vote, and so that they are better informed on election date. After all, compared to other elections, the outcome of municipal elections directly impacts our community, and will have the greatest impact on our daily life.

    Mayor Black’s decision to locate the new Township Recreation Facility in Schomberg is either self-serving because Black lives in Schomberg, as do many of those who lasted voted for her. Or, it demonstrates a complete lack of vision when it comes to building a great community.

    With regards to naming rights; I can’t help but question: Was the decision to accept only $300,000 for a 50 year period, instead of the budgeted $750,000 (for a typical 20-30 year period) just another example of Mayor Black’s financial irresponsibility, or was her motivation, again, self-serving?

    In either case, Mayor Black has demonstrated that she does not have the leadership qualities King Township needs to ensure it develops into the distinguished community we are all hoping for.

    Posted on October 15th, 2010 at 10:38 am

Recent Comments

My name is Cleve Mortelliti and I am the Councillor for Ward 1 in the Township of King, Ontario – Canada. I love this Township. King City has been my home since 1972. From 2004 to 2006 I had the privilege to work as an Engineering Administrator for the Township of King. But my overriding desire to make a real difference and to have a more positive, impactful influence on the shape and form of the development wave that is coming to King, led me to leave my employment with the Township and declare my candidacy for Councillor of Ward 1 (King City, Snowball, Kettleby). At approximately 10:00pm on November 13th, 2006 I was truly thrilled to learn that the residents and ratepayers of Ward 1 had bestowed their trust in me to serve as their councillor for the next 4 years . In the successive 2010, and 2014 elections I was re-elected by acclamation. It remains my honour and privilege to serve King.

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