There have been many questions about proposed renovations to the Kinsmen Auditorium. The following email was sent to me during my 2003 mayoral campaign to lobby my support, along with reams of documents. Mr. Cryderman gave his kind permission to use everything, and post it on my website. During my campaign and subsequently, I met with municipal officials to hear their side of the story, and there are definitely two sides to this.
Since it's a little too risky to insert editorial comments, I'll just leave it exactly as it appeared on this website in 2003, and let our readers glean the wisdom that its author imparts, keeping in mind that municipal officials assess the situation differently.
----- Original Message -----
From: Cryderman Productions
To: Austin Wright
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2003 9:55 AM
Subject: RE: Plans for Kinsmen Auditorium
I felt it best to not bother you and if you wanted any assistance you would contact me. With regards to the Auditorium project I have spent over $20,000 of my own in market research, building and expansion design as well as proposals for the economic development department and the C-K Tourism Department to work with all event hosts at the Auditorium to take advantage of the multi billion dollar trade and tourism business in Ontario each year. I have received litte if any co operation. Please be mindful that the Mayor is pushing for a trades facility to be part of the overall St. Clair College expansion project, however the expanion project is an estimated $50 million price tag. This is overkill for Chatham-Kent. Cryderman Productions would benefit greatly from one large building being erected at the College location but the majority of the users will not benefit. An events facility needs so many available dates throughout each year and they need variations in options to manouvere year to year with their dates. The proposal for the Auditorium location is $3.8 million with a $400,000.00 contingency built in. Also, any proposals at the Thames Campus location only allows for one show booking at a time plus the Campus location has to share the dates with the YMCA and the College curriculum. The Auditorium proposal is so designed that it alows for up to three events to be hosted at one time thus eliminating downtime. The C-K marketplace cannot support anything larger than what we proposed at the Auditorium location nor can the C-K tax base afford anything larger.
The writer has numerous letters from various C-K organizations such as the Rotarians and Kinsmen, Junior Maroons and so fourth supporting the Auditorium and its modest expansion. The Kinsmen even confirmed in writing they would fundraise and donate 100,000 plus each year till the project is completed.
My lengthy meeting with the current Mayor with regards to the Auditorium project was for "nott". They refused to work with me on this even though all facts pointed toward a first year $20M winfall through job creation and business reeipts and a substantial increase in tourist dollars through the ability to attract more national events that could use the layout of an arena with heated auditorium side by side with an adjoining link. Our company submitted an extensive report of facts rather than conjecture demonstrating the extreme value of the Auditorium project.
Using my name may not be the best way to get this message across, however, I feel it best to be a little more generic and use the term groups and or individuals and or companies that have tried to work with Gagne without success relevant to the Auditorium project.
Spending tax dollars on the Thames Campus expansion, even though 1/3 of the cost would be covered by the Province through Superbuild, leaving a potential $34M to have the taxpayers pick the tab up is not responsible.
The Municipal administration from my first meeting with them more than three years ago had made it clear thatthey havea mandate to privatize as much as they can such as arena's, and auditoriums, recreational fields and so on. With this type of mandate one can only propose that all the while the Municipality is trying to find members of the private sector to buy Municipal properties and take over the responsibility of running which once belonged to the Mun. what will happen in the interim. I have demonstrated to the Mun. how much money is being lost through tourism each year and why and what they can do with very little cost to grab the tourist dollars - no co operation. Almost every city we host events in the tourisn and Economic Dev. Dept. can work with you enough - not here.
Please refer to the 1999 Community Strategic Plan designed by the Mun. Administration that clearly outlines their desire to work with local agencies and businesses and orgainzations for a better community - not us.
The current Kinsmen Auditorium with the adjacent Memorial Arena is not only an embarrassment for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent but the current standards and design are inaffective to accommodate most events at the Auditorium and most of the recreational events at the Memorial Arena. Currently the square footage of the Auditorium building is dangerous to the public with severe over crowding at a number of events. In my many discussions with the Junior Maroons regarding the Memorial Arena upgrading is desperately needed. With deputations to Council by the Junior Maroons whereby they were asking for change room upgrades their request fell on deaf ears. When the Maroons offered to pay for an $80,000.00 expansion for upgraded change rooms the request fell on deaf ears.
The writer has met with the Municipality on several occassions with regards to attracting many National events to an appropriately upgraded Auditorium and Memorial Arena, one such event was the ice curling championships. The writer received absolutely no assistance from the Municipality after several attempts to have the Municipality contact the many thousands of national events that would come here with even a modest upgrade to the facility. The writer confirms meeting with the curling committee and other groups that would come here pending an appropriate upgrade and expansion. The Municipality has numerous letters from many outside groups that would come here. The Municipality to date, to the best of the writers knowledge, as not acted towards any event attraction. The writer confirms the national curling championships that would bring millions to the community has been jeopardized due to the lack of constructing a $40-$60,000 link between the two buildings. The writer is in possession of a letter from the CEO Mr. Joseph Pavelka that confirms the extreme value of trade shows and national events to the economy of Chatham-kent, however the Municipality refuses to proceed with an affordable expanded and upgraded facility. Currently Chatham-Kent has the poorest ratio of the number of retail businesses per consumer of any Southern Ontario Municipality. For an example we only have 26 consumers per each retail business in C-K, St. Thomas as 76, London has 68 and windsor roughly the same.
Austin, I can go on and on with facts rather than theory. Until a complete over hall of our current admin. and elected officals takes place we are going no where. We need to re examine the need for a CEO and the value of contracting Rural and Urban planners we need to re-define the responsibility and authorities of council and the Mayor as needed by this Mun. and as outlined under the Municipal Act. Co-peration with the private sector to invoke tourism and trade.
Feel free to call for any documents you feel that may be helpful in your quest to put C-K back on the tracks.