LATEST ACTION: Launching Petition to the House of Commons
Working with Rob Pingitore, who you may know had launched a petition a petition to the House of Commons was launched that calls on the Government of Canada to intervene. The petition explicitly calls out the lack of community consultation on Harbourfront Centre's unilateral decision to permanently close the skating rink, and demands accountability by undertaking a financial review of the original funding arrangement, as well as for Harbourfront Centre to consult our community on both skating and its priorities.
Sign the petition here and circulate it with your networks!
Like all of you, I am disappointed by the unilateral decision taken by HarbourfrontCentre to permanently close our community’s beloved and popular skating rink – and to do so without any public consultation.
Below, you will find an overview of the actions I have taken both prior to and after our Town Hall on February 3, 2023. All updates will be provided online here.
Question in the House of Commons
I raised the matter directly with the federal government in the House of Commons on January 30, 2023, the first day Parliament resumed sitting. Regrettably, the government that provided a $20 million revitalization grant to Harbourfront Centre could not produce the right minister to answer my question – even though Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez was present. So much for the ability to understand a question and the ministerial responsibility. The question was answered by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, who had no clue what I was taking about. This is why I will again question the government on Harbourfront Centre during an adjournment debate onFebruary 8, 2023 – especially focused on its lack of public consultation andits revised secretive plan for spending the money.
Town Hall on Harbourfront Centre
From the outrage I received from constituents, I convened a Town Hall meeting on February 3, 2023. The meeting would finally ensure that our community would have an opportunity for its voice to be heard. You may have seen the coverage of our Town Hall on the 11pm evening news by CityNews. I also created an online submission form for those who could not join us in person so they can provide their views. To those who have already done so, thank you. Those who have not done so yet can submit comments on the closure of the skating rink and the actions of Harbourfront Centre at the following link: https://bit.ly/harbourfront-feedback
As promised, I am following-up on action I’ve taken both prior to and after our Town Hall:
Question on the Order Paper
On February 6, 2023, I submitted a detailed written question directly to the government to obtain specific details of the August 21, 2021 federal funding arrangement with Harbourfront Centre; whether community consultation requirements were held, and the timeline of events surrounding the material change from the initial upgrade goals of the funding and the decision to permanently close the skating rink rather than to undertake repairs to this major attraction. The government has 45 days to respond in writing. If it fails to respond, the matter will go before a parliamentary committee for in-depth study.
Meeting with Harbourfront Centre
On February 7, 2023, I was joined by my provincial counterpart for a meeting with Harbourfront Centre CEO Marah Braye and her leadership team to discuss this matter.I can report the following commitments were made:
- Community Liaison Committee – Harbourfront Centre commits in principle to theestablishment of a Community Liaison Committee (CLC). The terms of reference for the CLC remain to be finalized. Such a committee must ensure that future surprises can be avoided and where residents can have a say in future planning decisions instead of being made in a vacuum without community consultations.
- Public Information Sessions – Harbourfront Centre commits to hosting drop-in public information sessions on their property at the space previously occupied by Lavazza. I made it clear that thisinformation session needed to be more than one day and that our community receive sufficient notice.
- Options for Skating – While Harbourfront Centre continues to statethat preserving the skating rink was financially unfeasible, the Centre is however open to exploring temporary ice rinks and has committed to providing costing estimates. As I have previously mentioned at the Town Hall, I have also had preliminary conversations with potential corporate sponsors and that I would take offers to our community for consideration.
Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons
As mentioned previously I will have an extended debate on Harbourfront Centre; the government’s twenty million contribution and the initial update and repair objectives – and including keeping residents informed and engaged in the revitalization planning.
E-Petition to the House of Commons
In concert with Mr. Robert Pingitore’s petition to save the Harbourfront Skate that has collected over one thousand signatures, I have provided him with an e-petition to the House of Commons. It will soon be online for signatures.
As someone who shares my concern for what is going on in our community, I hope that you will continue to press for Harbourfront Centre to respond to the public’s right to know and to be consulted on matters that impact on them and are paid for by their tax dollars.
I also will keep you informed as to new developments. Thank you for your interest and commitment to your community.
- Kevin Vuong