The main issue on the Convention Centre debate is being lost in the we/they approach taken by both proponents and the opposition.
The primary issue is the process...or lack thereof. Had the bureaucrats who set out the original RFQ followed their own process and permitted the 2 final proponents - Rank and Hardman - to proceed to a full RFP, we would not be engaged in this bitter, divisive dispute today. When that process got stopped (and one proponent got pre-selected on very limited information), the opportunity for each side to present their proposals publicly and the opportunity to talk openly about the strengths andd weaknesses of each proposal in a public forum also was stopped.
Instead, the bureaucrats and politicians chose to deal with this process in the back rooms of City Hall and Province House and, when that happened, the supposed "open and transparent process" got shortchanged and, as a result, the community may be getting shortchanged as well.
The question we should be asking is not, in my opinion, "do we need a convention centre?" The question we should be asking is "are we getting the best convention centre for our millions of dollars?" The business community that is so keen to ram this through, should really take the time to ask that question...after all they will be paying for it for decades to come through their taxes.
All parties should slow down and re-visit the process and the current situation; we can always spend the $120 million next year. If we were to go back to the original process and ask Hardman to also put its proposal forward with more detail - maybe then we can have an open and transparent public debate about the merits of each proposal and make a decision that we can be proud of.
Maybe the Rank proposal will be the best that we can achieve...but maybe there is a better option out there.
Lets re-build a process that will enable the community to buy-in to the project. Otherwise, I fear, the bitterness, acrimony, accusations and divisiveness that are the product of the current process are going to continue.
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