My letter to the Editor of the Ontario Intelligencer Mar 13, 2004 concerning Mark Wilson's letter of that day.

    The article "Arena Editorial a slap in the face" by Mark Wilson from the
Opinion page of Saturday March 13  deserves some rebutal.
The "extensive consultant's report" that indicated that the QSC was by far the
best location for the P&R customer service centre was in my opinion at best
seriously flawed. Typos or calculation errors that remained in the site evaluation
table of the final report either show a general sloppiness or betray frequent
massaging of the factors and weightings to achieve the desired
recommendation. I had some difficulty in understanding the factor "Partnership
Potential" in the report. From Mr. Wilson's letter I now recognize this to mean
the possibility of adding "a revenue generating pro/tuck shop to service the
immediate hockey/skating needs of the hundreds/thousands of out-of-town
users visiting the QSC each week". It is interesting that the report gave the QSC
alternative 9 points for this partnership potential whereas it only gave 3 points to

the Quinte Cultural Centre which would appear to have resulted in at least equal
opportunity for revenue generating alliances (in the report the bigger number is
better). In fact several rental spaces and revenue generating facilities were
included in the Quinte Cultural Centre plan.
    Mr. Wilson's letter unfortunately confuses provision of Parks and Recs
offices with an excuse (or at perhaps opportunity is a kinder way of putting it) for
an upgrade of the Quinte Sports Centre. This is understandable as the
consultant's report previously mentioned seems to do the same thing. But what
stands out most in that consultant's report is that the "Partnership Potential"
factor mentioned above, and some other equally fuzzy parameters, are given
equal weight to the CAPITAL COST, even though the sports centre alternative
would cost 3 to 4 times as much as the cost in the Quinte Cultural Centre
alternative or the comprehensive restoration and upgrade of the Corbyville site
that housed the Parks and Recs offices until last year. The report assumed the
cost for relocating back to the Pinnacle street Recreation Centre would be
minimal but it scored only about half as many points as the sports centre
    Many of the other criteria in the report and how they were assessed
also seem totally irrational. E.g. the sports centre was given 6 points for
Population Proximity (defined as the convenience of the site to communities
where patrons of the facility reside) but the QCC alternative only received 2
points! I hope the council will take the consultant's report with a grain of salt
and assign more sensible criteria and rankings before making a decision. When
I did this both the Quinte Cultural Centre and Pinnacle Recreation Centre
alternatives considered in the report came out ahead of the sports centre in
terms of Parks and Rec administrative offices. The old Corbyville site wasn't
even included in the detailed rankings; ostensibly because it is "a very old
building" and  would cost $361,000 to restore it (versus the $1,162,282 cost for
the sports centre alternative!). But assigning any reasonable weighting to the
cost factor, it too would easily come out ahead of the sports centre alternative.
What it shows once again is that the Quinte Cultural Centre in the old BCI
building would have been the best alternative by far. It is rather disgusting if  this
report, that no  one even heard of at the time the QCC project was axed, was
used in that decision process.
    I have reviewed the plans as presented at the council meeting in
February 2004 and Parks and Rec director Moses was very cooperative in
discussing the plans with me. The plans as recommended do seem to address
some real deficiencies in the design of the Quinte Sports Centre as it now
stands; particularly with respect to entrance, lobby, ticket facilities, an elevator
that can handle a gurney, access from the lobby to the Yardmen Arena etc.
However this significant part of the plan should be considered for what it is -
Quinte Sport Centre improvements costing nearly $1 million.The consultant's
report should have acknowledged that on the cover or certainly in the
introduction of the report. It was never mentioned. Many of the other features
such as several meeting rooms, improved washrooms etc. sound a lot like
people want in the new library. Indications are that these desireable extras will
be pared to the bone in the library plan. And while I agree that pictures hung
along the wall of the stairwell does not constitute a very good sports museum
let's not forget that the million dollar Manley McDonald art collection seems to
have been considered of little value when deciding to kill the Quinte Cultural
Centre project. Will it be given any place in the new library?
    I am in support of reasonable measures to retain the Bulls in Belleville -
but not at the cost of the long needed and long promised library. And years ago
a city report identified the need for a cultural centre. That has completely
disappeared off the map. All the economic arguments for retainning the Bulls
put forward in the March 13 editorial equally apply to a cultural centre. There are
equally respected studies to support this. Yet these were also summarily
dismissed by the last council. And it could be argued that the BCI Cultural
Centre use would do much more for revitalizing the downtown.
    David Bentley's letter of Tuesday March 09 "If BCI demolished, city left
with 'field of shame' " and previous letters on the importance of saving BCI made
a strong economical argument for doing everything possible to save that
building. The Quinte Cultural Centre was the obvious opportunity but other uses
such as condominiums etc. would have very significant economic spin-offs. But
our city doesn't seem to care about that.
    Certainly the "Elitist Snobs" comment of sports reporter Paul Svoboda
and the ongoing anti-cultural bias of City Editor Chris Malette hardly encourage
the co-operation of the whole community. It is this broad co-operation between
sports, culture, business etc.  which is required to save the Bulls, is required to
achieve the library and cultural centre a city of our size should be striving for,   is
required to make this the city we ALL can be proud of.

John Meale.

John R. Meale, Belleville, Ontario, Canada

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Last Updated on Mar 24, 2004 by John R. Meale