AESC Economic Impact Report

Not really surprising that with an election only a few months away the mayor and council felt the need for an economic impact study on the AESC.

After all, with the AESC’s appetite for consuming taxpayer dollars, its multi-million dollar subsidy to a professional hockey team, its multi-million dollars subsidy for well connected local citizens to buy themselves said professional hockey team and the consequences of council’s decisions driving property taxes, facility admission costs, field rentals and other city fees and charges into the stratosphere – mayor and council were desperate for something – anything – that would allow them to claim the AESC was in some way good for the community.

In exchange for pouring tens of thousands more taxpayer dollars into the AESC’s black hole, mayor and council got a report with numbers they could point to and claim the AESC was positive for the community.

Of course……given that the methodology used to calculate the economic impact made it impossible not to get numbers that could be claimed to be positive, while ensuring no negative impacts would be recognized……means the report is meaningless in terms of assessing the impact of the AESC on Abbotsford.

Not much of a surprise that paying big bucks for an impact report resulted in the use of methodology that served mayor and council’s need for numbers that obscure and/or ignore actual impacts.

Methodology that resulted in an increase in economic impact in this second impact report on the AESC, over the first report prepared before the AESC opened.

Despite the fact that none of the promises made by council as to the financial performance of the AESC has materialized economic impact increased. Which is what happens when you use ‘multipliers’ to calculate economic impact – the higher the expenditure you apply the multiplier to, the larger the economic impact becomes.

In other words – the bigger a disaster, the more of a money sucking black hole the AESC becomes, the higher the number for economic impact becomes.

As to the report’s claim of the creation of 305 FTE jobs, the report did include the information that FTE jobs meant full time equivalent jobs.

What the report did not include was information on how the number 305 was arrived at. From the information contained in the report the number 305 appears to have been plucked out of thin air.

Even if 305 could be supported, what full time equivalent jobs means if that a lot of different people got a few hours of work here and a few hours of work there. As anyone who is looking for work or trying to survive in Abbotsford can tell you what is needed in Abbotsford is not full time equivalent jobs but full time jobs paying wages sufficient to live on.

Another non-surprise concerning the report is that the City’s news release as well as Mayor Peary’s comments omitted to note or draw the attention of taxpayers to the $15,208,000 Abbotsford portion of total AESC expenditures.

Or that – since if you read the report on economic impact you would discover the methodology used, the lack of any support for the claimed 305 FTE jobs and the $15,208,000 Abbotsford portion of total AESC expenditures – if you wanted to read the report it was not easily available on the City’s web site but required on to request a copy of the report from city hall.

Finally concerning mayor Peary’s statement “The critics of the sports centre either don’t understand, or choose not to understand, that there are some benefits.”

The question is not whether there are some benefits to the centre, obviously the ownership group and their businesses derive substantial benefits from the centre and from the pocketbooks of Abbotsford’s beleaguered taxpayers.

The question is about a) the benefits that the taxpayers should receive for their $15,208,000 portion of total AESC expenditures and b) how anyone with common sense, an understanding of fiscal reality and who behaves in a fiscally responsible manner could or would be expected to place any value on the expensive drivel contained in this new report on the economic impact of the AESC.

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