Mayor Confirms Abbotsford Heat Contract Was Illegal

By now you’ve heard that the Abbotsford Heat are leaving. This is a bittersweet event for me. On the one hand, the contract that I have felt to be the spending of your tax dollars without your consent is gone. On the other hand, we now have a $100 million arena and only 25 events per year… with no anchor tenant.

Yes, we are going to save approximately $2 million per year on the Heat losses. Good.

Doing so without any plan for business in the building…Bad.

Let’s really dig into 3 main areas of this announcement.

1. An Admission of Guilt

During the Press Conference and his subsequent interview on CBC Radio, the Mayor said some very important things. He said that the next time Abbotsford “does this” we won’t be signing a 10-year contract. He also said that the next time Abbotsford “does this” that no money will go towards subsidizing a private business.

If you’ve followed any of my columns, or my time in the  media over the last year, you would know that I was about to take the Heat Contract to the BC Supreme Court and argue that the term of the contract and the fact that it subsidized a private business (the Heat Ownership Group) meant the contract was in direct contravention of the Community Charter.  Since the Mayor said they would not do that again, I can only infer that he knew, and Council and Staff knew, that the Abbotsford Heat Contract was in contravention of the Charter and therefore “illegal”.

Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for confirming that during the Press Conference.

2. An Admission of Stupidity

The Mayor also spoke of a new plan for AESC. It was shockingly new. Get this folks…

He is going to try and sell the naming rights to the building! Wow! We haven’t heard that before. The only reason to buy those naming rights just walked out the door…but he’s now going to sell naming rights to an empty building. Let’s start the bidding at $50! Anyone, anyone, anyone!

The Mayor also announced that they have re-negotiated and signed a contract with Global Spectrum.

Nice. The management company upon who’s flawed business plan all of Plan A was based on…the company who lost more than the Heat last year ($2.2 million)…the company who can’t bring in more than 20 events per year (if they could, they would have done so before now)…that is the “winner” you are going to re-commit yourself too???

Mr. Banman…you and our local government are a laughing stock. Why do  you think you can negotiate with any of these companies? The Calgary Flames couldn’t wait to get their team out of here….they’re moving them so fast they don’t even have anywhere to go yet…and they are taking $5.5 million out of this community on their way out the door. To fix this, you’ve renewed the contract with the company that is taking more than $2 million a year from us…for nothing. $2 million a year for a Cirque du Soleil show that people would drive to Vancouver to see anyway. Wow. They must wring their hands with glee when they think about “re-negotiating” with the City of Abbotsford.

3. An Admission of Wishful Thinking

The rumours have started about how we may now get a WHL team here. People now say we’ve cleared the way for the Canucks to come to town. Let’s debunk those rumours quickly shall we.

First of all…we just told the entire hockey world that we don’t want a team. For 5 years we’ve told them only about 2000 of you will show up to a game. The Canucks farm team will make a difference you say? No. The last few times they have come here, it hasn’t been  sell out every time.

In their current location, the Canucks team get about 4200 per game. That is still less than the 4800 we need to break even here and far below the hugely inflated 2600 per game we averaged with the Heat.

Why would they move the team from a reasonably successful market to one that has proven itself to be a loser?

The only way they would do it is if another contract was put in place just like the one we got rid off. We’ll pay your losses and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll give you millions on your way out the door.

A WHL team? At what cost?

You see we still don’t know what the Heat really cost us. Is there more money yet to go to the local owners? Were the losses reported to date a full accounting? What will the losses be this year when all the accounting is done?

One thing is for sure. You, the taxpayer, are going to pay for every single penny.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Walter Neufeld says:

    Vince, thanks again for capably wading through another flood of bullshit while identifying its man-made source.

    And now this same mayor, along with a small posy of his colluders, plan to re-establish an “Abbotsford Economic Development Corporation” (web link:

    To do what, capitalize on their past failures by increasing the volume?

    Isn’t that a bit like putting Exxon Valdez captain Hazelwood in charge of navigating another (much bigger) oil tanker?

    This knuckle-headed plan should shock Abbotsford’s taxpayers into open revolt.

    Until this group of incompetents is voted out of office, it should be forced to make less decisions, not more.

  • HH376 says:

    As a Heat fan, and one of the minority that tried to be part of the solution after that ridiculous deal was signed. This week has been a lot more than bittersweet for me.

    Having said that, I appreciate the clarity of your article. The facts that are coming out now, that I was not aware of, like the 1.3mill/year in hockey related revenue that the Heat never saw. And Global Spectrum’s abject failure to meet it’s target for the number of events/year make it pretty clear to me who the real failure is in this situation. Yet we are going to renegotiate with Global Spectrum and kick the hockey team out.

    I hope when election time comes around you will be profiling all the candidates so those of us who will bother to vote (that’s a whole other post!!) can make an informed decision about our next city council.

  • Bas Stevens says:

    In a previous comment I alluded to the fact that Abbotsford was facing rising legal costs.

    Vince, thanks for identifying one of the cases that I was speaking of. I agree totally with you that there will be other “hidden costs” that may never be known in this buy-out.

    What I find very interesting in all of this is that with 6-7 months to go before the municipal election, Banman is pulling out all stops in an effort to “save face” with the electorate of Abbotsford.

    By my calculation, he has played a major deciding factor in costing the City of Abbotsford close to $30 million in the past couple of months – $15.3 for the ACS Supportive Housing Proposal and now close to $13 million on the Heat fiasco. I am very glad to say that Bruce Banman is not my investment banker! I would be broke a long time ago.

  • Deceit in Drugs says:

    The photo is quite fitting…It was John Smith, who said, “if you tread water, you’ll drown,” in relation to Plan A…well, the taxpayers didn’t even get chance to “tread water,’ because Plan A was crammed down
    their throats thanks to the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and a
    select group of supporters, which city councillors were gullible enough
    to believe.

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