RIM Park

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RIM Park Sportsplex complex

RIM Park is a 500-acre (2 km²) city park facility on the northeast side of the city of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, close to the neighbourhood of Eastbridge. Key facilities and features include the Manulife Financial Sportsplex and Healthy Living Centre, the heritage Mennonite Martin farm, and the Grey Silo Golf Course. The eastern edge of the park borders on the Grand River for 1.5 km.

The name was selected by the park's largest donor, the employees of Research In Motion (now doing business as BlackBerry), who contributed $2 million in 2001. In the planning stages, it had been called Millennium Recreation Park. The total up-front cost was $56.7-million, most of which was financed by a lease-style loan. Parts of the park opened in June 2001 and the grand opening was held on November 3, 2001.

Funding controversy[edit]

The park is notorious in local politics due to the cost of its financing. A Mississauga-based company, MFP Financial Services (now Renasant Financial Partners) provided financing for the park. On September 25, 2000, Waterloo council unanimously approved a lease-style loan of $48.3 million after being told that the interest rate was 4.73 per cent, and the total payout over 30 years was $112.9 million. More than six months after the deal closed, after an investigation by The Record, the city found out that the real interest rate was 9.2 per cent and that its total payout would be $227.7 million.

In June 2001, the City of Waterloo filed suit against MFP, one of its sales representatives, and two companies that bought part of the debt from MFP: Clarica —now Sun Life Financial—and Maritime Life. The matter was settled out of court in 2002, reducing the city's payments to $145.7 million over 30 years.

A public judicial inquiry was held to look into the funding process, headed by the Honourable Mr. Justice Ronald C. Sills. He issued his report in October 2003, making 31 recommendations.

Not one member of city council during the RIM Park ordeal—including mayor Lynne Woolstencroft—was re-elected in the municipal elections in November 2003. All were either defeated or chose not to run again (Mike Connolly ran for a seat on regional council and was elected; Sean Strickland had run for a seat in the provincial election a month earlier and finished a close second to incumbent Elizabeth Witmer). The city's chief administrative officer and its treasurer both left their jobs as a result of the funding fiasco.

In August 2006, a judge in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice threw out a suit filed by the city against former MFP employees who participated in the financing deal. The judge ruled that the city had already sued MFP and a suit against the employees would be trying to sue the same people twice.[1] That ruling was overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal in October 2007, clearing the way for the city to sue former MFP employees.[2]

External links[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Legal setback in RIM Park scandal," The Record, August 4, 2006, p. A1.
  2. ^ "Waterloo can sue MFP employees," Tasmin McMahon, The Record, November 3, 2007.

Coordinates: 43°31′N 80°30′W / 43.52°N 80.50°W / 43.52; -80.50