Citing frustration with their drawn out negotiations with the City of St. Catherines, Niagara IceDogs owners Bill and Denise Burke are retracting a $1 million donation.
The donation in question was originally agreed to in 2014, when the Burkes offered $1 million for the naming rights to the semicircular road in front of the Meridian Centre. As part of that contribution, the name of the road became IceDogs Way. According to the Burkes, the initially agreed upon terms allowed for the name of the road to eventually be changed to Burke Way if it was decided by the family under an agreement that lasted in perpetuity.
However, the city council drafted a contract in August of that year that did not outline a name change and limited the agreement to 20 years. In a statement issued on Monday, the Burkes announced that the time spent on the negotiations had caused frustration and that they were retracting the donation while asking that the name of the road be changed. “Much to our family’s frustration, City staff have continued to obstruct our efforts to try and resolve this situation,” the statement read. “At one point the City took over a year to respond to our inquiries during the discussions. It is unfathomable to us that we would encounter so much difficulty just trying to make a charitable donation.”
St. Catherines officials, meanwhile, are insisting that the problem is a correctable misunderstanding. More from the St. Catherines Standard:
After a lengthy closed-door meeting at the end of Monday night’s city council meeting, St. Andrew’s Ward Coun. Joe Kusher made a motion stating there was a misunderstanding regarding the naming of IceDogs Way.
He said council only learned of the misunderstanding on Monday.
Council directed staff and mayor to do whatever is necessary to finalize the agreement to obtain the $1 million.
It also directed St. Catharines’ CAO to do an internal review of the breakdown of the Burke donation and examine outstanding legal agreements that haven’t been executed by the end of this year.
The Meridian Centre first opened as the home of the Ontario Hockey League’s IceDogs in 2014.