One small step for council, one giant leap toward a new arena

Dave Stewart
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The current Eastlink Centre in red, with the nearby former government garage in green and possible additional land now used for parking next to it in light green.

It’s one line in the City of Charlottetown’s 2016 capital budget.

But it represents a giant leap toward finally building the new arena that many capital area residents have wanted for years.

The city’s capital budget includes $75,000 that will be at the disposal of a task force that will explore what a new multi-use arena would include and how much it would cost.

The money would be used to hire consultants, for example.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said Thursday the city is currently contacting people who will serve on the task force, with the goal of identifying who they are at the next regular monthly public meeting of council on March 14.


This process does not guarantee it will lead to a new facility being constructed to replace Eastlink Centre, which opened in 1991.

“Just because you’ve got a task force exploring this does not mean you’re going to build it because the business plan may come back and say it makes absolutely no sense to do this,’’ Lee said.

The task force will look at the ice needs in Charlottetown, which is an issue considering the city has decisions it has to make on aging buildings like the Cody Banks Arena and Simmons Sport centre.

They’ll also have to look at the kind of facility that would be needed to attract events such as concerts and trade shows.

Lee said a new arena could also include a curling club, with the Charlottetown Curling Club considering its options at its present location.

“Just because you’ve got a task force exploring this does not mean you’re going to build it because the business plan may come back and say it makes absolutely no sense to do this." Mayor Clifford Lee

Of course, the harness racing industry and Atlantic Lottery also play an important role in what happens.

“The intent is to appoint individuals that are not directly involved in any of the user groups.’’

That means no one from the hockey community, for example, will be appointed to the task force.

Once the group determines what the needs are, how much it will cost to build and what the capital costs are in terms of operating it, users of the Eastlink Centre will then be brought into the next phase of the process to help determine what a new building would look like.

Lee said it will likely take the task force nine months to a year to do its work.

It’s hard to predict how much it would cost to build a new multi-use facility because there are so many moving parts right now. The speculation is it would likely be at least $40 to $60 million, depending on what the building includes.

As for seating capacity, Eastlink Centre currently holds 3,717 for hockey. A new arena would likely have capacity for 5,000 seats.

It goes without saying that it would have to be a cost-shared project between all levels of government. Additional funding could come from other sources, depending on user groups.

As for the location, everything seems to point to building it on the site of the current provincial government garage between Park Street and Riverside Drive.

The province is currently in the middle of a process to move all of its operations out to Brackley, opening up a vacancy for the new arena.


Organizations: Eastlink Centre, Charlottetown Curling Club

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Park Street, Riverside Drive

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Recent comments

  • concerned
    February 14, 2016 - 16:22

    We need a new fire hall and a staffed station in District 2 .why waste city dollars on a rink that will only seat an additional 1200 people. But, given the mindset of city officials, arena it is!

    • izzy
      February 15, 2016 - 13:38

      Fire hall is still on the table. The requirement for a new rink is about much more than added seating capacity. Any arena is years away, this is a task force.

  • nitpicker
    February 13, 2016 - 19:50

    Does Charlottetown need a new arena? The answer is a resounding "yes". Its old. Inefficient. Inadequate for its current purposes; and, presumably inadequate for future purposes. Remember, this is not just about Eastlink Centre. Its also about Simmons and Cody Banks...both also old and inefficient. All three will need substantial upgrades in the future. Would one modern, proper, arena under one rook not be better than pouring dollars into three aging structures? Build it energy-efficient and make it fully multi-purpose, keeping it busy more often throughout the year. In my view, that's a far better expense that putting money into old infrastructure.

  • Yes we need a facility ...for progress
    February 13, 2016 - 13:40

    Yes we do need anew arena,think 10 years in the future,never mind the naysayers and small minded thinking stuck in the 1950's ,it will attract people ,tourists artists and make the quality of life here even better.... this little city has much to offer......

  • no thanks
    February 13, 2016 - 08:29

    hockey is not important --it has priced itself out of the average wage earners grasp ----there are many alternatives that don't require a lot of money or ego

  • Islander
    February 12, 2016 - 19:52

    Has anyone in City Council read the papers lately? Read the dire predictions for the future of the Maritime Provinces? If they are right we will all have to leave if we want to stay alive, and those who remain will be eating dirt. Maybe it should behove City Council to look ahead a bit and like everybody with an ounce of sense, save for the future, when taxes cannot be collected on abandoned houses, - and blood cannot be squeezed from a stone. Think people, think. Heed what the Summerside Resident has to say below.

  • Horatius
    February 12, 2016 - 19:46

    I hate the City government, - I really do. Such collective stupidity and arrogance, such disrespect for the taxpayers, and so much back room dealings, --- too much pizza and pop, - and so smug, and so pompous. There are a few exceptions, one or two people in there worth their salt, and worthy of respect. Now come hell or high water, - this waste will be consummated for the entertainment of the few, - paid for by the many.

  • Fred
    February 12, 2016 - 19:41

    We need this like we need a hole in the head. So they are in the process of picking committee members, - I am sure they know who will rubber stamp this, and run around and promote it. We should have a vote on if we want this white elephant or not. Look at "the venue" been sitting there all summer doing nothing, - not that it does not look better than the old tanks, but as for the money to create it, it is certainly a poor invest . Build it and they will come is b.s. - if so while is the currant civic centre not full to the brim every night?? We don't need this, - we are not Moncton, and we do not have the people nor the surrounding area population to make this viable. It will be a drain on the taxpayers. Maybe it should be offered to the private sector, to own and run it, - without City subsidy, - that would be democracy, letting the users pay.

  • Summerside Resident
    February 12, 2016 - 19:28

    Our Facitlity CUP is a wonderful place. Alot of seniors are walking, swimming, bowling and yes lots of hockey. Our last Mayor and senior management had a big dream for this facility that being Major JR Hockey, which did not happen. It costs us $49 million tens yrs ago and we owe $29 million with interest rates of $1.8 million a year. Now, we have major break downs and just recently almost lost our second Ice surface. It cost over $2 million a year to operate. If you do build, make sure you pick the right site and have more than one rink. Swimming, bowling, squash,Firness Centre, walking track, large meeting rooms are a big plus. One down fall for us is that our Caps games are not drawing enough people to make it work. It has been that way for years. Summerside is a small City, some say a Town. We have no idea where the money comes from. The citizens are really up set at recent electrical rates and water/sewer increases PLUS Mayor and Council got a 22% raise. This is really sad. Employement is at an all time low, places are closing and very little business coming in. Plus realstate is not good. This new Mayor and Council with all their door to door promises will come back and bite them big time. Be cautious Charlotttetown, I really think the City needs a new complex but do it right. Build what your can afford, don't think big ideas like Summerside because they have shown this does not work. Summerside top heavy in senior management and the front line workers are always understafffed. Sick time is costing millions which all points to morale issues. This new Mayor and Council are rediculous in greed, ALL BECAUSE WE BELIEVED IN CHANGE. Bill Martin should be ashamed to show his face. He has no idea what he is doing let alone blaming it all on his councillors. I hope all the Unions hold out for arbritration and use the 22% argument. Fair is Fair Mr Mayor...........Watch the big talk than " O we can;t afford that" Like I said I hope it comes back and bites you all. Just what you deserve for mistruths about " CHANGE"

  • Linda A
    February 12, 2016 - 16:29

    Read up on Edmonton's new arena! Very expensive!

  • Oberst
    February 12, 2016 - 15:33

    That is why the business community keeps making sure the Mayor is elected. They don't feel the pain of the high property taxes. They are not the ones yearning for a reprieve to catch up, - I think you have forgotten where you came from Clifford, you sure as hell do not care if the poor in this town sink or swim. Thanks for nothing.

  • rhonda
    February 12, 2016 - 15:29

    Can the City think of enough ways to rob the citizens? WI-FI IN in the rinks, and now $ 75.000 to study a new arena. ------- Mr. Lee you know perfectly well that the recommendations will be to go ahead and sink a pile of money into YOUR dream project. It is not enough that the VENUE sits there idle most of the year, and that you load up the City with employees by the ton to tend the flowers and decorate the corner trees for Christmas, now you are prepared to saddle us with more debt for something we don't need.

  • city dweller
    February 12, 2016 - 15:22

    There is a lot of lip service being offered for the homeless and those that do not have food security, - and the poor elderly. Maybe our elected officials at City Hall might consider some help to all of us who can barely scrape through and come up with some property tax relief, instead of wasting money left and right. Wi-Fi in the arenas and now millions for a new one. The majority of people are not interested in a new rink, - but in this town, it is not the majority that gets to rule. Let us get Clifford out of office, so maybe the poor people can get some tax relief.

  • Taxpayer
    February 12, 2016 - 15:16

    Lay off the bull s... Clifford, it means exactly that it will be build. The consultants are paid to tell you what you want to hear, and you want to hear it will be a wonderful thing to pout on the taxpayers back. Stop insulting our intelligence.

  • upwest
    February 12, 2016 - 10:53

    A little bit of Summerside envy going on? I like their toy and I want one too!!!!

  • suggestion
    February 12, 2016 - 09:14

    If the city really wanted to clean up the east end, they should have bought the old Shell gas station property and the former DPM Murphy building and come to an arrangement to buy the Tim's & Wendy's so they could control the entire corner. Then a signature building like a new arena with plenty of accessible parking would have been possible. Now the compromise is to use the government garage property, tucked in behind the new dental clinic, and the fast food restaurants. It'll look ugly and it'll be cramped. Lack of planning and forethought as usual. Maybe it's time to look at putting this arena in a more accessible location such as at the intersection of St Peters Hwy and the Bypass across from the KFC? Good roads in 4 directions and no pesky downtown traffic.

    • Bill Maher
      February 12, 2016 - 18:55

      So Suggestion, your brilliant idea is to spend millions buying coffee shops and fast food joints before spending many millions building the place?

  • townie2
    February 12, 2016 - 07:14

    don't cut corners this time, if the original idea had been followed we wouldn't be needing a new one now (bowl style, wider seats, no posts blocking view, etc.) and would be getting big name concerts like Summerside does.

  • Field of contaminated dreams
    February 12, 2016 - 07:09

    If you built it, they will come... and have to clean up all the contaminated land. I hope the city has major allocations for remedial work to this land. I know the new Gateway Dental building right beside Wendy's literally had piles of contaminated material. I would really like to see a new area; the Civic Center is poorly designed.. any engineer/architect knows this.

  • Mike
    February 12, 2016 - 06:03

    Please makesure this is a fourplex with one rink being a 5000 seat facility. Moncton did it right so you dont have to go far four plans that are already designed. A sports resturant and bar that will help off set costs 12 months of the year, the resturant be right in the middle so you can see all 4 ice pads . A few meeting rms top notch for rent to hold small conferences and clinics etc again helping setoff costs to run the building. These are hockey rinks not curling, not for horse shows, like I said consult with Moncton they did it right and I hear their building another because as the saying goes "you build it they will come" build it and you will have so many user groups new and old! The money it costs to run cody banks and simmons will pay to run a state of the art facility with heat pumps solar panel technology today! One last thing PLEASE don't have the chair of parks sit on this committee!