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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - For the first time since 2017, there is finally definite progress on the building of a multi-use sports and entertainment complex in Charlottetown.
City council unanimously voted Monday night to “receive’’ the task force committee’s report of findings that came out in December 2017.
The task force recommended the development of a 5,000-seat sports and event centre in the current location of the provincial government depot on Riverside Drive. It did not indicate where the money could come from.
By “receiving’’ the report, council is saying it isn’t committing to anything other than researching and looking at options/possibilities and, in this case, consulting the public. “Adopting’’ the task force report would have signalled that council is committed to all of the task force recommendations.
Coun. Terry Bernard, a member-at-large of the strategic planning and intergovernmental co-operation committee, moved a resolution at council’s monthly meeting that calls on council to explore possible funding sources through other levels of government and other potential stakeholders.
Coun. Alanna Jankov, chairwoman of the committee, seconded the motion.
Bernard said strategic planning and intergovernmental co-operation will now form a sub-committee.
“They will form a sub-committee or board that would get knowledgeable people that would go looking for funding streams and how much money is actually available for a project like this,’’ Bernard said Tuesday. “It would also report back on different operational models because that’s obviously going to be a concern, too.’’
A new arena, which would likely include two ice pads, is said to cost at least $80 million.
A major arena was not on the city’s wish list for capital projects this year under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).
Charlottetown MP Sean Casey then said such a facility wouldn’t qualify for ICIP funding because the existence of the professional basketball Storm and the major junior hockey Charlottetown Islanders makes the city’s No. 1 arena a for-profit operation. The assumption is that both teams would move to a new facility if one were built.
“They’re in the Eastlink Centre (now and) nothing is going to happen to Eastlink Centre. They could very well stay there (or) they could very well move, but we’re not building it for that reason.’’
Still, Bernard said there are other streams of federal funding the city could tap into, pointing out that Moncton got federal money for its new 8,800-seat Avenir Centre.
Right now, the city’s top priority is replacing the Simmons Sport Centre and Cody Banks Arena, but Bernard points out Eastlink Centre is also aging. It will be 30 years old in 2021.
“It’s an opportunity with the federal election coming, with Canada Games coming (in 2023) ... to get funding and not cost (city) taxpayers a lot.’’
Bernard added that time isn’t running out, saying he’s been told that if work got started by 2021 it would be ready for the Games.
Mayor Philip Brown said now that council has “received’’ the report, he wants the matter to go to a public meeting as soon as possible.