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New Charlottetown arena ‘not a dead issue,’ says mayor

Island Storm player Tirrell Baines warms up for a basketball game at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown as Brooke Gregory, an employee with the City of Charlottetown, works on the shot clock. Although a new multi-use sports and events centre isn’t on the city’s list of capital projects this year, it doesn’t mean the issue is dead.
Island Storm player Tirrell Baines warms up for a basketball game at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown as Brooke Gregory, an employee with the City of Charlottetown, works on the shot clock. Although a new multi-use sports and events centre isn’t on the city’s list of capital projects this year, it doesn’t mean the issue is dead. - Jim Day

A new multi-use sports and events centre isn’t on Charlottetown’s list of capital projects this year but that doesn’t mean the issue is dead.

Mayor Philip Brown said it’s not on the list because it doesn’t qualify for Build Canada funding, meaning it doesn’t meet the criteria for federal government funding that the city gets to do things like upgrade roads and water and sewer projects.

“We would have to look at other sources of funding,’’ Brown said. “(The arena issue) is not a dead issue.’’

Back in December 2017, a task force set up by the city recommended a 5,000-seat multi-use sports and event centre. A report issued by the task force to council calls for a facility capable of hosting major national events and more frequent regional sport and non-sport events.

The report recommends a main spectator seating bowl and ice surface as well as a second NHL-size ice surface dedicated for use by the community with seating in the 400-500 range.

The cost of building the facility is estimated between $74 million and $81 million with an additional $2 million for 500 parking spaces. That was the estimate when the report came out. However, many people The Guardian has talked to speculate that such a facility would now cost in the $80-$100 million range.

Development of the centre would require funding from all levels of government and likely community fundraising.

It should be noted that a new facility would fit in rather nicely with the fact that P.E.I. is hosting the Canada Winter Games in 2023 but if a new building is going to be ready for the Games, something would have to happen soon.

“Where will the money come from? That’s what I’m concerned about.’’

Brown said the cost of building the facility doesn’t worry him as much as does the cost of operating it.

“It’s taking care of it afterwards. That’s where your costs will come in.’’

Nothing much has happened since the report came out in December 2017 but Brown is prepared to move it forward.

“I want to go to the next stage and that is to have a public discussion about it.’’

Compounding the issue is the fact the city needs to replace the Simmons Sport Centre, which has structural issues, and likely Cody Banks Arena as well. Brown said it makes more sense to build a new tri-pad than replace the two small arenas.

He also thinks the city could partner with the Charlottetown Curling Complex which has been looking for a new home for a few years.

“They want to work with us so there is another partner we can look at (for) providing new facilities in a new multi-use complex.’’

Dave.stewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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