Bay Roberts cool to re­gional arena con­cept

Mayor feels study should have been done be­fore fa­cil­ity awarded to Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers in Bay Roberts say they would sup­port the con­cept of a re­gional re­cre­ation com­plex in Con­cep­tion Bay North, but not un­der the cur­rent strat­egy be­ing pur­sued by the Town of Har­bour Grace.

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood spoke to the is­sue dur­ing a July 17 coun­cil meet­ing, and left lit­tle doubt about whether his town will be pump­ing any money into the pro­posed new arena in Har­bour Grace.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced last year that it would fi­nance up to 80 per cent of a max­i­mum $21 mil­lion for a new arena for Har­bour Grace. The new fa­cil­ity will re­place the half-cen­tury-old S. W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium.

The an­nounce­ment sparked a de­bate about whether Har­bour Grace could af­ford to fi­nance its share of the project, and cover any oper­at­ing losses that are likely to arise each year.

In light of this, towns in the re­gion have been hold­ing talks about the pos­si­bil­ity of mak­ing the new arena a re­gional com­plex, and shar­ing the costs.

Lead­ers in Har­bour Grace and Car­bon­ear were the first to sit down to dis­cuss the idea. That was fol­lowed by a sec­ond meet­ing that at­tracted rep­re­sen­ta­tives from a num­ber of other towns. A third meet­ing held ear­lier this month saw of­fi­cials from only four towns — Har­bour Grace, Vic­to­ria, Car­bon­ear and Bay Roberts — at­tend.

Wood said he came away from the meet­ing feel­ing the process was all wrong, and that a fea­si­bil­ity study should have been com­pleted be­fore the arena was awarded to one par­tic­u­lar town.

“My thought is the study should have been done prior to the an­nounc­ing of $21 mil­lion for Har­bour Grace, and the study would in­clude ques­tions like: ‘Where is the best place to put it?’ and ‘What type of fa­cil­ity do the towns want?’ ‘Would we want a pool in it, sta­dium or gym com­plex in it?’ Then it might be some­thing our town may want to be a part of. But the bot­tom line is it’s go­ing to be built in Har­bour Grace.”

Wood added: “I don’t feel that coun­cil would want to be a part of some­thing that is al­ready started. If it was at the be­gin­ning of the process, I think we would be more than will­ing to be part of some fea­si­bil­ity study.

“I’m not just say­ing that the best place would be Bay Roberts. Maybe Har­bour Grace, Spa­niard’s Bay, Car­bon­ear, maybe Bri­gus.”

The Bay Arena in Bay Roberts, built nearly 30 years ago, was orig­i­nally billed as a re­gional com­plex. It was en­vi­sioned that all towns within a cer­tain ra­dius would make an­nual con­tri­bu­tions to the fa­cil­ity, pro-rated to their pop­u­la­tions. But only Bay Roberts has car­ried on this prac­tice.

Mean­while, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Nigel Black cau­tioned coun­cil against mak­ing any for­mal de­ci­sions on the con­cept, not­ing that the project is still in its early stages.

“Once you get a lit­tle more in­for­ma­tion, you might be able to make a bet­ter in­formed de­ci­sion,” said Black.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood is shown speak­ing at a July 17, 2012 coun­cil meet­ing

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