Arena fi­nanc­ing in place

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS

The Town of Har­bour Grace has re­ceived ap­proval from a ma­jor lend­ing in­sti­tu­tion to bor­row up to $3.8 mil­lion for its share of a new arena, and is now await­ing fi­nal ap­proval from the pro­vin­cial government in or­der to push for­ward with the high­pro­file project.

And Mayor Don Coombs says he does not be­lieve the province’s se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion — a $4 bil­lion deficit is be­ing forecast over the next sev­eral years — will de­rail the project, since the $21.4 mil­lion in fund­ing was an­nounced in the sum­mer of 2011.

“If we were look­ing for 2013 money, I think the an­swer would have been no,” Coombs stated last week. “We have been talk­ing reg­u­larly with of­fi­cials in government and we’ve been given no in­di­ca­tion this project will not go ahead.”

The town had been given a dead­line of Feb. 28 by the De­part­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs to pro­vide a de­tailed anal­y­sis of its fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, and writ­ten con­fir­ma­tion from a lend­ing in­sti­tu­tion that it could cover its 20 per cent share of the project.

Such con­di­tions are com­mon­place in cost- shared cap­i­tal works projects.

Coombs raved about the town’s “good fi­nan­cials,” and de­scribed the lend­ing terms of­fered by the bank as “sec­ond to none.”

Coombs is now hope­ful that some real progress can be made in the coming months. It’s hoped the province will now sign off on the project, a de­sign con­cept can soon be com­pleted by the con­sult­ing com­pany en­gaged by the town, and the pub­lic can soon get a look at what’s be­ing pro­posed.

“We’re just wait­ing to hear now from the government,” said Coombs, who would like to see the new fa­cil­ity open in Septem­ber 2015.

The town’s “wish list” in­cludes two ice sur­faces, six dress­ing rooms, a fully-ac­ces­si­ble multi-pur­pose room, can­teen, walking track, and fixed seat­ing for be­tween 800 and 1,000 peo­ple.

It’s hoped the project will come in at be­tween $18 and $19 mil­lion, leav­ing some room for over­runs, said Coombs.

The town is hop­ing to off­set some of its costs by sell­ing S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium, and sell­ing the nam­ing rights for the new build­ing.

The boards and glass at the old sta­dium are rel­a­tively new, and will likely be in­stalled in the new fa­cil­ity, the mayor added.

The town’s pre­ferred site is the south side of Jamie’s Way, on a com­bi­na­tion of Crown and pri­vate land.

It’s the lat­est in a months-long jour­ney for those lead­ing the ini­tia­tive, with some doubts along the way about whether the project would ever get off the ground, and an un­suc­cess­ful ef­fort to en­ter into a part­ner­ship with neigh­bour­ing towns.

But Coombs said those bumps are now in the past, and he’s hope­ful that some very tan­gi­ble ad­vances can be made in the very near fu­ture.

Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs

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