Let’s get ‘er done

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Af­ter months of un­cer­tainty and de­bate, it ap­pears as though ef­forts to re­place the de­crepit S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace may fi­nally be mak­ing some real head­way.

If you’re a recre­ational en­thu­si­ast in this re­gion, that’s great news.

Town of­fi­cials con­firmed last week that it had reached an agree­ment with a ma­jor bank to bor­row up to $3.8 mil­lion for its share of the project, squash­ing sug­ges­tions by some that Har­bour Grace, a town with a shrink­ing tax base, would not be able to come up with the money needed with­out a part­ner­ship with neigh­bour­ing towns. Ef­forts to form such a part­ner­ship went down in flames late last year.

Mayor Don Coombs went so far as to de­scribe the town’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion last week as very pos­i­tive, and is as up­beat as ever that the project will pro­ceed.

The town is en­thu­si­as­ti­cally tout­ing the prospect of a mod­ern arena with two ice sur­faces, a walking track, and fixed seat­ing for up to 1,000 peo­ple, built on a com­bi­na­tion of Crown and pri­vate land along Jamie’s Way. It will be ad­min­is­tered by a board of direc­tors with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from through­out the re­gion, but owned out­right by the town.

Coombs is hop­ing the project will cost some­where in the range of $18 to $19 mil­lion, with the town pick­ing up 20 per cent of the cost.

All that’s needed now is a seal of ap­proval from the pro­vin­cial government, which first an­nounced the project to great fan­fare in Au­gust 2011. But with the province now seal­ing off the trea­sury fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions that jaw­drop­ping deficits are in the off­ing for the next sev­eral years, it’s un­der­stand­able to ques­tion whether the project will be stalled yet again. Coombs is hope­ful that it won’t, and let’s hope he’s right.

This fa­cil­ity has the po­ten­tial to change the sport­ing land­scape in the re­gion, es­pe­cially if it pro­ceeds with two ice sur­faces. For in­stance, what might it mean for mi­nor hockey in the re­gion? Could it re­sult in more co-op­er­a­tion be­tween CeeBees mi­nor and Bay Arena mi­nor? Al­most cer­tainly, since ac­tiv­ity lev­els at the Bay Arena, a very vi­able “com­mu­nity rink,” are al­ready at their max­i­mum.

A new fa­cil­ity strate­gi­cally lo­cated on Jamie’s Way will also bode well for se­nior and recre­ational hockey, the skat­ing club, and may per­haps mean the re­turn of curl­ing to the re­gion.

And who knows? We may see some new busi­nesses spring up along Jamie’s Way. There’s al­ready whis­pers of this in some cir­cles.

Let’s just hope the town can op­er­ate the rink with­out it be­ing much of a bur­den to its ci­ti­zens. To do so, it must max­i­mize us­age of the fa­cil­ity, and en­sure it hires a man­ager who can get the job done.

Have no doubt, it’s go­ing to be an in­ter­est­ing few years as this project un­folds.

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