$18M grant no longer available for twin-pad
The city may have to wait a year before it starts building a twin-pad arena at Trent University, says Mayor Daryl Bennett, because the grant of $18 million promised by the previous Liberal provincial government isn’t expected after all — although Progressive Conservative MPP Dave Smith says he’ll advocate for government money for the much-needed project.
Still, Bennett said on Thursday to expect delays.
“I daresay that (the project) could be deferred for a year, because the province has said they are not going to complete some of the projects that were on the books — we’re awaiting word on that,” Bennett said in a media scrum on Thursday, following a campaign announcement where he outlined his infrastructure priorities.
Bennett said the twin-pad arena was expected to cost about $40 million — and that without the grant, city council will have to consider its options.
“We’d have to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do without outside financing,” he said.
Bennett noted, however, that the city may be in good shape to
consider the project because it now can expect up to $6 million annually in revenue-sharing and taxes from the new Shorelines Casino Peterborough.
In an interview later on Thursday, Smith said the mayor is correct that the previous government made a promise that won’t bear any fruit. The Liberal government announced a grant of $18 million in its April budget.
“But there was no program attached to it,” Smith said. “You can’t get money that was never actually available.”
The money was going to be applied to the construction of a $54million arena and aquatics complex planned for Trent University.
The facility on Pioneer Rd. was meant as a replacement for the aging Northcrest Arena, which will close as soon as it opens.
Originally the city intended to build a twin-pad replacement arena, and then added the pool. Now the finances are in question.
Smith didn’t rule out that the provincial government will help, however: in fact, he said the city’s need for ice pads cannot be disputed ... Peterborough needs four more ice pads.
“That makes it a really easy sell for me, to the ministry,” he said. “I would be outstandingly surprised if there wasn’t money coming forward ... in the next budget cycle.”
Smith didn’t say whether he thought the new Progressive Conservative government would match or even exceed the promise made by the former Liberal government. But he did seem confident he could advocate for money: “It’s a really easy sell.”
NOTE: See related opinion column on Page A5.