$18M grant no longer avail­able for twin-pad

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JOELLE KO­VACH Ex­am­iner Staff Writer

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.

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