Arena project not dead, says Tweel

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

Re­ports sur­round­ing the sup­posed death of a new multi-use sports and en­ter­tain­ment com­plex in Char­lot­te­town have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated, says Coun. Mitchell Tweel.

Tweel is not only chair­man of the city’s parks and recre­ation com­mit­tee but he’s also the city’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the multi-use sports and en­ter­tain­ment com­plex task force.

The Guardian ran an ed­i­to­rial say­ing the project was all but dead after Mayor Philip Brown said a ma­jor arena is not on the city’s wish list of cap­i­tal projects this year be­cause it doesn’t qual­ify for fund­ing un­der the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s In­vest­ing in Canada In­fra­struc­ture Pro­gram (ICIP).

Then, Char­lot­te­town MP Sean Casey con­firmed the news, ex­plain­ing that ICIP won’t con­trib­ute fund­ing to a fa­cil­ity that houses a pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball team and a ma­jor ju­nior hockey team be­cause the pres­ence of those teams makes the arena a for­profit op­er­a­tion.

Tweel said it’s old news. “The fed­eral gov­ern­ment made it quite clear… a year and a half ago… it was not fund­ing fa­cil­i­ties of that mag­ni­tude,’’ Tweel said Fri­day.

Many had hoped a new arena could be built in time for the 2023 Canada Win­ter Games, which P.E.I. is host­ing, just like Eastlink Cen­tre was built for the 1991 Canada Win­ter Games.

Tweel said it would be wrong to rush it.

“We can’t be con­strained by a time frame and just rush it out and build a fa­cil­ity be­cause the Canada Games (are com­ing). That’s where you make mis­takes.’’

Tweel said a new arena needs to be built in the right lo­ca­tion and built the right way.

“We’ve got to get it right the first time. Where (Eastlink Cen­tre) was built, that was the wrong lo­ca­tion, it was the wrong fa­cil­ity with at least 1,000 de­fi­cien­cies. If it was con­structed right the first time in the right lo­ca­tion we wouldn’t be hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion to­day.’’

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