Morrow Park ranked top site for new arena
James Stevenson Park in East City, No Frills, GE land, works yard also on list
Morrow Park tops a new shortlist of possible locations for a new arena/entertainment centre, to replace the Memorial Centre, that has been released by the city’s Toronto consultant.
The new facility would cost $85.9 million if it includes two ice pads and 5,800 seats, states a study from Sierra Planning and Management.
With just one ice pad, it’s less: $72.1 million. It would take a minimum of five years to have it built and ready to open, the study says.
Councillors will review the shortlist for the first time on Monday evening at City Hall and ask Sierra to do further study on one site or more.
Besides Morrow Park, the other five locations shortlisted are:
• No Frills on George St. N.
• City public works yard on Townsend St.
• James Stevenson Park (the ball diamond) on Burnham St.
• General Electric (in part) on Park St. N.
• Canadian Canoe Museum on Monaghan Rd. (which is soon to build a new museum next to the Lift Lock).
The study points out advantages to building on Morrow Park compared to the other potential sites.
Morrow Park is city-owned, for example, and it’s large enough to take an arena with two ice pads.
It’s also not in a floodplain, and the lands aren’t contaminated by prior industrial uses (such as the GE site, for example – the property is the lowest-ranked of the six, and the consultants suggest it be rejected).
The preferred option would be to build on the eastern half of Morrow Park (immediately west of Roger Nielson Way).
The new arena would cover two of the four ball diamonds, the small Agricultural Society offices and the Kawartha Gymnastics Club (which has a lease until May 2019).
It would mean the Memorial Centre could remain standing, east of Roger Nielson Way.
Although the city needs two more ice pads, the study points out, there’s a plan for construction of a new twin-pad arena at Trent University.
So the study recommends using the PMC as a dry arena for use as a gymnasium, for example, or as a space to host trade shows.
Meanwhile, the Agricultural Society has a licensing agreement that allows it to use Morrow Park for the annual Peterborough Exhibition.
But the agreement does allow for non-agricultural uses on the eastern half of the park, the study points out, which would in theory allow a new arena and entertainment centre.
If the city were to terminate the licensing agreement with the Agricultural Society without cause, however, it would be on the hook for $500,000 to help the Society relocate the Ex – and it’s not clear whether there are other suitable lands in the city.
Meanwhile there could be one another complication, the study says.
Morrow Park was given to the city in trust by Harold Morrow in 1938 for use as agricultural exhibition grounds. In 1984, Morrow’s descendants deeded the land to the city with the promise that it be forever used for the Ex.
That was enshrined in the Peterborough Act 1984; the study states the act “could place limitations on development at Morrow Park and will require careful consideration” – but it doesn’t rule out a new arena.
It’s far preferable to try to manage those challenges than to consider the GE site, the study states: it rated worst of the shortlisted options.
The land is contaminated, the study points out, and GE is likely to want to clean it thoroughly before any other use can be considered so it isn’t left liable – and that could take years.
The Canadian Canoe Museum site on Monaghan Rd. doesn’t rate much better; the consultants don’t suggest it, either.
The city would have to buy the land from the museum, the study states, but it would also have to buy and demolish the series of commercial buildings to the south (Michaels, Pet Smart and other buildings) to make the site work.
Here are some key pros and cons, regarding the other sites on the shortlist:
• No Frills (George St. N.):
Pros: Downtown, on a riverfront location
Cons: It’s privately owned, and even if the city could buy the land it would mean the loss of a downtown grocery store. The site is also tight – not large enough to accommodate a second ice pad.
• City Works Yard (Townsend St.):
Pros: Downtown location that offers a chance to reuse a brownfield site.
Cons: Although the majority of the land is city-owned, the city would have to buy the plaza along George St. to make it work – and it has multiple owners and tenants. Also the site is triangular, and too small to accommodate a second ice pad.
• James Stevenson Park (Burnham St.):
Pros: This riverfront property is all city-owned, and large enough to accommodate a second ice pad as well as on-site parking.
Cons: The property is in a floodplain. Also, the city would have to relocate a “premium baseball diamond facility,” the study states – and it’s unclear whether another suitable site would be available. The Lions Community Centre would have to be relocated too.
Meanwhile there had been some other potential locations on a longlist: Peterborough Square was considered, for example, but the site was too small to accommodate an arena with a single ice pad, never mind a double.
The Peterborough Armoury was also considered, but the property was rejected because the Murray St. building is a heritage building.
In a prior report to city council, Sierra Planning and Management called the PMC “obsolete” and suggested a new arena/entertainment centre for Peterborough.
The firm recaps that sentiment in the latest study, saying the PMC need about $26 million in repairs and renovations over the next 30 years.
None of this spending would improve the capacity or “functionality” of the building, the report emphasizes.
“Less charitably, it can be viewed as the spending required to maintain the same level of dysfunctionality of the building,” the study states.
City councillors meet at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday.