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Wind­sor coun­cil to hold ses­sion March 13 to up­date pub­lic on arena pro­ject

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - BY COLIN CHISHOLM HANTSJOURNAL.CA Colin.chisholm@hantsjournal.ca

The pub­lic will have a chance to learn more about Wind­sor’s pro­posed arena pro­ject and give some feed­back on as­pects of it dur­ing a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion in March.

The meet­ing is to be held at the Hants County War Me­mo­rial Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on March 13 at 7 p.m.

It will be the first time the pub­lic has had a for­mal chance to ask town staff and coun­cil ques­tions about the pro­ject, which has been ap­proved for the Long Pond site near King’sEdge­hill School.

Chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Louis Coutinho said se­nior staff have been work­ing hard to get in­for­ma­tion pre­pared for the pub­lic meet­ing.

“There’s a lot of peo­ple look­ing to (see) what we have and want­ing a pub­lic meet­ing,” Coutinho said.

“We’ve been plagued with this for the last four years where we haven’t had an op­por­tu­nity to ac­tu­ally get the real num­bers, the fig­ures, and talk about what it re­ally looks like. This time around, we’re hop­ing we can get some­thing be­fore our pub­lic.”

Coutinho said the meet­ing will be held at the com­mu­nity cen­tre be­cause town coun­cil is ex­pect­ing a good turnout.

Up­dates on the pro­ject will also be posted on the town’s web­site and Face­book page on a weekly ba­sis, he said.

In­for­ma­tion, not con­sul­ta­tion

Coun. Jim Ivey, who has been crit­i­cal of the lack of pub­lic in­put through­out the process, said it’s im­por­tant that the pub­lic un­der­stand that it is not be­ing con­sulted.

“I don’t want to be a bro­ken record on this, but we’ve dis­cussed this as con­sul­ta­tion, but these are dif­fer­ent events with dif­fer­ent as­pects,” Ivey said. “I want to be clear on this be­cause when the pub­lic hears we’re do­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, all they hear is con­sul­ta­tion — they per­ceive that we’re there to hear what they have to say.”

Coutinho also re­it­er­ated that the event will be a pub­lic in­for- ma­tion ses­sion, not con­sul­ta­tion.

“Coun­cil made the de­ci­sion on where the arena is go­ing to be,” Coutinho said. “I only have a few weeks to get this pro­posal in and we’re work­ing to meet that dead­line.”

Coutinho said the pub­lic will be shown up-to-date data about the pro­ject and how coun­cil ar­rived at its de­ci­sion.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic will be able to ask ques­tions for clar­ity on the pro­ject, the CAO said.

Staff are work­ing with an ar­chi­tect on a pro­posed $9 mil­lion, 500-seat arena, with a hockey her­itage com­po­nent in the en­trance. Ex­tras, such as a walk­ing trail or ex­tra change rooms, will de­pend on how much money is raised.

Coun. Shel­ley Bibby sug­gested invit­ing stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing lo­cal hockey teams, to the ses­sion to have their ques­tions and con­cerns ad­dressed.

“Con­sid­er­ing the ten­sion and maybe the an­i­mos­ity that’s been cre­ated in the com­mu­nity, is it pos­si­ble to in­vite spe­cific groups?” Bibby said. “It might be a good step to com­mu­ni­cate specif­i­cally to the mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tions, to Avon View, any­body who has some kind of stake in the arena’s fu­ture.”

Time­line ques­tioned

Bryan Ri­p­ley, a town resident, asked if Wind­sor could re­quest a one-year ex­ten­sion of the April 1 dead­line to ap­ply for fed­eral fund­ing.

Ri­p­ley said that MLA Chuck Porter told him this could be a pos­si­bil­ity in a pri­vate meet­ing on Feb. 27.

Coutinho said the April 1 dead­line is re­lated to the prov­ince’s com­mit­ment of $3 mil­lion.

“The prov­ince does need to know be­fore March 31 if this pro­ject is a go or not or the $3 mil­lion goes to an­other pro­ject,” he said. “They need to know and the feds need to know.”

In pre­vi­ous coun­cil meet­ings, the pub­lic had been told that the March 31 dead­line was re­lated to se­cur­ing fed­eral funds.

When asked for com­ment, Dale Pal­me­ter, direc­tor of is­sues man­age­ment in Kings-Hants MP Scott Bri­son’s of­fice, said el­i­gi­ble projects for the New Build Canada Fund must be sub­mit­ted by April 1 for con­sid­er­a­tion.

The fed­eral govern­ment then has 12 months to de­cide which projects will be ap­proved.

Pal­me­ter said ‘el­i­gi­ble’ means that the pro­posal has demon­strated that all fed­eral pro­gram cri­te­ria have been met.

“If a pro­po­nent can­not show that they can meet fed­eral cri­te­ria by April 1 this year, they will not be con­sid­ered,” Pal­me­ter said.

“There is more de­mand than dol­lars avail­able.”

When reached for com­ment, MLA Chuck Porter said the $3 mil­lion com­mit­ment has been on the ta­ble since it was an­nounced in Jan­uary 2016.

“To my knowl­edge, there is no ex­piry date at­tached,” Porter said.

CAO Louis Coutinho

Coun. Jim Ivey

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