Council asks staff to create arena plan

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Noting it is an amenity that many people in the community desire, Chatham-Kent councillors directed staff to create a feasibility plan for a twin-pad arena Monday night.

However, thanks to an amendment, it will be the next term of council that deals with the issue.

Council passed a report asking that administration develop plans to build a twin-pad facility to replace Memorial Arena and William K. Erickson Arena.

There will also be a site analysis and recommendation, specifications and a financing plan.

Any project approval would depend on senior government funding.

“We're not asking for any commitment to build,” said chief administrative officer Don Shropshire.

The financing plan will include the exploration of funding opportunities, as well as addressing the costs associated with land procurement, site remediation, bidding, design and construction.

Calling it a “once in a generation” decision, Shropshire added that council will at some point need to direct staff to either focus on a 2,200-seat community facility ($25 million-$29 million), or a 4,200-seat event centre ($52 million-$56 million).

The 2010 Parks and Recreation Master Plan recommended pursuing a twin-pad arena when the municipality would be decommissioning Memorial and Erickson arenas.

Shropshire said there are many efficiencies with a twin-pad, including the Zamboni, ice refrigeration equipment and concession stands.

“We'd be doing some preliminary planning,” the CAO said. “We believe we have the expertise to do the analysis in-house.”

He said if the municipality could obtain two-thirds funding support from the federal and provincial governments the arena would become a reality.

However, he said this financial assistance would only be possible if the municipality has a plan in place.

“We think that's a great deal for the taxpayers of Chatham-Kent,” he said.

Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley entered the amendment asking that the next council receive the information.

His ward colleague, Coun. Carmen McGregor, said the twin-pad idea has been pushed around several times and believes action is needed.

“We're put here to make decisions and provide direction,” she said.

Chatham Coun. Derek Robertson said the current council wasn't burdening the next term, noting that only information was being sought.

“We've been kicking this can down the road for an awfully long time,” he said.

Robertson added that further details will “well-equip and arm” the next council in order to make an educated decision.

“This puts us at the ready,” he said.

While the twin-pad is still off in the distance, South Kent Coun. Trevor Thompson said residents want the municipality to finally move ahead.

“There is broad-based support for a project like this,” he said.

tterfloth@postmedia.com

@DailyNewsTT

 

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