Talk of new skating rinks for Halifax Regional Municipality took up much of city council’s time yesterday, including a decision to move forward with a $40-million four-pad arena in Hammonds Plains despite being denied federal infrastructure funds.
Councillors voted unanimously to use municipal money to cover the $15 million they expected to come from Ottawa, Bedford representative Tim Outhit confirmed late last night, adding the arena is on schedule for a September 2010 completion.
Outhit said the province plans to pay its $15 million portion of the project. But Northwest Arm-South End Coun. Sue Uteck said the city will have to renegotiate with them now that the feds have pulled back.
“HRM, if we don’t receive that funding, will have to take on a larger debt burden,” she told reporters after council’s evening session had wrapped up. “We are now in a $30-million shortfall on this project.”
The city initially planned to pay $10 million for the facility, with the remainder to come from the other two government levels. But Outhit, who represents the area where the rink will be built, said “the plan was always that we would, if we had to, fund even 100 per cent (of the arena).”
“We’re really disappointed we didn’t get federal funding, but that isn’t going to kill us.”
Uteck said councillors found out about the feds backing out during a closed door meeting earlier in the day, adding the move could be political, considering Nova Scotians just elected an NDP government.
• Council also voted in favour of developing a refrigerated long track speedskating oval for the 2011 Canada Winter Games, which would be used as a recreational outdoor rink after the Games are finished. Potential locations for what city staff called “a legacy” for HRM will be discussed at a later date.