Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Peter Kelly was in the rare situation of being disappointed to receive $2 million yesterday.
The province announced it was kicking in a couple million dollars for the four-pad rink arena on Hammonds Plains Rd. Much better than nothing, Kelly admitted, but early statements by the province's health promotion minister Maureen MacDonald had them expecting more.
Originally, HRM had hoped the province and federal government would each pay a third of the $39-million project. But the feds backed out, leaving questions about the province.
In an interview with Metro in late October, MacDonald said the province would kick in $13 million to cover one third of the costs. But in the ensuing hours as word got out, government staff said a mistake had been made.
MacDonald said she misspoke, and while the government would provide some money, the amount was still being worked out.
“Would we have liked them to honour the minister’s commitment at first? Absolutely,” Kelly said. “That is what brings the disappointment that, unfortunately, she was not able to achieve that," adding he understood the province was experiencing tough times.
MacDonald said yesterday that once the federal government backed out, she had to look within her own budget. The pot for recreational facilities had only $6 million left to cover 13 other requests.
“We felt that a $2-million commitment was a significant contribution, given what was remaining in that program and the asks we still have to look at,” she said.
She noted HRM still plans on running a surplus while the province is hundreds of millions of dollars in deficit.
“I think if I were in the shoes of municipal council, I’d be quite grateful that the province has been able to come in with a substantial contribution -- $2 million is nothing to sneeze at,” she said.