Liberal MP Geoff Regan is calling on the federal Conservatives to follow through on funding the four-pad arena planned for his area.

 

He was reacting yesterday to news that Ottawa has decided against doling out $15 million in federal infrastructure funds for the $40-million facility, which is supposed to be built off Hammonds Plains Road by September 2010.

 

“This type of recreational infrastructure is badly needed in the community,” Regan said in a news release. “It is a good investment that will help stimulate the local economy.”

 

Regan said he has “personally raised” the issue with federal Infrastructure Minister John Baird, pointing out the planned arena is Halifax Regional Municipality’s top infrastructure priority.

 

The city’s elected officials found out Tuesday the federal government won’t commit to the project, with Northwest Arm-South End Coun. Sue Uteck speculating politics may be at play.

She pointed out that citizens elected a Liberal in Halifax West and voted in an NDP government.

Regan said in his release “the Conservatives must put the needs of this community ahead of partisan politics.”

But HRM Mayor Peter Kelly said he doesn’t believe politics are the problem.

He said the feds outlined specific reasons for not funding the project, including concern about the arena being built on time, questioning about its economic impact and an “environmental issue.”

He said HRM strongly believes “we can meet those expectations,” adding he hopes to soon make that case with federal officials. City council agreed Tuesday to move forward with the four-pad arena with or without federal financial help.

Premier Darrell Dexter confirmed yesterday “the province remains committed to the project.” The Nova Scotia Government was expected to contribute $15 million.

He added the feds have assured him “the political stripe of the province makes no difference to infrastructure funding.”