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In Canada on August 17, 2010 at 09:15
Back to Waterfront arena approved, now we need the cash

Waterfront arena approved, now we need the cash

August 16, 2010

Paul Moloney


An architect’s rendering of the new proposed four-pad ice rink in the waterfront area, which will feature a compact stacked design suitable to an urban neighbourhood.


Though the money hasn’t been found yet, an $88 million hockey arena proposed for the city’s waterfront has received unanimous support in principle from the city’s executive committee.

Led by Mayor David Miller, the committee was solidly in support of building a stacked facility at Commissioners St. and Don Roadway even though only $34 million has been earmarked.

A staff report estimates a $21 million to $25 million bond could be paid off in 30 years, leaving a gap of $29 million to $33 million.

The committee was told that hockey users may be willing to pay a surcharge to help fund construction of the complex, which would offer four NHL-sized ice surfaces, spectator seating, a restaurant, meeting rooms and an indoor track.

“This is a long-term investment,” said Ron Baker, president of the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association. “It should earn a reasonable return for the city and shouldn’t be viewed as just the price tag for a one-off expenditure to be considered on a cost-only basis.”

In voting for approval in principle, the committee wants cost estimates to be further refined in time for next year’s capital budget, which will be set by the new mayor and council after the Oct. 25 elections.

And the city is hoping to talk to the provincial government about funding options to build the facility, which would act as a regional sports complex.

However, concerns were expressed that the arena could take money from other worthy projects, such as a community centre for North Parkdale that has been on the books for 20 years.

“Now it appears the city is considering shoe-horning the portlands project into next year’s capital plan at the possible expense of other projects that have been in the plans for years. This is not fair,” said Doug Bennet, who heads a group advocating for the Wabash community centre.

Councillor Doug Holyday said the city should consider a new location to cut costs, noting that a four-pad rink is being built in Oakville for $38 million and one opened in Oshawa in 2006 for $40 million.

“I don’t understand why we have to do this at this cost,” Holyday said.

Deputy city manager Richard Butts said waterfront construction is more expensive because of the high water table and the stipulated need for excellent design and environmental sustainability.

Butts said the Oshawa project was built on “very inexpensive land, limited requirements for design excellence and in a suburban context. Now, we’re talking about building an iconic facility in a dense urban context.”

In voting for approval in principle, the committee wants to look at adding Olympic-sized ice for speed skaters.

And it wants to see bird-friendly measures so the all-glass structure doesn’t become a death trap for migratory birds.

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