Federal funding for arena project still up in the air: Brison

Windsor CAO confirms commitment with moving forward on Long Pond plan


Published on April 19, 2017

This is an artistic rendering of what a new arena could look like if it was located at the Hants County Exhibition Grounds in Windsor.

©Submitted

WINDSOR, N.S. – Following the Windsor Agricultural Society's announcement April 18 where they proposed a hockey heritage museum and arena be built at the Hants County Exhibition Grounds, local politicians are reacting to what this could mean for Windsor and West Hants.

The agricultural society said in their proposal document that they could build a facility at a much lower cost because road and sewer infrastructure is already in place.

President of the Treasury Board and MP for Kings-Hants Scott Brison said there’s no guarantee of federal funding for an arena project until the two municipal units officially decide how they want to do move forward.

“There’s not a project (yet),” Brison said on April 19. “There is a discussion now between the municipal councils and community members about two projects, I understand. When they have made a decision on a project, the federal government looks forward to working with them.”

Brison said the federal government won’t dictate where a proposed project should be located, adding that’s for communities and municipalities to decide together.

“We’re looking forward to those discussions concluding. We’re waiting for them to land on one proposal,” he said. “There are still discussions in the community and between the councils about the optimal proposal and location.”

Brison said the federal government is looking for projects that have a strong cultural and heritage component with potential economic benefit, similar to what has been proposed thus far.

“There’s a real opportunity to develop a world class destination around the sport and hockey heritage, that is really important, so we will want to see some of that,” he said.

The other location that is being considered is at Long Pond – the Cradle of Hockey – which is near King's-Edgehill School and the Dill Family Farm.

Town clarifies proposal

Town of Windsor's chief administrative officer Louis Coutinho said there is a lot of 'misinformation' regarding the project that has been proposed at Long Pond.

“There is also competing interests from another conceptual proposal who want their proposal given consideration,” Coutinho said in an email. “We are not sure if the proposal they have recently circulated is the proposal they have submitted to the federal or provincial governments. It has been submitted quite late and appears to leave a number of unanswered questions but it is not our proposal to speak to.”

Coutinho also provided some clarifying details on what exactly is being proposed at Long Pond, saying that these details are what Windsor and West Hants have agreed to.

He said the name will be the Hockey Heritage Centre. It will be located near Long Pond, which is adjacent to the Dill Family Farm and KES, it will seat 500 spectators and the total project will cost $12,208,290 net HST.

As for the agricultural society's proposal, they're saying the project could seat anywhere from 600 to 800 people. Windsor Agricultural Society President Lisa Hines said those numbers are still preliminary and could change depending on what the community wants.

The proposal is estimated to cost approximately $9 million, according to a quote from Lindsay Construction.

This is an artistic rendering of what a new arena could look like if it was located at the Hants County Exhibition Grounds in Windsor.
Submitted

Hines said the facility could be a new standalone all-in-one structure or incorporate the existing O’Brien Building.

She said they want the facility to have more space and seating than the Newport and District Arena so they can hold larger events.

The current Hants Exhibition Arena has seating for 1,200 people.

The site is located on Wentworth Road near amenities, including a hotel and fast food restaurants.

Coutinho said some people and groups in the region are being intentionally misleading about the project in order to sabotage the effort.

“There are many statements… designed to work against the King's-Edgehill site for no particular reason other than they don’t like the site,” Coutinho said. “In some cases, it may simply be an opportunity to try and delay the project.”

KES element

Coutinho then said that KES was the initial proponent of a new arena, after being asked by parents to build a facility strictly for school use.

“But King's-Edgehill reached out, as has been their practice in the past, to see if there was an interest in a small community of 3,700 people to partner on something that would add value to the whole community,” Coutinho said.

West Hants Chief Administrative Officer Cathie Osborne and Windsor CAO Louis Coutinho address joint council.
Colin Chisholm

The Long Pond Heritage Society, which has yet to be registered officially with Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stocks, was formed to drum up proposals and fundraising for the facility.

“The town applauds the King's-Edgehill board for being good corporate citizens in our community,” Coutinho said.

He re-iterated in a statement that KES is a major employer for the region.

“These are the facts and the town stands by its support for the project at the Long Pond site for all of the right reasons and the opportunity to have this Hockey Heritage Centre become the economic generator for this region,” he said.

The Town of Windsor will be hosting a public information session on the proposal soon, pending decisions on the inter-municipal agreement between Windsor and West Hants.

He said that West Hants is also interested in hosting a public information session on the same topic, pending the decision regarding the agreement.

MLA weighs in

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter said he hasn’t had a chance to thoroughly review the Windsor Agricultural Society’s proposal yet, but said the province will consider any proposal.

“I know they’ve been talking about this for a while, so we’ll take a look at that,” Porter said.

A previous statement from the premier’s office said provincial funding was incumbent on the project being located at Long Pond. It’s not clear if that’s still true.

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter, left, discusses the arena proposal at a West Hants council meeting.
Colin Chisholm

“This has always been a little confusing because there only ever has been one proposed project, so where else would it be confirmed for?” he said. “It has always been for that location, that was the business plan that was put forward.”

Porter said he doesn’t know what the next steps will be at this point, but did say everything will be assessed fairly.

“I’m very hopeful (we’ll have a new arena soon) because we’re running out of time,” he said. “The last thing I want to see is Windsor without an arena and be put in a similar situation like we had in Brooklyn a couple of years ago.”

Clarification - A previous version of this story said the total project will cost was $12,208,290 including HST, it is actually $12,208,290 net HST.