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Feds announce $4.4 million in funding towards West Hants’ new sports complex

West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian, left, Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter, Windsor hockey player Carl “Chook” Smith and President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison pose for a photo following the announcement.
West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian, left, Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter, Windsor hockey player Carl “Chook” Smith and President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison pose for a photo following the announcement. - Colin Chisholm

West Hants warden calls announcement ‘early Christmas present’ for the region

WINDSOR, N.S. – After a long, bitter debate on replacing Windsor’s aging Hants Exhibition Arena, a proposed arena/indoor soccer field plan is now firmly in place, after the federal government announced funding for the facility on Dec. 20.

Kings Hants MP and President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison, along with Hants West MLA Chuck Porter and West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian announced more than $11 million in joint funding for the construction of the new West Hants arena and soccer field.

President of the Treasury board and Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison announces $4.4 million in federal funding towards a Windsor-West Hants hockey arena/indoor soccer field facility.
President of the Treasury board and Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison announces $4.4 million in federal funding towards a Windsor-West Hants hockey arena/indoor soccer field facility.

The federal government will be contributing more than $4.4 million towards the project, with the province throwing in approximately $3.6 million, a $600,000-plus increase above their previously announced commitment.

The Municipality of West Hants will be responsible for finding the remainder of the funding, which they’re hoping to fund primarily through fundraising. The Town of Windsor has also promised $1 million over five years towards the project, which would be located within town limits.

The funding announcement comes after a long period of debate on replacing Windsor’s aging hockey arena, with much of that discussion being divided over the new facility’s location – whether it should be near Long Pond, where hockey is said to have begun, or somewhere more accessible from the highway, like the Hants County Exhibition Grounds.

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The Town of Windsor was close to finalizing a plan near Long Pond and King’s-Edgehill School until the Municipality of West Hants announced their intention to potentially pull their $1 million commitment from the project.

Windsor council then canned the project, and when it was made known that funding from the federal and provincial government was still accessible, West Hants moved forward with their own project.

Hants West MLA and minister of municipal affairs Chuck Porter announces that the province is increasing its commitment to the project to the tune of approximately $3.6 million.
Hants West MLA and minister of municipal affairs Chuck Porter announces that the province is increasing its commitment to the project to the tune of approximately $3.6 million.

The West Hants arena and soccer field is slated to be a 75,000 square foot recreation facility that will include an indoor skating rink, and an indoor soccer field and a walking track.

It will be located on the Hants County Exhibition Grounds, with a land purchase between the Windsor Agricultural Society and the municipality in its final stages.

Scott Brison, who said during his remarks that this has been an issue for as long as he’s been an MP for Kings-Hants, said the funding announcement was a positive step forward.

“Windsor and West Hants cooperating to help make this happen is a big step forward,” Brison said after the announcement. “Not just in terms of this specific hockey arena and soccer field, but it also bodes well for the future in terms of the amalgamation of the two.”

Brison said that the two municipal units working together helped make this project a reality.

“Windsor and West Hants amalgamating will lead to greater cooperating and progress for the people of Windsor-West Hants,” he said.

Brison added that the funding announced is the largest federal-provincial investment in recreation in the region, ever.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Hants West MLA Chuck Porter said the increase in the province’s commitment primarily comes from the added soccer field component.

“It’s a different project, with the soccer field costing approximately $2.4 million,” he said. “We were able to get that because we have everybody at the table and we wanted to see this thing go.”

West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian said ‘Christmas has come early’ after the federal and provincial government announced funding towards a recreation facility.
West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian said ‘Christmas has come early’ after the federal and provincial government announced funding towards a recreation facility.

The indoor soccer facility actually stole some of the spotlight during the announcement, with references made to surrounding facilities that are already at or over capacity.

“The one in Kentville is full, and my own girls had to travel down to Kentville to play, so to have something here will be huge,” Porter said. “This will also extend the season and accommodate so much more year-round.”

Porter acknowledged some of the past tensions while the facility was still being debated in the community. He said it’s time for everyone to move forward with this new project.

“We’ve had our struggles, our challenges, and disappointing days, but we’ve also had exciting days getting to this point,” he said.

“There’s no time to be looking back, there’s so many exciting things going on in Windsor-West Hants. With the consolidation these guys are working hard on, this is just another step toward moving forward in a positive way.”

West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian said the announcement from the federal and provincial governments was “an early Christmas present for West Hants and Windsor.”

Zebian said the next steps involve getting the request for proposals back from the design committee and then ramp up fundraising efforts.

“You always hear ‘this is a historic day.’ This is a truly historic day because this will be a game changer for Windsor-West Hants,” Zebian said.

He said they’re hoping to open the facility to the public by the fall of 2020.

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