So far so bad when it comes to the City of Greater Sudbury seeking funding from senior levels of government for the Valley East Twin Pad Multipurpose Sports Complex in Hanmer.
With the halfway point of 2022 already passing, this doesn’t bode well for the city moving forward on the $29.2-million project this year, particularly given how the city budgeted for it.
Although city council approved funding for the project during 2022 budget talks, it was contingent on senior levels of government pledging $20 million.
Several letters were sent to various ministers and their offices requesting guidance on any funding that might be available, but the city had “no luck whatsoever,” Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre told Sudbury.com.
Local Liberal MPs Marc Serre (Nickel Belt) and Viviane Lapointe (Sudbury) have indicated that unless there’s buy-in from the province to cost-share the project, there isn’t any room for the federal government to join in with funding, Lapierre added.
Although they’ve come up short thus far, the councillor said the letter campaign would recommence following last week’s provincial election concluded. With the province’s Progressive Conservative government maintaining its majority government, the city will now be reaching out to the same people who have already said no.
“I’m not discouraged,” Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan, said, adding that it’s an attractive project he’s confident the senior levels of government will see merit in, even if they’re not ready to cut cheques just yet.
“That’s why I say I’ll give it a couple years,” he added.
Kirwan envisions walking trails that will make their way south all the way to a redeveloped Kalmo Beach, further establishing the area as the community hub for Valley East.
”The older arenas being closed are costly and out of date, but when you look at the twin pad, it’s not just the twin pad, it’s the gym upstairs, other amenities – the walking trails,” he said.
The Valley East Twin Pad Multipurpose Sports Complex is proposed as a 76,000-square-foot complex comprised of:
- A twin pad arena (NHL-size rinks, each with 400-seat capacity). Exploring one fully accessible ice pad
- Eight change rooms and referee change rooms per ice surface
- Gymnasium (multipurpose sports programming, such as indoor soccer training, pickleball, exercise classes, etc.)
- Heated viewing area
- Public concourse/lobby space
- Support spaces
The building would be constructed at the Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre property in Hanmer, and its opening is expected to be accompanied by the city shutting down four existing ice pads, including the Raymond Plourde Arena, Centennial Arena, Capreol Community Centre and Arena pad No. 1 and one additional pad recommended by staff.
“A future report will provide Council/Committee with recommendations about a fourth pad for closure,” a city spokesperson clarified this week. “Recommendations will be based on a number of factors, including geographic distribution of arenas, utilization, capital requirements of existing facilities and operating costs.”
With the ambiguity of a fourth unnamed ice pad shutting down, some community members expressed concern that this might result in the closure of Capreol pad No. 2, which Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo has said would not happen.
Lapierre echoed Jakubo’s sentiment this week, noting that Capreol pad No. 2 would “for sure” remain open because it’s still widely used by the community.
While the city continues seeking funds for the twin pad project in Hanmer, both Kirwan and Lapierre said that they’d be willing to push the project forward regardless of the outcome.
“If we were to get a no from all levels of government, this is definitely a project that I would bring back forward for us to look at a way for us to fund it,” Lapierre said.
“Infrastructure-wise, if we don’t do that then we have to consider a different business case to start putting millions of dollars into repairs for the old buildings. … It’s either a Band-Aid for a few more years of millions over the years, or a large-ticket item of $30-million for the next 50 years.”
Kirwan said that he will give the senior levels of government at least a couple of years before he begins advocating for a 100 per cent municipally funded build.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.