A privately operated and financed recreation complex threatens neighbourhood arenas in Moncton, moving home ice from around the corner to across town. The arena megaproject, known as the Moncton four-plex, is expensive and unneeded.
The new complex, slated to open in October, is being built and managed by the Moncton Area Partners consortium. The city will pay MAP $1.4 million a year over 20 years for the $15 million facility far more than if the city undertook the project itself plus $150,000 a year to run the facility, which will be owned by a private non-profit organization. After 20 years and millions of dollars in extra interest, the city has the option to buy the facility for more than $3.5 million.
As with P3 schools, corporate logic not community need influences the new facilitys location. The consolidation of the citys recreation facilities into one giant complex may serve an accountants economies of scale, but the citys three existing arenas are all structurally sound with strong neighbourhood foundations.
Each arenas in a very different neighbourhood. [Community members] all have an attachment to their own arena, their home ice. Its their meeting place, says Leonard Lg0065r, a city worker who has helped maintain the arenas for the past 16 years. Lg0065r, a member of CUPE 51, says a recent study shows the existing facilities, an average 30 years old, are in good shape and are definitely worth saving.
We had a survey that brought someone in, an independent person, to assess the rinks. Structurally he told us those rinks are as good as the day they were built.
Lg0065r says the rinks are in excellent shape with well-functioning systems that have been upgraded and overhauled in recent years. Weve done a lot to keep them up to date. Groups play ice and ball hockey, figure skate and hold other community events in the facilities. Now, that hub of activity is moving as three arenas close to make way for the new complex. A fourth rink may also close.
For the neighbourhood, its going to mean a lot of problems for parents transporting their children further away, says Lg0065r. Thats going to cost money and the facilities will too, a lot more. Whether its the taxpayer that will pick it up, or the users directly, itll cost more.
City council ignored alternate proposals to further renovate the existing facilities and possibly expand them. Lg0065r says the rinks would have done the job for a lot of years to come right in their neighbourhoods.
At least one of the corporations in the Moncton Area Partnership is having trouble with a recreation P3 in Guelph, Ontario, where the city is bailing out the troubled project.
The city of Guelph guaranteed a $9 million loan to Nustadia Developments to build an arena-mall complex, and invested another $10.5 million of its own money. The corporation put up $1.5 million. The 35-year deal hasnt started on the right foot, with revenue from events and concessions lower than the corporation projected. Last summer, the city took over Nustadias $750,000 mortgage payments for the next four years, after the corporation missed a payment. In addition to these temporary loans, the city is also paying Nustadias federal and corporate taxes, to the tune of $100,000 a year.