MONCTON, N.B. – The city of Moncton’s plan for a downtown entertainment centre saw some monetary support Wednesday as the provincial government announced they’ll invest $23.85-million into the project.
The announcement was made at the former Highfield Square Mall area, where the centre is slated to go. Construction of the new facility is supposed to cost about $100-million, but the city can’t move ahead until the federal government also agrees to invest.
Todd Vaniderstine runs a pub in Moncton’s downtown and says the project is moving along painfully slow.
“I am tired of waiting, but I am excited that there is a little progress being made,” he said. “We are all looking forward to bringing a little life back in to the downtown community.”
Economic Development minister Bruce Fitch says the province is committed to investing in the state of the art facility which will house a concert venue, meeting space and an NHL-size rink.
“The city has been working on it and we’ve been working on it and it was a big push to get it done now because we saw it as a priority for the region,” Fitch said.
Finance critic Roger Melanson, questioned the timing of Wednesday’s announcement.
“This project has been on the table, a lot of work has been done, for more than the last two years,” Melanson said. “Eleven hours before the writ is officially dropped for the provincial election, the Alward government comes here and makes an announcement for almost $25-million.”
Moncton mayor George Leblanc says demolition of the old building should happen in the next few months. But the project can’t move ahead completely until the federal government commits to funding.
“They are still in the process of analyzing how they may be able to fund this and I am very hopeful that we’ll get there soon.”