Moncton votes to build Downtown Event Centre
WATCH ABOVE: Global’s Alex Abdelwahab looks at the background of the downtown Moncton event Centre.
MONCTON – In a special meeting Wednesday evening, Moncton City Council voted to build the Downtown Event Centre.
Council passed the vote 8-3, with Councillors Brian Hicks, Daniel Bourgeois and Paul Pellerin voting against it.
“I was always optimistic,” Mayor George LeBlanc told reporters after the meeting. “But there were good days and bad days. It’s been a lot of work, not just by me, but by our staff, by members of council, by everyone really involved in this, so it’s been a bit of a Hurculean task but we’re there.”
The centre will include an arena with more than 9000 permanent seats and up to 10,000 seats for some events. It will also have retail and meeting spaces as well as an outdoor ice rink that will be open throughout the fall and winter.
It will be the future home of the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMHJL).
Coun. Brian Hicks said he couldn’t vote for the project because he felt the city should be focused on other priorities.
“I still have a lot of unknowns, a lot of questions about financing of this,” he said. “The impact on taxpayers going down the road, if tax rates increase which I think they’re going to.”
The meeting began at 4 p.m. with a presentation from the Moncton’s Chief Financial Officer John Martin updating council on the current funding situation for the building.
Then each councillor was given the chance to ask questions or make comments.
During those discussions, Martin clarified that the final price tag for the building will be slightly less than previously thought because the City has been advised it will be exempt from some taxes.
The total price tag will now be $104.2 million, including the costs associated with purchasing the land.
The most recent capital funding plan is broken into six different funding sources:
- Federal Replace Funding – $19,267,500 (announced)
- Provincial Replacement and Direct Funding – $23,850,000 (announced)
- Fundraising Campaign – $5,000,000 (has started)
- Ancillary Land sales – $3,500,000 (planned)
- City of Moncton Major Project Reserve – $13,471,666
- Net debt – $39,115,834 (Capital Borrowing Approved the city to borrow up to $95.4 million)
The city also voted to award the contract for construction and operation of the Centre to Bird Capital, a consortium made up of Bird Construction, SMG Canada, Stantec Architecture, Populous and BDA Landscape Architects.
Bird Construction will be responsible for the construction, while SMG Canada will be responsible for the operation, Steve Leger, the bid manager for Bird Construction told reporters after the meeting.
“We’re very pleased and ecstatic with the vote of confidence the city has shown us tonight and we’re looking forward very much to the next couple of years working with the city to reinvigorate the downtown,” he said.
The new centre should be open on September 1, 2018.