Saint John councillor suggests possibility of selling assets, including Harbour Station

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Saint John councillor floating idea to sell city-owned assets
WATCH: Saint John’s largest arena, Harbour Station, figures most prominently on a list of city-owned assets to be sold. Andrew Cromwell explains – Aug 6, 2019

A Saint John councillor thinks the city should be taking a closer look at selling off some of its assets including Harbour Station.

The nearly 26 year old building is home to the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. It also hosts a number of yearly concerts as well as various trade shows and other events.

“The Station” is considered one of the gems of the city but, like gems, they are expensive. It runs a yearly deficit in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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“When you’re spending citizens dollars I think you need to be very cognizant of what you’re spending it on and whether that’s good value for their money,” said Councillor Donna Reardon who also sits on the city’s finance committee.

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With the city now undertaking long term financial planning Reardon feels the time may be right.

“Saint John is at a crossroads right now,” said Reardon. “We can’t keep doing things the way we have been doing them. It’s time for us to reinvent ourselves.”

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Reardon isn’t alone in her thinking about city owned assets. Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary supports taking a look at downsizing, but isn’t sure Harbour Station should be on that list.

“They’ve been able to maintain Harbour Station very well over the years,” explained McAlary. “Some of our other facilities have not been maintained as well and therefore they’re not as perhaps as attractive to keep.”

Keeping Harbour Station in tip top shape requires significant capital investment. Neighbouring municipalities contribute to costs, but not capital expenses.

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McAlary said they have balked at that in the past, but perhaps it could be part of the future.

“Maybe some of our facilities…the ownership should be broadened to include the other municipalities,” McAlary suggested. “Maybe if they had ownership in it they could…have more control than they feel they have now.”

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While the issue of city owned assets has yet to make its way before Common Council, Councillor Reardon feels it’s just a matter of time before it does.

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