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Peterborough city council backs plan to move twin-pad arena project from Trent to Fleming

A new twin-pad arena is one step closer to being built in Peterborough. But it won't be at Trent University as previously planned. As Mark Giunta reports, council has backed a plan to move it to Fleming College.

It might take a few more years, but it looks like Peterborough will get its new twin-pad arena to replace the aging single-pad Northcrest Arena.

But, instead of the new arena being built in the north end at Trent University as previously planned, it will likely go in the west end at Fleming College.

Council, sitting as general committee, voted 9-2 on Tuesday to move the project to Fleming College.

The final vote is set for the Oct. 28 council meeting.

The city will then send an application to the province for funding. That deadline is Nov. 12.

“It is worth 73 per cent of the funding for this project,” said Coun. Lesley Parnell, chair of the city’s arenas portfolio. “We have to go after provincial and federal dollars for this project. It’s an important deadline.”

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READ MORE: New Peterborough arena site plans draw flak, ire from students, environmentalists

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Parnell said the move does not mean the plan is starting from scratch.

“The silver lining is we can take the Trent plan and plop it right onto the Fleming grounds. We can save a lot of money in terms of a redesign and a reconfigure. The money we have already invested in the design is still being used.”

To meet the rules for funding, the city has to keep the project under $50 million. If approved, the provincial and federal governments will provide a combined $37 million for the project.

The limit means the Olympic-sized swimming pool will not be a part of the first phase of the project as previously planned.

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“We’re expecting the pool will be max $40 million. We can’t do a twin-pad and a pool for under $50 million,” added Parnell.  “So, we all know how important it is — we will have to do it phase one, phase two.”

In an emailed statement, Trent University said it accepted the city’s decision to move ahead with the project at Fleming College.

“If there is an opportunity to develop a facility in north Peterborough in the future, we will be interested in considering the possibilities at that time,” the statement said.

Fleming College president Maureen Adamson hailed the arena plan.

“This enhances the entire precinct and our campus. We’ve got our athletic centre and football field. All of it will create a great space for all who are welcomed to Fleming,” Adamson said.

READ MORE: Student group camps out at Trent University to protest construction on natural wetland

The project, which was shovel-ready, is being moved over environmental concerns related to a wetland at Trent University. It was the subject of several student and Indigenous group-led protests.

“The encroachment into the wetland and Trent Land Sanctuary can only contribute to this overwhelming environmental concern,” said Dorothy Taylor, founder of Sacred Water Circle. “The announcement today that Peterborough city council has voted to change the location to a more appropriate site is overwhelming happy news.

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“It is a victory for Mother Earth and all the life great and small that call the wetland home.”

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For minor hockey in Peterborough, the announcement the project will move ahead at Fleming College is welcome news.

“It will be a blessing to have another pad, a twin-pad for sure,” said Mike Martone, president of Peterborough Minor Hockey Council. “I see first-hand the struggles we have as an organization to get the proper ice time for kids for proper development.”

On Wednesday, Peterborough County Council decided to have staff send a letter to the city to ensure it plans for the increased traffic on the North Monaghan Parkway with the new arena complex going in on nearby Dobbin Road.

The issue will be raised at Cavan Monaghan Township council on Monday.

As for the city, it isn’t expected to hear back from the province regarding the application until fall 2020.

The plan is to put shovels in the ground immediately after the funding is allocated.

The target is to have the arena built in 2021.