A new twin-pad arena at Morrow Park in Peterborough could be open in September 2024, after city council endorsed the project on Monday night.
During its meeting, council voted in favour of staff recommendations on the project which is estimated to cost $62 million. The project will be built in three phases with a competitive eight-lane pool in phase 2 and a third ice pad in phase 3 at future dates.
City council in November 2020 approved the park as a location of an arena with the ultimate goal to replace the aging Peterborough Memorial Centre located adjacent to Morrow Park on Lansdowne Street.
“It is a happy day for many of our user groups in the sports as well as the general community who will use this great facility every single day of the year,” Coun. Lesley Parnell told Global News Peterborough.
Construction on the new arena could start in August 2022 following approvals from a conceptual design from Toronto-based Perkins + Will Architect which also did a site review study. The firm will cost the city more than $3,2M for the entire project.
“It will be an attractive building facing Lansdowne Street which is our main road,” said Parnell. “There will be entrances from the park but the main entrance will be from a new intersection at Aylmer and Lansdowne.”
Council endorsed $61.5M be pre-committed in the 2022/2023/2024 capital budgets, including a pre-commitment of $4 million from the 2021 federal gas tax fund, to proceed with Phase 1 which would include a twin pad arena with 500 seats on each pad; an elevated walking/running track; 12 team change rooms and two official rooms; a team training centre; two multi-purpose rooms and more.
The twin-pad arena was originally to be built at Trent University, however, the estimated $50-million project was scrapped in 2018 after concerns it would impact a major wetland in the north end. The proposal was also the subject of several protests by student and Indigenous groups.
The city in 2019 then partnered to have the arena built at Fleming College on an estimated $50M project. However, in November 2020, the college requested the project be delayed so it could deal with recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The college also noted the project failed to secure provincial and federal funding.
The efforts at Trent and Fleming have cost the city $3 million, the staff report notes.
Councillors Kim Zippel and Kemi Akapo raised concerns over the excess Morrow Park green space which may have to be utilized for parking and the pool expansion phase. Zippel says she doesn’t want “pave over green space” in a high-profile area of the city, saying she would prefer an alternate location for a swimming complex.
Sheldon Laidman, the city’s commissioner of community services, says there will be additional public consultations on the project. In the spring the city held a survey on the project.
“What was presented to council was a high-level design last night but in terms of exact landscaping the features on the site, that will be for future discussion,” he said Tuesday.
There is also the fact the Peterborough Agricultural Society has historical rights to the land in an agreement with the city and has the Morrow Building on the property while hosting the annual Peterborough Exhibition.
“We are really only touching a part of this park and this will allow us to maintain our relationships with the farmers’ market as well as the Agricultural Society,” said Parnell.
According to the staff report, the city will rely on development charges for estimated new growth and housing construction to help offset the cost of the arena project. An additional $281,000 in tax revenue is required in 2022, the report reads.
As for the Memorial Centre, it will remain in use — for now.
“It is good for a good number of years still,” said Parnell. “And that is a future project. We are still hoping we will find a downtown location for a replacement OHL facility that is the ideal if you can achieve it.”
City council is expected to ratify the arena project at a meeting at the end of July.
— with files from Tricia Mason, Global News Peterborough