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Study to replace Peterborough Memorial Centre receives renewal approval

Click to play video: 'City council approves new study for arena to replace Peterborough Memorial Centre'
City council approves new study for arena to replace Peterborough Memorial Centre
Talks of a new sports and events centre in Peterborough are once again in the spotlight. City council on Monday approved a motion to renew a feasibility study and put a focus on planning near the downtown. Robert Lothian has the details – Jun 27, 2023

Peterborough city council has approved revisiting and updating a 2018 feasibility study on replacing the Peterborough Memorial Centre, focusing on the central area of the city.

That study by Sierra Planning and Management in 2018 estimated that a new 5,800-seat sport and event facility would cost the city about $72.1 million. It was to be $85 million if the project included an additional community ice pad.

But that price tag has since ballooned to at least an estimated $107 million to replace the aging Memorial Centre which opened in 1956. The arena underwent a $13-million renovation in 2003 and $3.5-million in upgrades to the floor and refrigeration system in 2019.

“There was a major renovation in 2003,” said Brendan Wedley, the city’s communication service manager. “It’s expected there would need to be investments over the next 20 or 30 years to maintain the facility if that’s the decision going forward.”

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All but one councillor voted in favour of revisiting the feasibility study which initially recommended a new sport and event facility be constructed in the city’s downtown.

Coun. Keith Riel rejected the idea of a new facility.

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“The three things I heard at the door — I’ll reiterate them again — were fix my roads, fix transit, do something about housing and homeless,” Riel said.

“I don’t remember anybody talking to me about a sports and entertainment centre.”

Resident Richard Taylor also spoke to council to express his concerns over the arena replacement.

“When you have a council member ask how much has it cost to date and that council member can’t get the answer, then it raises red flags for all of us,” Taylor said.

Riel said the city would require a partnership with businesses to possibly advance a new facility.

“Most of the people I’ve talked to want to run the business — that’s where the money is. There sre no monies in an arena,” he said.

“If you were to break even on an arena, count your lucky stars.”

The consultant is expected to focus on the city’s central area — beyond the downtown core — to find a new site for the centre.

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“A location isn’t being decided at this point,” Wedley said. “Council has set the broad direction of the central area is where the focus should be for the planning of this facility.”

The Memorial Centre is currently home to the OHL’s Peterborough Petes and the Major Series Lacrosse Peterborough Lakers. Some other groups hope they can be part of a new sport and event facility, including the Art Galley of Peterborough.

“We see this a wonderful opportunity for all of us to work together as we consider the next 50 years,” Catharine Blastorah, past-president of the gallery, told council on Monday night.

City council has not provided a timeline for when the updated study will return for review.

— with files from Robert Lothian/Global News Peterborough

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