Councillor Tim Outhit
Although HRM may have lost one of its top players, the city is still 110 percent behind efforts to build a four-pad arena in Bedford.
On Tuesday, the city learned the federal government has pulled its funding for the project, which is estimated to cost about $40 million to build.
“In no way shape or form is this going to kill the project,” said Bedford Councillor Tim Outhit “This is going to go ahead with or without the federal government.”
The federal government had committed about $10 million for the project. However, the money was pulled because the government apparently felt the project would not be finished on time. The feds also reportedly had some environmental concerns.
At least one city councillor has speculated that the funding was pulled because Nova Scotia has elected an NDP government, and not because of concerns about completion dates or the environment. Outhit is giving the feds the benefit of the doubt, for now.
“I hope that it’s not politics,” he said. “I hope it’s misinformation.”
Outhit said the new arena, which will be built on Hammonds Plains Road, will be completed by September of 2010. The federal government, however, is under the impression the project will not be completed by March of 2011.
“This is the number one shovel-ready project in HRM,” said Outhit, noting that it has unanimous support of HRM council. “The land has been purchased and is being leveled and graded.”
The feds also mistakenly believe there may be wetland issues where the arena is being built. Mayor Peter Kelley and city officials will attempt to set the record straight and recover the federal funding, said Outhit.
“Plan B is we go on without them,” said Outhit.
Without the feds, HRM will likely have to come up with additional funding for the arena. The provincial government has committed $10 to $15 million to the project.
Outhit learned the federal government was pulling its funding early Tuesday in a phone call from the mayor.
Outhit believes the decision was handed down by either Central Nova MP Peter MacKay (Minister for the Atlantic Gateway) or Ottawa West – Nepean MP John Baird (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities).
Outhit, who has been a strong proponent of the project, points out that HRM, not just Bedford, is in desperate need of additional ice rinks.
“HRM needs eight rinks,” he said. “And Bedford came out as a great place to locate (a new facility).”
In addition to the four-pad arena, an inflatable dome ice rink facility is being built in the Rocky Lake area of Bedford. Phase I of the Gary Martin Dome is now complete, and the rink is scheduled to open this fall.
Outhit feels the Gary Martin Dome is also needed, especially if Bedford grows at the rate some developers have suggested. According to recent reports, Bedford could expand by up to 20,000 residents over the next 25 years.