The city plans to buy a four-hectare (10-acre) parcel of land in the Pan Am precinct to build a new outdoor sports facility to go with an already-planned recreation and seniors centre.
Coun. Bernie Morelli announced the project Wednesday, saying it would include sports fields, playgrounds and green space. The facility will replace the former Brian Timmis Stadium. When combined, the two projects will mean $25 million in investment near the Pan Am stadium. The outdoor sports facility will cost about $8 million.
Morelli and city staff kept mum on which property the city will purchase. It is in the area of the stadium and north of Barton Street, and if all goes well, the deal will be finalized in about six months, said Paul Johnson, the city’s director of neighbourhood and community initiatives.
The project has been coined a legacy for Morelli. The Ward 3 councillor, who has been ill this year, told councillors he's worked years to help it come to fruition. He left city hall for health reasons shortly after the media announcement.
"I have worked my entire career to serve my community and I am overwhelmed that we have been able to finally make this happen," he said.
Morelli’s fellow councillors gave him a standing ovation as he moved the motion to make the conditional purchase.
“This is a very special moment for me,” Morelli said, thanking colleagues who have helped him with the project.
“God bless you guys.”
Once the purchase is finalized, Morelli said, the city will meet with residents to determine what services they need. He hopes it furthers what he calls "a renaissance back into the inner city."
The city hopes to start work on the project after the 2015 Pan Am Games, so there won't be construction during the games, Johnson said.
Funding has been approved for the project, Coun. Sam Merulla said. It will come from several pots of money, including area rating and development fees. As of right now, Merulla said, "there will be no impact on the general (tax) levy."