A city-commissioned economic analysis claims a proposed $105-million downtown Moncton sports and entertainment complex will serve as an economic anchor.
David Campbell, an economic development consultant, and Pierre-Marcel Desjardins, an economist at the University of Moncton, were hired by the city to study the possible impact of a new downtown events centre.
The proposed facility would bring with it a lofty pricetag so the city is examining the potential long-term implications.
Campbell told councillors at a public meeting on Monday how a downtown entertainment and sports complex could serve as an "economic anchor."
He said he looked at Moncton's downtown commercial space vacancies, as well as the declining population in the area.
"A downtown centre isn't going to necessarily by itself be a big driver of residential growth but it can be a catalyst for residential growth," he said.
To make that growth happen, Campbell said the city would need a strategy for development around the downtown centre, including restaurants and stores to entice people to live downtown.
One Moncton councillor said he had reservations about the infrastructure project.
Coun. Brian Hicks asked about the possibility of upgrading the coliseum.
"There are all kinds of things that we could do. So just by saying so the question again, what would the coliseum refurbishment do? I think it could do a lot for the downtown. I just want to get that on the record that I'm quite happy to spend Moncton taxpayers’ dollars, if that is what you want me to do, but I want to be strategic about it," he said.
Campbell, however, said typically cities get more bang for their buck, by building downtown rather than revamping a facility outside the city centre such as the Moncton Coliseum.
Economic benefits will extend outside of Moncton
Desjardins outlined how the economic benefits generated by the centre would be felt around the region.
"A lot of the money will be spent within the region, that money in turn will be revenues or incomes for someone else, part of that will be paid in taxes, part of that will be sales taxes," he said.
Desjardins said the construction would add $65 million dollars to the province's GDP, along with creating more than 700 jobs in the area.
The city still has to vote on purchasing the Highfield Square property. If it passes, it will be a major step in making the downtown centre a reality.
The proposed centre is expected to include a 10,000-seat arena and a convention centre, as well as a shopping centre, restaurants, condos and an outdoor space.
A city councillor has already expressed concerns the project’s final pricetag could hit $165 million.
The city is counting on federal and provincial funding for the infrastructure project. However, P3 Canada, a federal Crown corporation, has previously turned down Moncton’s funding request of $25 million toward the centre.