A Moncton city councillor is questioning the city's estimates for the future downtown centre and is raising concerns the lofty price tag isn’t worth the investment.
Moncton is pushing forward with a plan to build a downtown sports and entertainment complex on the site of the old Highfield Square Mall.
The city has estimated the facility will cost $100 million, but Coun. Daniel Bourgeois said he’s concerned the final cost will be much higher.
"The downtown multiplex will cost citizens of Moncton $165 million. I repeat $165 million," he said on Monday night.
Bourgeois said the city hasn't factored in what he calls the inevitable cost overruns or the cost of financing the project over 30 years.
Each Moncton taxpayer will have to pay an extra $100 in property taxes for 30 years to pay for this facility, according to the councillor.
"Such a commitment is, in my opinion, too costly for what it's worth," Bourgeois said.
"The downtown multiplex will bring economic benefits, there's no question. It is a worthy project and I've always supported it, but not at this cost. I do not think that it'll bring the benefits that many think, definitely not for $165 million worth."
The councillor said he’s worried the project could become a white elephant for the city.
As of Dec. 31, 2010, Moncton's debt was $130.4 million, according to provincial statistics.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said the councillor’s cost estimates for the project are exaggerated.
The mayor said the actual cost of the project has not yet been determined. As well, the city has not determined how the facility will be financed.
Last December, P3 Canada, a federal Crown corporation, turned down Moncton’s funding request of $25 million toward the centre. Despite that rejection, the city has continued to move forward with the project.
In November, Moncton city council approved a six-month extension on an option with Warren Gate Investment Inc. that could see the city purchase the old Highfield Square property for $6 million.
Moncton paid $25,000 earlier this year to buy the option to purchase the downtown piece of real estate.
After the option was purchased, Moncton also asked four architects to design concepts for the new facility. All of the renderings, which were released in April, featured a 10,000-seat arena and a convention centre, as well as a shopping centre, restaurants, condos and an outdoor space.