Moncton multipurpose complex inches closer to reality

Plans for a new multipurpose sports and entertainment complex in Moncton inched closer to reality over the weekend after the Highfield Square pedway was torn down.

Pedway linking former Highfield Square mall to federal building torn down

Main Street looks different after the Highfield Square pedway was torn down over the weekend. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

The pedway linking Highfield Square with the federal building in Moncton was torn down over the weekend, but the former mall won't be demolished any time soon, says the mayor.

The city still has a lot of work left to do in its quest to build a multipurpose sports and entertainment centre at the site first, said George LeBlanc.

That includes buying the Highfield Square land on Main Street, securing funding for the project and putting out a request for proposals, he said.

"That's where companies who have made the shortlist will have an opportunity to put their proposals forward to the city to define what they can do and what could be contemplated in a downtown center and so there's significant milestones that are coming up that we'll be looking at," said LeBlanc.

The removal of the pedway has got people talking about the project again, said Anne Poirier Basque, the executive director of Downtown Moncton.

"It certainly means that there's movement and that there is change coming to our downtown," she said.

The city hit a small milestone in the project on Friday with the deadline for request for qualifications to see which companies are interested in the project.

If the project goes ahead as planned, it's not expected to open before 2017.

The Highfield Square location was selected as the best option for a new multipurpose complex last year, based on site characteristics, location and transportation; costs of acquiring development land; urban context and physical elements; and economic impact and synergy with the downtown.

The former mall closed in the fall.

A new downtown event centre could cost $100 million to construct, city officials have said.

Moncton politicians have been talking about replacing the aging Moncton Coliseum for several years.