Jacques Dubé

Moncton's city manager Jacques Dubé is hopeful ways can be found to get the federal government to help pay for the city's proposed $107-million downtown centre. (Marc Genuist/CBC)

Moncton's city manager says there may be federal money for a proposed downtown centre after all.

The city has been unsuccessful so far in its attempts to get money from Ottawa for its proposed convention centre and sports arena.

That has left Moncton city manager Jacques Dubé puzzling over how to pay for the $107-million project without any federal money.

"The federal government had clearly indicated right from the top, the prime minister said they were not going to invest one nickel in facilities that host major junior hockey or professional hockey," said Dubé.

But Dubé believes things have changed with a federal election looming in 2015.

"The federal government has sent us a different signal," said Dubé, who has been lobbying members of Parliament, and Rob Moore, the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

"There's going to have to be a clever, ingenious way to allow the federal government to come into the project to allow the city to move ahead."

Dubé says one approach could be for the federal government to pay a larger share of capital projects such as sewer installation or community centre projects. That would allow Moncton to put the money it would have otherwise spent on those projects toward the downtown centre. Or perhaps Heritage Canada could provide funding for the cultural components of the project, said Dubé.

"We're going to have to play what I call a bit of a shell game with the federal government to allow them to fund items that the city would be budgeting in other areas of the city, for example, in order to free up cash for the downtown centre."

In the end, Dubé is hoping Ottawa will provide more than $20-million for the downtown centre.