Markham may be one step closer to building an NHL-ready arena after city councillors approved a plan to finance a new sports complex.
The 20,000-seat arena comes with a $325-million price tag, half of which will be covered by a private partnership, GTA Sports and Entertainment (GTASE), with the other half to be covered by the city.
Late Thursday, council voted 11-2 to go ahead with plans to borrow $162.5 million.
The plan claims Markham won't need property tax hikes to cover its share. Instead, the money will come from charges to developers, parking and surcharges on arena tickets
City resident Donna Bush worries about the costs that taxpayers might end up facing.
"I have my doubts that things won't fall apart," she said. "We're running at a deficit for the community centres. It doesn't give me a lot of hope and faith."
The new complex is slated to go up on town-owned land west of the Unionville GO station and on the north side of Highway 407.
The facility would be a new entertainment centre for the GTA — but it could also be an inducement for a second NHL team in the region.
However, Graeme Roustan, the head of GTASE, is quick to quash speculation about a professional hockey team being lured to town.
"The facility is multi-purpose and flexible," he said. "If I get a call from the [International Ice Hockey Federation] and they say they want to have the worlds there, I'm ready to go."