New Brunswick

Moncton council votes to ask to borrow $95.4M for sports centre

Moncton council has voted to request permission from the Municipal Capital Borrowing Board to borrow $95.4 million to fund the proposed downtown sports and entertainment centre.

City must request permission from the Municipal Capital Borrowing Board to borrow money

Moncton council has voted to request permission from the Municipal Capital Borrowing Board to borrow $95.4 million to fund the proposed downtown sports and entertainment centre.

Moncton will ask for permission to borrow $95.4 million, but only plans on borrowing about $39 million for the proposed downtown sports and entertainment centre, the mayor says. (CBC)
Council passed the motion after more than two hours of debate during a special meeting held on Monday.

Councillors Paul Pellerin and Brian Hicks voted against.

The controversial project, which would be home to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Moncton Wildcats, has a total estimated cost of $107 million, including the cost of purchasing the old Highfield Square property, demolition the building and remediation of the site.

The loan amount would cover the cost of construction.

Mayor George LeBlanc says the city has to apply for the full amount, but only plans to borrow about $39 million.

The rest of the money for the project will come from the provincial and federal governments, the sale of the land adjacent to the site, and a capital fundraising campaign, he said.

Just a step in the process

"No final decision has yet been made," stressed LeBlanc.

"No money will be spent until approved by council. Unless and until approved by council, but we have some significant decisions to be made between now and August the 4th, which is our deadline to come to a decision on this project."

The next Municipal Capital Borrowing board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15, but the board has agreed to hear the city's application on July 20.

The long-proposed project has been stalled while the city tried to line up funding from the federal and provincial governments.

The city recently received a funding commitment from the provincial government to move forward with the sports centre.

councillor

Moncton must now receive permission to borrow the required funds from the Municipal Capital Borrowing Board, which is comprised of a group of public servants in the Department of Environment and Local Government.

The city needs to verify funding to project proponents by Sept. 30, officials said.

Coun. Paulette Theriault said it would be irresponsible for her not to support the motion to ask to borrow the money.

If the motion had not passed, "then that would have been the end of the project," the mayor said.

Moncton MP Robert Goguen and officials from Downtown Moncton Inc., attended the meeting.

Project should not proceed

Ahead of the vote on Monday, Coun. Charles Léger said he believes the motion to borrow $95 million will pass.

"We've continued to move the process forward and I would expect that those same individuals would likely want to see the process continue so I'm quite optimistic," he said.

Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic director with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said he does not believe the new downtown sports and entertainment project should move forward. (CBC)
However, Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic director with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said he does not believe the project should move forward.

"The province of New Brunswick is broke," he said.

"It shouldn't be involved in this project. This is going to put a lot of risk onto the city over the next number of years."

Lacey said the New Brunswick government is in dire financial times because it continues to pile on more debt by spending money on these types of projects.

"For too many years, it has spent more money than it should be spending on every wish list project that governments have wanted to spend on," Lacey said.

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