New Brunswick

Moncton explores options for $100M centre

Moncton residents are lining up with potential services that could be packed into a new downtown event centre that could cost $100 million to construct.

Moncton residents are lining up with potential services that could be packed into a new downtown event centre that could cost $100 million to construct.

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

The project started with a 9,000-seat Olympic-sized hockey rink to replace the Moncton Coliseum. The existing facility has been criticized for being too small and its main tenant, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Moncton Wildcats, have complained about availability problems.

There have been other complaints that major concerts must skip the city because the coliseum's roof is too low.

'You know it becomes a centre of attraction, a centre of our life downtown all roads lead to Moncton well all roads would lead to our new centre.'— Louis Léger, Downtown Moncton Inc.

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he wants as many ideas as possible for a new downtown centre from city residents.

He even commissioned a consultant's report that came out in 2010 that pegged a new facility at $80 million opposed to the $40 million to renovate the 40-year-old coliseum.

LeBlanc's call for ideas has been heeded by more than 120 Moncton residents. They have given the city of Moncton ideas on what could be included in the proposed facility.

Louis Léger, the president of Downtown Moncton Inc., said the centre has to be more than just a new hockey rink.

"You know it becomes a centre of attraction. A centre of our life downtown — all roads lead to Moncton, well all roads would lead to our new centre," Léger said.

If the city can find the money it hopes to start construction in 2013 and have it open by 2015.

Moncton council is hoping to attract funding from the provincial and federal governments to help pay for the facility that is being estimated to cost $100 million.

The city has also submitted an application to P3 Canada, a federal Crown agency that is created to promote the use of public-private partnerships.

So far the city has raised $3 million from the downtown businesses towards the downtown event centre.

Residents offer ideas

Greta Doucet was one of the many citizens that came forward on Thursday night to outline her hopes for the facility.

She said the developers should consider adding a residential component as well as a public market.

David Bond said he wants to see the centre to expand beyond simply sports. He said it is important to have a facility that incorporates music and other attractions for tourists.

"Having facilities for arts and culture, so that would be art galleries," he said.

There are pitches to relocate a museum into the centre, while others are imploring the city to attract restaurants and an Imax theatre.

Ryan Jenner was part of a group that came up with an even bigger idea for the centre.

"One of the options was an aquatic centre so that when you are swimming you feel like you are in the river. So there would be a big glass pane between you and when it's high tide you feel as if you are in the river," Jenner said.