New Brunswick

Moncton seeks Brian Gallant's support for new downtown centre

Moncton’s city manager wants Premier Brian Gallant’s new Liberal government to commit to a similar financial package for a new downtown sports and entertainment centre as was promised by the former Tory government.

David Alward's Tories promised $23.85M for the project, days before the election was called in August

Moncton is planning to build a $100-million, 7,500-seat downtown sports and entertainment centre.

Moncton’s city manager wants Premier Brian Gallant’s new Liberal government to commit to a similar financial package for a new downtown sports and entertainment centre as was promised by the former Tory government.

Just before the election campaign started in August, Bruce Fitch, the former economic development minister, appeared with Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc at a news conference where the provincial government promised $23.85 million for the proposed centre.

A month later, David Alward’s Progressive Conservatives were defeated in the Sept. 22 election.

Now, Jacques Dubé, the city manager in Moncton, says he wants the new Liberal government to confirm it will still ante up the cash promised by the Tories.

“We need to reconfirm the provincial funding to the project given there was a change in government,” he said.

The Tories planned to pay for the Moncton sports and entertainment complex out of the Regional Development Corp.

Dubé says the city is moving ahead with the new sports and entertainment centre downtown.

He says the city will chose which of the two bidders will win the $100-million contract by late December and he expects construction to start in 2015.

Moncton city council voted in March to build the 7,500-seat sports and entertainment complex on the former Highfield Square mall site.

Federal funds needed

Moncton is also seeking financial help from the federal government to pay for this new sports and entertainment facility.

Dubé has said he wants Ottawa to pay $15 million for other municipal projects, such as new buses, roads and sewers, which the city would have paid for normally.

But if Ottawa chips in federal funds for those projects, it would free up money that Moncton could then divert towards the downtown centre.

And Dubé said the city is also hoping the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will kick in another $8 million for the project.

While those details are being worked on, Dubé says the old Highfield Square mall is coming down.

“Environmental remediation is going on inside, asbestos is being removed, the building is being torn apart basically from the inside out, it should be fully demolished by the end of November to allow the construction to commence in the spring,” he said.

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