Gatineau taxpayers to foot arena bill

Staff from the City of Gatineau say they have a plan in place to help fund the new $60 million Robert Guertin Arena even though the federal government refused to invest in the project.

Gatineau city staff have a plan to fund a brand new Robert Guertin Arena despite getting no federal money.

The city has plans for a $60 million new arena to take the place of the current Guertin arena, which will be demolished.

But it learned Nov. 30 federal infrastructure minister Denis Lebel would not approve the $20 million in funding requested to help Gatineau rebuild the arena. This outraged Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau because he said Lebel would not meet in person to talk about the funding proposal.

Lebel said the Guertin is not the only arena project not getting the stamp of approval. Area MP and interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel also spoke to Lebel last week, but to no avail.

Staff gathered Monday and came up with a plan to take $5.5 million from the the city's community funds and use surplus money from previous budgets. The arena is projected to have about 5,000 seats, replacing the current Robert Guertin Arena at 125 de Carillon Road, which was built in 1952.

The current arena seats less than 4,000 people, which falls short of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's requirements.

Originally, the city had planned to build a brand new arena at another downtown site but that idea was quashed in April.