No federal funding for new Charlottetown sports complex, says Casey

A proposed new multi-use sports and entertainment complex for Charlottetown would not be eligible for federal funding, says Charlottetown's Member of Parliament Sean Casey.

'I don't see any way around it'

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey found what he expected to — that a new arena in Charlottetown would not be eligible for federal infrastructure funding. (Peter Evans/CBC )

A new multi-use sports and entertainment complex for Charlottetown would not be eligible for federal funding, says Charlottetown's member of parliament Sean Casey.

A delegation from the city asked Casey to look into how the arena in Moncton was able to get federal investment, he said.

"The nature of our discussion was look, Moncton appears to have been able to pull this off — can you talk to the members of parliament in Moncton to see how they did it?" said Casey. 

Casey did that and said it wasn't fruitful, since there had been some arrangements made under the Harper government, but there wasn't the same level of flexibility since the government changed. 

Pro sports facilities ineligible

Casey said current rules prohibit federal funding because the facility's tenants would include two pro and semi-pro teams, the Charlottetown Islanders hockey team and the Island Storm basketball team.   

A proposed new arena to replace Simmons and Cody Banks arenas is eligible for federal infrastructure funding, says Casey. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"The idea behind the infrastructure program isn't to help the professional sports industry, it's to build vibrant communities," Casey said. 

"It's in black and white in the agreement between the province and Canada," Casey said. "I don't see any way around it."

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said the city will be applying for federal infrastructure dollars to replace Simmons and Cody Banks arenas, which Casey said do qualify, a $19 million project to which the city will contribute $5 million to $6 million.

"As for the multi-use sports centre, I'm not closed to any options, I want to keep an open mind," he said. 

Before he was elected, Brown said he would propose a town hall meeting about the multi-use facility where residents could hear about the proposal, give feedback and pose questions to council.

The 3,700-seat Eastlink Centre is now 30 years old and requires close to $1.7 million a year in upgrades and maintenance. 

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With files from Laura Chapin and Julien Lecacheur


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