Community group excited as work to replace Charlottetown's Simmons Sports Centre set to begin

A community group rallying to have Simmons Sports Centre replaced at its present location is thrilled to learn its wishes appear to becoming true.

City council endorses plan to build new facility at existing site

Charlottetown council had been looking for ways to replace the Simmons Sports Centre, which is almost 50 years old. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

A community group rallying to have Simmons Sports Centre replaced at its existing location in Charlottetown is thrilled to learn its wishes appear to be coming true.

Initial steps to replace the aging facility have begun, the city announced in a news release Tuesday.

City council endorsed the replacement of the Simmons complex during a special meeting of council Monday. Staff with the parks and recreation department were then instructed to begin the preliminary design process for a new facility.

Mark Fisher, a member of the Friends of Simmons group, said he's looking forward to seeing his son play in the new rink.

"I think that it's fantastic to have this for the current growth of minor hockey. And my son is in Peewee, or U13, so, you know, he'll play in the new rink, and the city I applaud for moving quick and efficiently and making decisions that should have been made."

The city said it will consult with professional services and if the site is deemed suitable for the construction of the complex, staff will proceed with the next steps for the facility, which include hiring the necessary services to complete a greenhouse gas mitigation assessment report, a climate resilience assessment report, and preliminary designs for the facility. 

May include other features

During the design process for the facility, which will include a single pad arena and pool, other features may be explored, such as a walking track and multi-use facilities, according to the city's release.

After the completion of the preliminary designs, the concepts will proceed to public consultation for additional input from the community.

A local community group had been lobbying the city to rebuild Simmons at its current location on North River Road. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Following the design process and estimating the costs for the scope of the work, an application for federal funding will be submitted.

The city had been looking for ways to replace the aging Simmons complex, and had considered a third ice pad at the Bell Aliant Centre at UPEI. However, that plan was deemed unfeasible.

All the while, the Friends of Simmons group had been lobbying to have the new arena built at its current location on North River Road.

'Valuable for the residents'

"It is clear that this facility has been and continues to be so valuable for the residents of the city of Charlottetown," said Coun. Terry Bernard, chair of the parks, recreation and leisure activities committee, in the release.

"That is why I am thrilled that our parks and recreation department staff can start planning for the future of a safe, sustainable and resilient facility that could be enjoyed for generations to come."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Travis Kingdon


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