Toronto

Stacked arena one step closer to construction

A proposed arena on the city's waterfront that will feature four rinks stacked on top of each other is one step closer to being constructed.

A proposed arena on the city's waterfront that will feature four rinks stacked on top of each other is one step closer to being constructed.

Toronto city council's executive committee voted unanimously in favour of the $88-million facility on Monday, despite an estimated $29-33 million funding gap.

City council will now vote on the issue later this month.

"I think it's a terrific decision for the city," said Ken Greenberg, one of the first architects involved in the complex, which is slated to be built on Commissioners Street near the Don Roadway.

"It's not an easy decision, especially for all the councillors to make."

Greenberg's comments reflect the controversy surrounding the complex, which is one of the highlights of the city's plan to revitalize the largely industrial east waterfront in the Lower Donlands.

Greenberg, a prominent urban designer, quit the project earlier this year when he learned the city was leaning towards a sprawling, suburban-style complex in which the four rinks were spread out over a larger area that included 440 parking spots.

Faced with a near-mutiny from Greenberg and other architects and designers, who scoffed at those plans, the city backtracked and opted to pursue the stacked plan.

But the stacked arena will cost $17 million more than the sprawling version.

And the city still hasn't accounted for around $30 million in funding for the new arena. It has secured $34 million in funding from the the federal government, and estimates it can raise $21-25 million more through debt that can be paid off in 30 years.

The executive committee raised the idea of instituting a user fee to help raise the rest. It will also approach the province for more funding. The funding solution will have to be resolved by next year's capital budget, which will be determined by the new incoming mayor and council.

Coun. Paula Fletcher, in whose ward the complex will be built has trumpeted the complex as an example of excellence in design.

When constructed, the project will be given a gold LEED rating, given to structures that adhere to strict green building guidelines.