After a heated debate over costs, City Council voted 7-3 in favour of moving forward with the set-up of a steering committee to oversee demolition of the 51-year-old W. J. McMeeken Centre and construct a new, $25 million twin-pad arena to replace it. An additional $1.1 million will also be spent for architectural and engineering services to get the project off the ground.
The passing of this resolution also means that city staff will now be authorized to apply for infrastructure funding for the project when it becomes available, as well as investigate options and costs for demolishing the aging landmark, which greatly surpasses the 32 year lifespan of the average rink.
These new ice pads are slated to be NHL sized, with enough seating for 300- 500 spectators per pad.
The new McMeeken steering committee will include:
- CAO Al Horsman (and his future replacement)
- chief financial officer/city treasurer
- deputy CAO Tom Vair
- the director of community services
- the director of planning
- manager of community arenas
- manager of recreation and culture
- manager of facilities and maintenance; and
- two city councillors
Toronto-based company LeisurePlan International Inc., brought in by the city as an early consultant on this initiative, came to the conclusion that there’s enough of a demand here in the Sault for a twin-pad arena, despite having access to both the Rankin and Soo Pee Wee Arenas.
This decision exnays any interest shown by Sault College or Algoma University, who both expressed interest in housing single-pad arenas on their campuses, but weren’t able to commit to any funding for capital costs.
Each council member voted for this initiative as follows (with the exception of Coun. Hilsinger, who was absent):
- Bruni – Against
- Shoemaker – For
- Hollingsworth – Against
- Gardi – For
- Vezeau-Allen – For
- Scott – For
- Dufour – Against
- Niro – For
- Christian – For
- Mayor Provenzano – For