Mayor loses battle to build McMeeken Area: Councillors say no for now

A screen capture of Mayor Provenzano during the council meeting.

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – After an almost two-hour presentation and discussion, the decision was made to move the replacement to budget season.

After the presentation, the first five councillors to speak Gardi, Bruni, Christian, Hilsinger and Vezeau-Allen were all leaning against not building this project during the past city council meeting.

“Hard time thinking about spending $30 million on an arena right now,” said Gardi.

“This is an exciting time to have a twin-pad built … I don’t think it’s the right time to have this built,” said Bruni.

After Vezeau-Allen spoke, a visibly frustrated Provenzano took time to speak directly to the councillors. During his observations, he noted the councillors previously said they like the project but are worried about the money.

He was the first person to suggest the matter be deferred to budget discussions. Which would give councillors a broader view of this project in light of the rest of city spending.

“I think that it would make the most sense for us as a governing body to make that decision in the context of our budget, when we’re looking at all of the other budgetary demands,” said Mayor Provenzano.

He noted he wants to find a way to make this project happen and worried about costs if they push the project down the road.

“I am hesitant and reticent to not make a decision on this project. But in the near term, I don’t think we can kick it off in perpetuity, I think staff needs some direction on it,” said Provenzano. “I think the longer we kind of kick off a project just the more expensive it’s going to get.”

A month ago when council voted to push the Sackville Rd. extension down the road again, the mayor wasn’t concerned it would become more expensive.

After Provenzano’s almost five-minute address to council where he constantly pushed moving the decision the remaining councillors only really asked clarifying questions.

Councillor Hollingsworth made a motion to defer this decision to budget time which Councillor Nero supported.

It appeared all council members approved the motion.

The decision has now been moved about a month down the road when council debates next year’s budget discussions.


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