$30 million McMeeken approved (maybe)

McMeeken Centre

The hotly debated topic of the McMeeken Arena was back in front of the council tonight.

Councillors Christian, Gardi, Bruni, Vezeau-Allen and Hilsinger shared concerns about the cost during the October meeting when this was moved to today’s date.

Some of those opinions changed this time around as council agreed 8-3 to spend over $30 million. It will now go through a tendering process. Unofficially, it was broke down like this.


  • Vezeau-Allen
  • Gardi
  • Hilsinger
  • Shoemaker
  • Bruni
  • Scott
  • Dufour
  • Provenzano


  • Christian
  • Niro
  • Hollingsworth

Councillor Bruni went from “This is an exciting time to have a twin-pad built … I don’t think it’s the right time to have this built” to “ I believe we are in excellent shape to take on the long term debt … The time is right … I think further delays with this will basically increase the cost.”

Councillor Gardi originally said “Hard time thinking about spending $30 million on an arena right now,” His tone changed during this meeting, “The cost of building as we all know goes up year over year, it will be considerably more expensive three or five or 10 years from now.”

Councillor Christian gave a heartfelt comment he noted it was a tough decision but in the end was against the build based on many factors including how it weighs against other needs of the community.

All councillors and the mayor had comments for the discussion that lasted over 90 minutes.

The Mayor was on the fence with this decision and warned the council if the tender came back higher than this amount he would be against going forward.

The project now goes to an RFP process and then we will know what the true cost is going to be.

SaultOnline.com will be working to make the whole discussion available to the public for those who may have missed it.


  1. Beyond stupid. I question how we have 30m to indulge an expensive sport when we’ve cut back on everything from sidewalk plowing, road maintenance to street expansions.

    Plenty of spots for outdoor rinks if you really want to play hockey or skate.

    At least 3 councilors had some common sense.

  2. Holli,

    The opiod crisis is a Provincial responsibility to deal with. Any sort of rehabilitation facility would be funded by the Province of Ontario. It is not a municipal matter.

    As for the arena. Glad it was approved in principle for a twin pad. There was a lot of cringe listening to some of the comments from our City Councillors as to why a single pad should be considered over a twin. The GFL was built how long ago and still has seen the cuts made to the original plan left outstanding. Shoemaker made an excellent point that the existing private sector infrastructure is nearing end of life as well. These facilities in operation are being relied on too heavily by the municipality. If one of them went down the ice availability would be further crippled.

  3. I feel sickened that this is even up for discussion to spend 30 million dollars on this when the topic of the opioid crisis in our city has been brought up on numerous occasions. How many lives have to be lost, how many times do family members have to beg and plead for something to be done because they’ve either lost a child or a part of their family or a friend to this crisis. I am absolutely speechless on the thought process and decision making of council. What a slap in the face to all the residents of this city, the doctors, the nurses, the community members trying everyday to make a difference, the parents of the children lost, the family members watching their loved ones deteriorate and to everyone in this city begging that something be done!!!!

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