Friday, June 27, 2008

Estevan's New Rink

Well we knew a new rink was coming to Estevan and now it has been passed through city council. Don't get me wrong, the Auditorium was great the way it mimicked the old Boston Gardens, but it is time for an upgrade.

This will be great for Estevan and I know i'm looking forward to visiting the new arena whenever that may be.

(the following is from

City council Monday gave the green light to construct a $19 million civic events centre which will be connected to the Souris Valley Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

Construction is expected to start in September.

Members of council were unanimous in making the long-awaited decision.

"The decision had to be made now," said Mayor Gary St. Onge. "If we're going to do it all, it had to be done now because we've been told that every month we wait, it is going to cost more all the time," He noted that the price of steel, for example, continues to rise.

Among features to be included In the area are: ice seating for more than 2,000, 24 luxury suites, over 3,000 event seats, full-service lounge overlooking the ice surface, ground level concession and washroom facilities, eight large dressing rooms, recessed ice surface, two-lane, recessed and rubberized walking track, state-of-the-art sound system and acoustic design, large glazed windows for use of natural light and energy efficient design and operating systems.

For more than 50 years the Civic Auditorium has served as the recreational and culture hub for Estevan and area. As the region is growing, the City decided the time has come for a larger and modern-use sporting facility.

The new facility, when constructed, will be Southeast Saskatchewan's only year-round ice, indoor sports, entertainment and performing arts centre.

Council agreed that with this facility, Estevan will be able to host sporting, entertainment, cultural events and large conventions of up to 1,000 people.

While there has been no rush to make a decision, St. Onge said the City has been working on this project for more than a year. He said the biggest concern of council was over where the money is going to come from.

The fund-raising committee has raised more than $6 million and expects to eventually raise $8 million. The City will take out a $5 million loan to be paid off over 15 years. A funding commitment has already come from the provincial government and a contribution is also expected from the federal government.

St. Onge noted that the building committee was able to remove $2 million from the original plan by eliminating a row of seats around the bowl without changing the essential needs. St. Onge said that two members of council, who closely watch how the City spends the taxpayers' money, are now comfortable, and that speaks volumes.

Councillor Roy Ludwig, arena committee chairman, said he is pleased and happy the decision to proceed has been made.

"It's been a lot of work to this point, and as for the committee, all I can say is great things," he said after the meeting. "They've done yeoman's work in all areas to get to this point, and that council has totally been on side with what's been done and with what's going to happen, we're very happy.

Both St. Onge and Ludwig agreed it is important to have the community support on this project.

"That is huge," said Ludwig. "It was so nice to see all the companies, individuals and families coming forward. It meant the community is behind us, and that means so much."

Ludwig told council of the extra support of one company. He said Penn West Energy Trust, donated $90,000 and came back with a second donation for $60,000.

While there are people in the community who don't agree, and that is natural, St. Onge said he hasn't heard of much opposition.

As for the long term loan the City will take out, St. Onge feels comfortable. He is confident the City will be able to handle the loan fairly easily because ofthe projected growth over the next three years. It could also result in a mill rate increase and the doubling of revenue sharing from the province.

While City money will be used on the arena, St. Onge said the City will still be able to do annual capital projects.

"The City is not stopping any other work while we are building the rink," said the mayor.

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