The Town of Harbour Grace has received approval from a major lending institution to borrow up to $3.8 million for its share of a new arena, and is now awaiting final approval from the provincial government in order to push forward with the high-profile project.
And Mayor Don Coombs says he does not believe the province's serious financial situation - a $4 billion deficit is being forecast over the next several years - will derail the project, since the $21.4 million in funding was announced in the summer of 2011.
"If we were looking for 2013 money, I think the answer would have been no," Coombs stated last week. "We have been talking regularly with officials in government and we've been given no indication this project will not go ahead."
The town had been given a deadline of Feb. 28 by the Department of Municipal Affairs to provide a detailed analysis of its financial situation, and written confirmation from a lending institution that it could cover its 20 per cent share of the project.
Such conditions are commonplace in cost-shared capital works projects.
Coombs raved about the town's "good financials," and described the lending terms offered by the bank as "second to none."
Coombs is now hopeful that some real progress can be made in the coming months. It's hoped the province will now sign off on the project, a design concept can soon be completed by the consulting company engaged by the town, and the public can soon get a look at what's being proposed.
"We're just waiting to hear now from the government," said Coombs, who would like to see the new facility open in September 2015.
The town's "wish list" includes two ice surfaces, six dressing rooms, a fully-accessible multi-purpose room, canteen, walking track, and fixed seating for between 800 and 1,000 people.
It's hoped the project will come in at between $18 and $19 million, leaving some room for overruns, said Coombs.
The town is hoping to offset some of its costs by selling S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium, and selling the naming rights for the new building.
The boards and glass at the old stadium are relatively new, and will likely be installed in the new facility, the mayor added.
The town's preferred site is the south side of Jamie's Way, on a combination of Crown and private land.
It's the latest in a months-long journey for those leading the initiative, with some doubts along the way about whether the project would ever get off the ground, and an unsuccessful effort to enter into a partnership with neighbouring towns.
But Coombs said those bumps are now in the past, and he's hopeful that some very tangible advances can be made in the very near future.