Falling behind in Harbour Grace

Terry Roberts
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Paradise, Conception Bay South well ahead in efforts to build new arenas

It's been 31 months since the provincial government announced it would fund 80 per cent of the cost of a new arena for the Town of Harbour Grace.

Harbour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes

But unlike similar projects sanctioned at the same time for the towns of Conception Bay South and Paradise, shovels are yet to dig into the ground in the Conception Bay North town.

In fact, the Harbour Grace project has been dogged by controversy about everything from regional co-operation and site selection to whether or not the community can even afford to operate a modern new rink.

When the funding was announced in late August 2011, it was anticipated that all three arenas would open by the end of this year, but it appears Paradise may be the only project to achieve that goal, since work on the facility is well underway.

In Conception Bay South, work on the concrete footing has begun, and a town official stated that — barring any unforseen circumstances — the 1,250-seat arena would be ready for use at the beginning of the 2015 skating season. Weather has been slowing construction this winter, the official explained.

The latest development in Harbour Grace came to light late last week, when Mayor Terry Barnes confirmed the project has been downsized.

For many months, town leaders had been advocating for a two-ice surface facility. However, Barnes said a recent third-party financial assessment confirmed such a facility would be too costly for the town of some 3,000 residents, which will be responsible for 20 per cent of construction costs, and operations once completed.

"We can’t afford to keep two surfaces operating," Barnes stated. 

Barnes said annual operating costs for two ice surfaces would exceed $400,000, while the cost to operate a single surface is estimated at $152,000.

"We'd probably only be renting the ice about an extra 20 per cent," Barnes said of the second ice surface.

“How can you put the town in jeopardy by interfering with other infrastructure needs in the town,” he added. "People are understanding of that."

“We looked at the numbers carefully, and the fiscal responsibility is too great for the town to take on without having to raise taxes."

Town officials believe the arena will be self-sustaining from a financial standpoint.

Barnes said the town has provided this information to the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs, and is now waiting for final approval to move forward with the project.

The mayor is hopeful that site work can begin this spring, and the facility can be ready for use in late 2015.

"We're ready to go," Barnes stated.

The new facility is expected to be constructed along Jamie's Way, and will replace the venerable S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium, which has been serving the region for nearly six decades.

The cost of the new arena should be significantly less than the $21 million allotted, since the building has decreased considerably in size. But Barnes did not exclude the idea of a second surface being added down the road.

In fact, he confirmed the building will be wired for two surfaces, so when an extension can be built, the electrical and plumbing will be ready to go.

terry.roberts@tc.tc

Organizations: Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Conception Bay South

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Recent comments

  • User
    March 14, 2014 - 21:22

    Yes, curling ice please!

  • User
    March 14, 2014 - 21:21

    Yes, curling ice please!

  • Puck thrower
    March 14, 2014 - 14:20

    Can somebody breakdown or explain the operational costs quoted? $152k for one ice surface vs. "exceeding" $400k for two ice surfaces. Is there REALLY that much difference? Would the mechanical and electrical rooms be shared between the two ice surfaces? And the statement "We'd probably only be renting the ice about an extra 20 per cent". "Probably"??... it doesn't sound like too much research was put into that statement. It's very hard to find ice time at the Stadium, anytime. Stick a curling rink in there. Let more hockey schools have some ice. Leave one ice surface on all summer long and put the "fair" on the other side in the fall.

  • User
    March 13, 2014 - 12:53

    Thank God The residents of HarbourGrace are foolish enough to pay for a debt with the stadium. I, as a resident of Perry's Cove andmy buddies in Freshwater and Bristol's Hope, Victoria, UIC and Carbonear don't want no part of paying taxes for SOEMTHING WE USE. The building is in their town, it is only right they pay the bills. We enjoy our unincorporated small minded villages and are not interesting in paying for anything that WILL BE PROVIDED FREE by gulliable people elsewhere. But Barnes et all can't throw stones against the gov, as it was their previous council which did everything possible to slow down the process. Jes no one knew nothing about the proposal outside of Coombs and a few of his cronies. Gov is completing due diligence to make sure tax money is spent well. Then again maybe the prov % can be saved and spent fixing up the roads in the LSD. Gov knows we can't spent the money for it. They owe the roads anyway. Thanks Harbour Grace, keeping paying a debt for me, money that I can put away for retirement, good job helping us out. Tim

  • Chinese Lover
    March 13, 2014 - 12:00

    The only thing good about Hr Grace is Chung's Chop Suey!!! Why put a multi million dollar facility in a town that has nothing??? Just as well to put it in Tilton.... Right next to the bingo hall would be an excellent location

    • Other Chinese Lover
      March 17, 2014 - 01:10

      And they don't even have that anymore! Poor ol Chong...I hope he fully recovers and reopens. Was the best thing about the place! The best Chinese food!

  • Scott
    March 13, 2014 - 11:07

    Simple...curling ice....and skating ice...two ice surfaces...makes sense to me...comments anyone?

  • Scott
    March 13, 2014 - 11:04

    Simple...curling ice....and skating ice...two ice surfaces...makes sense to me...comments anyone?

  • joe shute
    March 13, 2014 - 08:26

    Harbour Grace is a "small-minded town" ...always was, always will be. They can't play nicely. They take their balls and go home. Soon it will be a ghost town Mark my words

  • joe shute
    March 13, 2014 - 08:25

    Harbour Grace is a "small-minded town" ...always was, always will be. They can't play nicely. They take their balls and go home. Soon it will be a ghost town Mark my words

  • Sylvia J. Wilson
    March 12, 2014 - 18:24

    If Carbonear hadn't got fed up with the goings on and the rink would have been designed to provide services for both communities, thus funds for two ice surfaces would have available.

  • taxpayer
    March 12, 2014 - 12:17

    Kudos to the town council for taking a responsible and prudent approach, the second ice surface can be added down the road. If there is a spike in ice time demand in Conception Bay in the future, government will likely cover any additional expenses a second ice surface would incur. It would be a lot cheaper than building another new arena in the area. An attractive, modern sports complex on Jamie's Way will be the first thing people see when they enter our town. It will be a source of pride for Hr. Grace. The walking track will help people of the area to stay fit and socialize with others (we all know how difficult it is to walk outside this winter). Looking forward to the ground breaking.