Municipal leaders in Bay Roberts say they would support the concept of a regional recreation complex in Conception Bay North, but not under the current strategy being pursued by the Town of Harbour Grace.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood spoke to the issue during a July 17 council meeting, and left little doubt about whether his town will be pumping any money into the proposed new arena in Harbour Grace.
The provincial government announced last year that it would finance up to 80 per cent of a maximum $21 million for a new arena for Harbour Grace. The new facility will replace the half-century-old S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium.
The announcement sparked a debate about whether Harbour Grace could afford to finance its share of the project, and cover any operating losses that are likely to arise each year.
In light of this, towns in the region have been holding talks about the possibility of making the new arena a regional complex, and sharing the costs.
Leaders in Harbour Grace and Carbonear were the first to sit down to discuss the idea. That was followed by a second meeting that attracted representatives from a number of other towns. A third meeting held earlier this month saw officials from only four towns - Harbour Grace, Victoria, Carbonear and Bay Roberts - attend.
Wood said he came away from the meeting feeling the process was all wrong, and that a feasibility study should have been completed before the arena was awarded to one particular town.
"My thought is the study should have been done prior to the announcing of $21 million for Harbour Grace, and the study would include questions like: 'Where is the best place to put it?' and 'What type of facility do the towns want?' 'Would we want a pool in it, stadium or gym complex in it?' Then it might be something our town may want to be a part of. But the bottom line is it's going to be built in Harbour Grace."
Wood added: "I don't feel that council would want to be a part of something that is already started. If it was at the beginning of the process, I think we would be more than willing to be part of some feasibility study.
"I'm not just saying that the best place would be Bay Roberts. Maybe Harbour Grace, Spaniard's Bay, Carbonear, maybe Brigus."
The Bay Arena in Bay Roberts, built nearly 30 years ago, was originally billed as a regional complex. It was envisioned that all towns within a certain radius would make annual contributions to the facility, pro-rated to their populations. But only Bay Roberts has carried on this practice.
Meanwhile, chief administrative officer Nigel Black cautioned council against making any formal decisions on the concept, noting that the project is still in its early stages.
"Once you get a little more information, you might be able to make a better informed decision," said Black.