During an announcement at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium this morning, Premier Paul Davis told the crowd of several hundred, which included most of the students from nearby St. Francis School, that this has been a long time coming.
“Our government made a commitment to the people of Harbour Grace and today we are delivering upon that commitment,” he said to the group.
More than a stadium
But he said it was more than a promise to him.
Davis explained he has been a frequenter to Harbour Grace for the past 30 years, since his wife is from neighbouring Upper Island Cove. He also noted his nephew and former AHLer Robert Slaney, who was also in attendance, was a long-time CeeBees minor hockey player.
For Davis, this announcement was about the legacy of having a stadium in Harbour Grace and the sports programs that have been successful over the decades in the town.
In fact, to start off the event, Davis began a chant of “Go CeeBees Go.” The event also ended the same way.
Everyone in attendance seemed to agree the new facility was about community. With only 24 hours notice, St. Francis was able to get buses for the students to go to the stadium and some high profile locals, including long-time town volunteer and former councillor Bud Chafe, MHAs, current town councillors and staff, as well as CeeBees minor hockey players and CBN figure skaters, were able to attend the announcement.
Many players and skaters wore their CeeBees jerseys and figure skating jackets to show support for the future home of their teams.
Make it official
Joining Davis at the head table for the announcement was Harbour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes, a representative for Pomerleau Inc., — the construction company that will build the new facility — and Deputy Mayor and stadium liaison Sonia Williams.
Barnes was pleased to have the paperwork signed to begin the project, which he said was long overdue. He is excited to see the town grow with a new facility.
“I’m very proud of our past but I’m excited for our future,” Barnes noted.
With the crowd cheering, the official paperwork was signed, and Davis and Barnes shook hands.
“She’s done,” Barnes said, as he throws his hands in the air.
The crowd erupted in cheers, with the kids all getting to their feet to celebrate.
The recreation complex
The new recreation facility, which will be located on Jamie’s Way next to Veterans Memorial Highway and is currently being called the Harbour Grace Wellness Centre, will begin construction very soon.
With a price tag of $21.5 million, the province will be investing over $15 million in the project.
Town officials have already approved the purchase of the land for some $240,000, which includes fees to transfer ownership and legal costs, at a 80/20 split with the provincial government.
The facility is expected to have one NHL-sized ice surface, a multi-purpose room, a fitness centre and an indoor walking track, among other amenities.
Residents have been waiting since 2011 for the facility to begin, since it was first announced. Other facilities that were announced at the same time are already underway or completed.
A double-ice surface arena in Paradise was opened in November 2014, and cost some $22 million.