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Alternative location pitched for Windsor's new arena, hockey museum

<p>Pictured is a conceptual drawing of the atrium at the proposed Birthplace of Hockey Arena. The Long Pond Arena Society has been working for a number of years to see its vision of a new state-of-the-art rink and heritage site be constructed near Long Pond. (Submitted)</p>
<p>Pictured is a conceptual drawing of the atrium at the proposed Birthplace of Hockey Arena. The Long Pond Arena Society has been working for a number of years to see its vision of a new state-of-the-art rink and heritage site be constructed near Long Pond. (Submitted)</p>

WINDSOR, N.S. - The final location of Windsor's newest arena may not yet be set in stone.

Instead of locating the multi-million dollar complex near Long Pond and King's-Edgehill School, the Windsor Agricultural Society is suggesting an alternative site.

The society is proposing the state-of- the-art arena and heritage complex be built right at Exhibition Park.

In a press release issued Jan. 23, the agricultural society said they are planning to significantly upgrade its facilities and would like to explore housing the new rink.

“Public sentiment during the past number of months has prompted the Windsor Agricultural Society to vote in favour of investigating a major development at Exhibition Park in Windsor,” the press release reads.

“The society owns 41 acres of land with buildings bordering Highway 101 and Wentworth Road. It presently has over four acres of buildings including Hants Exhibition Arena (which is)presently used as an agricultural exhibition and horse show facility in the summer months and a hockey arena in (the) winter.”

Instead of locating the multi-million dollar complex near Long Pond and King's-Edgehill School, the Windsor Agricultural Society is suggesting an alternative site.

The society is proposing the state-of- the-art arena and heritage complex be built right at Exhibition Park.

In a press release issued Jan. 23, the agricultural society said they are planning to significantly upgrade its facilities and would like to explore housing the new rink.

“Public sentiment during the past number of months has prompted the Windsor Agricultural Society to vote in favour of investigating a major development at Exhibition Park in Windsor,” the press release reads.

“The society owns 41 acres of land with buildings bordering Highway 101 and Wentworth Road. It presently has over four acres of buildings including Hants Exhibition Arena (which is)presently used as an agricultural exhibition and horse show facility in the summer months and a hockey arena in (the) winter.”

The Windsor Agricultural Society is proposing that Exhibition Park, which houses the existing Hants Exhibition Arena, would be the ideal location for Windsor's new arena and hockey heritage museum.

The agricultural society said the Hants Exhibition Arena site, which is currently used as the town's hockey arena, was offered but rejected by the group working on the Long Pond site proposal.

In 2015, the Town of Windsor informed the agricultural society that they would cease using the arena after April 2018 as they no longer wanted to be 'in the rink business.' Plans for a new rink were already in the works.

Earlier this month, the Long Pond Arena Society (LPAS) that's working on constructing the hockey heritage arena project lobbied the municipalities of West Hants and Windsor to consider joint ownership of the new arena so that they could secure federal funding. LPAS already has secured a provincial commitment of $3 million to the project, and Windsor and West Hants councils have both committed to funding an arena project to the tune of $1 million each using gas tax reserves. The total cost of the project is estimated to be about $11.4 million, with federal monies, sponsorship and fundraising initiatives making up the remaining amount required.

Some councillors and area citizens have express concern about the proposed location of the arena – with some saying it's too remote.

The agricultural society says their location is ideal for the hockey heritage project.

“It has the highest profile location of the two sites and (is) well situated to become the home of all recreational activities in the area. The Exhibition Park location has excellent visibility from Highway 101 (adjacent to the Wentworth Road roundabout), expansive parking and all services within walking distance,” the release reads.

In order to develop the Long Pond site, College Road will need expensive upgrades – a cost not factored into the arena project.

LPAS also issued a press release this month, on Jan. 20 prior to the Long Pond Heritage Classic, noting the new facility will “be a source of pride for all Nova Scotians.”

The release further states that “The Hockey Heritage Centre will include a museum, a “walk through hockey history” on a walking track overlooking Long Pond and the historic Dill farm, a celebratory atrium, and an NHL sized ice surface.”

For Rob Lindsay, a taxpayer of both Windsor and West Hants, exploring all options is prudent before investing millions of tax dollars on the new facility.

“This won't happen again in my life,” said Lindsay, pointing out how much capital funding will be available for a project of this magnitude.

Lindsay, who is a coach with the Valley Maple Leafs but wasn't speaking on behalf of the organization, said there's public support for a rink somewhere in the area – but there's also a lot of concerns that need to be addressed before shovels go in the ground.

“Just because you scream the loudest or have the first thing in, it doesn't necessarily mean it's right,” he said.

“Other options most definitely should be explored. And if nothing else, let it serve as confirmation that the one that's being offered is the best, because I don't think that's been done.”

Lindsay has designed a survey to help gauge public input on where the arena should be located. To take the survey, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KGZZZW9.

 

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