Russell Wangersky: Natural remedy
Up, up high on the winter barrenlands, and the low grey overcast is lit in a thin strip almost lemon-yellow along the horizon.
Due to the lack of progress on the College Road site by King’s-Edgehill and Long Pond, It seems another group has surfaced proposing the new arena should be built back on the Windsor Agricultural Society grounds.
Apparently, this is a variation of Plan B, that I proposed in 2015 which involved pumping six to seven million into the old arena facility, which according to a recent assessment is structurally sound.
Plan B also included moving the recently constructed Mary Henry horse barn and building a new barn structure to house horse shows. The new plan calls for building a brand new facility on the exhibition grounds and the old arena building converted to a storage facility. Apparently the group behind this move involves directors from the Windsor Agricultural Society and the Junior B Maple Leafs.
Like many feel, this site makes more sense with its great highway and road access, parking and proximity to services such as fast food, coffee, gasoline and motel.
The strange part of all of this is many of these people pressing for the original site were present when the consensus was to proceed with the College Road site but no one spoke up at that time, particularly when KES threw in a million dollars into the pot and promised a second ice pad. At any rate, this is all water under the bridge now and the real dilemma now time is of essence and the Windsor arena is closing in April of 2018.
Regardless of where the new arena is going to be built, shovels have to be in the ground by this September. There are a number of wrinkles that have to be resolved; the province’s pledge of $3 million is contingent on building the site by Long Pond and including space for the Hockey Heritage Museum. If it goes to College Road, major road infrastructure has to be done — possibly several million dollars worth, which may involve residential land expropriation for widening of the road. This may not be popular among many of the residents affected.
The major wrinkle now is that either both or one of the municipal units, The Town of Windsor or the Municipality of West Hants have to take ownership of the new arena and agree to support its operation and maintenance before the Feds get involved. This is a reasonable expectation as many towns operate this way, as arena operations are part of recreation costs to the public.
The present Long Pond group have apparently raised approximately $300,000 from local businesses and individuals and have a long term goal of creating $1 million for perpetual maintenance. Certainly a noble effort to date but the concept of an arena completely carrying its way financially and sustainable on its own is great one but highly unlikely in today's world. We pay for the upkeep of sports fields, swimming pools, hiking trails, etc. Why not arenas?
Decision time is here. Councils have to act to take ownership and support the new facility regardless of where it is going to be built and get on with it forthwith! There is no time to dilly-dally any longer. Also housing the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society's museum has to be an upmost priority for the new facility wherever it goes.