Majority council vote eliminates downtown arena plan

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor

A rendering of the proposed Sports and Entertainment Centre for the downtown core. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

A rendering of the proposed Sports and Entertainment Centre for the downtown core. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

The council meeting on October 13 changed the course of downtown once and for all. After hearing a last ditch appeal from the International Coliseum Company, a motion, which was put forward by Councillor Keith McGrath, passed with a 7-3 vote, killing the current proposed downtown Sports and Entertainment Centre (SEC).

Mayor Melissa Blake, and councillors Stroud and Vinni held the opposing votes. This came after years of discussion and expropriation of the land downtown.

A Downtown Land Planning and Development Advisory Committee has been formed and they have been tasked with coming up with alternative ideas on how to develop the downtown core. The public can attend these meetings, and residents can find out the details of the meetings by going to www.rmwb.ca or by contacting Bradley Evanson at bradley.evanson@rmwb.ca. This committee is planning to present to later in November.

The October 13 agenda saw several revisions at the last minute. The motions that Councillor McGrath put forward regarding the Northside Twin arenas and the one regarding policies or guidelines for Large Capital Projects were heard at the October 20th meeting. Also, a motion by Councillor Germain with reports from five community groups for funding requests. The motion saw the groups being referred to the operational budget committee for more time and for the councillors to be able to ask more questions.

Council also passed an amendment for a land use bylaw for the Gateway District. The change will mean the residential part will be removed and there will be a greater mix of commercial uses.

Also changed was a municipal public utilities bylaw to not allow grand fathering existing operations to include expansion of pre-existing service levels or adding new locations.

Councillor McGrath said that he was happy that no more taxpayers’ dollars would be sunk into the SEC, and that it was time to move forward with what the residents want in the downtown.

Every councillor and the Mayor spoke as to why they wanted it to continue, or why they thought the project should be halted once and for all. The ones opposed mostly stated that they felt rushed and would like to follow the proper procedures, while those opposed stated that they had heard from the residents “loud and clear” that this project was not wanted.

– Connect Weekly –