It would no doubt be an asset to the base and community, but are plans for a twin-pad ice surface and curling rink in Kingston-Greenwood realistic?
14 Wing Greenwood is partnering with the County of Kings, local villages and the general community in an effort to establish the arena. One county councillor, Fred Whalen, also a former military man, voted against the county’s operating budget this year because he didn’t agree with the substantial commitment, $2.5 million over 15 years. This is significantly higher than county contributions to other arena projects, such as the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick and upgrades to the Glooscap District Arena in Canning.
At a recent community meeting, Western Kings Rink Association acting president Jamie Nicholson said they support the Arena Curling Partnership Project, but the Kingston arena must still operate for five years. Arenas across the municipality are finding it difficult to make ends meet and keep up with capital expenses. What would make the twin pad any different? Operating funding from the Department of National Defence?
Although the county balanced its budget this year, there will probably come a day when a deed transfer tax is needed to pay for special projects. Will county taxpayers in Avonport, for example, see any tangible benefits from the twin pad? Probably not.
The province has yet to commit to funding, having turned down a request for $6.7 million in February 2010. In May, the province once again declined. The community is being asked to pony-up $2.5 million. What will the overall price tag be? Who knows for sure? To the best of our knowledge, the overall project cost and operating estimates have yet to be accurately determined.
County funding is contingent on federal and provincial funding and annual budget approval. This means the province or county could put the kibosh to the project. In this scenario, the Western Kings arena would need a retrofit and the base, approved for a replacement for Greenwood Gardens, would build its own.
We appreciate the base’s willingness to partner with the community, but the price could be a little hard to swallow.
DND shouldn’t write a blank cheque for the project if a recent internal report obtained by CBC is any indication. Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie spent the past year looking for cost savings at the request of Defence Minister Peter McKay. The report recommends slashing up to 30 per cent of the $2.7 billion budgeted annually for contractors, consultants and private-sector providers. The federal government wants to trim $1 billion a year of our tax money from the department’s budget by 2013-2014.
The report indicates there’s a lot of fat to trim without touching necessary military training and equipment. Maybe it’s time for sober second thought on the twin pad, as there is more pressing needs within DND’s mandate than building and operating arenas.