Sports complex on back burner

The site of the former Navistar plant on Richmond Street in Chatham sits flattened and abandoned

By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

With no funding prospects on the horizon, Chatham-Kent council decided to temporarily abandon its dreams for a two-pad, 2,200-seat arena.

On Dec. 14, Chatham-Kent council voted to move the $18.5 million multi-purpose sports complex funds into other projects.
“Just to be perfectly clear, we are not abandoning the topic of a multi-purpose sports complex arena at all. It is just the current realities,” said Gord Quinton, chief financial officer for Chatham-Kent.
The total project amounted to approximately $60 million. During the spring, the municipality was denied its $36.5 million request from the federal and provincial governments.
“We (applied), we didn’t get it. And we don’t see short-term prospects in the next 12 months, where there’ll be another application window,” Quinton said.
The proposed complex would have replaced the Memorial and Erikson Arenas in Chatham. Thomas Kelly, general manager of infrastructure and engineering, said that staff will continue to invest in the Chatham sports facilities which are “really due” for repairs.
Quinton added that if the opportunity ever arose again to apply for funding, staff will definitely revisit the idea and present council with next steps forward.
“The issue here today is this was put aside for a ‘maybe thing’ that we thought there was actually a pretty good shot of us getting,” he said. “Right now, we actually have out-of-pocket commitments.”
More than $11 million of the funding will go toward the Disaster Mitigation Reserve, $4.6 million will be allocated to the Backbone Fibre commitment and the remaining $2.6 million will go to the Chatham Public Works Garage.
“I think that this is the right thing to do and it’s an important message for some of those user groups that have been following this topic that it’s not an abandonment of those arenas or future projects. Really this is just a pragmatic approach to meet some of our current needs,” said Chatham Coun. Brock McGregor.




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