BN05-100: INFRASTRUCTURE MONEY TO GO TO MULTIPLEX

By Gary Rusak, 4 April 2005

The city's portion of the one-time $35 million infrastructure payment announced as a part of the new memorandum of understanding (Fair Share) will be used to help cover the cost of the South Peace Community Multiplex, mayor Wayne Dahlen said on Friday.

"That was set up for infrastructure deficit and certainly this is an important part of infrastructure," said Dahlen. "It's all going to the Multiplex."

The city's share of the money is approximately $10 million.According to the mayor, the money will be added to the $17 million-grant-in-aid that was approved by a regional referendum last spring. Throughout the year, the municipality has also secured more than $5 million through government grants and private donations earmarked for the construction of the 245,000 square foot facility

that will include a pool, an event centre and an agriplex.

Deputy administrative officer John Malcolm said that it was difficult to estimate how much the entire project will cost.

"At one point we were at $21.6 (million) for the first phase, but that was prior to the fluctuation in the world commodity prices,"

said Malcolm. "We never had a particular number and we won't know for sure until we get the tenders. All that we know (is that) we are trying to amass as much revenue as possible to guard for contingencies on the increases."

Dahlen estimated that the final price tag could be upwards of $35 million.

"What the building committee has settled in on is at that $35 million mark," he said. "You got to keep in mind that costs have gone up. We knew that from the get-go with steel prices, labour, etc."Malcolm said that the $10 million will be used as part of the contingency fund.

"The money is actually going into the bank and it is going to be available if we need to draw on it," he said. "Right now, it will be sitting in the bank."

Dahlen said that the city's taxpayers will not be asked for any additional funding for the building, and that the rising cost of the facility would not diminish the scope of the project.

"(It) will not be compromised," he said. "The integrity of the project will still be there. I want to make sure that everybody understands that what you voted for we still want to carry through and bring that project in the way we promoted (it)."

The mayor said that traditional infrastructure improvements will be addressed with the city's annual MOU grant. That grant, from the provincial government in lieu of industrial taxation, will be approximately $6.5 million a year and indexed to the growth of the oil and gas industry in the region.

"On the other side of the equation is the annual (payment)," said Dahlen. "Out of that $6.5 million a lot of that money will be spent on capital improvements for the city. It's a win-win. We got this $10.5 million for the Multiplex and on the other side (the) money for the infrastructure."

A clearer picture of the total cost of the project should emerge in April when dozens of the tenders associated with the project will be forwarded to council.

Construction is expected to begin in the next few months with completion targeted for spring 2006.

This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.

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