Last week it was announced that Credit Union Place would receive $703,089 in upgrades with $478,100 coming from the federal government through ACOA and the City of Summerside will provide $224,989.
The money will be used to purchase two LED screens for the arena, make upgrades to the WIFI network, increase security and safety at the CUP, and expand the current stage.
It may be argued that these improvements to the city’s $50-million facility are necessary to improve its operations, but in the big picture it should be low on the city’s priority list.
It’s a nice deal for the city to do the work with 33-cent dollars (the city provides one-third of the cost while Ottawa contributes two-thirds).
But it’s window dressing in the current scheme of things.
The fire department has a building that is virtually crumbling around them. City officials are awaiting municipal infrastructure dollars to deal with that. But then again, the city will have to come up with its third of the cost.
Earlier this year, Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart questioned whether the fire hall replacement project should be fast-tracked when additional damage was done to the second floor of the building after snow and ice got under the roof.
There’s the dangerous intersection at Pope Road Extension and Central Street that has been raised on several occasions as needing attention.
There is the question of a school resource officer that, although was thought to be a worthwhile idea, has been scuttled because of the lack of funding.
Then there are many residents who have been waiting since amalgamation in 1995 to get their ditches infilled.
The list goes on.
Credit Union Place, no matter how many times the mayor says it, will likely never turn a profit. Stewart said that the facility was built not just as a rink, but also to be an economic generator for the city.
In the city’s 2013 budget the project revenue for the Department of Community Services was listed at $2,113,459 while expenses were estimated at $4,392,459 for a net loss of $2,279,397.
There is no doubt that those improvements to Credit Union Place will benefit the city, but it’s money being spent on the wrong thing at the wrong time.