Construction of a $5-million multi-purpose sports dome will begin in May in Summerside, P.E.I.
The dome is being built as part of the 2023 Canada Winter Games, which are being hosted in Prince Edward Island.
J.P. Desrosiers, Summerside's director of community services, says the dome has been something the city has wanted for years. He said it will be a huge asset not only to Prince County athletes, but to the city and region in general.
"It's a $5-million project that us as an operation likely wouldn't be able to justify doing without the support of the Canada Games and of course the federal and provincial governments are a big player in this funding," Desrosiers said from the site of the new dome.
"We've been working on the project for well over six or seven years now. It was actually on the docket for the '09 Canada Games."
'It's an unbelievable benefit'
At 65,000 square feet, this dome will be the largest on the Island.
The Norton Diamond soccer complex in Stratford, P.E.I., is about 46,500 square feet.
The dome will be supported by air, with a series of cables that anchor it. The pressure-heated air also protects the dome from the ice and snow in the winter months.
It will be located behind Credit Union Place and be equipped to facilitate 18 different sports from soccer to baseball to hockey. It can also be used for conventions and concerts.
The federal, provincial and municipal governments are all contributing toward the cost.
City officials hope the new dome will be open in November.
Summerside Coun. Cory Snow said Island athletes will be able to use the new facility for more than a year before the Canada Games get underway. He said he's already hearing from user groups who want to get on the list to be able to use the new facility.
"It's going to open up a lot of doors for all our users groups and surrounding communities as well," Snow said.
"Basically it gives us the option for our sports organizations to have a facility that can be used 12 months of the year."
'It's all about sport development'
"Having legacy projects like this remain for many years to come — it's an unbelievable benefit of hosting the Canada Games," Snow said.
The dome will cost $300,000 to $400,000 annually to operate.
Officials are confident those costs will be offset by users who will have to pay to use the facilities.
A number of Maritime communities have similar domes, including Moncton, N.B., East Hants, N.S., Truro, N.S., and Dartmouth, N.S. Summerside's dome will more closely mirror one on the campus of UNB Fredericton.
Wayne Carew, co-chair of the host committee for the 2023 Canada Games, said this project would not have happened without the Canada Games.
"This is one of our key pieces of infrastructure," said Carew.
"The key issue is sport development. The western half of Prince Edward Island has always had to travel to Charlottetown for those sport developments."
Canada Games kickoff planned
Canada Games funding is also being invested in major upgrades at the Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park and for the construction of the new North Star Arena in North Rustico.
When completed the rink in North Rustico will have P.E.I.'s only Olympic-size ice surface.
That will allow the province to host the short-track speed skating on the Island rather than having to transport athletes to Moncton, or Halifax.
Carew said they plan a major kickoff next month, which will mark exactly two years before the start of the Canada Games in P.E.I. That event is set for Feb. 18.
"We've been really at this for a little over five years now from when we put the bid process together and started to see whether we had the facilities to host the games," said Carew.
"Right now, we have over a dozen employees that are full time, we probably will be adding another three to four employees in the next three to four months. Those are the key planning employees."
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