Charlottetown Curling Club could be part of Simmons arena redevelopment, mayor says

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says the city is open adding a curling rink in its plans to replace Simmons arena.

The Charlottetown Curling Club was built in 1959 and Brown said it is in need of major repairs. He said he has spoken with officials from the curling club about what the city can do to help.

"It's really showing its age and they're trying to work with the city, work with other partners to upgrade or build a new facility," Brown said.

"We're definitely going to have to Band-Aid it for this coming year. But we have to look at something in the future to replace it."

Unlike Simmons arena, which is owned by the city, the Charlottetown Curling Club is owned by its membership.

Tyler Harris is the president of the curling club and says it is facing renovations and repairs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For example, the foundation under the ice surface is sand, instead of concrete like most curling rinks. The sand foundation takes more water and electricity to maintain, he said, and makes the space unusable during the non-curling months.

'Generate some new interest'

Harris said he wants what's best for the citizens of Charlottetown and the curling club members, but said it makes sense to partner with the city on a multi-ice surface when they city is already planning to replace Simmons arena. 

CBC

"It gives us an opportunity to create a better environment to play in and another environment to sell the game and hopefully generate some new interest coming in the door."

Brown said the time is now to move forward on projects like the Simmons arena, especially now that there is some financial flexibility with gas tax money as well as new money announced for municipalities in the federal budget.

I want to get away from just about talking about it. Let's put some action plans in place. — Philip Brown

The city will be finalizing its operational budget in the next few weeks, and Brown said he expects plenty of discussion on prioritizing projects.

He said replacing the Simmons Arena is high on his priority list, and is separate from the much larger multi-use complex project to replace the Eastlink Centre. He said that project is not dead, but on hold because it doesn't qualify for federal funding.

But Brown said he is eager to move forward with the Simmons Arena project. The location, number of ice pads, and whether it includes a curling rink are details that need to be worked out.

"I want to get away from just about talking about it. Let's put some action plans in place."

Brown said if the curling club becomes part of the Simmons project, it could sell its building on Euston Street and that property could be used for another purpose, such as to build affordable housing.

Harris said a partnership with the city would go a long way toward securing the future of curling in Charlottetown. 

"Certainly we have to make some decisions in the next little while, in the next year or two, as to what our status will be in Charlottetown and we think right now that the city wants to see curling exist within the city limits. So we're optimistic that going forward we'll have a good facility to offer curling from here in Charlottetown."

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