Group wants to turn Sydney's Centennial Arena into green sports facility

·3 min read
The Centennial Arena is seen in Sydney. Tomorrow's Legends, a local non-profit dedicated to empowering youth through sport and culture, wants to convert the space into a multi-sport facility. (Christian Roach/CBC - image credit)
The Centennial Arena is seen in Sydney. Tomorrow's Legends, a local non-profit dedicated to empowering youth through sport and culture, wants to convert the space into a multi-sport facility. (Christian Roach/CBC - image credit)

A non-profit focused on youth indoor sports in Cape Breton has partnered with a green energy company in hopes of transforming a Sydney arena into a multi-sport facility that's environmentally sustainable.

Tomorrow's Legends, which has yet to submit a proposal to CBRM council, is not the first organization to come forward with a plan to convert the Centennial Arena.

In 2018, council rejected a proposal from Basketball Cape Breton that was seeking the municipality's involvement and funding from all three levels of government.

A municipal spokesperson said CBRM never received a business plan from Basketball Cape Breton, so it didn't move forward.

Tomorrow's Legends has decided to go another route. The organization is partnering with Breton Green Solutions, a solar energy company based in River Ryan, to bring a new proposal to council.

They hope CBRM will give them and their partners ownership of the building to let other organizations, such as Basketball Cape Breton, run their operations in a newly renovated sports complex.

Christian Roach/CBC
Christian Roach/CBC

"We would be responsible for having a facility that would allow these sports organizations to run all the programs. These are long-standing sports organizations with successful track records and know the sport," said Bill Kachafanas, founder of Tomorrow's Legends.

The proposal includes a pair of regulation size courts for basketball and volleyball, a multipurpose media and technology centre on the second floor, and seating capacity for 500 people.

A key component of the proposed facility is a cost-effective, green way to power and run the building.

Breton Green Solutions is working closely with Tomorrow's Legends to come up with a detailed plan on how to best convert and operate the building if council agrees to relinquish ownership.

"We'll change up the heating systems to heat pumps wherever possible throughout the building and change all the lighting to LEDs," said Erick Benner of Breton Green Solutions.

"So that way, when we apply solar to the building, the solar panels will be able to handle the load of the building and actually hopefully bring it down to a net zero."

Benner said they are looking into the Green and Inclusive Community Building Program offered through the federal government. The five-year, $1.5-billion program aims to build more community buildings and improve existing ones, while also making the buildings more energy efficient, lower carbon, more resilient and higher performing.

Christian Roach/CBC
Christian Roach/CBC

"There's a good chance we'll be able to get involved on that, and they offer up to 80 per cent financing on the total project," said Benner.

The need for another indoor sports facility is something council has addressed. A feasibility study is underway on the possibility of expanding Centre 200 to include an indoor sporting facility.

Kachafanas said his organization welcomes any other ways to accommodate youth sports in Cape Breton.

"I'm not sure whether that [Centre 200] is focused around youth sports. If it is, certainly our organization would support that and we would also support any other avenues that would help youth sporting programs run," said Kachafanas.

Tomorrow's Legends and Breton Green Solutions plan to bring their proposal to council in the coming months.

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