Taylor says civic centre a golden opportunity for us

Harry Sullivan
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TRURO - A new regional civic centre could offer substantial economic benefits and should be considered an investment, as opposed to a cost, top local officials believe.
"I think for so many reasons it's a golden opportunity for us and it's a much-needed facility, you know, for social reasons and economic reasons for our area," said Colchester County mayor Bob Taylor."
The mayor maintains that position despite a "worst-case scenario" cost projection that puts a proposed civic centre at just under $50 million.
In July 2008, the town and county signed a memorandum of understanding in which the project was estimated at $33 million. The Municipality of Colchester's contribution of the municipal component was to be about $6.6 million (60 per cent of the municipal portion) while the town of Truro was to contribute $4.4 million (40 per cent). Last November, the province kicked in $10 million towards a civic centre and the hope is that the federal government will equal that amount. As
well, the civic centre committee is hoping
to generate $5 million through community contributions.
At the time the provincial contribution was made, the project was anticipated to cost $35.5 million but increased construction costs, proposed enhancements to a fitness centre, two additional swimming pool lanes, maximum arena seating, health authority space and the fact that original estimates may have been too low, have pushed the new cost estimate to $49.9 million.
"I think it's a good bang for the buck," Taylor said. "There's going to be something in the facility for everybody... We want to make this a better place to live and one of the number-one things of attracting businesses and people is the quality of life. And this is a testament to that."
The increased costs were revealed during a public meeting held Thursday night and Taylor said while questions and concerns were presented, he did not hear any real negativity about the project.
"Of course, it's always a shock when you hear what the actual prices are going to be," Taylor said. "But I don't think it's any surprise they were going to be more, it's just a matter of how much."
For county ratepayers, Taylor estimated a likely tax increase of five cents on every $100 of assessment, which would mean a $25 per year tax increase on a property assessed at $50,000.
"We don't want to increase taxes anymore than anyone else," Taylor said. "I think we're doing it for a good reason... there are more advantages than disadvantages."
Truro Mayor Bill Mills agrees.
"It opens up doors, it really does," he said, of the economic spin-off potential such a facility could provide.
"I guess I've come to the conclusion if we do this thing, it's going to be comparable to going for the gold medal at the Olympics," Mills said, of the dedication, vision and focus required to bring the project to fruition.
And because the proposed facility would
be more than just a civic centre, he said, it offers an attractive potential for drawing new industry.
One example being discussed in some quarters, Mills said, is the establishment of a company that would manufacture laminate-type wooden beams.
"There could be an opportunity, there is no such facility in Atlantic Canada," he said. "We could attract that type of facility here. They just need some type of impetus to come here so this might be the ticket."
And while the two municipal units may have to look at all funding options, Mills said, with other capital project commitments coming close to fruition (ie: such facilities as water treatment and wastewater treatment, the bale fill and a new hospital), it could make it easier to take on additional expenditures for a civic centre.
"It can be done and I really think it's doable," he said.

Geographic location: TRURO, Colchester County, Atlantic Canada

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