In a recent survey of people running for the St. John’s city council there were a number of questions related to sports and recreation.
The polled candidates were asked questions on a number of key issues including: Would you support the construction of new arenas to provide more ice time to minor hockey groups, adult recreation hockey teams and figure-skating groups? If St. John’s makes a bid for the 2021 Canada Summer Games, how would the city fund the hosting of that event? and, What would council do to facilitate the signing of a long-term contract between the St. John’s IceCaps and the Winnipeg Jets?
Generally, the answers were positive for all three questions, although many of the respondents were a little wary about where the funding would be found for some of projects and facilities.
Here is a selection of the responses, some edited, of the joint project between The Telegram and the St. John’s Board of Trade.
If St. John’s makes a bid for the 2021
Canada Summer Games, how would the city fund the hosting of that event?
Andrew Harvey, Ward 2 candidate
I think that we would have to have a long, hard look at the costs and benefits associated with such an undertaking. If sufficient federal, provincial and private investment could be leveraged it may be an excellent opportunity to improve our sports/recreation infrastructure.
Tom Badcock, councillor at large candidate
Lotteries, corporate, provincial and federal support. Yes, but not if the costs to maintain these facilities afterwards resulted in higher taxes to the citizens.
Geoff Chaulk, mayoral candidate
Only if we get a substantial start on building more affordable housing first and the Games development is a private/public partnership.
Paul Sears, councillor at large candidate
I would propose the city partner with the communities of the Northeast Avalon as well as private partnerships to cost share funding to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games and that we begin budget funding for the Games starting with the 2015 city budget. I would also support the construction of new facilities needed for the Games.
Dave Lane, councillor at large candidate
The city could fund the Games through partnerships and sponsorships. We should collaborate closely with our sports associations and groups such as Destination St. John’s to leverage the talent, energy and amazing brand of our city.
I think it would be necessary to construct new facilities for the Games and we should view this as an opportunity to further stimulate our economy, improve the livability of our city, and to solidify ourselves as a national and international destination of choice.
Bernard Davis, Ward 4 candidate
We will have to develop a strategy to ensure the proper facilities are put in place for hosting such a prestigious event. Many of the current recreational facilities were developed for the 1977 Canada Summer Games. I believe that regionalization would aid us in further developing our existing facilities as well as building new ones. Through the support of all levels of government, we will be able to secure first-class facilities for these Games as well as for our residents use for many years to come.
Sherwin Flight, Ward 5 candidate
This would be a big investment with many aspects to consider. I think it is premature to discuss the financing of an event like this at this time. If it made practical and financial sense, I would have no problem supporting the building of these types of facilities, as we could continue to use them after the Games have finished.
What would council do to facilitate the signing of a long-term contract between the St. John’s IceCaps and the Winnipeg Jets?
Tom Hann, councillor at large
Council has been supportive, but the operation of a hockey franchise is a private business matter. However, we have supported it through SJSE (St. John's Sports and Entertainment).
Jennifer McCreath, deputy mayor candidate
It would be my goal to develop good rapport and working relationships with representatives from both teams so I can best understand what the issues are that may impede the ability to get a long term deal signed. I realize that the IceCaps have had to take on additional challenges and liabilities — specifically covering travel costs of visiting teams due to our geographic location. Ultimately, it is important to have this hockey team here. At the same time, we have to make sure that we do not spend an unreasonably high amount of money on them, to the point that other city products and services fall below the expectations levels of citizens. If needed, I would help to find private investors and advertisers for the IceCaps to bring in additional revenue needed to satisfy the Winnipeg Jets.
Lionel West, councillor at large
It would not be my intention to use public funds to support a professional hockey organization in this city. Arrangements for a hockey contract would be between SJSE and the hockey organization. Similar to what applies now. Council already provides an operating grant to SJSE for non-hockey activities and I would see this continuing with the hope that maybe one day, the operating grant is no longer required.
Bruce Tilley Ward 3 councillor
This is the responsibility of the Board of Mile One.
Walter Harding, Ward 3 candidate
There is absolutely no denying the positive economic impact and the importance of the IceCaps to the city of St. John's and the province as a whole. I am confident that a long-term contract between St. John’s and Winnipeg to keep the IceCaps here in St. John’s for the foreseeable future is extremely attractive to both parties and would provide not only great financial benefit to the city but also provide a great source of entertainment for residents of St. John’s and the province as a whole.
Lorne Loder, councillor at large candidate
The residents of St. John’s have made their voice very clear here in the past and do not feel municipal tax dollars should subsidize our home team. I agree with this notion and, furthermore, St. John’s Sports and Entertainment has made tremendous ground in the last five years and is near a position where I do not see this being an issue going forward.
Would you support construction of new arenas to provide more ice time to minor hockey groups, adult recreation hockey teams and figure-skating groups?
Deanne Stapleton, councillor-at-large candidate
It would depend on the cost to the city.
Art Puddister, councillor-at-large
Before the city entertains the construction of any new ice arenas, a full examination of existing facilities must be undertaken. I do not know if the existing ice facilities are being used to their maximum potential. Unfortunately, all groups would like prime time ice availability.
Sheilagh O’Leary, mayoral candidate and current councillor
Not many people would say no to this one. Our current recreation plan allows for increased facilities construction. It is vital to involve other levels of government in costs.
Jonathan Galgay, Ward 2 candidate
Better utilization of our current facilities must occur first before we initiate any major investments in new construction.
Dennis O’Keefe, mayor
Yes, but again we have to take a regional approach. We need regional sports centers with multiple facilities which will serve the region.
Ron Ellsworth, deputy mayor candidate
I think the city's role on this should be to facilitate construction of these facilities rather than actually taking on the construction ourselves. We should be working with the interested parties to determine what their need is and find funding partners to make it happen.
Note: To see the complete survey responses,
go online to thetelegram.com