New council, new priorities: Wasaga Beach community hub paused
A map shows the area envisioned for a new downtown hub in Wasaga Beach (CTV News/Roger Klein)
Published Friday, January 11, 2019 5:16PM EST
The community hub at the centre of Wasaga Beach's envisioned downtown plan is supposed to include a twin-pad arena, event space, and library, all in a new Main Street campus.
But some people, like Councillor Joe Belanger, have concerns. “It’s a very integrated plan, and if you start to make major changes to any element, the viability of the entire plan is at jeopardy.”
Belanger goes on to say the hub, the proposed casino, and high-quality accommodations are all essential to the new downtown's success if the town is to re-establish itself as a tourism destination.
“A tremendous amount of work went to generate a plan that we believed was a path forward,” he explains.
It’s estimated that the HUB would cost 45-million-dollars to build, which doesn’t include the property needed. The mayor says at this point there's no promise from other levels of government to help with funding, and that would leave the town’s taxpayers on the hook for the entire cost.
“If we have arena's and libraries and facilities, and if we don't have development charges put away or reserves, it goes back to the taxpayer. So we need to make sure we are taking that into consideration” says Mayor Nina Bifolchi.
As for the casino, the mayor says that's up to Gateway Casinos to decide where it will be located.
There are several potential spots, including the waterfront and the roundabout in the town’s west-end.
While Belanger holds strong that the hub and the casino belong in the new downtown; all bets are off while council looks at the options.
“Just because we are pausing doesn't mean that things won’t still happen,” says the mayor.
Town staff has been asked to prepare a report on all of the possible locations for a new arena complex. The downtown location will still be an option, along with the sports park in the town's south-end.