Pincourt may get back school commission land to build new arena
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
The arena has sat unused for almost 15 years and has been subject to a number of legal challenges while it continues to fall into a state of disrepair.
The Town of Pincourt is looking into the possibility of building a new arena on a piece of land owned by the Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs at École secondaire du Chêne-Bleu, Mayor Yvan Cardinal told The Journal during a telephone interview on October 15.
The school board passed a resolution to give back to the city the grassy lot in front of the football and soccer fields next to the high school. The only stipulation is that an arena has to be built on the site, said Cardinal. The land is located on the west side of Pincourt Boulevard, directly across the street from the current abandoned arena.
Land donated to school board
The gesture by the school board is to reciprocate for land that was given by the city for a football field that was built next to the high school. “We don’t have to pay for the land. It was the city that gave the land to the school board at the time,” said Cardinal.
“It’s a large area. It’s not used for anything. The city operates a garden throughout the summer but there are no other activities. We’re looking into different options regarding the possibility of building a centre there with a couple of potential builders,” said City Manager Michel Perrier.
One favourable aspect for building a new arena is that it would have two ice rinks. The current boarded-up arena – which has sat idle for almost 15 years – only has one rink. “Most arenas have at least two rinks to make it a profitable and viable investment,” said Perrier.
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Pincourt officials and Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs are discussing the possibility of building a new arena on vacant land at École secondaire du Chêne-Bleu on Pincourt Boulevard directly across the street from the original arena.
Upgrade too expensive
Studies commissioned by the city determined it would be too expensive to build a second rink at the boarded up arena. “The cost is astronomical,” Perrier said. “The building would have to be expanded. It wasn’t designed for that purpose. There’s no way we can support this kind of an expense even though most of the inside is still in very good shape.”
The city and school board are continuing their own studies to determine several aspects of the proposed project, including its magnitude, construction details, cost and ownership. “We’re conducting all these studies and compiling all the information so council can make an informed decision,” said Perrier.
He declined to speculate about the future of the abandoned arena and the surrounding land, saying that would only be determined if the city and school board both agree to proceed with the new arena project. “If it doesn’t materialize, then we have to look at other options for the location of the arena. We’re not quite there yet,” Perrier said.
Prior legal challenges
Construction on the original arena began in 2003 but stopped after the original promoter went bankrupt. After several legal challenges, the city paid about $3.3 million for the property in 2012. An attempt to revive the project was made in February 2014 when sports consortium Group Thibault announced plans to restore the arena and have it ready by September that year.
Groupe Thibault faced legal action by a competing consortium in neighbouring Notre-Dame-de-l’île-Perrot. The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Groupe Thibault in July, 2015. The project was abandoned after the group had difficulty securing financing for the project. The city bought back the arena in December, 2017 for $339,000 which is the price they paid for it at the time.
Decision by year end
The city and school commission are also negotiating details including regarding who will own and manage the proposed arena. “We hope to reach a decision before the end of the year,” said Cardinal, who also took a pragmatic tone regarding his outlook.
“Often what I say doesn’t happen,” the mayor added, referring to the many times the previous arena projects were set to begin only to be bogged down by legal challenges and financial difficulties.