Steinbach City Council gave first and second readings of a loan by-law for the Southeast Event Center following a public hearing.
The by-law allows the city to borrow $ 7.5 million which will be reimbursed over the next 5 years through an annual tax levy. This will result in a tax increase of $ 138 for a residential property valued at $ 200,000. The City is also contributing $ 2.5M which will come from reserve funds for recreation already set aside.
Councilor Michael Zwaagstra said that while the city’s $ 10 million portion is a significant amount of money, it is less than a quarter of the funding needed for the entire project.
“The city is getting a really good deal here. We invest a total of $ 10 million and we get a $ 42 million facility. That’s because we get $ 15 million from private donations and we have a grant from. $ 17.5 million from the federal and provincial governments.
A total of 7 opposition letters were submitted prior to the meeting. Most letters cited concerns about the 5-year tax levy, noting the rising cost of living. A specific letter called on the city to reduce the scope of the project to make it cheaper, however, Zwaagstra said it wouldn’t be so easy.
“One of the reasons we receive $ 15 million in private donations and we receive contributions from other levels of government is because this is a big project. We wouldn’t get that level of contribution if we just replaced the Centennial Arena with the same number of seats, we would pay it all with city taxes. “
Councilor Bill Hiebert says it’s pretty amazing that this project will be fully paid for in just 5 years.
“It’s not just a five-year term that we’re going to be using this facility. This facility will be used for the long term. I can see this thing go on for at least 30 years for the size of our community. We can grow there and it will attract people to our community. “
Councilor Damian Penner notes that not building this new facility would also be costly.
“The Centennial Arena needed to be replaced. He was already out of breath and we saw a report about it a few years ago. These are not upgrades, this is nothing else, we are looking at $ 2.5 million to keep the Centennial Arena as it is.
Instead, Penner says the city has chosen to invest $ 10 million in a forward-thinking project.
The council voted unanimously to give the loan by-law at first and second reading.