The construction delay for the new Cloverdale Arena complex has cost taxpayers more than $20 million, says Surrey City Councillor Brenda Locke.
After a corporate report on the new arena was presented at a city council meeting Feb. 14, Locke is calling out Mayor Doug McCallum over the delays.
Locke wrote in a press release Feb. 16 that McCallum and Safe Surrey cost taxpayers $24 million dollars by delaying the arena.
“The arena project was costed at $35 million in the 2018-2022 Financial Plan,” she wrote. “The dollars to pay for it would have come through internal borrowing.”
The arena was removed from the 2019 budget, but was later added to the 2022-2025 financial plan at a cost of $55 million.
The Cloverdale Arena project was originally started in 2017 and about $4 million was spent on getting the project wheels rolling and prepping the land. Trees were removed and some ground works were done. Then in 2019, the project was removed from the budget.
Locke said the $4 million that was spent several years ago was “wasted on previous preparation.”
In 2019, councillor Doug Elford told the Cloverdale Reporter that a new plan was being looked at to twin the existing rink because the ground where the old project (and now current project) was set to be built had problems with the soil.
“Unfortunately, there is another wrinkle,” wrote Locke. “We can no longer pay for the Cloverdale Arena with internal borrowing. We now have to tap into our friends at the Municipal Finance Authority to borrow the money at a higher rate to pay for the project.”
Locke also slammed McCallum for the arena project’s delay as the original plans had the rink opening in 2020.
“Kids have lost 4-5 years of ice time because of Team McCallum’s dithering,” Locke said. “Surrey desperately needs ice arenas. It has the absolute worst ice availability in all of British Columbia by far. The average rink/resident ratio in B.C. is 1/26,000; in Surrey it is 1/68,600.”
Last summer, Mayor McCallum said the Cloverdale Arena project was scheduled to break ground in spring 2022. According to a corporate report that was presented to city council Feb. 14, that timeline is still on schedule.
That document, corporate report R035, noted the process for the rink would start as soon as council approved an increase for expenditure authorization, which they did.
That means, barring any other delays, shovels should be in the ground this spring and kids should be skating on ice at the north end of the Fairgrounds by early 2024.
The corporate report noted, “The Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex will accommodate the community’s needs for ice sports and programming, offering ice hockey, figure skating, public lessons, skating sessions, and dry-floor summer use for sports, such as lacrosse and ball hockey.”