Politicians bearing gifts.
We had more than our share in Sault Ste. Marie today.
Andy Mitchell (shown), the federal minister responsible for FedNor, accompanied by Sault MP Carmen Provenzano, announced $3.7 million in funding for a new arena to replace the Memorial Gardens.
The federal money, from the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program, matches a $3.7-million grant previously announced by the Ontario government's SuperBuild program.
The City is expected to raise $7 million of the remaining cost, and the Sault Greyhounds must raise $7 million.
The multi-use downtown centre will replace the existing Memorial Gardens building, and will have seating for 5,000 spectators to host concerts, shows and events.
It will also include a concession area, areas for advertising and sponsorship information, and a variety of seating configurations.
In a SooToday.com interview later in the day, MP Provenzano stopped short of commenting on the merits of a new arena for the Sault.
"The City expressed it as a high priority," Provenzano said. "If the City says it wants it and it's a priority, I go get it."
Notwithstanding the naysayers, the Sault definitely gets its share of federal funding, the MP said.
Mayor wants it ready by 2004
Sault Mayor John Rowswell expressed hope today that the new arena/multi-use conference facility will be ready by 2004.
As SooToday News reported earlier this week, a battle may be brewing between proponents of a new arena and local heritage conservationists who want the entire Queen Street facade of the Memorial Gardens incorporated into any new structure.
To read our earlier coverage on that issue, click here.
Mitchell and Provenzano also stopped in today at Sault Ste. Marie's Community Futures Development Corp., to announce $800,000 in federal funding for operational expenses over the next three years. Community Futures helps small businesses find access to capital.
The pair also put in an appearance at a 'house-warming' event at the Clergue Blockhouse, which was moved downtown with federal assistance.
To read a recent SooToday.com article on the restoration of the former home of the Sault's pioneering industrialist, click here.
Second gift-bearing politician sighted
Meanwhile, David Young, Ontario's Minister Responsible for Native Affairs, today announced funding for a number of programs involving Mamaweswen, the North Shore Tribal Council.
Mamaweswen and the Sault Ste. Marie Friendship Centre will receive $601,600 over four years to develop a cultural health and mentorship program, Young said during a stop in Sault Ste. Marie.
The N'Mninoeyaa Community Health Access Centre will provide seven area First Nations with traditional and contemporary health services for members of the aboriginal community.
Capital Grants Program
Young announced another agreement to have Mamaweswen deliver Ontario's $3.3 million Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program for 2002-2003.
The capital grants program funds the construction, acquisition, renovation and expansion of community centres, friendship centres, small business centres and business parks, as well as feasibility studies leading to the development of those projects. You tell us
Do we need a new arena to replace Memorial Gardens? Or is the Grande Dame of Queen Street worth keeping around for a few more decades? Your comments are welcome at the News Response feature on our editorial page. To go there now, click here.