Gatineau to test the water for new arena in Aylmer
Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin announced, mid-September, that the city will test interest within the private sector to build another multiple ice rink complex -- in the western part of the city. A ‘call for interest’ will be advertised this fall.
In its controversial arena re-deployment plan, the city plans to demolish three older arenas in Hull (Cholette, Sabourin and Guertin), and replace these with one multiple-rink facility west of the Gatineau River, built with corporate participation similar to the eastern plan. The city would then rent ice time there.
The question now is if the city should build another western rink, since Aylmer’s population continues to climb and the Aylmer Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) is growing quickly.
Another facility would likely not be a separate building but incorporated in the proposed multi-pad western complex. The mayor added that this western project would ideally be built at roughly the same time as the huge arena project going in east of the Gatineau River.
East vs West?
The $80 million eastern project includes a 4,000 seat arena for the Olympiques de Gatineau, plus three community rinks. The city will put in $36.5 million, the province $26.5 million, with the rest covered by the privately-owned Vision Multisports Outaouais (VMSO) corporation.
Western residents, Aylmer and Hull, have objected to the deal since it included no help for the crowded western rinks. The city has invested several million to modernize the mechanical room in Aylmer’s Frank-Robinson and Duchesnay arenas, but this has not increased ice-time for local teams. Aylmer’s hockey and figure skating associations struggle to find hours at reasonable times and distances. Many teams end up playing or practicing outside Aylmer.
To pressure the city, the AMHA added its voice months ago to the Capital Sports Management Inc (CSMI) video encouraging the city to build a multi-pad arena in the West. CSMI is an Ottawa Senators’ affiliate.
According to Quebec’s Lobbyist Registry, the Senators proposed two multi-pad arenas, but lost the larger eastern project to VSMO’s proposal.
Finding a location
One possibility for the western complex is behind D'Arcy McGee High School since the city owns a large undeveloped lot of 133,140 square metres -- near the busy intersection of Vanier Road and Boulevard des Allumettières.
A sports complex near the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) High School would encourage the development of a sport-études program in Aylmer. Presently, there isn’t an Anglophone high school in West Quebec which offers this type of program, and the WQSB has been promoting the idea.