Residents of Limoges cheered after The Nation approved a new sports dome in a 3-1 vote at its council meeting on Monday evening.
Since the last public meeting with Saint Joseph Property Management in March, there have been few changes to the deal.
Francis Brière, councillor for Ward 4, said one of the major changes was the creation of a reserve fund to replace the soccer pitches around the ten-year mark.
He said there’s also the issue of naming rights to be hashed out, but that “there’s not enough revenue there to have it become an issue on either side.”
But the biggest change was the price.
Initially, the municipality was going to kick in $250,000 per year for 25 years, bringing the total cost upwards of $6 million.
According to Brière, the municipality negotiated for $250,000 for the first 13 years, and then $80,000 for the next 12, bringing the price down to $4.2 million.
These numbers can’t be corroborated until the deal is signed and becomes public, something Brière said will likely happen in the next couple of weeks.
The final tally was met with applause and chatter congratulating council. Outside after the meeting, people chatted, saying this was a step forward for the community.
Denis Lavoie and his neighbour Nellie Kingma have both been residents of Limoges for more than 30 years. Both said it was nice to have a dedicated recreation area.
“Finally the kids will have something,” said Lavoie.
“I think it’ll be used by a lot of people,” said Kingma. “There are a lot of seniors that want to walk in the winter time.”
They did have a bit of an issue with the planning of the project, though.
“How come they didn’t raise our taxes one per cent to facilitate or to help for the future?” asked Lavoie.
“Then at least we wouldn’t be hit so hard when the dome does come,” said Kingma.
Councillor Marc Laflèche held his position opposing the project.
He brought up the fact Saint Joseph was the only respondent to last year’s request for proposal, and added that there will be another sports dome in Russell, about 15 minutes away. Finally, he said there was a lack of public consultation throughout the project.
The mayor pushed back on the idea of public consultation, and said the municipality had meetings to assess recreation needs and public meetings where the dome was presented.
“It’s not like we hid in the dark to decide on this,” he said.
In an email after the meeting, councillor Laflèche wrote, “To be clear, the open house in February was organized by the developer Saint Joseph Development. During Saint Joseph’s presentation before council in March, people present weren’t allowed to ask questions.”
Brière said the approval was a “game changer” for Limoges.
“We’ve been chipping away for over a year and a half, and finally it came to a head, it was good that we had those healthy discussions because it brought the deal more favourable to both sides,” he said after the meeting.
He compared the dome to a spark plug, saying it’ll help kick start other development in the area.
“That’s ultimately the goal here, it’s to give our developers more tools to attract more people to buy homes.”
In addition to the sports dome, the municipality also approved $60,000 for the Limoges Health Hub, set to open this fall.
When asked if he thought it was too much spending in a short amount of time, Brière said, “No, I don’t think so, quite honestly.”
He said there are different needs for different parts of the municipality.
“In St-Bernardin, they need to maintain the roads. We don’t have roads to maintain, we want to get into the recreation side because that’s what our public wants.”
While there are no official timelines yet set out, Brière said Saint Joseph wants the dome up for the upcoming winter.
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