'Banking' on development
Partnerships | $1.5M for Fredericton sports facilities

By Heather McLaughlin

Scotiabank has made a $1.5-million donation to the City of Fredericton's sports facilities.

Mayor Brad Woodside and bank representatives jointly announced the funding Thursday night at the state of the city address.

It's the largest contribution Scotiabank has made in Atlantic Canada, Woodside said.

"That is partnership, my friends. That is partnership," Woodside said.

Peter Bessey, senior vice-president, Atlantic Region Scotiabank, joined Woodside on stage to announce the bank's contribution to Scotiabank Park North and Scotiabank Park South.

The bank's contribution will support a new artificial turf sports field next to Willie O'Ree Place. Both the northside arena and the soon-to-be-built Grant-Harvey facility have auxiliary sport and recreation facilities adjoining them.

The mayor said he'll be meeting today with Tennis Canada representatives to talk about the proposed six-court indoor tennis facility to be integrated with the Grant-Harvey centre, sharing its geothermal heating system.

"Both the north and southside clusters will have the critical mass of things that people can do to feel better and come to wellness, which is so important to the well-being and quality of life," he said.

"Scotiabank for many years has been very actively involved in recreational pursuits," Bessey said. "One of our key mottoes is being caring community bankers ... There's no question that recreation is top of mind from a health perspective and from an enjoyment perspective. It's great for children and it's great for families and that's where we want to be.

"I know that the people of Fredericton will be able to enjoy these facilities for many years to come," Bessey said. "It's a natural fit for us to support these important sports and recreational hubs - which include tremendous public access - that's very important for us."

The city's most pressing need is for a new sports field. Fredericton set aside $840,000 toward that project in its 2011 budget.

Woodside said when he was asked last year at a Christmas function by a senior Scotiabank representative about the city's needs and how the bank could help, he was quick to head to Toronto with a wish list for a second sports field for the city.

A new artificial turf field has already been completed close to the Grant-Harvey site.

"The City of Fredericton is truly blessed to have great partners," Woodside said.

"When we do something, everybody is at the table, everybody appreciates how important it is. Everybody gets it. That's something that's special about this community that we never, ever want to lose."

Woodside said partnerships with government and the private sector will be the way to move forward in the city.

Woodside also announced a couple of other firsts at the event.

Fredericton has hit a record-breaking year with $168 million in construction and redevelopment.

This is the fifth straight year the city has experienced more than $100 million in construction and renovation of building stock.

The city has also achieved a so-called Milestone 5 for its work to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions. That makes the capital city only the fourth municipality in Canada and the first east of British Columbia to achieve the highest certification possible for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas levels.

The city's efforts are measured under the partners for climate protection program administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Woodside said the city will also be engaging the community in the coming months with a new sustainability by design initiative.

Woodside said with the Hilton Hotel moving closer toward construction, it's time for the city to look to its downtown west end and find ways to tie it into the mix with redevelopment.

The first banquet at the Fredericton Convention Centre, hosted by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, attracted 518 business and community leaders eager for their first glimpse of how their tax dollars were spent.

While there's still finishing work to be done, the entrance and staircase to the second floor convention centre ballroom were completed, giving the capital city its first twinned escalators since the former Levine's department store closed and Zellers relocated from the downtown to a one-level store on Prospect Street.

"As mayor, for a long, long time, I get calls from all over the country, all over the world from people interested in coming to this beautiful city to do business. So they have some basic questions.

"I've never been able to say this. It's not about the fresh air, the beautiful river, it's not about the walking trails. They always ask about the escalators.

"You have no idea how tough it has been to promote this city and call ourselves a smart city when I have to go out and tell people we don't have an escalator," Woodside said.

The mayor thanked federal-provincial partners, convention centre project manager Greg Cook, ADI Ltd., which was the general contractor and project designer, for their contributions to the convention centre project.

Scotiabank has 42 branches in New Brunswick. Four of them are in Fredericton. It's been in business for 128 years in the province.