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P3 funding eyed for sports facilities — but hurdles remain

Proposed Quebec City arena{jathumbnail off}

The Harper government and Conservatives are looking at raiding the $1B Public-Private Partnerships Canada (P3) Fund to help build stadiums and arenas across the county, including a new Quebec City arena, but there’s one huge obstacle: the legislation setting up the fund specifically prohibits its use for pro-sports facilities.

That’s a huge obstacle, but one that could conceivably be overcome with some imagination, as fund guidelines also allows for investment in “sports infrastructure.” For instance, one could argue $50 million or so for a new Quebec City arena is money dedicated for the city’s pursuit of a future Winter Olympics, not to benefit a future NHL team. (It’s a harder sell for any federal funding of a nw Edmonton arena.)

And the Quebec City arena bid also fits one of the prime missions of the P3 fund: it would be used to match a private investment in the facility. (At least one; word is that a Canadian brewery is looking seriously at a big naming-rights deal.) Still, the identification of a possible federal funding source is good news if you’re a Quebec hockey fan.

Meanwhile, the fight over Quebec City arena funding is growing even more political: Conservative MPs are warned by Bloc Québécois leaders that support of the arena is key to their chances for reelection:

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe wants the Harper government to help fund an NHL-calibre hockey rink in Quebec City, throwing the politically explosive arena debate into the pre-budget mix.

Speaking at a caucus meeting in the provincial capital Tuesday, Mr. Duceppe predicted the region’s Conservative MPs will pay a price come election time if Ottawa takes a pass on the arena proposal.

RELATED STORIES: Quebecor stepping up to fund Quebec City arena; Quebec City ready to move ahead without federal arena aid; Harper: No federal funding of arenas — unless Olympics are involved; Backup plan in works for Quebec City arena funding; Fallout from NHL to Quebec City could affect Remparts; Harper backtracks on federal funding of Quebec City arena; Could new Quebec arena open doors for federal spending on arenas?; Province will pay up to 45 percent of new Quebec City arena; Quebec City on verge of new arena, return of NHL?

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