The Arena Project – A Long Time Coming

The Arena Project – A Long Time Coming

Peter Stuart gives us his thoughts on the Quebec City arena project.

Go Nordiques! Hopefully.


Well now. A little visit to the City of Québec’s Official Website has just enlightened me. Or has it? We’ve been waiting so long for the new arena to be built that I was wondering if a clear time line had been established by the city authorities about this. So I went on the City’s Official Website to have a peek. 

Boy, is there ever a lot of info about the arena project! Everything from the seven different sites where they’ve proposed to build it, weighing all the pros and cons of each, PDF documents concerning all the press conferences which were held about the project, legal agreement and by-laws which the city had agreed upon with various parties about various aspects of the project, the works. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that we don’t live in a democracy and that the process is not transparent! 

I’d like to see such a project move forward in China or Burma and see the same level of public consultation and transparency take place! As it turns out, they even had a time line as to when they anticipated starting the construction and when they anticipated putting the building into service. Yippee! Finally some answers to my questions! So folks, if all goes according to Mayor Labeaume’s Divine Plan, and nobody puts up anymore legal challenges to this thing and there are no more delays in getting environmental impact studies and land decontaminated done, then the city says we’ll be able to break ground with the first shovel full of earth in the spring of 2013, with the building brought into service sometime in 2015. 

Wow! I’m still not holding my breath, though, because I may still have a while to wait before I can exhale, knowing how things work around here. As it is, as of late February, the mayor has had to bring in Mr. Claude Rousseau, a special consultant, who’s worked with such sports-related ventures before, to re-evaluate the feasibility of the current site which was selected for the project, because the land is apparently so contaminated that it would cost an extra 30-40 million dollars to have it properly de-contaminated. There are already rumours of cost overruns in the order of 150 million dollars, being estimated to cost 550 million instead of the originally-projected 400 million. And the so-called ‘PFT’ (Programme Fonctionnel et Technique’), meaning the technical specifications of what exactly will be included in the project, are still up in the air. 

Also, there may still be some malcontent pinhead who speaks up and challenges the Mayor’s plan and launches another legal challenge, an environmentalist who thinks we’re desecrating Mother Earth somehow, or better yet, maybe the construction crews will start digging and will come across bones and will be compelled to stop the whole works while we call in the archaeologists for a year to examine whether or not they’ve found either the sacred remains of Champlain, an Aboriginal burial ground, in which case the Indians will just go ballistic if we touch anything of their dead ancestors and so on. 

If we’re lucky, it will end up being like when they excavated Place Royale in the early 1970s and found bones there. Everybody freaked out because they thought that maybe, just maybe, they’d found the final resting place of Champlain, the sacred founder of New France and Father of our Nation, especially given the nationalist climate of the day. As it would turn out, the bones were that of a goat, of all things! 

So, like the good ol’ Canadians that we are, the face on the statue of the Father of our Nation, both Québec and Canada, being Samuel de Champlain, which stands up on the Dufferin Terrace by the Frontenac Hotel, is actually not his real face, but rather, that of Michel Particelli, a corrupt financial controller of France accused of embezzlement! (But he had a nice face! So the good folks from the St. Jean Baptiste Society used him for the statue! Just goes to prove, if you’re good lookin’ you can get away with anything!) 

The bones that we found that we thought were his were, well, that of a goat and well, the arena that we’ve been talking about for at least the last five to ten years, to attract the hockey team back which left about eighteen years ago, has still yet to materialize. It just goes to prove that life moves rather slowly here in this wonderful part of Canada, perched up on top of the frozen reaches of Cape Diamond, in what used to be called ‘The Gibraltar of North America’. 

Sometimes I feel like it’s as if waiting for things to happen or materialize around here is like watching the cement dry, or standing by the kettle watching and waiting for it to boil. However, as my dearly-departed Mother always used to say: ‘A watched kettle never boils’. I guess that applies to the cement as well. Well, if this latest spell of precociously-mild pre-spring weather is any indication, maybe things will begin ‘unfreezing’, or ‘thawing’ a little quicker this year and we’ll all be able to get down to the business of business a little sooner rather than later, like working on getting ourselves an arena built! 

It’s amazing what a little visit to the City’s Official Website can bring up in your mind if you read between the lines. I’m sure Michel Particelli, Champlain and his buddy the goat would all agree with me, wot?

About the author:

Peter Stuart is a freelance journalist and writer based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. He has a degree in Canadian Studies from the University of Ottawa.
He has written Op-Ed pieces for the last ten years for publications including: Le Soleil, La Presse, Quebec Chronicle Telegraph and Impact Campus.
Peter writes in both French and English, and and has published his first book, entitled ‘The Catholic Faith and the Social Construction of Religion: With Particular Attention to the Québec Experience’. 
You can read more of Peter’s work by visiting his blog.

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