Second refusal from the government for a second ice cream

Lévis Mayor Gilles Lehouillier expressed “deep disappointment” on July 8 after announcing a second refusal of funding from the Legault government for a project to add a second ice rink to the Lévis arena.

Let us recall that the project had actually suffered an initial refusal in 2020 and that the Lehouillier administration had returned to the charge with a second submission in November 2023. Concretely, the project submitted by the City of Lévis comes within the framework of the Financial Assistance Program for Recreational, Sports and Outdoor Infrastructure (PAFIRSPA).

“With this refusal, more than 155,000 citizens are deprived of a sports complex that is essential to democratize access to sports infrastructure and improve the offer in the territory, considering the sustained growth of our population and the constant increase in registrations for ice sports. We are all the more astonished since the signals received on the file seemed to suggest a more favorable outcome,” the mayor of Lévis first lamented.

With the total cost of such a project estimated at just under $40 million, the City of Lévis had asked the Quebec government for a $20 million grant. This project involves expanding the Lévis arena to include a second Olympic-sized ice rink and its associated required uses. It includes bringing the existing building up to standard, integrating universal accessibility, centralizing the catering service, resurfacing to standardize the architectural language between the expansion and the existing building, as well as building a new parking lot and redeveloping the existing parking lots.

“We line up and wait”

The mayor’s disappointment was all the more acute considering the importance that the member for Lévis and minister responsible for Chaudière-Appalaches, Bernard Drainville, and the minister responsible for Sports, Recreation and Outdoors, Isabelle Charest, gave to the project. They have repeatedly repeated their wish to see the project come to fruition.

“During the election campaign, this was the number one commitment of the member for Lévis that was proclaimed from every platform. He asked me to submit the project as soon as possible, which we did. Since then, we were convinced that we would finally have it. It is a disappointment on that side,” indicated Gilles Lehouillier.

The latter also wanted to make a link with the repairs planned for the roof of the Olympic Stadium. According to him, the problem is a lack of funding for sports infrastructure in the region.

“The government does not have enough funds for sports facilities in the regions. If we want to ensure that people stay in the regions, they need at least sports facilities. The fact is that we find billions of dollars for the roof of the Olympic Stadium and we don’t even know what it will be used for, while when we get to regional facilities, we only give a meager $300 million divided between 17 regions,” mentioned Gilles Lehouillier.

Moreover, the mayor of Lévis admitted to having “overestimated” the impact of having two elected officials from Lévis on the council of ministers.

“Definitely (that I overestimated the importance of having two elected officials in Lévis)! I must say that I am disappointed since I am not the one who made this commitment. It is unfortunate because we have two ministers in Lévis and they were not even able to give us the number one priority of the member of parliament,” concluded the mayor.

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