Moncton — The new Moncton arena, known as the Avenir Centre, is already a major attraction for athletes and sports fans, and now it’s set to become a world-class destination for the city’s homeless as well.
The homelessness issue has plagued the Hub City for a while now, with hundreds of residents out in the bitter cold, lacking food and heat. Sources have said that the number of homeless people has doubled from just last year, after many rooming houses were closed.
“We’re in crisis mode — here we’ve got this amazing new events centre, which looks great on us, but we’ve funnelled so much taxpayer cash into the project that it’d be a shame to use it only for entertainment purposes,” said city councillor Pierre Boudreau. “Probably a bad PR move, too.
“So now that the temperature has dropped below zero, we’re starting to think about ways to make this $113-million arena into a viable accommodation for the less fortunate, as well.”
Boudreau outlined the plan in brief.
“Any time the Wildcats aren’t playing, we’ll open the doors to our city’s homeless people, and let them dwell temporarily in small shelters to be placed directly on the rink. Unfortunately the shelters can’t be heated — we don’t want to melt the ice! — but we’ll provide blankets. The whole arena seats 8,800, so we figure it could sleep at least 100 on the ice surface.
“And to all the well-off Monctonians griping about homeless people getting a ‘free ride,’ that simply isn’t true. They’ll earn their keep.”
When there are games happening, people won’t be kicked out, but will instead be put to work.
“They can work as parking lot attendants, or can serve beer and nachos to hungry patrons of the centre,” enthused Mayor Dawn Arnold. “They can check tickets, clean up after the games, and Zamboni the ice beforehand. They’re getting jobs and accommodations in one. What could be better?”
Some snooty Monctonians are still not happy with this arrangement, however.
“It just reflects poorly on us as a city to have this riff-raff hanging around during our important sports games. How are you supposed to concentrate on the score when there are bums wandering the bleachers trying to sell you a hotdog or whatever?” asked Glenda Belyea. “It’ll be very distracting, I would think.”
“Yeah, can’t they just go…wherever homeless people normally go?” queried Justin Arbiter. “Why do they have to come ruin the Wildcats games for me — I paid for season tickets!!”
We spoke with homeless man Francis Lowell, who said he’s been out of work due to a disability for several years, and has had no luck finding a reasonable shelter for the upcoming harsh Maritime winter.
“I just want somewhere to go. If it has to be the Avenir Centre, so be it, but I’m not keen on being shuffled on and off the ice between hockey games.
“It would have been nice if the city could have allocated even one million of the funds for the centre to create low-income housing, but who am I to judge?”