By Jessica Anstice
The man behind proposals to build an ice skating facility in Pakenham insists the project will go ahead – despite an issue with funds.
Australian Ice Sports (AIS) owner, long-term ice hockey player, and Narre Warren resident Jonathan Cornford’s privately-funded $6m project first surfaced in December 2014, when Cardinia Shire Council granted a planning permit for the facility.
“We’re struggling a little bit to get the money for it,” Mr Cornford said.
“The foundations are done and there are little things that I’m just buying as I can.
“The next stage is the big stage – it’s the actual building.”
Towards the end of 2016, council approved AIS’s final building plans and construction was set to begin – however only $1m has been invested into the $6m project so far.
The ice skating facility is set to be an acre under roof line with stands on both sides.
There will be room for three ice rinks, a restaurant, nine change rooms and a classroom.
“Nine change rooms make it an international venue, so we can have international events there,” Mr Cornford said.
“I have a lot of contacts overseas for international events waiting for this venue to happen.”
Mr Cornford hopes to hold the International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament in Pakenham in 2023.
“I hope it’s built by then. It will be great because about 500 people from all around the world will come to Pakenham,” he said.
“We also want to have an Australian ice hockey team as well – which would generate income for the whole community.
“The motels would be busy on long weekends as about 1500 attend those games.”
Within five years of the ice rink opening, Mr Cornford wants at least 500 children playing ice hockey.
“We want to have all the schools in the area involved,” he said.
“There will be day programs, learn-to-skate programs and programs that will help get children off the streets.
“It will be a friendly environment after school for the children that need somewhere to come.”
The facility will generate between 30 and 40 employment opportunities for the community as well as being the first ice training facility in Australia.
“We want everyone to be able to experience the ice sports.”
Mr Cornford and AIS business manager Lachlan Morris met with Member for La Trobe Jason Wood at the Peet Street site in Pakenham on Friday 14 June to discuss Federal Government support for the project.
“My goal is to make sure our children have fantastic facilities to play sports and take part in fun activities,” Mr Wood wrote in his Facebook post.
The idea of an ice skating facility in Pakenham was well-received on Mr Wood’s post, with more than 500 likes and nearly 200 comments supporting the idea.