Arena too expensive, councillor suggests

Erin Handy
By Erin Handy
March 23rd, 2011

Welcome to Canada, where even the most battered-looking small-town arena has a formidable hold on the heartstrings of citizens. But could maintaining such a structure prove too costly? One city councillor suggests so.   “We’re being nickel and dimed on the arena,” said councillor Laurie Charlton at a lengthy committee meeting March 7, where city staff provided a number of documents regarding the community’s looming infrastructre needs. “We really need to have a discussion: can we really afford the arena?”   The current plan addresses the arena’s needs with various projects divvied out over the coming years, an approach the councillor disagreed with, suggesting the city could be constantly putting money into a facility that, sometime in the future, it simply might not be able to support.    While acknowleding that many in town consider the arena a valuable facility, Charlton indicated he would prefer to examine in detail the usage data and financial returns earned from the arena, look at all city-owned facilities as one big package and “see what we can afford.”   The proposed arena upgrades certainly are expensive.   The building makes no less than eight appearances on a 2011-2015 project plan composed by city staff, with an estimated $152,000 required to fix bathrooms and showers, paint the interior, and upgrade the lounge to accommodate more recreation programming this year, and $110,000 in 2012 to replace the electrical main panels, the curling louge stairs and roof and carpeting in the locker rooms.   Plus another potential $500,000 for rink and compressor replacement in 2013, $100,000 for bleachers in 2014, and $500,000 in 2015 or beyond for a complete overhaul of the lounge, concession, curling lounge and accessibility improvements. Borrowing would likely be required for the two half-million chunks.    That’s $1.36 million, rather than the $4-5 million number Charlton tossed out, but it’s still a big number and a lot of improvements to be made.   “I think the community has stated strongly that this is a facility that is important to the community,” said Mayor Greg Granstrom, referring to the fast negative feedback council received in 2009 when it declined an arena roof-replacement grant on the basis of tight seasonal construction constraints.  “Recreation is very important. Say otherwise and you haven’t spent much time in this community,” said Granstrom. “If we don’t maintain (the arena), it’s a liability. . . . What we have is a very sound building (and) what it requires is an influx of monies over the years to keep it sound.”    It’s a matter of ongoing maintenence.   “There’s things to be done and it’s no different than your house.”

Categories: GeneralPoliticsSports

Other News Stories