Council agrees to short term fix for Penticton arenas - InfoNews

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Council agrees to short term fix for Penticton arenas

Penticton city council voted to spend the minimum required to maintain its two oldest rinks, Memorial and McLaren Arenas, for up to 10 years.
March 20, 2019 - 2:12 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton city council has decided to decline a $6 million grant to fund arena renewals while opting instead to make repairs to its two oldest arenas for up to 10 years.

Director of Recreation and Facilities Bregje Kozak told council yesterday, March 19, that the Memorial and McLaren Arenas are still well used facilities, but they are reaching the end of their service life. The Memorial Arena is  70 years old, while the McLaren Arena is 48 years old.

There isn’t enough capacity in the city’s current rink configuration to handle Memorial Arena’s ice share, at 80 hours per week, and is already in a position where it can’t accommodate all user groups, Kozak said.

She explained the role of the Arena Task Force and the work done to come up with a future plan for the city’s arenas to the new council, citing the $48,720,205 million plan to build two new ice surfaces at the South Okanagan Events Centre, renovate Memorial Arena to a dry surface facility and decommission McLaren Arena.

A $6 million dollar grant that was applied for and conditionally awarded to the city will have to be declined because the city was unable to confirm its funding sources by the March 31, 2019 deadline, Kozak told council. Another $10 to $12 million in grant funding would have been necessary in order to make the overall cost palatable, she said.

Kozak said $500,000 has been earmarked to make necessary roof repairs to Memorial Arena this year, and $200,000 worth of repairs to the building’s wooden supporting arches is currently underway. McLaren Arena will need a new ice plant in the next few years. She said continuous spending will be needed for both arenas.

The twin rinks option continued to be the best long-term value for the money, she said, rather than continuously trying to maintain the city's existing older structures.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield motioned for the grant money to be declined, questioning whether a decision on short-term funding needed to be made immediately, noting the complexity of the issue.

Coun. Campbell Watt and Coun. Judy Sentes both favoured the idea of continuing to work toward the twin ice sheets proposal with the understanding the Arena Task Force concluded that was resident’s most desirable option, Watt noting it may not happen as quickly as many had hoped.

“I really want to see the twin rink option pursued. I significantly hope we can pull this together,“ Sentes said, adding it was disappointing to decline the $6 million grant as “that doesn’t come around that often.”

Acting Mayor Frank Regehr noted Penticton was already pursuing a number of projects and the arena project may or may not come to fruition.

“We’re committed to Skaha Park with signifiant obligations or expectations around that. Robinson Centre is being looked at for all sorts of upgrades... buildings programs, fine arts - yes, this is a wonderful program but we have all sorts of programs we could be looking at if money wasn’t the total issue,” Regehr said.

Staff will decline the $6 million dollar grant and plan base building repairs for McLaren and Memorial Arenas in order to keep them operational for up to ten years.

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