PENTICTON - Penticton city council has approved an application for grant funding worth up to $6 million after considering the Arena Task Force Committee recommendation at a special meeting of council.
Manager of facilities Bregje Kozak presented the committee’s selected option at the meeting on Wednesday, July 25.
Kozak said afternon considering five options, the committee selected a $34 million dollar plan that would see the decommissioning of McLaren Arena, Memorial Arena turned into a dry surface facility and the construction of two ice surfaces on South Okanagan Events Centre property.
The option chosen had the highest score and majority of votes out of the six possibilities presented, but added more detailed analysis of costs involved would be needed moving forward, she said.
The two new ice surfaces would centralize Penticton’s arenas on the SOEC property, which would aid the City’s aims to attract sports tourism by locating all the facilities in one place.
Kozak said the twin ice sheet facility would allow room for 180 spectators for each rink, with shared concession, skate shop, lobby and washroom facilities. She said an option to build one surface at a time and add a second surface at a later date was also a possibility.
Public concern over the option includes concerns about increased activity and parking pressure at the SOEC as more parking spaces would be lost to construction of the ice surfaces.
Kozak said next steps include a decision on the future use of McLaren Arena, more detailed financial analysis of actual costs involved and the commencement of pre-design work.
Coun. Campbell Watt said he felt rushed about making a decision regarding which arena option the City should pursue, but noted the evening’s vote centred only around the grant application.
Kozak said the money could be declined if the City opted not to pursue any applicable avenues of arena replacement or renovation. She also pointed out the money didn’t have to be spent until 2023.
Coun. Helena Konanz noted the committee’s recommendation wasn’t a short term vision, looking at the next 50 years of the City’s arena needs. She also noted the City didn’t have to build it right away, calling it “a good decision at this point.”
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the discussion was about replacing aging facilities rather than building new ones, noting the option selected also “respected the history of Memorial Arena.”
He called the grant application “an initial step,” adding some information missing from the discussion was a definition of other forms of funding available to the proposal.
Council voted unanimously to make the grant application and directed staff to proceed with further financial analysis, develop a funding strategy and continue with public consultation prior to a final decision being made on the arena plan.
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