For more than six decades, the city has been using the Trail Memorial Centre as an anchor for community celebrations, sports, a place for reading and a space to memorialize Silver City history.
The recently released draft of the 10-year recreation master plan, cites the city’s declining and aging population which has led to the landmark’s relevance diminishing over time.
Now the centre must re-invest itself to meet current and future community leisure needs.
The demographics are only one challenge and may not define the future of the centre because the current parks department is revisiting a past success story and coming up with new ways to entice people back into the space.
A bid to host the 2015 World Junior A Hockey Challenge is currently under way after Trail councillors gave Robert Baker, parks and recreation deputy director, the go-ahead Monday at the governance meeting.
Trail hosted the world challenge in 2007, with the event bringing more than 20,000 people to the centre, including a standing-room only crowd for the Canada West versus Canada East gold medal game (Canada West prevailed).
“Our success in 2007 is probably the reason they would want Trail to host again,” said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs.
“There was a lot of work and effort to put it on, but it was a really good thing for the city.”
Nelson partnered with Trail to host that year, and the city has been given the heads up, during informal chats with Nelson Mayor John Dooley and his council at the September municipal conference added Bogs.
“Hockey Canada will put out the guidelines at the end of the month (Thursday) and I will put together a recommendation for your support to bid on the 2015 event,” said Baker. “It will be full steam ahead.”
Change can be difficult, especially with an historical site, but is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the centre.
With that in mind, another future event, still in the conceptual stage, is Baker’s idea to host a multi-day festival on the arena’s main ice during the 2014 Christmas season.
“We want to draw people from the entire area, not just Trail,” he said. “For a multi-day event of a winter wonderland on ice, with trees and lighting. It could become annual and something that Trail would be known for.”
Trisha Davison, parks and recreation director, pointed out that such an event would have to be organized at the beginning of next year to avoid ousting hockey teams from regular scheduled ice time.
“I think this is a brilliant idea,” said Davison. “But if council decided to back such an event we would have to plan at the beginning of the 2014 booking season so we don’t cancel out people who would expect to be on the ice.”
The city did invest in an arena revitalization project this fall, that saw the installation of special effects in the Kids Rink to add impact to special events, including black lights, a disco ball, laser effects and haze machines.
At the Kiwanis free public skate during “Spooktacular” last Saturday, over 100 children and youth had first hand experience with the effects.
That event’s success has further encouraged the parks department to consider future skating occasions to entice the public to the smaller ice.
“We are thinking of special evenings geared toward youth,” explained Davison. “A ‘70s skate or disco skate with music and atmosphere is one of the ideas.”
November bookings in the centre include flu clinics on Nov. 4 and 13; the Snowflake gala fundraising dinner on Nov. 16; the Smoke Eaters tailgate party on Nov. 22; followed by the team’s annual steak and lobster dinner on the 23.
Aside from sports, the city creates access for the Trail Maple Leaf Band by waiving fees for the McIntyre Room and for a second year, allowing the Trail Market to go rent-free in the gymnasium two dates in November and once in December.
In addition, the governance committee (members of council) approved to waive fees associated with the Interior Health Authority’s (IHA) respiratory rehabilitation program for one year, allowing the use of meeting room space in the Memorial Centre and the arena concourse for walking activities.
“Staff will work to develop a strategic partnership with Interior Health for delivery of like programs in the future,” said David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer, adding, “to ensure consistency with how IHA programs are offered in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department.”
“This really fits into the whole concept of municipal councils providing healthy alternatives and benefits to our citizens,” said Coun. Robert Cacchioni. “I think it’s a great idea.”