A large crowd turned out to Monday night’s council meeting to show their support for the Rossland Arena.
In the “Rossland Council Connects” online newsletter that was sent out on Wednesday, March 21, Mayor Kathy Moore informed citizens that unexpected expenses had arisen for the arena.
“Based on a recent inspection, we need approximately $200k for repairs and improvements to the Rossland Arena just to open the facility for ice sports in the fall of 2018. These improvements were not contemplated in the initial draft of the 2018 budget. The City is working with the Arena Task Force on creative ways to fund these repairs. Over the next few years, the investment needed is estimated to be about $3M,” she wrote.
This led to fear amongst ice users that the Rossland Arena would be closed and many showed up to the Miners’ Hall — where city and staff have been working since the partial collapse of the City Hall roof — dressed in hockey jerseys and gear to show their support.
One man came in full goalie equipment.
Moore started the meeting by addressing the concerns about the arena.
“Our budget up until this point has been pretty well crafted and we did not anticipate needing close to $200,000 [of] work in the arena,” she said. “And this came about because a WorkSafeBC inspection came, had things that they wanted us to do and in fact basically said, ‘If you don’t do these things, you can’t open the arena in the fall.’ So for us to open the arena in the fall, we had to find — from the money tree down the street — $200,000.”
Moore emphasized that council had in no way made a decision to close the arena and that it was up to Rosslanders to let council know what they wanted.
“It’s just about what everyone wants and what they’re willing to pay for it,” she said.
Moore also introduced the idea of repurposing the arena while speaking to the need for larger public engagement on recreation in Rossland.
“Is there an appetite for repurposing the arena? Is there an appetite for turning it into an all-season recreation facility that does other sports other than ice? Because that would save a lot of money,” she said. “There may not be that appetite, but we need to hear from the whole community, not just people who currently use the ice, but people who don’t use the ice. People who are going to use the ice in five years, something like that.”
Everyone who stood up to speak at the meeting was in support of keeping ice in the arena and making sure it would open in the fall.
After Rossland residents had made it clear that they supported the arena staying open and asked council to consider the social benefits of the arena, not just the financial picture, Elma Hamming, manager of finance for the City of Rossland, presented the budget later in the meeting.
The presentation, which is available on the City of Rossland’s website at rossland.ca, reiterated that Rossland council had requested that tax increases remain between two and five per cent between 2019 and 2022 and that a one per cent tax increase would result in $50,000 of additional revenue for the city.
After an extensive discussion on the budget, council made the decision to spend the required funds to open the arena in the fall.